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Sep 1, 2015
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

So your Millennials have their feet under the desk, and many of them may be moving into a managerial or leadership role.

A recent study from the Pew Research Center showed that Millennials will surpass Baby Boomers and Gen X in the workplace this year. But how should you adapt as they climb the ladder?

In my research, I polled the same group of Millennials as in my previous articles on the following topics: What attributes make a strong manager, what skills do Millennials possess, and how do they feel they relate with their teams.

What makes a strong manager in the eyes of these Millennials? The most important attribute is the ability to motivate staff and keep them engaged.

Key attributes for Millennial managers

Many of the responses focused on the topics of encouragement, the ability to influence, and supportiveness. There is a direct correlation here with the No. 1 skill possessed by Millennials, that of personal ambition/drive/motivation.

  • Some 46 percent of those polled listed being able to drive forward and instill a sense of motivation for the team.
  • The next two traits of a leader were very close, with 25 percent stating trustworthiness and 20 percent around the topic of leadership management skills. Again, it just so happens that the second most listed attribute of a Millennial is that of change management and the ability to adapt and to be flexible.

The data is clear: Millennials know what they want from a leader, and they also just happen to think that they possess those skills themselves.

With multiple generations in the workforce today (Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials), this raises an important question: Do Millennials have the skills to lead in the most diverse workplace the world has ever seen?

Relating to a diversity of workers

The last topic I asked these Millennials is a very important one. I asked this group on a scale of 1-5 how well they feel they relate to current diversified co-workers.

The average response was a 4.3. However, three in four Millennials did mention that they do feel they relate differently to non-Millennial employees. This is a significant number since, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average age of an employee was 41.9 in 2012 and will rise to 42.6 in 2022.

With more and more Millennials moving into leadership roles, this poses a challenge to employers.

The bottom line is that Millennials do feel they possess the attributes to move into leadership roles, the correlation and desire is there. The real question is, as Millennials assume more senior roles, what are employers going to do to ensure that all groups of employees remain engaged?

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.