Millennials: You Can’t Fight Demographics

I was born in 1956, right in the middle of the Baby Boom, on the cusp between the Vietnam Generation and the Me Generation. Like many of my colleagues embracing our ‘Third Act’, our focus has shifted to helping clients with issues of succession and the development and coaching of the next generation.

You can’t fight demographics, and we know that within ten years, the Millennial generation[1] will represent 75% of the global workforce. Although, there is limited scientific research about what actually differentiates Millennials from younger people of other generations, much has been written about the Millennial generation. Some of this is anecdotal, some speculative; and a common impression seems to be emerging from Millennial characteristics, illuminating their upside and downside potential.


Millennials have already assumed leadership roles in organizations. There are numerous examples of start-ups, technology-based companies and social enterprises where the entire workforce (from executive to entry level) are Millennials. This trend will only accelerate in the coming years.

On April 19th at the Daniels Spectrum: Regent park, we will be holding a Millennial Leadership Summit, where we will unpack some of the big questions surrounding this often maligned and highly influential generation. We’ll explore what leadership looks like for Millennials and how as managers and leaders of Millennials we can help them accelerate their leadership journey.

Over the coming weeks NextGenLeaders will use The HR Gazette as a forum to explore many of the topics we’ll be probing in depth at the Summit, and through our broader writing, speaking and consulting work.

These include:

  • Given what we know about leadership, what are key capabilities and priorities for Millennial development?
  • Given what we know about Millennials, what is likely going to be smoother for them, and what is likely going to be more challenging as they grow as leaders?
  • Are there a set of universal leadership principles that resonate regardless of generation, and are there specific principles that seem uniquely tuned to Millennials?
  • What are the predictable leadership rites of passage Millennials will face as they step into bigger and more complex roles? What will they need to learn as they grow from individual contributor to first-time manager and up into leader of influence roles? How might we predict they’ll handle these critical career transitions?
  • What are we learning about the most successful practices for attracting, growing and retaining Millennials? How are employment brands and value propositions shifting and becoming more compelling for Millennials?
  • Will your Millennials be ready to lead? Will they have built the right profile, relationships and toolkit of capabilities? Will they have gained the seasoning, self-awareness and emotional maturity needed to handle the complexities and decisions they will face?
  • How will you have turned up the heat and stretched them, providing them with an array of developmental moves and opportunities that challenge them to ‘step into their bigness’?

[1] In defining the Millennial Generation (or Gen-Y), the widest range appears to be those born between 1980 and 2000. (Other age ranges are also cited).


Author: Allen Hirsh

Allen Hirsh is the founder of NextGenLeaders®, a collaborative network of Ontario-based management consultants, organization and leadership development specialists and coaches. The brand uses an action-centered approach to enable leaders to improve the quality and speed of execution, and in the process help the organization expand its capabilities in leadership, strategic thinking, change management, learning, team development and talent building. Email Allen and check out the Millennial Leadership Summit

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