Millennials are at the age where they are dominating the workforce, including leadership positions in the workforce. According to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. workforce right now, comprising 35% of labor force participants (“Developing Managers,” 2020). This is very important, as the new surge in millennial workers is reflected in leadership positions. While there has been a boost in leadership roles held by millennials, they lack certain skills that would allow them to excel in the workforce.
Millennials have a reputation of being known as lazy and having poor work ethic. This is not necessarily true however, as a Medium article titled “The 14 Most Destructive Millennial Myths Debunked by Data” found that millennials are quite similar to their parents and traditionalist grandparents when they were the same age (“Developing Managers,” 2020). This debunks the theory that millennials are lazy because it is simply not true, and age seems to play a bigger role in this theory than the generation in which they belong to. Millennials are also known to lack many skills in the workforce. In one study, more than one-half of overall respondents indicated that Millennials are entering the workforce lacking critical competencies such as (Lykins et al, 2013). Not only do other generations feel this way about Millennials, but Millennials themselves also do not feel equipped, as 40 percent of Millennials themselves do not believe they are entering the workforce equipped with sufficient skills (Lykins et al, 2013).
One important theory that applies to strong leadership skills is the Triarchic Theory of Intelligence. It is composed of three parts: analytical intelligence, practical intelligence, and creative intelligence. Analytical intelligence is very important in leadership, as it involves the skills measured by conventional tests of intelligence, such as analysis, comparison, evaluation, critique, and judgment (“Analytical Intelligence,” 2020). Practical intelligence is the ability to apply one’s intelligence in practical, everyday situations (“Practical Intelligence,” 2020). Creative intelligence involves the set of skills used to create, invent, discover, explore, imagine, and suppose (“Creative Intelligence,” 2020). Millennials seem to have a good amount of analytical intelligence, as it is gained through schooling, however they seem to lack in the practical and creative intelligence. Analytical and practical intelligence are arguably the most important part of leadership, as it is important to have a leader that is always on their toes and can make decisions swiftly and sensibly based on their prior knowledge. Although millennials may have a great amount of analytical intelligence, if not more, than their older counterparts, the application of their knowledge into their leadership roles is often times difficult.
There are several ways in which millennials can become more prepared to take on leadership positions in the workplace. It is important to create a culture of learning in the workplace. Based on a study, Millennials desire supportive leaders that utilized the achievement-oriented and participative leadership styles. They desire leaders that create a friendly work environment, respect subordinates’ autonomy, and shows confidence in subordinates’ abilities by setting challenging goals for them (Duquesnoy, 2011). Millennials can improve their leadership skills if they are in a supportive environment that encourages their growth. Continued education and learning in the workplace stimulates growth. Providing training and workshops can be very helpful in improving the leadership skills of millennials. Offering programs that would allow Millennials to continue their education with their tuition paid for would help improve their quality of work, which then benefits the company as a whole. In a study conducted by Culture Amp, employees who stay at jobs are 24% more likely to say they had access to learning and development (“Developing Managers,” 2020). Not only does stressing the importance of continued education result in well-rounded leaders, but it also improves employee morale.
While Millennials are misinterpreted a lazy generation, it all comes down to the lack of preparedness to fill these leadership roles. Having a workplace that stresses the importance of continued education and growth will help combat these issues. Soon, Millennials will be able to dominate the workforce with ease.
Duquesnoy, P. (2011). Generations, leadership style and employee performance(Unpublished master’s thesis). Tilburg University. Retrieved May 29, 2018, from http://arno.uvt.nl/show.cgi?fid=115021
Lykins, L., Parker, A. (2013). Mastering Millennial Leadership Development. Retrieved from https://www.td.org/magazines/td-magazine/mastering-millennial-leadership-development
Purdue University. (2020). Developing Managers and Leaders Among a Millennial Workforce. Retrieved from https://www.purdueglobal.edu/education-partnerships/leadership-development-millennials/
The American Psychological Association. (2020). Analytical Intelligence. Retrieved from https://dictionary.apa.org/analytical-intelligence
The American Psychological Association. (2020). Creative Intelligence. Retrieved from https://dictionary.apa.org/creative-intelligence
The American Psychological Association. (2020). Practical Intelligence. Retrieved from https://dictionary.apa.org/practical-intelligence