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Millennials want leadership skills

Tuesday February 03, 2015 Written by 
Nearly two-thirds of Millennials employed in leadership roles felt "unprepared" when starting in these positions.

And even after spending time as leaders, these young American workers born between 1980 and 2000 continued to report their lack of experience presented challenges in managing difficult people and resolving conflict, according to a new report published by Virtuali and the New Leaders Council.

The survey revealed that 96 per cent of Millennials aspire to achieve leadership roles in their careers, and 71 per cent already consider themselves leaders despite not currently holding formal leadership roles. This may reflect the Millennial belief that leaders emerge through actions and influence, rather than via formal hierarchies.

People-centred leadership

Millennials believe communication, the ability to build relationships, the ability to develop others and strategic thinking are among the most valuable skills leaders should possess. And while the abilities to build relationships and communicate well are among the strongest skills Millennials believe they possess, they are less confident in their abilities to think strategically and develop others.

Millennials self-assess themselves as being weak in other key leadership skills, including technical expertise, industry expertise, the ability to innovate and the ability to manage change.

Investing in Millennial leaders

Most Millennials are receiving at least some leadership development training in their current positions. Thirty-eight per cent of Millennials received between one and 10 hours of training in the last 12 months, while 16 per cent received between 11 and 20 hours of training during this period. Roughly one in 10 Millennials received more than 51 hours of leadership development training in the past year - an encouraging signal that some employers are heavily invested in developing Millennial talent.

However, one-quarter of Millennials (24 per cent) report receiving no leadership training in the last 12 months. These employers may struggle to retain Millennial workers already on staff and to recruit new talent to replace employees who accept leadership development opportunities with other organizations.

Types of training

Self-assessments (48 per cent), career coaching and mentorship (45 per cent), instructor-led classes (43 per cent) and e-learning (40 per cent) are the most common types of training Millennials have received in the last 12 months.

This is somewhat out of alignment with the types of training Millennials perceive as delivering the greatest impact in their development. Career coaching and mentorship are clear favourites among young workers, followed by rotational or special assignments, self-assessments and instructor-led classes. Millennials are skeptical of the value e-learning adds to their careers, so perhaps it's no surprise this type of training is the least desired among young workers.

Results are based on an online survey conducted among 527 Millennial professionals in the United States between June 19 and Sept. 19, 2014.

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