Developing Millennial Leadership for the Future, Today

(This week I attended my first “virtual conference” on Millennial Impact MCON2012. I won a free registration via Twitter from the Case Foundation! Thanks Case Foundation! Below is a reaction to one of the breakout sessions I wrote for the folks at Millennial Chat)

By 2020, 46% of all U.S. workers will be millennials. By that time, we can also expect an exodus of the bubble of baby boomers from the workforce, rapidly leaving leadership gaps in organizations across a variety of sectors. The face, skills, and expectations of the average American worker will be dramatically different.

What does the next generation of leadership look like for organizations? How can the leadership development pipeline begin to strengthen its paths today? These were the questions asked by the “Creating Millennial Leadership Programs” presenters Zeke Spier (Executive Director, Social Justice Fund) and Kris Putman-Walkerly (Founder and President, Putnam Community Investment Consulting Inc.) at MCON2012.

Today, millennials are already providing an insight into their organizational and leadership values. These are: authentic relationships, inclusivity and diversity, and openness to change. Zeke Spier explored these values through his organization in their fundraising efforts. They found that developing leaders within peer groups and within volunteers multiplied the impact – those leaders welcomed the challenge and responsibility and that leadership pathway gave volunteers steps to follow that tied their personal development to organizational development.

The big lesson this strategy revealed was that young millennials have expendable income to give, they want to be asked and will giving meaningful contributions when asked in an authentic manner by a mission-driven organization. Social Justice Fund did not set a minimum contribution in their fundraising campaign, but instead they found that donors, especially millennials, gave more than they would have expected if they had set a minimum contribution. By focusing on the values of authenticity, diversity, and openness to change, the organization tapped into the values of millennials.

Practically, where does the leadership pipeline begin for future millennial leaders outside of involvement in nonprofit campaigns? Kris Putnam-Walkerly pointed to a variety of internship programs that are equipping millennials with the experiences and skills to thrive in the workforce. These internships and entry-level opportunities are especially apparent in the nonprofit sector, which contrary to the private sector, actually grew by 2% during the recession. Ultimately, millennials are prioritizing meaningful work over higher pay, and they are finding these opportunities to contribute and grow in their careers through the nonprofit sector.

Two great examples of internship opportunities in the nonprofit sector include opportunities coordinated by the Cleveland Foundation and the Exxon Mobil Community Summer Jobs Program.

What types of internship or volunteer opportunities contributed to your leadership growth as a millennial? How is your school or community fostering opportunities for young people to develop their leadership skills in the workplace? What do you envision a millennial-led workforce will look like in the future? What will they value?

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One thought on “Developing Millennial Leadership for the Future, Today

  1. Pingback: Millennial Impact Recap – #MCON2012 Ripples Continue « Talisman Thinking Out Loud

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