Essential Skills for Developing Leaders

HR professionals love to joke about kids these days who come out of school thinking they’re ready to be a CEO, but what’s wrong with that I ask you? Even in their 20s, employees who are considering their future leadership potential can be more engaged and productive. And the skills they are learning will lead to a bright and successful future for both them and your company. At the Millennial Leadership Summit this past week, Simon Trevarthen offered up four characteristics of millennial leadership that I think all millennials could benefit from developing. Look for these skills in your precocious young team members and be sure to nurture them to support their success.


1. Creativity
Bringing something new and unique to the table is always valuable. For example, developing learning resources could get really boring, but at Learnography we all make an effort to be creative and have fun. I appreciate how every glass and mirror surface in our office has a whiteboard marker nearby. We write jokes, little encouragement, or draw doodles around the office that always bring a smile to my face whether I’m the vandal or the audience. Having these creative outlets on hand prevent boredom and add to the productivity of the office. The wonderful thing about creative outlets is that they can be almost anything. Whether it’s a cute little sign off at the end of an e-mail or a unique flourish someone brings to a meeting minutes, the opportunity to be creative is everywhere, and nurturing this trait in millennial employees will set them up for success.


2. Time Management
The value of time management skills becomes more and more obvious as our schedules get progressively busier. But developing these skills young can give millennial employees a leg up on the game. At the Summit, Simon suggested Value Time Management is as important as having an organized calendar. It’s not just about getting everything done, it’s about making time for what’s important, like making connections with colleagues and doing the work they find most meaningful.


3. Listening
No one would argue that millennials aren’t used to being listened to. Millennials were raised to believe they are special flowers and that their voices matter. But equally important in the workplace is the ability to listen. Communication is not just about the ability to express oneself, it’s a two way street. Developing millennial employees’ listening skills and understanding of their audience will make them better workers now and prepare them for leadership roles in the future.


4. Value-based Decision Making
Personal values are a big part of what separates us from our coworkers and, as Trevarthen suggests, it’s important to bring these values to one’s work. For example, I do a lot of work PhET Interactive Simulations at the University of Colorado. As a member of the Solutions team it’s not necessarily my job to take on project work, but I really care about the work they’re doing and want to be involved. I’m fortunate to work at an organization that lets me pursue my passions, and I am incredibly dedicated to my work as a result.


These millennial leadership characteristics reflect the values of prioritization and ownership of your work. Trevarthen highlights the need for millennials to chase their own passions while supporting those of their colleagues. Your entry level hires may already show signs of leadership capability, but by celebrating and encouraging these traits you can help facilitate their transition from potential leaders into awesome ones.'

Author: Kate Salmon

Communications specialist and general word nerd from Toronto, Ontario. Upon learning that I could still get a degree in rhetoric in the 21st century, I went to the University of Waterloo to do precisely that. Now I'm continuing my learning journey at Learnography, a non-profit education consulting organization that really practices its principles of continuous development. With a great team of former educators who are dedicated to creating transformative learning experiences, we are changing the face of corporate training.

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