Brave New World, Brave Business Leaders Needed

The first quarter of 2014 brought welcome optimism for some of the world’s major economies. On the face of things, it’s great news. However, businesses still face a battle to get back to the levels of pre 2008 performance and growth.

One thing that could be preventing them from doing so is if business leaders aren’t equipped for the brave new business world. Could Generation Y leaders hold the key?

Have Leaders Got This In Their Locker?

Concerns persist that many of today’s leaders lack the skills and knowledge needed to lead businesses in a rapidly-evolving corporate landscape. This is highlighted by the London Business School’s Lynda Gratton in her research.

The Future of Work Research Consortium, led by Gratton, found that half of the executives sampled across the world don’t think that leadership programs are currently equipping leaders with the right skills. This is a worrying trend which must be reversed.

Gratton offers great insight, setting out a clear and bold vision for the future of leadership. She explains the need to develop leaders that are able to leverage new technologies, take risks, build external relationships and champion creativity.

Failure to develop leaders with these skills and traits will stifle innovation and, with it, economic growth.

The Present: Developing Leaders Now

Companies must quickly recognize and respond to the changing business world. They’ll need to adjust talent and leadership development programs accordingly.

The first step is for businesses to identify what skills, behaviors and competencies their leaders need to possess in order to deliver strategies now (and anticipate how this might change in the future). They should measure leaders against a defined set of key skills, behaviors and competencies. Awareness of leaders’ strengths and development needs will then help companies to provide targeted support in areas where they need to shift behavior or change their approach.

Taking these steps will certainly better equip leaders now. However, the real change in leadership approach for business may only come about when the next generation of leaders take the top jobs.

The Future: Generation Y Leaders

Generation Y or ‘Millennials’ as they’re also known will, naturally, be more inclined to embrace and leverage new technologies and to champion innovation.

And, as others have noted, Generation Y workers are more collaborative and flexible in their approach. This makes them better able to build relationships and create strong, engaged teams.

I’d argue that this combined skill set and experience gives Generation Y the perfect foundation to be the bold, brave and forward-thinking leaders we need to drive future business success. Time will tell if I’m right.

(About the Author: Ben Egan is an experienced consultant specializing in communications strategies at UK-based HR consultancy and bespoke technology firm. ETS are experts in employee engagement, development and performance appraisal working with major global businesses including PepsiCo, Tesco and RBS.)

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