4 Ways Millennial Women Can Level Up Their Leadership Skills During The 'Silver Tsunami'

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Emily Stark132
Career Coach, Marketable Mama, LLC.
June 16, 2024 at 6:31PM UTC

Have you noticed an uptick in Zoom retirement party invites?

It's not a huge surprise the pandemic pushed many considering retirements over the edge. Pew Research found retirement jumped up by 3.2million from the third quarter of 2019 (25.4M) to 2020 (28.6M). The wave of out with the old, in with the new workforce has been coined "The Silver Tsunami." It's due to peak in the upcoming years.

Even a novice surfer knows that quite a bit of strategy goes into catching the crest of a wave. Monitoring approaching sets, situating your board, digging your arms through the water and popping up to ride. As older workers become ready to retire, millennials are uniquely positioned to start preemptive work for a leadership role rising ahead. Here are four steps to start.

1. Question your future.

Career growth takes internal drive. Before you put your name in the hat for a sought-after leadership role, you need to make sure that it's a meaningful step in your career journey. 

To understand what you’re looking for at work, start by taking notice of your favorite tasks and responsibilities within your current role. Take a couple of weeks to observe how you feel throughout your workdays. Then, journal what you want to do more of in your future and what you want to sift out.

From there, research potential paths in your company. Inquire with current leaders on how they secured their position. Plan more than one possible route to get where you want to go. Your individualized career growth map will act as a blueprint for your course. 

2. Raise your hand.

Ambition can take you to the top. But how can you make your future intentions known?

Professionals looking to grow often shy away from overt conversations about their career progression, even with their managers who are responsible for helping them grow.

We must remember that a leader is only as good as the team they've built. Advocating for yourself and requesting your manager’s sponsorship to boost your growth contributes to their leadership. But they won't know what you want unless you tell them.

3. Build an advocacy team.

Now that you're ready to talk about your strategic leadership plan, let's think about building a team to support your growth. A key tactic is expanding your growth channels. Like a politician can't rely on one group to win the seat, it takes a team to ensure someone’s professional advancement. Connect with and be seen by an eclectic roundup of respected stakeholders within your company.

Contrary to our high school beliefs, we want people to talk about us behind closed doors. Asserting your career objectives to decision-makers and backing them with evidence is a sure way to pave your way into a leadership role. Here are a few ways to build a strategy around this:

Discuss your career path in 1:1s with your manager. 

Scheduled meetings together are a perfect opportunity to hash out your future work and build a task portfolio to match. Be sure to give them the green light to share your goals with others.

Stay on top of company decisions and industry trends. 

Most companies report influential information such as budgets and upcoming focus areas. Incorporate these into your work as an up-and-coming leader.

For example, this past year, many companies devoted more time and money to building equity in the workforce. Weave your unique skills around this critical mission and lead trailblazing initiatives. Report your successes back to leadership.

Join in! 

If there's a collaborative meeting and you know there'll be influential people there, ask to tag along. Don't feel the need to make a scene; take things slow, and show that you have ambition, interest and fine-tuned collaboration skills.

These are just a few entryways to cultivate a broad connection base. You'll need to nurture these people into advocates. Support them, share your excellent work and ask them about their professional goals. These mutually beneficial relationships are crucial to landing a more senior role and building a reliable and engaging team.

4. Understand the future of your company and industry.

Here’s a worst-case scenario: you spend all your time strategizing your journey to leadership, only to learn the department you aimed to lead will be downsized. It's impossible to be a fortune teller, but there are some professional habits that can help you build a strong career forecast.

According to John Hall, John Hall, co-founder, and President of Calendar, the best way to keep up with what’s happening in your industry is to read daily industry research and trend reports. "Reading a variety of reports can help you feel the landscape and where things are headed,” he wrote.

Not sure what to read?

An easy first step to merging industry content into your daily routine is to seek out industry content in your existing go-to reading material. For example, if you scroll the NPR or Wall Street Journal headlines most days, seek out articles within your sector.

Tracking successful leaders is an easy way to stay exposed to their work on your social platforms. You can subscribe to a couple of newsletters and occasionally carve out a longer stent with a dense report.

People dialed into company reporting, such as in-house economists, business analysts or financial analysts, are great resources to tap into a conversation on the company's inner workings. Connecting with these data wizards feeds into your goals of broadening your advocacy channels.

Over the past year, we've learned building relationships and forward-thinking knowledge are cornerstones in a trek toward a successful future. The Silver Tsunami will have many ripples that will impact our economy, resources and work practices; the most exciting onset is opportunity. 

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This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.

Emily is a seasoned career coach, certified resume writer, and life coach. She has worked in career services in higher ed and outplacement with clients ranging from new grads to execs and every professional step in between. Her business Marketable Mama serves working and return to work moms to land fulfilling roles through revitalized job search docs and client-centered coaching. You can check out more at www.marketable-mama.com.

What’s your no. 1 piece of advice for someone wanting to move into a leadership role? Share your answer in the comments to help other Fairygodboss members!

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