The Four Success Factors of Millennial Leaders

Relay races are won or lost, based on how well the baton was passed. In 2016, some 3.6 million Baby Boomers will retire, and metaphorically pass the baton to 25% of working millennials who are slated to become managers this year. How well the baton is passed will determine if a company falls behind, stays the course, or wins the race. What are the top four strategies that will bolster the odds of a smooth transition? Below are the four things that millennial leaders want and need to run a successful race.  

shutterstock_82356412Corporate learning

Engagement surveys by Blessing White and recent research by PwC confirms that training and development is a priority for the millennial worker. Talent development is a game changer that attracts talent and accelerates readiness to move up the career ladder. 

Career progression

And speaking of career ladders, millennials want to move up and they want to do it two rungs at a time. This is great news to organizations who desperately need to accelerate the growth of high-potentials. Coach to a development and career plan that aligns an individual’s values, passion, and purpose…and then get out to the way!  

Coaching and feedback

Coaching and frequent feedback goes way beyond developing a career plan. Bersin & Associates points out that millennials want frequent and consistent feedback and coaching, and not just when something goes wrong. On-target feedback positively reinforces desired behaviors, and increases the likelihood that those behaviors will be repeated. 

Flexible schedules

Life balance and flexibility also get high marks in terms of importance from the millennial generation. Look for ways to reevaluate old ways of doing things and creatively seek out opportunities to flex. Engage the millennial leaders in finding a solution that emphasizes the end and not the means.


If you are interested in taking full advantage of your millennial leaders, check out: Leadership Lab.  Xponents’ newest program is a 90-day leadership intensive. Schedule a free consultation today and learn how the Leadership Lab can help you.




Deb Siverson is an author and president of Xponents, Inc. Her book, “The Cycle of Transformation: Igniting Organizational Change through the Leader Coach”, encourages transparent and emotionally-connected conversations at work. Her company’s focus is to bring out the best in people by recognizing and aligning unique talent, values, and purpose.

2 replies
  1. Christopher Scott
    Christopher Scott says:

    I think the “handoff” from baby boomers to millennials offers some of the most daunting tasks facing any workplace. Your points above are all spot on, Deb. However, I think the transition from current workplace culture to millennial-accepted workplace culture will take a significant revisionist of how most companies do business.

    Of course, one of the first, most critical issues that must be addressed is maintain the relational, human, and organizational capital of the company. With the wave of retirements anticipated, making sure the 30 to 40 year olds have this capital is critical, but so many companies have marginalized this cohort, it’s hard to understand how loyalty and commitment have been inspired in many millennials. Creating a culture of loyalty and commitment is probably job #1 for many workplaces.

    Then there is the Millennials’ penchant for believing social good is more important than profit. I believe this firmly, but I am in the clear minority amount my Gen X peers. In almost 85% of U.S. workplaces, “social good” is mere lip service provided so investors feel comfortable with their investment’s public image or employees can say, Hey, I helped build a house today.

    For most Millinnials, these sorts of commitments are far too shallow to be considered true social good. This, companies wanting to recruit and retain Millennials will have to work hard to create a culture dedicated to improving the world around them rather than just focusing on Q3’s profits.

    Last but not least, Millennials are among the most highly educated generation of Americans. They also carry more student debt than any American generation ever. Compounding this is that members of the Millennial generation have often been underemployed, mostly because the job markets had been relatively stagnant when they graduated high school or college.

    All of this, plus a suspicion that society has corrupted, has made Millennials skeptical of power, consumer products, and others’ willingness to be truthfull. This mistrust of the world around them compounded by the economic conditions they’ve gone through means companies will have to be very mindful when creating a culture in which the majority of their younger employees say they would rather work in a job they find interesting and pays less than the other way around. On the bright side, howevet, Millennials tend to stay in their jobs far longer than Gen X employees did – certainly an award for any employer cleaver enough to recruit the Millennial generation through the door.

    How do companies make the transition from a salary and profit-driven culture with minimal coaching and transparency to a learning culture committed to making the world a better place while still selling a monitized product/service at a profit margin palatable to investors? Like I opened with, it will be one of the most daunting transformations any business undertakes.

    • dsiverson
      dsiverson says:

      Thanks Chris for the thoughtful reply! I agree that it is going to require a different way to lead. All the engagement work suggests that the millennial employee does want consistent coaching and feedback and to me connected to meaningful work. In my book, The Cycle of Transformation, I share thoughts on how to do just that. Going forward, organizations must align the individual with what’s most important to them. In the past, it has been done by telling people what’s important, today’s leader has to ask the individual what they value and help them get it. Thanks again for the response!

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