Leaders of the Future 2020 Leaders – How are they going to be different from the leaders of the past?

LOF GraphicAt sensei we are committed to helping our clients gain a deeper understanding of how they can use Human Performance to deliver strategically significant results. In this White Paper we focus on the importance of developing a talent pipeline and examine how the best organisations are identifying and developing Leaders of the Future.

To help us gain insights into the challenges organisations face in this space, we interviewed leaders from a number of organisations in different sectors: Global Manufacturing Companies, Public Sector, Professional Services Firms, European Facilities Management Providers, Global Engineering & Technology Services and Financial Services Organisations. Each leader participated in a confidential, structured interview and the insights they provided have been used to calibrate our own thinking throughout this paper.

To complement the current leaders’ views, we also interviewed a number of recently graduated young professionals from a similar range of organisations to get their perspective on this topic. We compared their aspirations with what current leaders think and drew some conclusions that can benefit all leaders who are wondering how best to develop their talent.

One of the key conclusions is that, whilst many good intentions abound and the topic is clearly important, it is rarely seen as urgent. Many of today’s leaders seem keen to focus their scarce time and energy on responding to the current economic environment and the operational realities this is creating. This lure of the short term is understandable, however there is a big opportunity being missed, we fear.

Key Conclusions

1. Whilst many good intentions abound and the development of future leaders is clearly important, it is rarely seen as urgent.

2. Developing leadership talent is an ‘adaptive’ not a ‘technical’ challenge.

3. New leaders are best developed by exposing them to the ‘here and now’ challenges and opportunities faced by organisations today.

4. Most organisations are still finding their way in this important value space.

 The young leaders we spoke to are watching, waiting and are keen to step up and take leadership responsibilities. This is an untapped resource that can be deployed to tackle current performance issues whilst at the same time helping to future-proof your organisation. This energy needs to be used well, even more so in the current climate, which demands radical actions, new ways of thinking and new ways of working.

Everyone we spoke to agreed that developing leadership talent is an ‘adaptive’ not a ‘technical’ challenge, meaning the way people adapt, respond, develop and grow and not just the skills that are transferred. New leaders are best developed by exposing them to the ‘here and now’ challenges and opportunities faced by organisations today. The young leaders are keen to get going and, with good quality support in the form of external coaching and internal mentoring, the people we spoke to recognise that they can form a formidable force for change in any organisation.

plant growth graphicThis conclusion backs up the view we have had at sensei for many years – leadership is a fundamentally a ‘doing’ skill and should be taught accordingly. Our Leaders of the Future (LOF) programmes are always carefully co-created with our clients’ leadership teams to:

Ensure participants work on assignments designed to stretch them and deliver the value needed to help fuel the growth of the organisation. This ensures our programmes provide an excellent return on investment. In essence your Leaders of the Future programme should not only pay for itself, it should deliver a net value to your organisation.

Embed a culture of candour and authentic discussion in the new leaders that stimulates ‘radical action conversations’ throughout the organisation. These conversations have the power to align your operating culture to your strategic requirement and the young leaders can be a real asset in helping make this shift happen.

Expose your leaders of the future to leading edge thinking drawn from working with leadership teams from some of the world’s leading organisations. Today’s young leaders are well connected, internet savvy global citizens and the programme you offer them needs to reflect this reality.

Our LOF programmes are a long way from the ‘plug and play’ offerings so wide-spread in the leadership development market over recent years. They are carefully tuned to ensure your organisation has the leadership talent required to deliver value and future-proof your organisation.

The opportunity exists to tap and then direct the energy source young leaders can provide to deliver significant business benefit. The time is now; organisations more than ever need new thinking and new energy to break free from existing shackles and enter the future with confidence.

Developing Leaders of the Future should move up on all executives’ ‘to-do’ lists so it gets the attention to match the desire.

If you are interested in reading the full white paper please contact us and I will send you a full copy.