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The Future of Work

Why The Most Successful Organizations Have Women And Millennials In Charge

A new global study shows that when women and twenty-somethings lead, big things follow.

Why The Most Successful Organizations Have Women And Millennials In Charge

[Image: Flickr user keith ellwood]

Gender and generational gaps have recently become big buzz words in the business world. According to a new study, it's not a passing trend: Having millennials and women in leadership positions directly correlates with the success of a company.

The Global Leadership Forecast looked at the workforce issues affecting 13,124 leaders from around the world, representing 48 countries and 32 major industries.

Millennials present a unique catch-22: Their presence in leadership positions related to the company's growth rate. Companies with a 30% proportion of young people in higher roles saw "aggressive growth," according to the study. When it's more like 20%, they saw "little to low growth" rates. At the same time, they were the least engaged of all the age groups studied, and the most likely to leave within a year.

The researcher suggest strategies to keep this catalyst-generation engaged and loyal, including social learning opportunities, virtual workshops, and ways to connect in person with mentors. See the millennial breakout section of the study below:

Women in leadership, like millennials, are a sign of successful companies. Of the participating organization, those in the top 20% financially had almost twice as many women in leadership roles, as well as more high-potential women holding those roles. Visualize that gap below:

The main issue holding these high-potential women back, it seems, is a lack of opportunities. Women had the edge in development plans and in knowing where they needed to improve, but men had more chances to lead in visible ways: In multinational teams, geographically dispersed groups, and in international assignments. These missed chances to shine mean that women, on average, get fewer shots at big projects and promotions.

"To improve business outcomes, bolster current development programs so that all leaders, including women and millennials, can improve their skills," study coauthor Evan Sinar, Ph.D. said in a press release. "Development opportunities build confidence. Provide opportunities for stretch assignments, ensure formal practices are in place to facilitate those opportunities and fully commit your support to mentoring programs to develop and prepare new leaders."

From the study, the takeaway from all of this number-crunching:

These gaps are worth noting and addressing. Encouraging gender diversity in your leadership pool means greater diversity of thought, which, in turn, leads to improved problem solving and greater business benefits.

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