genymulticultural(This may look familiar to some of you. I was recently asked to repost this blog from 2012)

I broadened my practice two years ago to include coaching young professionals. It has opened my eyes and invigorated me in ways I never dreamed.

Most of you know that I am a self-described human potential junkie. I am possessed when it comes to wanting to support individuals and organizations in developing leadership capability. And I have to be candid, this passion collides head-on with how I see the media disrespecting this generation and writing about them with such gloom and doom.  After complaining about it to anyone who would listen, I finally realized I had to put up or shut up. That is when I  started coaching millennials and I am more excited about the leadership future of this world than I have been in a very long time.

The fact is that this is an extraordinary generation that is uniquely positioned and talented in ways that are exactly what the world needs.  WE NEED THEM and every employer needs to understand how to hire, develop and engage them for the good of us all.

Fast Facts About Gen Y’s

Dan Schwabel  is one of the most impressive members of this generation, and his company, Millennial Branding, partnered with Payscale late last year and did a survey of 500,000 millennials. Thanks to them and their good work, here are some of the truths that emerged in their survey about just how amazing this generation is:

  1. They are the most educated generation in US history 63% have bachelor’s degrees and 13% master’s degrees.
  2. They are more likely than any generation to major in Chinese, Neuroscience, Engineering of all types, Digital Media and Communications Studies and perhaps most important, Entrepreneurial Studies.
  3. They are in fact, very entrepreneurial…47% of respondents work at firms with less than 100 people
  4. And of course we know that they are more mobile and tech savvy than any generation before them, the potential of which, in terms of business and job creation, we haven’t even begun to tap into.

Here is what I have learned first-hand in coaching them:

  1. They have a greater global sensibility than any previous US generation.  Many of them have studied, lived and worked abroad during highschool and college.
  2.  They have an inherent understanding of the interconnected complexities of the world’s economic, social, political and environmental systems, which means that they are better equipped to tackle the economic, environmental, social and political issues that face us today and in the future.
  3. Yes, they are facing unprecedented economic challenges but this is not a permanent condition and they understand that. And guess what? As they face these challenges they are responding brilliantly and with a level of resilience that is the mark of true success. The Millennial Branding and Payscale survey showed that 89% of them say the bad economy impacts their daily lives and here is what they have done about it:
    1. 51% of the 89% have cut back on their entertainment budgets
    2. 32% are looking for additional work
    3. 84% of them have delayed major life events because they aren’t ready financially (38% put off buying a home, 31% waiting to start a family.)

I find their responses incredibly refreshing. I want this kind of responsible resilience to become epidemic across the world!!

The Myths That Will Kill Us If We’re Not Careful

People accuse Gen Y’s as being “entitled”  because they demand work environments that provide continuous learning opportunities. I say, “Bravo” to that requirement. They demand that their employers measure them on results not by the time they arrive at the office, nor the time they spend there nor where they do their work.  They demand that their employers understand that being a parent is job #1 and that they need flexibility to do a great job for their  kids and their employers.

I want to tell you something: I genuinely do not know how people can possibly criticize them for these things.  I, and most of the other HR professionals that I know, have been advocating and fighting (and I do mean fighting)  for these changes in the workplace for years.

In 1993 I was the Corporate Diversity/EEO manager for Tandem Computers (now HP) and worked with Artemis Management Consulting and the Ford Foundation on a major Work/Life Balance project. Our work was featured in Fortune and The Wall Street Journal…big stuff…We introduced what were then new concepts, like telecommuting and measuring results, not face time.  That was 1993. We HAVE NOT made much progress…until this generation came along.

They will transform work as we know it and I can hardly wait!!

Their assertive entrepreneurial nature is exactly what we need now. In my opinion, in many ways the struggles they are facing are because they do not fit into this economy. They are joining an economy where 50% of the jobs in 2018 have not yet been created!

My prediction is that their success will not come from fitting into the old but by creating the new.

This generation gives me  confidence in our future. There has never been a generation more capable of dealing with the challenges that face them, and us, today and in the future.

But we have a very real problem that we all need to help with. The world is facing a very real leadership gap.  There are approximately 70 million Baby Boomers, 30 million Gen Xer’s and 70 million Gen Y’s.  This upcoming shortage of leaders requires that we accelerate the development of this generation. We must quickly and carefully construct ways to develop, mentor and coach them so that  they:

  1. Smoothly transition from education to work
  2. Onboard quickly into their careers and chosen professional roles
  3. Get the work experience they need to prepare them for the roles they must fill
  4. Develop their emotional intelligence rapidly so that they can fulfill the leadership needs we face
  5. Fulfill their own potential and the potential of the organizations in which they work

We also need to understand that  WE (anyone older than 30) have a ton to learn from THEM and we will sub-optimize ourselves and our organizations if we fail to create the right infrastructure to ensure that we do.

I am personally committed to doing what I can to support this endeavor and I will be writing more on this topic in the weeks and months ahead.  If you or your organization are doing some cool stuff in this area, or know of others who are, please let me know. I would also gladly invite guest bloggers so that we can make others aware  of new ideas and/or new programmatic approaches that are working.  If you’ve got something you want to share, please call me at 831 277-4919 or email me

Sheila Madden is the CEO of Madden Coaching & Consulting where she coaches and consults with leaders of high growth organizations, young professionals who want to accelerate their career success and individuals wanting to live an extraordinary life .

Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.


  1. Really enjoyed your writing on this topic. It brings to mind that humanity is far better off looking at our similarities then differences. I really feel the energy and compassion when working with this generation. Very bright!

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