- Posted by Intersect International
- On November 18, 2015
- Ambition, genY, Leadership, millennials
2015 saw Intersect International launch its progressive initiative Advance the Conversation which saw more than 100 female executives connecting and discussing the future for women’s leadership. Many themes came out of these events and we are excited to begin sharing some of these insights.
Senior Associate Partner, Stephanie Merrin, had a particularly thought provoking conversation at our inaugural Insurance Supper Club event. Read on to find out opinions supported by facts around millennials – their attitudes, values and leadership potential.
“Over dinner last month, an insurance executive asked me how I would assess the leadership potential of Millennials – the generation born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. She said “They are confident, achievement-oriented and very eager to advance, but I can’t tell if that’s backed up by real leadership qualities. They seem so young. I’m worried about giving them more responsibility – and afraid that they will leave us if I don’t.”
We spoke about our experiences with Millennials in the professional workplace and noted the following strengths and challenges:
- Strengths: Bright, well-educated and independent-minded; willing to put effort into meaningful work; socially-skilled and collaborative; digital natives, connected globally through social media and travel.
- Challenges: Mistrustful of institutions, including big business and government; highly sociable, but low on social trust; over-confident and not always willing to invest in learning a job from the bottom up; willing to move from job to job to gain greater satisfaction or advantage.
With this discussion in mind, I scanned recent research into Millennials, or “Gen Y”. What drives these young professionals’ interest in early leadership? What kind of leaders will they be?
At Intersect International, we use the Hogan suite of instruments to assess leadership style and potential. In a recent research brief, Hogan took a look at the characteristics of Millennials and concluded that the group shows common tendencies: high sociability; high self-confidence; high ambition and desire to be in a position of authority; a strong sense of entitlement; and a strong desire to please, coupled with a reluctance to act against popular opinion.
Summarizing the findings, Hogan CEO Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic noted that “since much of Gen Y has been persuaded – first by overprotective parents, then by grade inflation and the unrealistic promises from universities – that their high expectations would eventually translate into actual achievements, it should come as no surprise that millennials are less interested in working hard to actually achieve them.”
Deloitte’s global Millennial study added perspective to this perhaps unflattering view. The 2015 survey involved more than 7,800 Millennials in 29 countries world-wide; all participants had college or university education and were employed full-time in large, private-sector organizations. Findings from the survey suggest that Millennials have ambitions that go beyond themselves:
- Positive impact: Millennials may be self-confident and ambitious, but they are interested in having a positive impact through their work. While recognizing that the purpose of business is to make money, they expect business to drive innovation and provide general social benefit as well. For six in 10 Millennials surveyed, a “sense of purpose” is behind their choice of current employers.
- Valued leadership attributes: Millennials value social skills in business leaders. Those surveyed identified the top traits of “true leaders” as: Strategic thinking (39 percent); Being inspirational (37 percent); Strong interpersonal skills (34 percent); Vision (31 percent); Passion and enthusiasm (30 percent); and Decisiveness (30 percent).
- Balanced leadership priorities: Millennials view today’s senior leaders as overly focused on short-term financial goals and personal gain. In contrast, they emphasize the importance of employee wellbeing, growth and development. While emphasizing the importance of ensuring the long-term future of the business (43 percent), 27 percent report that they would prioritize their companies’ contributions to local communities and society as a whole.
Idealistic youth or an enduring social conscience? “The message is clear: when looking at their career goals, today’s Millennials are just as interested in how a business develops its people and its contribution to society as they are in its products and profits,” said Barry Salzberg, CEO of Deloitte Global. “These findings should be viewed as a valuable alarm to the business community, particularly in developed markets, that they need to change the way they engage Millennial talent or risk being left behind.”
So how can we best develop the potential of Millennials – and retain them long enough to realize the benefit of our investment? Look for more on that topic next month.”
What’s your experience with Millennials in the workplace? Do you agree with some of the points raised? Please share your thoughts below.