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What Do Next-Generation Leaders Look Like?
While leaders see potential in the young people entering the workforce today, they’re not using or developing this talent early enough.
The current formula to develop future organizational leaders is to identify high potentials for management roles and provide them with leadership development opportunities. Yet senior leaders who attend programs at the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), an executive education company, often tell trainers they would have benefited from formal leadership development earlier in their lives. While learning more about themselves and their leadership skills is seen as valuable at any age or career stage, they recognize ways they could have used leadership knowledge and enhanced self-awareness during their younger years, and the added value that might have accrued from building a learning orientation early on.
Prompted by this idea, CCL posed a set of questions on leadership and leadership development in 2012 via an online survey to business, government, nonprofit and education leaders. Approximately 500 people from all economic sectors, at all organizational levels and across the age range responded. The survey explored when young people should be exposed to leadership development, what leadership qualities managers want in young people entering the workforce and what excites and concerns managers about young people they employ.
Most Important Competencies:
Past, Present and Future
Ninety percent of respondents across all age groups said they believed leadership development should start before age 18, with 50 percent choosing elementary school age or earlier (Figure 1). Ninety-seven percent said it should start by age 21. Contrast this with the fact that many people never participate in formal leadership development, and most don’t have the opportunity until after they’re promoted into management.
Given this, are young people coming into today’s workforce with competencies that prepare them to lead? The CCL survey addressed this question by asking respondents to choose the top three leadership qualities needed now for young people entering the workforce; seen as important for entering the workforce 20 years ago; and important for youth entering the workforce 10 years from now.
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