Why We Have Too Few Millennial Leaders

Why We Have Too Few Millennial Leaders

John Eades 05/09/2018 5

Life is made up of many choices. We make massive choices like where we go to college, who we marry, where we live, what profession we pursue, or what kind of parent we are. We make small choices like what we eat, what car we drive, how we respond to an event, or what show we pick out on Netflix.  

But what about leadership? Do we choose leadership?  If so, which category does it fall into; big or small; trivial or significant?

Leadership is a choice you make just like any other and it's a big choice. Everyone has the capacity to be a leader but doesn’t mean they want to or even should.  

A recent survey showed that 40% of modern professionals want to serve in a leadership capacity. Not only is this percentage small, but according to Deloitte, 86% of organizations don’t believe their leadership pipeline is “very ready.”  This puts professionals and organizations in a difficult position because it shows that:

1. Not enough people want to choose leadership, and

2. Even if you do choose leadership, you may not be deemed “ready” by your employers.   

Let’s dig into why this some of the top reasons why this is the case:

Most People are Selfish -  Good leadership requires serving others. In order to serve other people you have to put others needs and desires above your own. Since many modern professionals are waiting later to get married, buy houses, and start families, it isn’t surprising that they choose to put themselves first. Selflessness isn’t an easy thing for most people, which is why we have such few great leaders walking on the earth.  

The Current Generation is Staying in the Workforce Longer -  Because of the financial downturn in 2008, many Americans simply don’t have a choice but to work much longer than they initially anticipated. The result is these individuals hold onto organizational leadership roles that otherwise would have been filled by modern professionals. As the world changes, many organizations lose out on new and fresh ideas because the lack of modern professionals sitting in their board rooms, providing fresh ideas.

People are Waiting for Someone Else to Do It for Them - It’s way too common to see modern professionals waiting for someone else to make something happen.  Sitting back, working half-ass, worried about the weekend over Monday-Friday.  Gary Vaynerchuk said it best, “If you are living for the weekend & vacations, your shit is broken." There is always a place for leadership in the workplace because a title doesn't make a leader; so, regardless of title or experience, there is nothing stopping anyone at any point from being a leader.  

Professionals are Currently Being Managed by Bad Leaders -  Most leaders don’t think about creating more leaders, they think about creating more followers.  Unfortunately, this means we have a generation that has been held back by their current leadership. Many modern professionals have been micromanaged, judged by negative perceptions, and restrained from reaching their full potential. If most modern professionals were led by good leaders they themselves would see an example to model and live up too.  

Organizations Provide Training and Development Opportunities Too Late - Only 7% of organizations provide leadership development programs prior to someone leading a team of people. A recent Hartford study showed the #1 type of training they want from their organization is leadership training. It’s like asking a teenage driver to wait to take Driver's Ed until after they got their license; a recipe for disaster  

I’ve highlighted just a few of the reasons why we have too few modern leaders.  I certainly don’t have all the answers, but one thing is clear; we need current leaders to make more of an effort to groom their predecessors, and future leaders to make the conscious decision to want to lead.  Remember Leadership is a skill that can be learned and everybody has the capacity to be a leader. All you have to do is make the choice.

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  • Gary Jamieson

    There is still hope. Millennials have been changing the workplace ever since they started arriving on the scene nearly a decade ago.

  • Hannah Earnshaw

    More and more millennials are growing older and are starting to step into leadership and management positions.

  • Craig Domney

    Millennials are more optimistic and more adaptable when it comes to new technologies

  • Sean Lonergan

    Millennial leaders will likely instate more flexibility, including customizable hours, more remote work, and even more relaxed rules in the office.

  • Maria Kornias

    Brillant read !!

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John Eades

Leadership Expert

John is the CEO of LearnLoft, author of, F.M.L. Standing Out & Being a Leader and host of the 'Follow My Lead' Podcast. He writes or has been featured on Inc.com, LinkedIn Pulse, TrainingIndustry.com, eLearningIndustry.com, CNBC Money, and more. John completed his education at the University of Maryland College. 

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