Former prime minister says millennials need leadership skills


Teaching millennial workers leadership skills is vital, since many employers don’t mentor them, a St. Albert audience heard Wednesday.

Former prime minister Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell said millennials are valuable to the workforce and teaching them leadership skills is vital for their success.

“For millennials we need to prepare them as much as we can, because they are not going to be going into companies and staying for many years,” she says.

“But at the same time, they bring a great deal of energy and interest and a new set of values. By preparing them to use their skills, they will be much happier and they will be much better at contributing to society.”

It was the first luncheon of the season for the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce. Campbell, who is the founding principal of the Peter Lougheed Leadership College at the University of Alberta, discussed whether leadership could be taught.

She said the workforce is a different place today, and that’s something baby boomers will have to get used to.

“Millennials do not have a strong sense of attachment to organizations. So us old boomers, we are attached to the organizations that we belong to … millennials don’t do that. They move around more. And that’s just a challenge that people have to deal with.”

With many millennials taking on shift work and holding multiple part-time positions, it’s difficult for them to get the same level of mentorship as someone who has been at a company for many years.

She said part of the problem is that businesses don’t have an interest in teaching millennials, since they think the employee is just going to leave anyway.

“Most of the leadership programs that people have in the business world, for example, are for people after they’ve been in the workforce for five, 10, 15 years,” she says. “More and more companies don’t want to spend the money doing that because they feel these are young people that aren’t going to stay.”

Campbell says some individuals possess a natural propensity towards leadership while others don’t. Regardless, certain skills can be taught to teach the individual how to be successful in their careers.

“I think like having a talent for playing the piano, some people may have natural skills or natural personality traits that make it more easy for them to be effective as leaders to mobilize people to accomplish goals,” she says.

“But I do think that there is a lot that can be learned.”

She added that all leaders start out as ‘blank slates’ and become a product of what they’ve learned from their formal and informal education.

Campbell was the first Canadian female prime minister in 1993. In 2014 she became the founding principal at the Peter Lougheed Leadership College.

This year was the first graduating class of the program. It offers a two-year interdisciplinary leadership certificate, which means students come from a wide variety of programs. Some may be in fine arts degrees, while others are in business or science.

For more information on the program visit:




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Dayla Lahring

Dayla Lahring joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2017. She writes about business, health, general news and features. She also contributes photographs.