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Generation Y
Talent Development

Do You Know Where Your Leaders Are?

We’re about to experience the largest shift in human capital this country has ever seen. It’s happening within the next year. Do you know where your leaders are?

We’re about to experience the largest shift in human capital this country has ever seen. It’s happening within the next year. Do you know where your leaders are?

Your future leaders are probably growing within your organization right now. They’re the employees who show the most drive and have strong track records of performance. They understand and can articulate the company’s vision and strategy. They’re ambitious. And because they’re ambitious, if you haven’t picked them as your future leaders yet and communicated their growth potential, they may have already turned in their letters of resignation.

They might not look like leaders now, or when they’re walking out your door, but that could be your future leaving.

CREATE LEADERS THROUGH SUCCESSION PLANNING

Maybe your future leaders aren’t leaders yet. That doesn’t mean you sit back and wait or expect a clear leader to show up when you’re ready. You should start developing your leaders now. Identify who exhibits leadership qualities:

  • Honesty
  • Confidence
  • Ability to delegate
  • Excellent communication
  • Sense of humor
  • Commitment
  • Creativity

These traits are identifiable no matter where an employee is in in the organization. Once you’ve identified who exhibits these characteristics, add their names to your succession plan and develop them into leaders.

Coaching and mentoring young talent needs to be part of your succession plan. Leadership-track employees on your plan probably need the most mentoring and coaching, so the sooner they’re identified the better.

RECRUITING LEADERS

If you don’t have the potential leadership candidates you’d like to put on your succession plan, hire some. Hire them before it’s time to put them in positions of power. Recruiting the best talent for lower level positions will allow you to promote from within when leadership roles open up. And promoting from within has many advantages for your organization including the lower cost of hiring and increased employee loyalty to the company.

Your organization should be actively recruiting employees at all levels to ensure you get the best of the best, not leaving it to chance for the best employees to apply when you have an opening.

ATTRACTING LEADERS

Creating and nurturing great company culture is a good way to make your organization a top destination for talented employees. Generation Y employees are looking for fun, flexible places to work where they’ll be appreciated. They want a strong and meaningful workplace culture. If you build it, they will come. And if you put them on your succession plan, they will stay.

Losing and replacing employees is expensive. Losing your future leaders is even more costly. Find tomorrow’s leaders today and develop them to lead. Programs that show your Gen Y employees that you value them and that your goals are aligned with their career goals will help you engage them, create loyalty and will make the future of your organization stronger.

Your leaders may be working in your mail room right now; you need to know they’re there. Don’t let them walk out and into another C-suite. Identify and groom them; your future depends on it.

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.

 

Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.

 

Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.

 

Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

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