According to a Deloitte survey 25% of Millennials are asking for a chance to show they can be leaders. Should we be rushing to give that 25% a chance?
Who Wants to Lead?
Leadership is a constantly evolving discipline filled with masters of theory, and experts of practice. Everyone is searching for the next leader to emerge that will guide their business, organization, or team to the next level. The value of a good leader is at a premium as every major reporting agency is telling us that the number one reason that people are leaving their jobs is the quality of their leader. The future leader looking for opportunities will always find them with a small measure of patience. As leaders we should be looking to find the talented, reluctant leaders that can mix confidence with the humility it takes to lead others.
I was recently hospitalized, and spent a significant period of time at the facility. As a student of leadership, I had plenty of opportunities to study the teams that were taking care of me, and collect observational thoughts. I had plenty of conversations with line level employees, and managers alike. I spoke to several administrators throughout my stay, and in the end, the most impressive potential leader that I encountered was someone that was thrust into a leadership role.
After several unorganized and agonizing days at the facility, I was beginning to lose confidence that my condition would be addressed, and that the team taking care of me had the genuine care and acumen required to improve my overall health. That morning a nurse came and introduced herself as one part of a two person team that would be taking care of me today. Both nurses seemed more interested in me and my well being than their predecessors, and overall we started off on the right foot. During her next visit I learned the Melissa, the nurse trainer, had been asked to lead and mentor a small group of nurses to ensure they were trained and providing the best possible care. Melissa said that she never thought about being a leader, but when she was told she was doing it, she signed up for a class to help give her some tools to be successful.
Over the next couple of days she got to know more about my leadership experience, and began to ask me questions. I would watch her interact with her team both in my room, and as I would walk around the floor. She was very confident in her abilities, but did a great job of stepping back and listening to her trainees. She would treat every question with a great deal of respect, and would mentor and coach her team to a solution versus just doing it for them. She was quick to praise, and I never once heard or observed her correcting (unless medically necessary) her team in front of anyone. For someone that never wanted to lead people, she showed all of the natural traits of an outstanding leader.
Today’s workforce is looking for a growth plan that involves accelerated opportunities. In many cases, those opportunities involve leading others. As business leaders we have always gravitated towards the “go getters”, those people that constantly tell us they are ready, until we give them a chance to prove it. According to Deloitte, 25% of Millennials are looking for that chance to lead. As leaders, we need to make sure that we aren’t simply handing out leadership opportunities to the loudest voice in the room, instead we must stay connected to the 75% that aren’t asking to lead. It is our responsibility to understand who possesses the leadership traits that we know produce our desired outcomes, and in some cases we need to gently nudge them to perform. I’m not suggesting that there is no benefit in the 25%, but rather simply encouraging leaders to evaluate all of their talent, not just the ones that are telling you they are talented. As employees look for direction on their future, be prepared to nudge those with the humility necessary to listen.
If the number one reason that someone leaves a job is because of their boss, then we as leaders need to start paying closer attention to the people we hand the mantel of “leader” to. The greatness of a leader can be found in the breadth of their succession planning. It is incumbent on us all to find the Melissa’s in our organizations and provide them with the tools they need to be successful.