Where Will We Find the Next Generation of Leaders?
When beginning research for this blog post, the angle was in a different vein than what the reader sees here. The original angle gave way to some pithy posts on social media such as:
- Even the best leaders are only as good as the people around them.
- Savvy CEOs ensure their executives come from varied backgrounds and experience.
- Good leaders possess: Accountability, Resourcefulness, and Self-confidence etc., etc., etc. There is a plethora of skills future leaders will require for their success as well as that of their organizations. Deeper research began revealing some food for thought.
- There is little organizational loyalty and job hopping has become so common place that now companies are even “renting” employees instead of hiring them.
- According to an article on the site of Hult International Business School, most companies hire their CEOs from within after climbing the corporate ladder.
What’s wrong with this picture? It begs the question, even if people do have good skills, where will we find the next generation of leadership?
These questions lead to more questions. How can we keep employees engaged so they stay longer to fill the succession plan? Where can we search for our leadership? One answer to the second question comes from Linda Hill in an interview with HBR . Ms. Hill, a Harvard professor, suggests that emerging markets might be a reliable source for tomorrow’s leaders. On one hand, we say that a leader is only as good as the people around them. Ms. Hill posits that one leader may not be enough and that a collective leadership model may be the answer. The premise for this is that no one leader is an expert in every context or market. Another question to raise is are we conducting the proper training for the next wave of leaders?
Ms. Hill cites a case study of a person who is such a successful leader that his company boasts of triple digit profits and the company is being viewed as a future global force. This leader happens to be in Dubai. In the future, more leaders may emerge from places where participation in politics and business to some groups has been forbidden. The leader from Dubai conducts an aggressive training program called CEO training, not just managerial training.
The Question of Training
One cause of disengagement is the lack of training. However, even if your organization provides training is it adequate for the next generation of leaders to meet forecasted needs of your organization? For example, are serious leadership candidates given real and difficult projects to work on providing implementable solutions? Does training provide tasks that stretch their abilities, business acumen, and strategic thinking? Are they aware of business strategies on the docket? Are you addressing if those taking over the leadership reigns have effective soft skills? Leaders cannot lead if they cannot inspire. Are your top candidates self-aware? Training provides a comprehensive graph (see graph #4) on the effectiveness of different training methodologies for the next leadership force.
Being Clear About Ambiguity
Regardless of the source, future leaders must be able to handle ambiguity. Research provides us with many skills leaders will require for success such as accountability, resourcefulness, and self-confidence. Dealing with ambiguity is the skill least seen as a requirement. However, the ability to deal with ambiguity is at the pinnacle of strategic thinking. An interesting question to pose is: Are leaders from emerging markets more capable of dealing with ambiguity due to political unrest, socioeconomic conditions, and volatile marketplaces? Therefore, if an organization is facing an ambiguous situation for some emerging market, should we rent a leader from that market for the duration of the project? America’s younger generations seem more willing to contract than commit. This, coupled with the new “gig” economy, are part and parcel of the dilemma over where America will find her future leaders and whether we need to buy, rent, or develop them.
Still More Questions
What is your organization willing to do to engage its workforce? What is the younger generation willing to do upon gaining the wisdom of what it takes to raise a family, feed, cloth, protect, and provide opportunities for their children? Will they be willing to recognize and participate in the power of positive leadership to maintain America’s freedom for commerce? A commerce that provides jobs, fair wages, and opportunities for everyone? Indeed, from where will these leaders emerge? Now there’s a piece of ambiguity for you.