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Who will develop our future leaders september 2011
Who is Developing OurFuture Leaders?The Boomer Leader Legacy PlanBy Donna StevensonSeptember 2011
As the boomer generation begins its exodus from the workplace, we wonder about their legacy forsubsequent generations of employees. Baby boomers are credited with launching the internet revolutionand the development and growth of mobile technology - significant contributions to business growth throughprofessional and personal access to information, education, and enhanced forms of communication. Butthey are also blamed for the greed and excess which drove the economic collapse of the financialinstitutions they led prior to 2008 and the subsequent Great Depression. This resulted in the currentemployment climate, the presumed dearth of full time jobs available to the current entrants to the workplace,Generation Y.It is time to take the boomer generation’s measure and focus their attention on re-establishing a solidfoundation for business growth for the next group of workers, managers, and leaders. In this article, wemake the case for the development and implementation of a boomer leader legacy, of boomer leaderaccountability for developing the next generation of leaders. How will tomorrows business writers andcommentators treat their leadership tenure? What will be their legacy?_____________________________________________________________________The case for changeToo much of our time, as managers and leaders, is spent focused on the here and now. And this isnever more evident than today. With the focus on the economic downturn, and with all indications thatit may be some time before it reverses, business leaders remain transfixed by the issues of the dayrather than where they should be taking their businesses tomorrow.Business experts advise that less than 20% of business leaders have put their thoughts to strategicallyplanning for the boomer retirement boom, advancing quickly upon us. And this boom will be a world-wide one, as the workforce in most countries, China, Japan, Europe, Australia, Canada and the UnitedStates, is aging at the same rate, growing the skills and expertise gap, creating a business world with ashortage of leadership experience and expertise.With the pending retirement of the Baby Boomers, those born between 1947 and 1964, from theworkforce, a critical need is developing – ensuring the next generation of leaders is developed. TheBoomer generation dominated the workforce for the past thirty years and is still a dominant force today.By the year 2020, a major shift in the composition of the workforce will take place, replacing the Boomergeneration with Generation Y. We submit the combination of this generational shift and the currenttendency of the boomer generation of leaders to not expend time and effort strategically planning forthis shift will create a workplace lacking leadership expertise. Business and HR leaders and expertsshould start, now, today, to build the strategy and process required to address the expertise gap thatwill surface within the next ten years.The Human Capital Institute survey which explored leadership development initiatives found that seniorleaders lack the time, skills and information necessary to develop the next generation of leaders andthat organizations lack the appropriate infrastructure, access to information, and consistent leadershipphilosophy to address the pending leadership talent crisis1. More than 50 percent of business and HRexecutives expect severe to moderate shortages in executive leadership within the next three to ﬁve1 Human Capital Institute, Leaders Developing Leaders: Capitalizing on the Demographic Gift to Revive Your LeadershipDevelopment Program, pg. 2. BM2B September 2011 2
years. And more than 60 percent of executives say leadership development and talent management aretheir companies‘ most critical people issues.2The Boomer Leader Legacy (BLL)To address this pending leadership crisis, high performance organizations and their senior teams needto build what I have named the Boomer Leader Legacy (BLL) plan. Organizations need to capture thisleadership expertise and work with their current leaders to develop the next generation of leaders.The BLL plan, complete with a development process and learning program, will incorporategenerational influences, utilize sound leadership practices, and foster an environment of accountabilitynecessary for boomer leaders to grow the future generation of leaders. The BLL plan incorporates thefollowing five steps. 1. Build the leadership profile for the organization including competencies and capabilities required to drive the strategy forward. 2. Review the leaders and managers in the organization to determine leadership gaps, current and future. 3. Identify future leaders for the organization. 4. Assess current boomer leaders for their capability and capacity to mentor and coach future leaders. 5. Build a customized program to match current with future leaders to close future leadership gaps.Foundation for the BLL PlanOrganizations need to hold their boomer leaders accountable for developing future leaders for theorganization. Leaders have accountability for the growth of their organization and for their organizationto grow, their employees need to grow. Building a leadership sustainability culture ensures current andfuture leaders understand, appreciate, and practice the skills required to continuously move theorganization forward.In Warren Bennis‘ book, On Becoming A Leader, he identifies three basic reasons why leaders areimportant. “First they are responsible for the effectiveness of organizations. The success or failure of all organizations…rests on the perceived quality at the top…. Second, the change and upheaval of the past years has left us with no place to hide. We need anchors in our lives,a guiding purpose. Leaders fill that need. Third, there is a pervasive, national concern about the integrity of our institutions. ..”3.Bennis wrote this book in 1994, yet the sentiments remain the same. Leaders are important but theyneed to be our anchors, assuming accountability for their purpose and working diligently to move theorganization toward its strategic direction by developing its future leaders. They must be heldaccountable for their own development as well as development of others.We should not assume all good managers naturally make good leaders or that all leaders naturallymake good mentors and coaches for potential leaders. The key is to clearly identify those leaders2 Deloitte, ―Talent Edge 2020: Blueprints for the new normal‖ (December 2010), pg.3 Bennis, W., On Becoming a Leader, pg. 15. BM2B September 2011 3
whom have both the capability and capacity to develop others. Selection of these leaders needs to besupported with leadership development processes and programs that will deliver measurable results.And, leaders are no different from other employees when it comes to motivation for performance. Theorganization must include, in its‘ process, plans to reward boomer leaders for performing the mentorand coaching role, effectively. High performance deserves high praise and it needs to come from thosethe high performer respects. With senior leaders, this reward and recognition activity should includeboth financial and nonfinancial rewards, those appreciated by this results-, benefits- and pension-oriented generation.Developing the BLL Plan 1. Build the leadership profile for the organization including competencies and capabilities required to drive the strategy forward.The workplace, today, is composed of Traditionalists, Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y (seeTables 1, 2 and 3 for characteristics about these different generations). Boomers and Generation Ymembers dominate the workplace at 40% and 30%, respectively. By 2020, this will shift to 20% and50%, respectively.4 But the issue is not the increase in the number of open positions. The issue isensuring you have the right people in the right jobs in the right locations. It is the loss of expertise thatwe will mourn.This is the first time in the history of the job, the modern workplace, that we have experienced thisnumber of generations in the workplace at the same time. Given that the modern workplace is only twocenturies old, we do not have very much experience, as business leaders and Human Resourceexperts, dealing with this phenomenon. As well, each generations working and communication stylesand working preferences have been formulated by different societal events. This means eachgeneration views the workplace and their work life from a slightly different perspective (see Table 1).They each see their world through different prisms. Add to the mix the significant technologicalchanges that have occurred since 1960 and the increasing reliance on social media by the youngergenerations and the workplace has, and will continue to, change in large measure.The leadership profile developed for the organization must take these generational influences,differences, and similarities into consideration. Without fully understanding the working style andpreferences of each generation, the profile will not clearly reflect the current state, what expertise isresident in the organization, and what needs to be the focus to effectively transfer leadership knowledgeand expertise from the boomers to succeeding generations (see Table 2). As well, the leadershipprofile for the organization should be customized to reflect the leadership competencies and capabilitiesmost important for realizing the strategic direction.The Ken Blanchard Companies‘ survey of 2011 corporate issues found a slight increase in focus by itssurvey respondents, compared to 2010, on ‗developing leaders who excel at both strategic and tacticalroles‘, ‗developing leaders who inspire trust‘, ‗developing leaders who inspire innovation‘ and‗developing leaders who take calculated risks‘.5 In the Human Capital Institute survey, ‗developing4 Meister, J. and Willyerd, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop and Keep Tomorrow‘sEmployees Today, pg. 16.5 The Ken Blanchard Companies, ―2011 Corporate Issues Survey‖, pg 6. The sample represents feedback from 1300executives, line managers and training and HR leaders from a broad range of organizations, industries and countries. BM2B September 2011 4
others‘, ‗communicating clearly‘ and ‗coaching and mentoring‘ were the competencies and capabilitieswhich received the greatest percentage of interest from respondents.6 7Table 1: Formative Influences and Personal Styles - Four Generations Traditionalists Boomer Gen X Gen YDefined by WWII Born into an abundant, Latchkey kids & kids of Empowerment years – healthy economy divorce – shadow of everyone is rewarded boomersLoyal, dependable, work Egocentric Independence, resilience, Make own choices, questiontoward a common goal Work defines self-worth & adaptability authority othersLive to work Live to work Work to live BalanceDependable, believe in Expect others to have the View world with some Everyone should get moresacrificing for others same work ethic & work the cynicism and distrust from their employers same hoursTable 2: Expectations of Work and Career – Four Generations of Employees Traditionalists Boomer Gen X Gen YLoyal, respect authority Competitive Self-reliance Everyone is equalFocused on common goals Optimistic, team-oriented Sceptical, career-oriented Self-importance, loyalty to colleaguesFocused on performing Results focus Results focus with fun Hard work & career aspirationsCompensated for doing job Reward for results Reward for outcomes Seek rapid successFor each organization, the right competencies and capabilities need to be determined and built into theleadership profile. Creation of a cross functional team to build this profile will open up the process andensure all generational influences are considered, all working styles and preferences recognized, andall parts of the organization represented. This team might include Finance, Information Technology,Human Resources, Operations, Communications, Legal and any other discipline with a strong strategicor operational presence. Leadership of this team should be the primary Human Resources orOrganization Development or Learning and Development expert in the organization or an externalresource with leadership development expertise and business credentials. The BLL plan is part of thestrategic development process, thereby; integral to the future success of the business. This teamneeds to understand what is at stake for the organization if this process and program is not6 Human Capital Institute, OpCit, pg. 15.7 Tables 1, 2 and 3 are summaries of research conducted by the author. BM2B September 2011 5
implemented so it should develop the business case, along with a business opportunity statement, that will convince current decision makers (many of whom will be boomers) of its importance. 2. Review the leaders and managers in the organization to determine leadership gaps, current and future. With the leadership profile in hand, the cross functional team can begin to assess the current situation, the current leadership line-up and their alignment with the profile. This assessment process is only part of the analysis as the senior team needs to be able to look beyond the next month, quarter and year. The best leadership profile is balanced, in the balanced scorecard fashion, targeting leadership competencies and capabilities as they relate to the strategic direction as well as the anticipated needs of investors, customers and employees. Along with this profile, Human Resource and Organization Development experts in the organization should be working with senior leaders on creating or reactivating career path initiatives; purchasing or developing a leadership learning and development program, and building the templates for effective mentoring activities and programs. All must be managed and be measurable. Serious consideration should be given to the working style, communication styles and preferences of Generation X and Y – the generations which will supply the future leaders (see Table 3). Offering online coaching alternatives, social media based learning and, virtual training tools will work best to attract the members of these generations to leadership development. Potential leaders are developed from high performance candidates. High performance employees are creative and innovative and have their focus on the future. The organization infrastructure, talent management philosophy, and leadership development processes should support this orientation.Table 3: Communication Preferences – Four Generations of Employees Traditionalists Boomer Gen X Gen Y Formal Semi-Formal Irreverent Fun, eye-catching Significant changes in Not connected Networking, multi- Interactive, global-minded, technology. Prefer to technologically, face to face processing connections, always connected connect face to face (formal) reigns – local connections network of connections 3. Identify future leaders for your organization. The ‗war for talent‘ involves securing the right people for the right roles in the right places. And this is particularly challenging when seeking out potential leaders. Earlier this year, ManpowerGroup‘s annual Talent Shortage Survey found most companies are not able to fill their critical positions. This has increased over the past couple of years and will be even more critical as the dominant generation – the boomers – leaves the workforce. The change in the‖ demographic landscape‖ will significantly affect the ongoing misalignment between the unemployment rate and the positions that need to be filled. ManpowerGroup refers to this as a ―…employability crisis—an over-supply of available workers and an undersupply of qualified talent.‖i This survey of 40,000 employers across 39 countries and territories discovered that ―…89 percent of companies cited a lack of experience, technical skills deficiencies or BM2B September 2011 6
poor soft skills among available candidates as a bar to employability. Workplace skills such ascollaboration, critical thinking and agility are critical to generate productivity and innovation. 8The Deliotte 2010 Talent Edge survey found executives believe ‗developing leaders and successionplanning‘ is both a current concern and top priority. As the boomers retire, these same executivesexpect this challenge to continue and to become ―…the number one talent priority three years fromnow‖9. So the war for talent will only get worse.Attracting the right people will always be a challenge for business leaders and Human Resourceexperts but it is becoming more difficult. Leaders need to become more creative in building anorganization where the ‗talent‘ seeks them out. The next generation of leaders will come to workseeking opportunities for engagement, creativity and personal fulfillment10. Employees in highperformance organizations are extremely competent in performing their jobs - they are expert at teamcollaboration to create innovative solutions. They regularly demonstrate commitment to theorganization‘s strategic priorities and understand how fully their performance contributes its success.They are energized and highly motivated11.The formative influences which have shaped each generation (see Table 1) are different and havehelped to define how each generation thinks about the workplace and their employers. Understandingthese differences is not only critical for effectively managing four different generations in the workforcebut important for capturing the leadership potential and capabilities resident within the organization. By2020, there will actually be five generations in the workforce, another leadership challenge which needsto be incorporated into the BLL plan. 4. Assess current boomer leaders for their capability and capacity to mentor and coach future leader, select and develop.Part of the leadership profile includes the selection criteria for those current leaders whom will beselected to be the coaches and mentors for junior employees. This profile should provide clarificationabout the type of attitudes and behaviours the mentor should demonstrate, the length of time they havespent developing others, and proven performance levels. The profile may also include the leader‘screativity and interest in promoting innovation and idea generation. Whatever the profile includes, itshould support the strategic direction of the organization and incorporate the organization‘s leadershipphilosophy.But it is not just about mentoring and coaching others. High performance leaders constantly seek theirown development and learning opportunities. Selection of the mentor leaders and the application of theprocess should provide the mentors and coaches with opportunities to grow and develop, along with theleaders they are coaching. These leaders should be involved in the development of the BLLleadership development program, a customized leadership development program. Human Resourceand Learning & Development experts have the accountability to build this program, providing thementors with the tools and information they need to develop others.8 ManpowerGroup, ―Manufacturing‖ Talent for the Human Age, pg. 2.9 Deliotte, Talent Edge 2020: Blueprints for the new normal, pg. 1.10 We should not assume that current employees are the only source of leadership candidates. If you build the right processfor identifying the right employees, you may find responsibility for developing future leaders and passing on the leadershipexpertise resident in your senior team may include conducting an external search. Developing future leaders is not justpassing on the current expertise to the current internal candidates but rather creating the future leadership expertise model,then seeking out the candidates best suited to fit the model.11 Fields, William, ―Developing High-Performance Organizations‖, 2011. BM2B September 2011 7
Implementing the BLL plan will help to develop a company culture that removes barriers to participationby those leaders selected. Most often these barriers materialize as lack of time, lack of resources, lackof information and, lack of support for the entire process. Involvement of the senior team and, in somecases, members of the Board of Directors, will facilitate the plan‘s implementation and the removal ofperceived barriers to success. 5. Build a customized program to match current with future leaders to close future leadership gaps.With the leadership profile in hand, a clear understanding of where the senior team needs theorganization to go over the next few years, a sound understanding of the demographic landscape of theorganization and its preferences and communication styles, the appropriate career path, mentoringtools and information, and the selection of the boomer leaders, the cross functional team is now readyto design a fully comprehensive project plan for matching the right leaders to the best talent available, inhouse, to become the leaders of tomorrow. Where internal gaps exist, this plan will also guide the teamin its search for external candidates.Development of a structured process to capture the leadership capability of current leaders, within eachdiscipline and function, and locate the future leaders to be ‗matched‘ with the appropriate boomer leaderwill provide the plan necessary. This is not just a mentoring process but rather a structured coachingapproach with: • SMART objectives and goals, specific career path steps; • Project plans for implementation – complete with milestones, accountabilities, and check points; • Regular cross functional team measurement of achievement to milestones; and, • Contingency plans to accommodate leadership changes as they occur (through termination, exit, promotion, or lateral moves).This approach provides a measured approach to talent acquisition, leadership development, andalignment of both. Although there may be differences, due to life experiences, between the work/lifeattitudes, preferences, and characteristics of each of the generations, sound leadership practiceinvolves providing development opportunities for employees, no matter which generation. Building aBLL plan, encompassing a leadership development program, as part of the broader human resourcestrategy, is critical. Members of all generations seek opportunities to develop and move forward ontheir career path. High performance boomer leaders are no different. This piece of the HumanResource strategy will focus on supporting selected boomer leader mentors in both assignment andtheir own personal development.Finally, this approach should include a performance management component. Holding selectedleaders accountable for mentoring future leaders can be accommodated through performance reviews,compensation and bonuses. As mentioned previously in this article, the boomer generation ininterested in health and pension benefits, additional bonuses or financial incentives and, strongorganizational support. These types of recognition and rewards should be built into the BLL plan toensure measurement takes place and accountability to the future is secured.ConclusionBy the year 2020, there will be five generations in the workforce but the number of experienced leaderswill have declined considerably. Couple this with the ‗war on talent‘ raging around the world andorganizations in 2020 may find themselves without the expertise they need to remain innovative andcompetitive. BM2B September 2011 8
The BLL plan can be successful and help the organization with the expertise they will need to innovate,compete and grow. Holding leaders accountable for developing the next generation of leaders,providing them with the tools, programs and information to do this, and rewarding them for performancewill position the organization for the future.Mapping out the process with a cross functional team or external resources is critical. Developmentand implementation of the BLL plan without a comprehensive process in which to incorporate theprogram will not be sufficient. BLL is not only a leadership development program but it is changemanagement at the senior level of the organization. The purpose is to change the current leadershipenvironment to produce the next generation of leaders – to hold on to the expertise resident in thebusiness.This should be the boomer leader legacy.About the AuthorDonna Stevenson is owner of Boomer Match to Business (www.bm2b.ca) and The Capability Corps Inc. Her companiesspecialize in providing just in time expertise to business owners and leaders requiring short term solutions to address theirbusiness problems, challenges and opportunities. She and her team can be reached at email@example.com or 905.662.5130.ReferencesBennis, W., On Becoming a Leader, Addison-Wesley, New York, 1994.Deloitte, Talent Edge 2020: Blueprints for the new normal, December 2010.Fields, William, ―Developing High-Performance Organizations‖, 2011Human Capital Institute, Leaders Developing Leaders: Capitalizing on the Demographic Gift to Revive Your LeadershipDevelopment Program, 2010.ManpowerGroup, ―Manufacturing‖ Talent for the Human Age, 2011.Meister, J. and Willyerd, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop and Keep Tomorrow‘s EmployeesToday, HarperCollins Publishers, 2010.The Ken Blanchard Companies, ―2011 Corporate Issues Survey‖, California, 2011. BM2B September 2011 9