Focus on Millennials for Leadership Development

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By Martin Berman-Gorvine

Sept. 22 — Developing new leaders requires focusing on the “millennial” generation, but four out of five organizations are not placing a priority on the development of this age cohort, Lacy Loew, vice president and principal analyst of talent management at Brandon Hall, said in a Sept. 22 webinar.

This finding arose from 242 responses garnered in a survey by the Delray Beach, Fla.-based consulting firm in cooperation with Harvard Business School—70 percent from the U.S. and Canada, 22 percent from Europe, the Middle East or Africa, 6 percent from the Asia/Pacific region and 1 percent from Latin America.

Three of four widespread changes that Loew said are “creating a burn to transform leadership development” have to do with millennials:

• There is “a dramatic change in leadership demographics—a new leader is moving in: out with ‘boomers' and in with millennials.”

• “All leaders should be targeted,” for leadership development, Loew said, “particularly younger leaders. Out with focusing on development just for executives and high potentials and in with quality experiences for all leader levels, with a special focus on accelerating development for millennial leaders.”

• The ways in which up-and-coming leaders learn are changing because “the modern millennial learner has arrived. Out with traditional training programs building skills leader by leader, and in with ongoing opportunities to immerse leaders in building functional experience via mobile and social tools.”


“The millennials are here, and they are the future of our organization,” Loew added in the webinar, co-sponsored by her organization and Bridgeville, Pa.-based management consultancy Development Dimensions International. “So should we be prioritizing millennial [leadership] development? You bet!”

The only major change in leadership development not directly related to the coming of the millennials that Loew cited is “the arrival of leadership analytics,” which implies “out with only leader program completion metrics and in with leadership requirements forecasting capability.”

More Millennials, More Growth

“We’re not doing as good a job as we could be doing” with millennials, Barry Stern, senior vice president of leadership development solutions at DDI, said during the webinar.

Drawing on data from a survey his organization conducted among 13,124 leaders (1,528 of them HR professionals) at 2,031 organizations in 48 countries, he said 30 percent were undergoing aggressive growth, 25 percent cautious growth and 21 percent no or minimal growth.

“In companies that were growing more rapidly, there was a higher percentage of millennials, and in those that were growing more slowly or were flat, there was a lower percentage of millennials,” he added.

To contact the reporter on this story: Martin Berman-Gorvine in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Simon Nadel at