Leadership Development and the Role of Millennials

Guest post
from Philipe Bruce:

More than 50% of businesses claim that they do not have the resources or
time to train their employees to be leaders. As such none of those business
owners and leaders have the resources they need to sustain their enterprises.
How serious is this? According to the
same study,
expenditures on leadership development programs have decreased by about 10%.

What is horrifying to note is that organizations that fail to develop
employee skills are setting themselves up for disaster. Rather than utilizing
their talent to the best of their abilities and facilitating growth, most
organizations prefer to use employees as cogs, oiling them as needed in order
to remain functional. Entrepreneurs willingly turn a blind eye to this for the
sake of immediate gain and in turn, sets the entire machine up for failure.
Sacrificing long term growth for immediate gain only serves to benefit those
higher-up in an organization’s hierarchy rather than those who really need it.

Leadership development is the most ignored aspect for several reasons.
It is either used to push forth bureaucratic agendas or not given the attention
it deserves. Unfortunately, in the bid to save funds, many companies end up
paying a higher price for this neglect in the long run, losing top young talent
with the potential to steer organizations towards a better and brighter future.

Organizations in the United States spend over $170
billion on leadership based-training programs, but those funds are not utilized
to their full potential. The reason is simple: leaders cannot be trained. They
have to be developed. This means focusing on individual rather than mass
talents. Rather than trying to mold new employees into cookie-cutter ones that
can fit in established machineries, employers need to create leadership
development programs that can be tailored to individual needs and existing

This is easier said than done. In order to encourage managers to put in
the time necessary to do this process justice, old leadership training methods
have to be expunged. Now more than ever, failure to do so may result in a
massive loss of top talent to competing organizations that recognize their
potential and are flexible enough to devote resources to them.

There are a couple of reasons why the old model has lost its
effectiveness. Two of the common ones include:

owners have become near-sighted –
As mentioned before, most organizations
sacrifice potential gain in favor of aimless productivity that can bring
immediate gains. We are not talking about top management here – more often than
not line managers for instance are given set instructions that they cannot
deviate from. This leaves little to no room for employee development since most
managers believe they do not have the resources or the ability to nurture
future leaders.

red tape –
Organizations that focus on developing existing managerial talent rather
than future ones, lead to a tangle of bureaucratic red tape that chokes off
creativity. This leads to development exercises that have little to no value for
new employees, which takes up a lot more time than they are worth. Simply put,
some of today’s development practices are perceived as just something that
needs to be completed rather than important exercises that can generate value
in existing talent.

are getting the short end of the stick…
These two reasons are part of the reason why organizations are failing
to retain top talent and resources that can give them the flexibility they need
to survive in a new business era. We are of course, referring to Millennials
here. This generation is often described as the antithesis of the ideal
candidate. They can be stubborn, opinionated, are loyal to themselves first,
and have high expectations when it comes to career advancement.

However, that is also an immense potential. Millennials can be stubborn
yes, but this trait points to a strong and assertive personality that is the
hallmark of strong leaders. They have strong opinions, but that does not mean
they cannot listen to reason. Millennials thrive on feedback, crave for it
actually, and prefer to have their opinions challenged rather than shot down.
This is a trait that is tantamount for visionaries and leaders who have the
potential of influencing others to greatness. Since this generation craves feedback
and especially from senior management, a lack of it demotivates them, leading
to disillusionment and ultimately, resignations.

Harnessing that potential will be critical in the next decade or so
since this generation has all of the qualities that future leaders need to
remain relevant in today’s business environment. In fact, this generation will
make up more than
70% of the global workforce at that time but this does not mean they do not
need leadership development at all. Unfortunately, with their hesitance to
tackle existing politics, most employers prefer to have a laid-back attitude
regarding the Millennials need of leadership development.

This is dangerous for organizations that have plans to expand and which
will only have baby boomers and retirees to rely on during that time. Many of
them will be experienced but will not have the strength, vitality,
resourcefulness and most importantly, practical knowledge of current business
trends to create sustainable production models.
The key is to pinpoint talent, in this case Millennials, that have all
of the mentioned traits above and those who can be encouraged rather than forced to realize their full potential. 

first approach can persuade them to use their talents to uncover opportunities
that should not be hidden from them in the first place. The second approach
will make it difficult owing to this generation’s stubborn nature. Therefore,
future leadership development programs should be designed to nurture existing
talents in order to prevent a significant skills gap down the line.

Philipe Bruce is the Founder of P.O.D.S
Professional & Organizational Development Solutions, a business coaching
consultancy based in Omaha, Nebraska. Born in The Republic of Togo of West
Africa, Bruce ​is a business development coach with degrees from University of
Nebraska, Bellevue University, and Peru State College. Fluent in English and
French and a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post, Bruce brings a
diverse, global perspective to the challenges facing the American workforce.
His new book
Not Just Talent: TheMillennials Redefining Talent & Human Capital Management
available now on