Majority of CFOs believe millennials are ready to lead, survey finds

According to a new survey from Robert Half, the overwhelming majority of CFOs are confident that millennials possess the abilities to become future leaders. Eighty-five percent of CFOs polled in Robert Half's survey claimed they are generally confident that millennials -- those born between 1978 and 1999 -- are "prepared to assume leadership positions." 

The survey also found the various methods businesses are using to develop future leaders. CFOs said their organizations most often provide ­­onsite training (60 percent); opportunities to attend conferences and seminars (57 percent); and mentoring programs (55 percent).


"Millennials are a highly educated, ambitious group who gravitate toward jobs that provide meaningful personal and professional growth," said Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half, in a statement. "To retain these employees and develop them into next-generation leaders, companies must provide plenty of training and stretch assignments as well as clear paths for career advancement."

"Managers should also recognize millennial workers' desire for frequent feedback," McDonald added. "Even the best performers benefit from consistent coaching."

Robert Half's survey was conducted by an independent research firm, which polled more than 2,200 CFOs from a stratified random sample in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.

CFOs were asked, "How confident are you that millennial workers at your firm are prepared to assume leadership positions?" Their responses were:

Very confident


Somewhat confident


Not very confident


Not at all confident


Don't know




*Responses not equal to 100 percent due to rounding.

CFOs were also asked, "Which of the following, if any, is your firm using to train millennial workers for leadership positions?" Their responses were:

Onsite training


Conferences, seminars and webinars




Memberships to professional and trade associations


Online courses


Subscriptions to trade publications


(Multiple responses allowed)

Robert Half offers the following tips for developing millennial leaders:

  • "Learn what makes them tick. Millennials commonly seek inclusive and transparent workplaces, and many expect to move into leadership roles rapidly. Capitalize on their problem-solving skills, curiosity and confidence.
  • Support their professional growth. Listen to what workers envision for their careers, and give them assignments to help them move in that direction.
  • Let them manage. Starting with smaller initiatives, enable them to flex their ingenuity as project leaders. Give guidance, but allow them to set strategy.
  • Pair them with a mentor. In addition to sharing insights and unwritten rules of the workplace, mentors can help millennial employees hone their soft skills such as communication and collaboration.
  • Be accessible. Research shows millennials often prefer face-to-face interaction with their managers. Help them become next-generation leaders by communicating in person, when possible."

Robert Half, along with the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) and author Michael S. Seaver, also recently authored Creating a Leadership Pipeline: Developing the Millennial Generation Into Finance Leaders, a report that "puts forth plans to help prepare the millennial generation for future finance leadership roles," per Robert Half's website.

For more on Robert Half, head to their site here.

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