Next Generation Executives are Change Agents

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Nick Livingstone.



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Today’s Generation X and Millennial talent offer qualities that are suitable and prepared for leading change. Leadership today is more complex than ever. The growth of technology has ushered in an unprecedented rate of rapid and constant change. Today’s business environment is global and interconnected, demanding culturally aware and digitally fluent leaders who can both manage diverse teams and resonate with a diverse customer base. The best leaders today combine agility and emotional intelligence with innovative thinking and an inclusive mind-set. They must be adaptable and able to pivot quickly with sudden market changes in an uncertain economic and geopolitical climate.

With the average age of global C-suite executives being roughly mid-50s, the older end of Generation X has already been stepping into the C-suite having occupied senior management roles for a few years. It is predicted that Generation X’s younger cohort will continue that trend over the next decade and Millennials will start to follow. With both generations having experiences of heightened uncertainty and sweeping change, both are comfortable in climates of fast pace, rapid change and instability.

We discussed this further with Redline Executive Director, Nick Livingstone:

The next generation is more open to change and adapting to new ideas, which is important for companies to ensure they keep evolving and growing in today’s ever-changing climate. For Gen X, whose birth years are approximately 1965-1979, their formative years included experiencing an economic boom and bust and the end of the Cold War. While they are not digital natives, they were the first generation to be introduced to personal computers and the migration from analogue to digital. As a result, they are comfortable with digital platforms and have evolved with changing technology which has positioned them to leverage technological potential. They are able to keep abreast with the times and take advantage of a younger workforce that is more tuned into cutting-edge and disruptive technologies.

For Millennials born between 1980 and 1995, experiences such as the Internet and the Great Recession are both formative societal experiences. Millennials have grown up and experienced a digitally connected society, therefore pre-digital processes and experiences are foreign to them.

Many Generation X leaders are well-positioned to drive digital transformation within their organisation by understanding the experiences of both the Baby Boomers and Millennials who have grown up on both ends of the digital divide. Instilled with the empathy and emotional intelligence required to support teams and foster a culture conducive to enterprise-wide shift, millennial leaders are well positioned to pick up where Gen X leaves off and drive digital to an immersive and innovative new level.

How to build the next-generation leadership team?

A successful CEO will ensure that a part of their main responsibilities is to guide the way for the next quarter of a century. Keeping that in mind, any long-term strategy that doesn’t include a healthy investment in the next generation of leaders in the business is missing a key ingredient. Here are Nick’s strategies for building a winning development initiative for your business:

  • Have a rolling and evolving strategy in place
  • Map talent internally and externally
  • Develop an attraction and retention strategy with your employer brand 
  • Create a smart succession plan to minimalise risk and maximise opportunity
  • Identify leaders who can help identify and build the next generation of leaders
  • Provide regular strategic coaching

Introducing a leadership development program will never be perfect in the timing, format, or selection process for eligibility. It won’t be flawless and it is a learning curve to accelerate your organisation on so many levels beyond just the information taught. You will start to identify key characteristics in potential leaders. By promoting from within, it will also create excitement in your organisation and influence other employees to remain with the company and see that there is potential to climb the ladder.

Consistency is key. First, you must start your leadership program, then establishing the frequency and rhythm is a close second. If the program is regular or frequent, it will build momentum. Current leaders should pass down their leadership philosophies in order to provide the foundations in order to build the next generation.

A leadership program should be designed to build leaders for the future, not enlist the most ready-made of your existing workforce. An outgoing, charismatic star performer may be the obvious choice to enrol but don't overlook the reserved, thoughtful and under-the-radar people who could grow into a leader with the right guidance and encouragement.

No organisation can have too many qualified leaders, and you can never know when you will need to replace, add or promote someone. The organisations that are intentional about the development of their next generation leaders will be prepared for anything.

For a confidential discussion on C and D roles, such as Sales Director jobs, please call Nick Livingstone – Director on +44 (0)1582 450054 or send an email to info@RedlineExecutive.com

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