Bridging the Gap with Next Generation Leaders
S McFarlin 2017
PURPOSE: Throughout the past sixteen years as an executive leadership coach working with young talent and the executives that manage them, I have seen a disconnect. That disconnect spans from what young people want in their careers to what their superiors need in next generation leadership. Seasoned professionals who currently are 53 years and older will be retiring in large numbers from the workforce over the next decade, leaving vacancies in leadership roles. My experience has shown me that young talent is not being developed to keep up with the current and future demand. In addition, there is high turn-over with young talent, creating gaps in service and heavy use of resources to recruit, hire and train new employees. The survey I conducted captures the current needs and desires of both next generation leaders and those who manage them, pointing to gaps and potential solutions for building up the needed talent pool. SURVEY METHOD: Two surveys were conducted through Survey Monkey. The first survey included a series of questions and was targeted to those who manage next generation leaders, yielding 63 respondents. All five questions were open-ended questions. The second survey included a series of questions and was targeted to next generation leaders aged 22-35, yielding 74 respondents. Three questions were open-ended and two were multiple choice allowing for unlimited responses. All open-ended questions from both surveys were categorized into themes as seen in the following results. SUMMARY: The survey clearly indicates where there is disconnect and where there is alignment in what young talent wants in a career and what those who manage them want in the leadership pipeline. The number one quality managers are seeking in next generation talent is communication and people skills, yet the greatest deficit that managers perceive are the qualities of being other-regarding and communication skills. The primary career drivers of young talent are to make an impact and have meaning in their work, but those do not seem to be generating the patience and motivation being sought by those who manage them. They bring to the table, technology and innovation skills, both of which are valued and sought out by their superiors. Those that manage next generation leaders also are seeking replacements for themselves, but are finding key skills lacking that would make the young talent strong leaders. This points to the ripe opportunity to close the gaps through leadership development, coaching, and team optimization to create the needed talent to fill the future leadership roles being vacated by aging senior leaders. Following are the results from the two surveys conducted.