Millennials: Leadership training, where are you?

Six in 10 millennials feel that their leadership skills aren’t being adequately developed. Chances are, if you aren’t providing this itchy-feet generation with the training and development they want, they’ll be off — within two years or less.


We’ve been writing about the opportunities to close the gap between leaders and the training they are asking for. But what about the leaders of tomorrow? With talent pipelines running dry, are you doing enough to offer training to new generations and keep them from walking out the door?

Leadership pipelines are running staggeringly dry


That’s right. It’s not just about retention. There’s a leadership talent shortage in many organizations. These companies may have survived the recession, but can they survive internal talent shortages and make it around the next bend?

Deloitte reports that only 6 percent of organizations are confident that their leadership pipeline is “very ready.” About 700,000 baby boomers are set to retire annually over the coming years, and workforce leaders will be taking their skills and experience with them when they go.

Meanwhile, there are loads of millennials entering the market who are ambitious, if a little impatient. This generation has a lot to offer and they are ready to take on responsibilities in the workplace, but they expect a lot in return — like engagement, flexibility and development opportunities, for starters. Forbes profiles them nicely in this article.

By 2020, 50 percent of the workforce will be millennials, according to PWC.

Yet as we reported in our previous articles on the leadership training gaps and what you can do to close them, many organizations are not providing adequate leadership training and development to employees.

Millennials have grown up with the digital revolution and expect apps, multi-device content and social media communication in all aspects of life. But learning providers are missing the boat.

So, we pose two key questions …

  • Are you providing digital, multi-device and blended leadership training to help tap into millennials as future leaders? (And, of course, to keep up with the needs of other leaders too, as we said here.)
  • Are you utilizing digital leadership resources to help sniff out the leaders of tomorrow and get those pipelines flowing?

Here’s our advice on how you can do both at once.

Related: How digital training actually helps leaders and managers

How to build leadership training for the new-age millennials

Get digital, and make everything multi-device

If you’re not embracing modern, digital learning with this audience, then engagement stats are going to take a nosedive. This audience won’t understand why they can’t start something on one device and continue it on another. Nor will they understand why they can’t search for what they need when they need it. Help them out by making digital resources and learning that works seamlessly across all devices, and tap into the generation that learns on the move in short bursts.

Offer up bite-size nuggets as “pull” learning

If you follow our previous tips, you already know why it makes sense to create short, bite-size performance support resources for leaders. Why not offer up resources on subjects like time management, running meetings and inspiring others to become potential leaders? In fact, why not offer it all up? If millennials are hungry to develop, they will “pull” on these to help them grow because they are a generation of self-directed learners.

You may, of course, have to point them to where these resources live first. Think modern marketing and buzz them on social media, instant message or, failing that, email to let them know what’s on offer. Push some previews up to LMS home pages to draw new learners in. Do anything but hide it away.

Provide millennials with opportunities to be leaders

Create online simulations, scenarios and other challenges that let potential leaders try their hand at a leadership role. These don’t have to be in a work-based setting — Harvard offers a Mount Everest-based simulation. Whilst this is quite a complex example, you may be able to draw inspiration from it for your own development ideas.

Elucidat and other good authoring tools come with built-in branching and scoring mechanisms so you can build challenges yourself, output them to multiple devices and track those all-important scores.

Track and sniff out future leaders

Track who’s “pulling” on the free-for-all leadership resources to help pinpoint who might have leadership appetite within your organization. Chances are, those who fight for it are those who will go on to lead.

Then, of course, track how they do with challenges, games, scenarios and simulations. Do they seem to have what it takes? What gaps do they need to fill?

Give millennials feedback, too. It’s only fair, plus the Forbes article highlights that feedback equals increased engagement.

Offer diagnostics for self-assessment, and even recruitment

Why not provide digital diagnostics that enable new generations to find out what kind of leader they may be or which skills or experience they may need to develop?

These don’t have to be knowledge-based quizzes or self-assessments that ask “How confident are you at leading meetings?” and so on. You can use a scenario as a diagnostic tool. It’s all about how you ask the questions. If you want to find out someone’s ethical stance, decision making abilities or how they might react to a given situation, build in short scenarios or cases and ask questions about them. The responses will reveal how and what an employee or recruit thinks.

Check out this example by The Open University’s To Lie or Not to Lie game (built in Elucidat) to see a quiz in action.


Think broadly: Could such quizzes, challenges and diagnostics be offered up to potential recruits? These tools might help potential employees find out if the organization is right for them before they apply, as well as tell you if they have what it takes to be a future leader.

Key takeaways

Building on our previous posts Good leadership drives good business and How digital learning can really help leaders and managers, we hope this article provides some ideas for how and why you should tap into the future-leader market.

Future leaders can be hiding anywhere in an organization. It’s not just about looking at who’s coming through the door, but that’s an obvious place to start. Given the leadership pipeline problems, many managers are looking to recruit for leadership potential from the start.

If you’re a leadership and management training provider or part of an internal L&D team, there are huge opportunities to attract, retain and grow leadership by embracing smart blends and providing digital, multi-device learning and performance support.

You may find that the same bite-size digital resources can support new, current and future leaders if they are designed with that strategy in mind.

A single digital learning strategy can help organizations find future leaders as well as serve the modern, self-directed learner.

What’s next?

Learn how Tesco uses Elucidat to produce multi-device e-learning four times faster than with previous technologies and tap into a learning market of 500,000.

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