Millennials coming of leadership age is one of the hottest topics in the leadership space across academic and popular press alike. As such, the ground is fertile to raise the bar on leadership and thus business performance.

Gen Y/Millennial leaders are old enough now (30-35 years old) to find themselves in leadership ranks. As such, 66% of them (ASTD) report needing leadership training. Investing in emerging leader development is a great strategy for an organization to use to signal how much they value the next generation of leaders that will be the future of the firm. Retaining the skill and acculturation of a current emerging leader is a smart business decision given that when they become executives, internal promotions are far more successful and less expensive than external executive hires (Watkins).

Current Baby Boomer and Gen X leaders also believe they need training to work effectively with the Millennial generation (56% ASTD). Organizations that depend on leadership in order to execute strategy –which is every single one out there – can use this opportunity to develop updated and improved leadership capabilities with leaders who may not have been interested or seen the need for leadership development in the past.   Using an old proverb, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

Our students are ready. Students at the beginning of their careers as well as students at the end and in between are ready to learn.   What can we do as leadership development experts and as leaders to raise the bar on future generations of leaders? Here are 3 ideas, please share your ideas and practices as well.

  • Role model – identify what it is about you or about leaders in your firm that make up the special sauce of success. Talk about it with emerging and current leaders. Most importantly, demonstrate the successful practices. Your students are more likely to remember when you don’t demonstrate strong leadership than when you do.
  • Invest in leadership development – this can take many forms and depending on the current capability of your leaders and the business strategy, the answer will vary. Common approaches include coaching, 360- assessment and feedback, workshops, webinars, etc. No matter what you choose, make sure it is something that has business outcomes defined. This is about improving leaders to improve business – your business so the leadership development should be what makes your business more successful.
  • Find 1-2 emerging leaders and invest 1 hour a month in each of them. Help them craft their career objectives and gain access to people and other resources they need to achieve their goals. Presumably, the people you choose will be younger than you so use this as a reverse mentoring opportunity. What can you learn from them about how you can more effectively lead?Try having mentees complete the Personal Employee Value Proposition worksheet on my website prior to meeting so that you can laser target the discussion and goals on outcomes that matter. You can complete the worksheet too so that you can target your efforts as well in your discussions with your mentee, boss, mentor and coach.

Bonus Points – what do you think the generation after the Millennials should be called? I have heard Homelanders, Gen Z, iGen and my favorite one yet is #Gen. Thanks to Bruce Dionne from Ruger Precision Metals in Earth City, MO for coming up with #Gen.