ATD Blog

How Managers Can Train Future Millennial Leaders

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

According to the 2015 Hartford Millennial Survey, 69 percent of Millennials aspire to be leaders in the next five years. Additionally, 60 percent of Millennials stated that leadership training was among the top types of development they are seeking from an employer. Yet, Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Survey concluded that 71 percent of those who were likely to leave their organization within the next two years were unhappy with how their leadership skills were being developed. Clearly leadership is something our generation has a strong passion for. 

As the older generations retire and Millennials continue to become the majority of the workforce, it will be necessary for them to be prepared to succeed in leadership positions. So the question becomes: How can older managers train Millennials to be future leaders in the workplace? 

The answer: Teach them leadership skills before they are given the title. 

Great leadership involves possessing a core set of nine capabilities and competencies. In the Ground Floor Leadership Model, these are kindness, generosity, integrity, courage, curiosity, humor, trust, appreciation, and happiness. 

These are the core competencies that enable a leader to effectively influence those around them. But the truth is that employees don’t have to wait until they are in formal management positions to begin displaying these qualities in leadership positions. Managers have the capability to put employees in situations where real management skills can be learned and the skill of influence can be developed. 

Here are three ways that managers can train future Millennial leaders: 


Assign Us to Lead a Project Team 

My first real taste of leadership came when I was an intern and was tasked with leading a project team for an entire summer. This involved leading meetings, holding others accountable, and leveraging strengths to meet deadlines. I learned a great deal about how to lead a team during that summer. Is there a project that you could assign a Millennial to lead and delegate to a team? If so, it might be the perfect opportunity to give them some real-world management training without the formal promotion. 

Empower Us to Coach Others 


Mentoring and coaching is a core skill of being a great leader. I’ve been asked to coach others on many occasions and even regularly offer my time to help those who are in need of extra assistance. Do you have an employee who is in need of coaching but don’t have the time to do it yourself? If so, you may want to consider empowering a Ground Floor Leader Ambassador to coach others, be a peer leader, and transform your culture into one of mutual accountability.

Challenge Us to Develop a Solution 

The times when I’ve felt most like a leader is when my manager has asked me to come up with a solution to a problem she can’t solve. Each time this has happened, I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to use my creative thinking skills and leverage the trust that I’ve been given to go the extra mile and develop something extraordinary. Developing solutions to unusual problems is a reality of management and it is an important skill your future leaders should learn. 

Of course, there are many other ways you can develop your Millennial employees to be future leaders; these are just a few that I’ve had personal success with. If you are looking for a core set of principles you can teach your young employees, download my free e-book, 7 Habits of the Most Successful Leaders. You also can check out my TD at Work, “Managing as a Ground Floor Leader.”

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared at

About the Author

Dan Schwartz is an HR communications manager with BKD CPAs and Advisors. In his role, Dan is focused on executing communication initiatives for BKD to support the firm’s culture and communicate the Employee Value Proposition (EVP). He is responsible for developing, writing and overseeing the release of internal and external communication documents and programs that promote the firm's key people initiatives. Dan has published articles, books, videos, and podcasts related to career development and leadership development. He is the author of TD at Work: Managing as a Ground Floor Leader, Winning Strategies: Achieving Success in the Classroom, Career and Life and is a contributing author to Find Your Fit: A Practical Guide to Landing a Job You'll Love.

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