Millennials as Leaders: 5 Tips To Teach Millennials Leadership

Millennials often get a bad rap — and unfairly so. While much has been written about how to manage millennials, we don’t talk as much about how to coach millennials to become leaders themselves. As Baby Boomers begin to retire and move out of the workforce, Gen Xers and millennials will be called upon to step up and step in. How prepared is your workforce to take on greater responsibility? Here are five ways to teach leadership to the millennial generation.


Set Them Up with Mentors And Coaches

Many organizations boast mentorship programs; do you have one? Whether you’re looking to build one from the ground up or grow its reach, what better way to do so than to make the pairings strategic so it benefits all parties involved: the mentor, mentee and the organization. Consider pairing more experienced colleagues with millennials to teach them the ropes and guide them through unexpected obstacles in their journey.

Listen To Feedback

It’s an unhealthy approach to view feedback as a one-way street. Instead of merely providing feedback and learnings to this younger generation and not asking for their suggestions and opinions in return, be humble enough to accept that their ideas could help your business — and other employees and leaders — grow. Ask about their work preferences, ask what processes could be improved or even eliminated, ask how they would think differently about a project you’ve always done the same way. Understand what motivates them, and allow them to question the status quo — it could lead to ideas you hadn’t previously considered.

Don’t Shy Away From Uncomfortable Conversations

One of the things some older generations find most disconcerting about the younger generations in the workplace, aside from their tech-savvy habits, is their boldness and transparency to discuss topics that some may consider to be taboo. For example, many millennials want more transparency when it comes to pay decisions or career pathing or anything else — and they are not afraid to ask tough questions and demand candid responses. Don’t shy away from these types of discussions or use the old “it’s none of your business” or “don’t worry about it” excuses; instead, the way to earn and build their trust in your organization is to treat them like the adults they are.

Trust Them With Critical Projects

While it does take time and experience to hone one’s skill sets, there is nothing like putting millennials’ feet to the fire by entrusting them with and coaching them through impactful projects. They will stay engaged if they feel like they are doing meaningful work. Make them feel like they have a stake in your bottom line versus just giving them more administrative tasks. If they are going to lead tomorrow, they need to have ample exposure and opportunities to learn firsthand.

Provide Millennials With Opportunities To Learn And Grow And Lead

Provide them with ample learning and development opportunities where they can satiate their appetite for curiosity. Not only that, but proactively place them in situations where they can lead. Believe it or not, millennials will no longer be the youngest generation in the workforce. As Gen Z begins to transition into the corporate world in droves, consider training up your millennial employees so they can begin to assume leadership positions and acclimate this incoming generation into the workforce.

Deanna Hartley is a writer and editor, and has spent 10+ years publishing articles on job search advice, career development, recruitment, HR and human capital management. Deanna has a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, was formerly a senior editor at award-winning publisher Human Capital Media and a senior copywriter at CareerBuilder. She currently works as a content manager at Aon, a global professional services firm. Her articles have appeared in a variety of publications, including Gannett, Business Insider, the Chicago Tribune and Workforce Magazine.

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