Want to be a next generation leader? Here are three things you need to know.

The new year has seen commentators make a plethora of predictions about the workplace. One which startled me was that the recession might see diversity targets put on hold not because business leaders disagreed with them but because it was more preferable to play it safe.

My view is completely the opposite. In such a period of uncertainty with the unprecedented challenges that confront businesses you need more diversity, and you need it at all levels.

Until very recently there has been a consensus about the educational and career background, not to mention gender, of business leaders and what marks them out as successful and the best option. Institutional investors, business school academics and executive search firms reinforced these preferred characteristics, almost subconsciously, but it’s a different world now.  You cannot rely on individuals who have the same history when confronted with a maelstrom of issues never experienced before. 

Forty per cent of respondents in the recent PWC Global CEO survey think their organisations will no longer be economically viable in ten years’ time if it continues on its current course. They believe they will have to reinvent their businesses to survive, so if every aspect of your business is subject to a complete rethink and redesign why wouldn’t that apply to finding and hiring top management?

What are the attributes of what we, at Savannah, call “next generation“ leaders? They focus broadly around three building blocks:

1. Diversity of background. These individuals don’t have linear careers with one company. They have worked in different sectors, geographies, and different business structures from start-ups to PLCs.

2. Agility and adaptability. They have both strategic and operational capability so consider the big picture and detail concurrently.  This adaptability means they have a “growth mindset,” they promote innovation.

3. Natural leadership traits. This is the most qualitative of the three but is increasing in importance. These people have high levels of drive and motivation but also low egos. They lead through influence and persuasion. 

It is a challenge to find individuals who possess all these attributes.  The first step is to remove the element of surprise. Even in the most successful companies senior leaders move on, founders retire, and the average tenure of CEOs is less than five years. Succession planning is vital.

As well as developing your internal resources so you have a strong cadre of executive management below board level a company’s leaders should build talent pools of possible candidates for key roles. Some may be in the same sector, but lateral thinking is key, possible hires may work in different countries, in different sectors and have had different career paths.

The need to find new leaders is an opportunity to address the balance of the top team and to introduce new thinking and experiences. There is convincing research that demonstrates that increasing the diversity of leadership teams leads to more and better innovation and improved financial performance.

But the cost of making a senior hire that doesn’t work out has never been higher and like most critical decisions the need for a knowledgeable third party, whether in-house or external, is critical. Their insight becomes even more potent when combined with technology. The power and potential of artificial intelligence, and machine learning makes it possible to not only build an extensive  talent pipeline but also pinpoint the capabilities, backgrounds, and experiences of high performing leadership teams.

The identification of these “next generation leaders”  is fundamental to business success. So committed is Savannah to identifying the intellectual, cultural, and emotional DNA of these individuals that we are about to establish the first independent think tank to stimulate and expand debate on business leadership and how it needs to evolve to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

Original article https://www.managementtoday.co.uk/skills-will-business-leaders-future-need/leadership-lessons/article/1810767#r3z-addoor

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