Companies Failing to Develop Millennial Leaders

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New report from Virtuali investigates corporate leadership development programs.

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In 2014, Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) became the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. Of 527 Millennial leaders surveyed, 64% felt unprepared when entering their leadership role.

Demographic changes are quickly transforming the U.S. labor force. Millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) have become the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, and they will grow by 30% over the next 5 years.

Surprisingly, 50% of Millennials are already in leadership positions, and 41% have four or more direct reports. But according to Engaging Millennials through Leadership Development, a new report by leadership training firm Virtuali Inc., companies are not adequately preparing these emerging leaders.

“Moving from an individual contributor to a team leader is one of the most difficult professional transitions a person can make,” explains Virtuali CEO Sean Graber. “And in today’s flattening companies, the opportunities to be a ‘situational leader’ have never been greater. Key leadership skills – communication, collaboration, and the ability to manage – are requisites for all employees, regardless of level.”

However, over 60% of survey respondents reported receiving 10 hours of leadership training or less over the past 12 months. They also reported that the “mix” of training activities was inadequate, with too much emphasis placed on e-Learning and not enough placed on “experience-based” activities, such as job rotations, special assignments, and externships.

The report also found that leadership development opportunities have a large impact on Millennials’ engagement. One survey respondent noted, “Being given the freedom to take on leadership roles is a major factor in my job satisfaction. When I am expected to stay within the boundaries of my job description, I lose motivation and my performance tends to suffer.”

The report outlines additional findings, including:

  • 96% of Millennials believe it is important to be a leader in their career, and 95% believe it is important for companies to provide leadership development activities.
  • 72% of Millennials already consider themselves to be leaders, despite the fact that only 48% report having a formal leadership role.
  • Millennials value people-centric leadership. They rate communication, the ability to build relationships, and the ability to develop others as the most important leadership skills.
  • The most prevalent leadership development activities included: self-assessments, coaching/mentorship, instructor-led classes, and e-Learning. The most desired activities included: coaching/mentorship, rotations/special assignments, and externships.
  • Respondents indicated that the opportunity to work abroad would improve the likelihood that they would join a company (87%), be highly engaged (80%), and remain with that company (81%).

Engaging Millennials through Leadership Development is based on a survey of 527 U.S.-based Millennial professionals and over 100 telephone interviews. The report is currently available for download at

About Virtuali

Virtuali is a leadership training firm that helps companies better develop and engage emerging Millennial leaders through its Go! program.

Go! is a leadership development experience that is specifically designed to fit Millennials’ professional development needs, learning styles, and personal aspirations. It is the only program that enables participants to live abroad while continuing to work full-time in their current position. Learn more at

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Andrew Upah
Virtuali Inc.
+1 (949) 233-0635
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since: 02/2013
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