Josh Mackenzie management director at Development Beyond Learning addresses the summit

The millennial generation, long associated with the youthful cutting edge, is now heading towards early middle age. This means that more and more millennials are reaching the upper heights of the career ladder and are now assuming senior management positions. The latest Symposium organised summit titled ‘Talent Management and Leadership Development’, held yesterday at the Hilton Hotel in Canary Wharf, London, considered the effect this generational change in leadership will have on the workplace.

Josh Mackenzie, management director at Development Beyond Learning, highlighted the fact, in his opening remarks, that millennials are, “no longer graduates working their way up the lower half of the career ladder. The rise of the millennials has started.”

Put what will this actually mean? Mackenzie highlighted some of the changing principles that are guiding recruitment at the start of the millennial ascendancy. ‘Gaming principles’ were given as an example by Mackenzie as an example of a changing style. This, inspired by the gaming world, involves such techniques as staged progression, community collaboration, points systems to manage career paths.

“Leadership style cannot be imposed,” Mackenzie concluded, “it has to be developed from the person’s own view and opinions on leadership.”

This new breed of young leaders will not though be managing a workforce of similar youthful stock, instead they will be managing an aging and increasingly diverse talent pool. Stephen Drinkwater, leadership and development manager at AXA UK, described a workplace in flux and spelled out the attributes his company will be looking for when promoting young millennial leaders. “We are hunting for people who are agile, collaborative and trustworthy in nature,” Drinkwater said before adding that, “a learning environment has to be fostered where leaders are able to learn and fail, as failing is part of the learning process.”

Young millennial leaders will also be charged with the task of retaining talent. Millennials themselves are not renowned as a generation able to sit still for long, but their restless style pales in comparison with the footloose and fancy free nature of Generation Y. The demographic cohort that follows the millennial generation look for experiences from jobs, they want to travel and work for companies that have a humanitarian mission statement and a benevolent, world changing, outlook.

Jane Sunley, the CEO at Purple Cubed, spoke of the need for companies to draft an inspirational message that will attract young workers. “A company culture needs to be lived and breathed and acted upon,” Sunley told the summit, “it can’t only be about redesigning business cards and changing signage.”

Sunley went onto note that websites such as Glassdoor, where employees can rate and review companies that they have worked for, mean that firms can no longer present a false image to potential employees, without being exposed online as the peddlers of false opportunity.

The summit concluded with a talk from  Rebecca Christianson, group head of talent at smoothie giant innocent drinks. Christianson spoke about how to develop emotionally intelligent leaders and the innovative company’s canny ability to be a commercial success, while pursing idealistic and sustainable goals.

Find out more about future Symposium events here: