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Turning Millennials and Digital Natives into Business Leaders

Millennials and digital natives are the two youngest generations in the workplace. But it’s important for companies to take steps now to prepare themselves for the future and turn those in these generation into the leaders of tomorrow.

Both generations often get an unfairly bad name. If you believe the headlines, they are a generation of lazy “snowflakes” more interested in climate change and avocado-on-toast, than putting their time and efforts into business. Of course, this is far from the truth; in reality, millennials and digital natives crave success in the workplace and are willing to put in the time and effort to become an asset to organizations.

Statistics show that millennials and digital natives will account for around 75% of the workforce by 2030, meaning that the majority of business leaders will at least be millennials by that time. So, it’s important to look to the future and start preparing them for crucial roles in leadership.

Here are a few ways to help turn high-potential millennial and digital native team members into the business leaders of the future.

Millennials: Start Them in Smaller Projects

It is first important to note that millennials should be trialled in powerful positions, firstly to help understand their suitability as decision makers, but also to give them confidence to make decisions and suggestions on their own. For this to work most effectively, put them in charge of smaller projects first. This gives them the opportunity to act as leaders and feel the pressure (and success) of making decisions and seeing them implemented.

Digital Natives: Invest in People Skills

Often referred to as soft skills, people skills are sometimes seen as a real problem for digital natives – and this can be a potential problem in terms of leadership. Leading management and business commentators suggest that people skills are more important than technical business skills. This means that you may need to invest in training to improve the people skills of your digital native staff.

Having great interpersonal skills helps to elevate managers as provides them with the ability to develop great relationships not only with colleagues, but also with suppliers and clients. Leaders with good people skills can help to develop teams with better morale and organizations that are well thought of by others.

Millennials: Provide Them with a Mentor

One of the best ways to guide the skills and development of a millennial staff membership interested in leadership is to provide them with a mentor. By instigating a mentorship program, senior executives in the company can provide information and advice from years of experience. Millennials can benefit from the one-to-one feedback to help them make better decisions with their career, and improve as potential leadership figures.

Digital Natives: Use Their Natural Skills to Your Advantage

Digital natives have a range of natural skills that can lend themselves to extremely effective leadership candidates. They are empathetic and tend to think holistically, taking in many different viewpoints before making decisions. Additionally, they are extremely tech savvy and fast learners, retaining the hard-working ethic of previous generations. Don't force them into specific ways of thinking of working that will not benefit them. Digital natives can make great leadership candidates in their own right.

Millennials: Provide Regular Feedback

Millennials love feedback. Unlike other working generations, millennials actually want more feedback at work. This need for regular feedback will continue as they develop into leaders, so even as they are given responsibility, and made to be accountable for decisions, they will still need constructive criticism and positive comments in order to feel that they're doing the right thing.

Digital Natives: Give Them Genuine Responsibility

Digital native staff need people in their organization to believe in them. They are waiting for the chance to prove themselves in these sorts of roles, and it is up to the business leaders of today to provide those opportunities. So, if you want to create brilliant leaders for tomorrow, you need to give them genuine responsibility today. One of the most effective ways to do this is to give them small but regular promotions, gradually increasing their importance in their department and the business as a whole.

Final Thoughts

Millennials and digital natives can be exemplary business leaders, and may even provide the kind of unconventional thinking that can take the company to the next level. It’s now up to businesses to put their trust in them.