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Fostering the next generation of leaders

By Jack Campbell | |6 minute read

Gen Z is entering the workforce, and in a few years, the leadership will shift from generation to generation.

This change will happen smoother if the leaders of today take the time and effort to transfer skills and knowledge onto the new generation.

“[Being] really passionate about the next-gen leaders is critical to improving the way [the] world has led,” said the executive director at Russell Reynolds Associates, Dee Fitzgerald.

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“When you talk to next-gen leaders, when you dig into the survey findings, you see a couple of different things. They’re looking up, they’re not necessarily seeing the pathway ahead, they’re not necessarily seeing the sorts of behaviours, role models that they would like to be seen.

“As a group, they have a really low level of confidence in their leadership teams currently, which poses a big challenge for CEOs, C-suite teams, and HR leaders. Organisations need strong succession pipelines to really create that resiliency and agility and depth of leadership.”

Without fostering this new generation, organisations will fail to perform. It’s up to current leadership and HR teams to put in the work to coach the younger staff coming through.

“So, what can HR leaders and organisations do? First of all is ensuring that there is a really clear succession strategy in place. Having a succession strategy that is really underpinned by robust data and insight around people that actually allows for evidence-based decisions to be made around future talent,” explained Ms Fitzgerald.

“That starts with having an agreed understanding of what future leadership looks like for the organisation, understanding the context and what’s really critical to capitalise on the opportunities and the challenges ahead.”

Ms Fitzgerald highlighted that current leaders often make the mistake that the processes of the past apply to today. With the workforce under constant evolution, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership, and what worked 20 years ago may be outdated now.

“For a lot of leaders, it’s understanding that the requirements of leadership have fundamentally shifted over time, and what got them there won’t necessarily get the next generation to where they need to be in the future,” she said.

“For Gen X, it was very much around having the right expertise, building up that expertise over time and delivering results through your own efforts, and of course, the efforts of your team. And what we’re really seeing organisations grapple with is how do we build a much stronger sense of purpose? And what sits behind that is an enterprise mindset and enterprise leadership.”

Ms Fitzgerald continued: “For Gen Z, the important skills for the future are really around systems thinking and curiosity much more so than previous generations, which was much more around domain expertise, and of course, having that adaptability and ambition to really fuel the success of the enterprise, and of course, the empathy to include and influence a much wider range of stakeholders, both within the organisation and externally in the community.”

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full audio conversation with Dee Fitzgerald on 14 March is below, and the original podcast article can be found here.

 

RELATED TERMS

Coaching

Coaching differs from training in that it frequently focuses on a narrower range of abilities or jobs. This might be done as a part of personnel upskilling or performance management. Both internal trainers and outside coaches may carry out this task. Coaching occasionally includes assessments and performance feedback.

Training

Training is the process of enhancing a worker's knowledge and abilities to do a certain profession. It aims to enhance trainees' work behaviour and performance on the job.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.