Interview with a Millennial Leadership Coach: Rose Woodruff

“So many people in my generation don’t know how to appreciate, nurture and monetize the talents that millennials bring to the workforce. Instead, supervisors and managers often inadvertently make their millennial workers feel unappreciated or underutilized, causing high millennial turnover,” according to Rose Woodruff, a millennial leadership coach. She explained that millennials are sideswiped by corporate expectations that are incongruent with the customized digital world that molded their values. These generational incongruences are causing unprecedented employee turnover.  In fact, in a 2016 Gallup article, Amy Adkins writes, “millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually.”

Woodruff has been a Drona Leadership Coach since it’s soft launch in 2017.

Who are your most successful clients?

Coaching Millennial Professionals energizes me because they are so eager to discover things about themselves, enthusiastically pursue greater emotional intelligence, and are more adventurous than many of my other clients.

What types of issues do you find yourself coaching on?

That is part of the fun of coaching people between 18 and 36 –they bring multifarious issues to the coaching calls. I’ve coached on everything from managing the annoying relatives who ask why you’re still single and childless to what to do when your being groomed for the C-Suite and are terrified by your rotation into the sales department for 6 months with hundreds of jobs partially depend on your ability to make the sales. 

What are some of the outcomes your clients have achieved?

Most of my clients have a higher EQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) after our coaching. They have new awareness that makes them more effective in relationships. Almost all my individual clients achieve greater confidence, sometimes it is the confidence to boldly share their true input about a project, sometimes it’s to increase their energy at work by making small changes to their work environment, sometimes it’s about how to manage up when their boss isn’t being effective. I remember one client where we coached on how to handle her boss’ request that she tell her colleague that she is not getting a raise up to my client’s level because her performance wasn’t as good. I would have handled her issue differently than she did, but that is what makes coaching, coaching.

We help our clients find their answers, not ours. When I work with teams or partnerships, it’s usually increased communication, collaboration, and trust. I remember one partnership where through coaching we discovered the big picture thinker was working with the details and the detailed person was in charge of the big picture stuff. No wonder each thought she could do better than her partner! They already had a successful business, but they were able to do it with a lot less energy drain after they switched. 

Why do your clients hire you instead of another coach?

My clients often hire me for my confidence and understanding about relationships. They have no idea that I have hundreds of hours of coach specific training for individual coaching and relationship systems coaching. They have no way to measure my actual coaching skills against other coaches they see on the web. They hire me because they believe I can help them, often referring me to their colleagues and friends because I help them be more confident, courageous, and focused. Companies hire me because they have a Millennial turnover issue or they are afraid their Millennial employees won’t be ready to take over leadership positions. What they find, after our coaching is how gifted their Millennial workforce is once we put structures in place to harness it. After I transitioned to Millennial Leadership Coaching, I discovered that prejudging Baby Boomers and Gen Xers were equally to blame in the Millennial turnover equation. So I work with teams to bring greater intergenerational harmony, including better communication, greater collaboration, and an appreciation for what age diversity brings to teams.

What was your journey to being a professional coach?

After selling US.Net, an Internet company that friends and I had started in the early 90’s, I was able to be an at-home mom, but 7 years later the kids were creating their own lives and I was looking to re-enter the work world. My sister said I’d make a great coach, but I had never heard of life coaches, although I had informally coached several people through getting small businesses started. I did my research and chose the largest and oldest international coach training program that did in-person trainings and had an excellent reputation. I did my coach training, then certification and started coaching. I earned my International Coach Federation Credential in 2008.

After a year or so of coaching, I was transformed by my clients. I became more patient with other’s opinions and suggestions. I became much more at-ease with not having the answers but pursuing them. Later, I studied Organizational and Relationship Systems Coaching®, which is very helpful when the client is a partnership, team, or department (as opposed to an individual). For eight years I did entrepreneurial coaching but found that my clients often needed training more than coaching.

Finally, in 2014 I started to reassess my passion and stopped fighting the fact that my favorite clients were usually Millennial professionals. Then I realized that Millennial retention was costing companies a lot of money. In fact, in a 2016 Gallup article, Amy Adkins writes, “millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. Jumping into millennial leadership and development coaching, I discovered the richness of what they bring is often overlooked by older colleagues and bosses. Creating respectful, trusting relationships within multi-generation teams in addition to leadership coaching feeds my soul.

What most influenced the way you coach?

Since 2006, I have undergone hundreds of hours of International Coach Federation approved coach training. I am trained in Co-Active Coaching, Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching, and to lesser degrees in a lot of different coaching methodologies through continuing coach education. I incorporate all of that into my coaching, but more importantly I adhere to the gold standard of coaching, which is the ICF standards, which focus on supporting the client’s agenda by asking powerful questions and providing feedback to help the client find the answers. My clients build skills at creating greater awareness and applying it to their behavior to nurture continued personal and professional growth.

Coaching millennial professionals energizes Woodruff because they are so eager to discover things about themselves, enthusiastically pursue greater emotional intelligence, and are more adventurous than many of her other clients. The multifarious issues they bring to the coaching calls keep her fully engaged. She has coached on everything from how to manage the annoying relatives who ask why her clients are still single and childless to what to do when a part of their grooming for the C-Suite includes a terrifying rotation into the sales department for 6 months with hundreds of jobs at risk, partially depending on her client’s ability to make the sales. 

Woodruff works with teams to increase intergenerational harmony. Through team coaching, her clients most often achieve increased respect, communication, and collaboration, especially between members from different generations. Most have new awareness that makes them more effective in relationships. Even from one 30-minute speaking engagement, Woodruff had a participant later report that she told her boss about millennials wanting their bosses to be like their soccer coaches (nurturing mentors who give them frequent feedback and push them to be better) and it changed her boss’ attitude towards her millennial employee from one of being annoyed by her frequent interruptions and requests for feedback to one of feeling appreciated and respected as a mentor and coach. According to Woodruff, such transformations of perspective are frequent and increase millennial employee engagement, helping to reduce turnover.

If you want to enhance your leadership skills and see yourself an emerging leader then schedule a FREE coaching session with Rose to get started.