Teaching Gen Y To Lead

July 29, 2014

In my experience Gen Y are not afraid to step up and take on responsibility. They possess a ‘can do attitude’ and are great team players. Twenty-eight percent of managerial positions in the United States are already held by Gen Ys, those born between 1980 – 2000, also known as Millennials (Bersin). Common characteristics of Gen Y's include confidence, motivation, and a desire to live a balanced lifestyle.

So how can you give your Gen Y's clarity on what it means to step up and be accountable as a leader? The answer is to teach them to communicate and collaborate across an organization in an authentic way.

As my colleague Dr. Vince Molinaro says in his recent New York Times Bestseller, The Leadership Contract:

  • Leadership is a decision. Make it.
  • Leadership is an obligation. Step up.
  • Leadership is tough work. Get tough.
  • Leadership is a community. Connect.

This last point in particular relates to Gen Y's. They have had the tools—games, texting, email, and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—from a very early age and for them it’s second nature to connect. And that includes connecting across an organization. Furthermore, they are global minded, inclusive thinkers having grown up with the ability to connect across countries. Gen Y's don’t believe that leaders are only at the top of the house, they believe leaders can be found throughout an organization.

The key for any human resources professional looking to engage Gen Y's in leadership developments is to form multi-experience teams. 

  • Make the Gen Y employees co-project managers with more experienced leaders.
  • Offer a level-setting opportunity or problem to solve related to company growth, customer service, selling, or product innovation.
  • Have the teams identify SMART goals, set SMART goals, and align these SMART goals to the organization’s strategy.  As an HR Executive you can support this by giving all your people insight into ‘who they are’, ‘what they bring’, and ‘how to become high-impact contributors’.

What do you think?

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