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Do The Millennial Leaders Have What It Takes To Be Tomorrow’s Great CEOs?

The world belongs to the millennials now. The generation has been under major scrutiny with the proliferation of connectivity and has been largely debated on their attitude, values and ethics. Despite all the criticism and controversies, they are taking up important positions in the society and corporate. They are leading various verticals and are already proving their mettle on many fronts. But the question we ask today is that are the millennials ready to take up the role of CEOs?


The Conference Board, a New York Based non-profit business membership and research group organization, along with DDI, A global human resources consulting firm, undertook a research on a range of topics to map the current millennial leaders and draw an analogy with the leaders of previous generation, to see whether the millennials can be as effective CEOs as the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. Over 2800 leaders, from all existing generations, participated in the research.


What came to the fore surprised many critics of the millennials. Let’s look at some of the musts that the research busted about millennials.


Myth: Millennials are not loyal to their companies and will hop from one job to another to get ahead in their careers.


Reality: Turns out millennials leaders have more loyal sentiments towards their workplace when compared to their predecessors. According to the research, about 44% of millennial leaders plan on staying in their current companies for over 15 years as compared to 29% leaders from the previous generations. For the tenure of 3-4 years, while in older generation only 11% plan on staying, it’s 14% for the millennials It’s only in the tenure of 1-2 years that the numbers shift more in favour of non-millennials with 11% vs 7%.


Myth: Millennials learn leadership skills in a different way.

Reality: Millennials, like their predecessors, too believe in learning on the job. Baby boomers and Gen Xers believed Developmental Assignments is the best way to learn, while Millennials feel coaching from internal mentors and coaches is the most effective learning way. As opposed to the generic assumption, millennials put the radical ways of formal learning through social, online portals in the lower ranks on the list. Their affinity of these forms of learning is not much different from that of older leaders.


Myth: Millennial leader’s values are in contrast with values help up by other leaders

Reality: The values and beliefs are bound to change from one generation to another, but the difference in the values of the millennial leaders and their counterpart isn’t that wide apart. Leaders place. The values they hold highly are ideas, technology and rational problem solving. Another value that is encouraging to see in millennials consideration is helping others and working towards betterment of the society.


Myth: Millennials want fun culture at workplace, and don’t favour strict hierarchy

Reality: Another cliched assumption. The research showed that the workplace culture that appeals most to the focal generation is where they get flexibility and mentoring. Flexible options to work remotely, policies for vacations and flexible work hours – which have been voted in favour of by other leaders as well. Another point that millennials mentioned was the frequent mentoring by senior leaders.

So, are the millennials ready to be successful CEOs?
One result from the research on skills required by millennial leaders highlighted the challenges faced by companies in preparing individuals to take leadership position.


Upon being asked about the most important skills for leaders as they move upwards, younger CEOs had different opinions. While the current CEOs feel critical thinking, management skills (stakeholder, business management) are vital, millennial leaders feel it's leadership impact, interpersonal skills and cultural acumen that take the top shelf.


What can be judged from these opinions is that the CEOs are talking from their experience and younger leaders are learning from the culture of their generation, predicting the possibilities of tomorrow's workplace. Does these mean that organizations are headed towards a major change? Well, in all probabilities, yes. Also, in all probabilities, the chances of millennials not leaving their mark on the C- suit are bleak.


Although, time will tell how things pan out for the millennial leaders, what we can gauge from their survey is that they do have the right set of skills to take their organizations and its people forward with them. They understand the balance between corporate responsibility and profit making.


What's required now is steps to be taken from organizations to nurture these leaders to produce the next line of great CEOs, and who knows, they might even do a better job at it.


Tridiv Daas is the originator of Creative Factor Group.

Having spent over two decades in advertising & marketing and worked on some of the most prominent brands like Intel, Apple, Essilor, Schneider Electric. He is now empowering small and medium organisations to thrive in the present opportunities. Connect with him at tridiv@creativefactor.in


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