Coaching Millenial Leaders AND Reverse Coaching

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Adrianne Geiger Dumond



Millenials (those between 18 and 35) have been the subject of many articles recently, ranging from skeptics who challenge them for work styles and self-centeredness, to supporters who laud them for being hard workers and eager to serve. A recent article by author Dan Negroni provided some excellent advice on how to coach these potential leaders to maximize their skills.

Negroni recommends four ways to guide millenials. Here is a quick summary.

  • Learn and lead from strength. Young adults may have acquired a good set of skills, but never focused on their strengths. Good leaders know what they do best, recognize their strengths and use them effectively. If an employee has not had a strength assessment in career counseling, the purchase of a strength assessment tool may be helpful. There are many on-line assessments for this purpose. Then the art of coaching is to help the employee express these strengths effectively.
  • Communicating the message. Given that millenials are often called self-absorbed because they will stay connected to social media, even in the presence of good friends and family, it is important to train them on communicating their skills to clients and customers. Managers can help this process by taking time to explain the concepts of the vision and mission, and then coaching the employee on how to translate his/her strengths to that end. By doing this, bosses can teach/model for the employee what they might say in introducing themselves. It provides the language they could use in the beginning.
  • Coaching for relationship building: Many millennials are articulate, outgoing, and take quickly to giving the non-profit message and how they can help. Others may be shy and benefit from being shown. When a boss – or other seasoned employee – can accompany a millennial to an introduction, it’s a great coaching opportunity to model the language and professional behavior.
  • Teach them to listen: Millenials strive for authenticity – they thrive on transparency. They have been bombarded with a noisy, chaotic social media and understand transparency. But an important part of transparency is listening. Teach them to listen well, and to transmit to the customer that they have heard them.

What about Reverse Coaching?

Millenials have skills and talents that the older generations never expected to need. They are fluent in Internet technologies, important to today’s marketing and fundraising efforts. Their talents in social media can be an asset to a nonprofit’s business goals.

Reverse coaching means asking the millennial to teach (coach) those employees who are interested in leaning more about the use of skills with which he/she is so familiar. It can be done during working hours or afterward, depending on the benefits to productivity and efficiencies. Millenials tend to think of an organization as a network, not an hierarchical structure. They would be comfortable and at ease with a CEO coming to learn about Snapchat or Facebook or Twitter – all good marketing tools. This also offers an opportunity for the millennial to practice leadership.

Millenials may be suffering the most from the effects of 2008-2009. And even as the job market may improve they won’t be earning as much as they might have. And yet, it is estimated that by 2025 millenials will make up 75% of employees and customers. By 2027 they carry the bulk of the world’s buying power. (BoardSource, Great Leadership, Sept.29, 2016). Millenials have the hunger and potential to be great leaders. They also like to serve, so that means nonprofits will play a role in shaping many future leaders.

Author:  Adrianne DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County,