When you think about leaders in an organization, who would come to our mind? C-suite members, departmental heads, managers, right? But that’s not what the millennials or our younger colleagues think. We need to alter our perception if we are to work shoulder to shoulder with the younger generation. Their perception of leadership is different. As a matter of fact, according to a study by The Hartford Group, 78% of millennials already consider themselves to be leaders in one way or the other and 63% of them aspire to be one in the workplace.
To the millennials, a leader is someone who motivates or influences others to reach a shared goal. He or she can be at any level in an organization. While they love to be such mentors at their level, they also are eager to be coached so that they accept responsibilities at a higher level. Here’s where re-engineering of leadership training comes into place.
How can this be done?
Progressive companies nurture these future leaders and the report recommends that organizations go in for a customized leadership development program for each person.
The Hartford report points out that organization who care for the Gen Y today will lead in the workplace tomorrow and provides three suggestions for providing leadership training to Gen Y.
- Embrace millennials’ desire to create solutions for problems.
- Give them the technology and resources they need to lead and innovate.
- Provide access to mentors who will inspire and coach them.
So, here’s what I would do if I were to develop a leadership training curriculum for my younger colleagues.
Identify potential leaders and get them to solve problems along with team members
If I notice a group of individuals who show promising leadership traits, I would appoint them as team leaders and assign them a simple business problem to solve. It could be an excellent way to generate innovative ideas to streamline a process, improve systems or solve a nagging production issue. It may not result in spectacular results, nonetheless, it could certainly groom potential leaders to lead a team and resolve problems.
Use technology to provide online learning resources and collaborative learning environment
First, I would ensure that there is a learning management system or a portal that hosts relevant courses. The courses will be of two types.
- Courses for leaders – Knowledge bytes in the form of e-learning modules, videos and complementary resources on leadership skills and related topics.
- Courses for team members – These could align with the given problem – for example courses on safety training, product training or compliance training.
Millennials love to apply the knowledge gained in real life situations. These short modules will enable them to learn and apply knowledge immediately. Courses, of course, will need to be accessible on all devices – PCs as-well-as mobiles.
Future leaders learn from these resources and apply the knowledge while interacting with their teams to work out a solution to the given problem. Not just that, they will also be able to assign courses to team members based on their needs via the collaborative platform.
As they lead, they should be led
While they may be mentors to their team members, they need be to mentored too and the same collaborative platform can be used to have a mentor oversee the entire exercise. The mentor can be a senior member of the organization who provides a broader and holistic perspective to the issue and guide leaders along the way.
Such nurturing of leaders might be happening informally across organizations, but one has no way of measuring the results and evaluating its success. Having a re-engineered leadership training that is structured and technologically enabled is likely to be more appealing to the millennials who are impatient and like to view concrete results for their efforts immediately.