Over the last few years, a mass retiring of Baby Boomers has left many Millennials in leadership positions before they are ready.
We recently had the chance to conduct a survey, drawing from over 300 Millennials who are currently living this leadership gap and experiencing first hand the challenges that come from managing a team. When we asked them what leadership resources they are tapping into to support them in their new positions, here is what they had to say.
Peers have the biggest influence
70% of the Millennials we talked to said they get leadership advice from their peers.
In comparison, 24% looked to industry publications and only 20% of these individuals looked to professional organizations for leadership support. Surprisingly, parents even took the back burner at 50%, showing the value that is placed on conversations with colleagues and friends.
Leadership is best taught in groups
If there is anything we’ve learned from social theories, it is that critical skills are developed from observing and modeling each other. However,the importance of peer influence is often overlooked or downplayed in traditional leadership programs.
According to Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Charles O’Reilly, leadership research is often more focused on the individual leader, when success is really driven by a team. Leadership taught in a silo doesn’t prepare new managers for the complexities that come by collaborating with other people.
Peer learning happens online and offline
Organizations often also discount the importance of peer learning as well. Sometimes even ignoring the many channels that employees use to interact with each other daily.
Millennials are networkers and relationships-builders. They grew up with the internet and as such they are comfortable building connections both offline and online. Team learning is not just happening in group meetings between colleagues, it’s also happening in Slack conversations, instant messaging, small group conversations and happy hour meet ups.
How companies can encourage peer learning within their organizations
Companies can support this new generation of leaders by adapting their leadership approach to incorporate peer learning with online forums and group meetups. The most important factor is making sure that wherever these conversations are happening that they are authentic. This means encouraging full transparency and open discussions between employees at every level.
By understanding the communication needs of this generation, organizations can take a step forward in the right direction taking advantage of the influence a team can have on an individual and providing more peer-assisted learning opportunities for mentorship.