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.

Engagement or Retention?

I posted an article this week on LinkedIn about generations at work.  The article asserted that we should prepare ourselves for the inevitability of shorter longevity of Generation Y employees in organizations, and that a smart strategy is to maximize Gen Y’s contribution during their employment and prepare them to be organizational ambassadors when they move on to their next roles.

I fundamentally agree with this strategy. I find that too often, managers coach others based solely on the organization’s agenda, rather than creating a win-win for both the organizational system and the individual.  While the individual is part of the system, they are also motivated by intrinsic drivers that impact their choices and actions.  Seeing employees as people with goals and ambitions, and then helping them make progress toward those career objectives is a surefire way to create strong engagement and commitment in the present.  The question becomes, what is the organizations objective:  engagement or retention?  There are those who would argue both…but I’m not convinced that argument fits this new world we live in. Maybe we need inflow of new ideas and energy more than we realize.  What if having high turnover actually becomes a desirable state?  Something to think about.  I believe the fulcrum is career planning.

Expecting team members to career plan in the narrow-box called “traditional career-ladder next step” is short sighted.  This archaic view of the world creates empty career plans that don’t create energy and transformation. Team members are afraid to speak of what they really want their future to look like for fear that it will have a negative impact on the present. So in organizations everywhere, managers and team members go through the motions of putting together plans that don’t reflect the fullness of the passion and energy that wants to be unleashed on the workplace.  These surface conversations can’t become open and vulnerable because the system isn’t set up that way.

Managers often operate from the position of protecting future workflows, which translates to ensuring that human resources are available and ready to be deployed as needed.  The measurement stick believes that if employee engagement goes up, attrition rates will come down, and we all think this is a good thing.  But what if it isn’t?   I raise the question: is this world view still legitimate?

I had lunch with a dear friend yesterday who shared with me her coaching work, and specific examples of highly educated and successful people that wanted to move mid-career into a new industry or field.  She spoke to how difficult it was because they were seen as outsiders in these new fields, despite being highly experienced in others.  We have trained ourselves to walk a very narrow line, in a very big new world. We don’t see the benefit of an outside perspective.  But what might we gain, if we cross the lines and blur the edges?

What possibilities does a new discipline bring to the tired and well-trodden view?

I have brought you more questions than answers.  I hope the Gen Ys help us discover how to let go more easily of the status quo, and I hope we can teach them how to stay grounded enough to know what needs to be held onto.

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
Deb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.


How do Generational Differences Play into Career Planning?

Lately I’ve had conversations with my customers about how to make Individual Development Plans more robust.  Some of the opportunities they’ve identified are:

  • Creating an environment where trust is present and conversations about what career path employees want to take are authentic.
  • Effectively diagnosing and collaborating on identifying developmental priorities.
  • Balancing goals between organizational and individual needs and wants.
  • Remembering to look at both the short and long term.
  • Setting goals and action plans that will create break-through performance.
  • Following up frequently enough to ensure accountability and traction.

The other interesting dynamic that has become a topic of conversation:  How do the generational differences play into career planning?

This topic has really sparked my interest.  As a result, I have been doing a bit of research on the generations.  I haven’t formed a strong opinion yet about how Generation Y differs from Generation X in terms of developing IDPs, but I am gathering some information that is causing me to delve deeper into some specific areas.

For example, this week some of the research articles I’ve posted on Facebook and LinkedIn, uncover some of the myths that exist in terms of Generation Y.  Many of these myths I’ve heard articulated by Managers during discussions on how to coach for performance.  “These younger employees today don’t want to put in their time…they want my job after a couple of months of experience.”

What value is there for Managers in understanding the generational differences when it comes to career coaching and planning?  I found one nugget so far that may be worth exploring about assumptions.

I was listening yesterday to a Podcast interview by the co-author of Passion and Purpose, John Coleman (listen to that Podcast here).  John talked about how best we can harness the skill set of Generation Y.  One example he gave is their ability to offer insight on how to cross boundaries.  He went on to talk about how his research indicates that because of the exposure this generation has had to technology and how quickly they have learned to access information, multi-task, and assimilate that they may be in a unique position to see ways to merge paths that before now would have been seen as unrelated.  He went on to talk about a potential flaw is this generation’s impatience, as they have been programed to move quickly.  Fascinating stuff!

Then I had my big a-ha moment.  John personalized his research by saying, “Our generation,” and I suddenly realized that he was putting himself in the Generation Y bucket.  I was surprised.  I had not thought about him in terms of age, but I realized in that instant that I had made an unconscious assumption. The way he articulated the subject matter, his poise and maturity, had led me to think he was older.

So here I am making assumptions that maturity comes with age.  Of course I consciously know this is not true, but it raises the question:  How do my assumptions impact my confidence in another person’s ability?

Perhaps what my research will uncover is that while we seek to understand others we must also understand our own bias and belief system.  Assumptions are dangerous, especially when you don’t realize you are operating with them!

If you like this blog, I think you will like my book The Cycle of Transformation. Available now!
HighResolution_Warnke_ DebSiverson20121208-9332-EditDeb Siverson is a seasoned executive coach, certified as a PCC through the International Coach Federation. If you want to schedule time to discuss how you or your organization can increase engagement by having a different conversation at work, contact us now.