21-30-Year-Old Aspiring Corporate Leaders and Leadership Development

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21-30-Year-Old Aspiring Corporate Leaders and Leadership Development

21-30 Year Old Aspiring Corporate Leaders and Leadership Develop

Part 1:- Perceptions that 21-30 year old aspiring leaders have with regard to leadership development


What do they feel is important?
  • Increased guidance and structure to help determine what needs to be learned in the future, and which experiences they will need for leadership posts.
  • Focus on meeting the needs and experiences of the next generation of leaders.
  • Adding to skills and knowledge, not only to broaden their competence and prepare them for leadership, but to deepen their ability to perform well in the jobs they currently hold.
  • Greater responsibility in their current roles.
  • Professional development plan that is flexible, but intellectually challenging.
Why do they feel it is important?
  • There is a well held belief amongst young aspiring leaders that nurture, not nature, and education are key to preparing young people for leadership. Most believe that global experience is the most important skill which they are currently missing. Future leaders demand a mix of structured and on-the-job learning experiences, and surprisingly large numbers stressed the value of face-to-face interaction. The benefits of this are both a richer learning experience, as well as the chance to create new networks.
  • Tomorrow's leaders care about wider social and environmental issues, and understand how stakeholder expectations are changing. Young aspiring leaders place far greater levels of importance on some of the more recent issues within society, such as increasing workforce diversity and inclusiveness, and greater income equality, than current world CEOs. Besides this, young people are acutely aware of rapid technological advances, and where perceived gaps in the education system fail to fully equip students with the skills they need to thrive in the ever-changing digital age. In addition, there also appears to be a more acute understanding of the way universal and instantaneous media and messaging are changing the way that companies are viewed, and how organizations need to adapt as a result.
  • The next wave of top executives are looking to build analytical "hard skills" as well as interpersonal "soft skills". Surveys on what young aspiring leaders want from their employers show they have slightly different aspirations from previous generations, and tend to desire more intangible things from their work. They want the chance to achieve, a sense of connection and a purpose. They see their careers as portfolios of their experiences, and working culture and values are held with the upmost importance. Workplace culture and behavior, along with health and well-being ranked as of far more interest to young aspiring leaders than current world CEOs, whereas pay and incentives, and performance management ranked significantly lower. This all points to a greater desire to perform and excel throughout all levels of a career, including current and non leadership roles.
  • Future leaders are interested in having greater responsibility within their current roles, because with responsibility comes the chance to expand their skills within their current jobs. This helps them gain a greater breadth of experience, perform well in their current posts, find the best “next step” in a career, and learn how to balance life and work commitments more effectively. These were all very important to those who see themselves as future leaders.
  • Ongoing professional development is desirable to help future leaders make their goals a reality. They want to be successful in the jobs they are doing, but also training up for the next opportunity. They want to make sure they don’t take steps in the wrong direction, or steps that aren’t moving forward, and would welcome a structured program of professional development, flexible enough to accommodate very busy schedules and heavy workloads, and composed of a mix of services including formal educational opportunities, mentoring, peer networks and the chance to learn more on the job by taking on projects and special programs.
Top ways that these career/leadership programs can be made accessible to the overall population in this audience group
  • Create a list of leadership development goals and skills- Leadership development goals are an important part of any leadership program/strategy. Without clear goals it can be hard to understand what to do and how effective your plan is. Your goals must be achievable, measurable and should correlate with the key business objectives. A list of goals can be created for each individual or role, can be ranked for importance, must have clear and concise objectives, and include a timeline. This should help motivate individuals to act, as well as provide a clear, obvious and more accessible path to leadership opportunities.
  • Development plans - Identify which methods of development to use and create clear plans. There are many available methods, for example; mentorship programs, formal training, volunteering, task forces, working groups/committees, etc. which can help change the way responsibility is taken.
  • Identify potential leaders - Actively seek out and develop potential leaders. Define a process for identifying potential leaders, but consider a wide range of attributes. Do not for example focus always on just the top-performing employees. Encourage and support all employees and seek out those for development.

Part 2:- Challenges faced in leadership development with regard to aspiring leaders aged 21-30
  • Lack of leadership studies in young adults (Source - Taylor Francis Online, 2016) - Our understanding of leadership is skewed towards the adult experience of leadership. There is a gap in existing literature with regard to the experience of leadership among young adults (and to a lesser extent school children). Children and young adults of all ages can take on leadership roles. The first organizational experience of childhood typically tends to be school, and there have been observations that children can begin to learn and show leadership qualities from a very young age. It has also been noted that children who are leaders in these settings are more likely to be leaders in adult roles. There are however, restricted access for young adults to experience themselves in a leadership role. During the last 10-20 years, developing leaders in young adults has gained traction, with the introduction of leadership programs for university students. Leadership training for secondary school adolescents has also gamed increased acceptance as a priority area for research and development.
  • Diversity and Inclusiveness, in particular young women in leadership (Source - ingenta) - Historically, corporate leadership positions have been dominated by particular demographics, leaving little room for diversity. This presents a barrier to various minority groups. Focusing on young women, it has been noted that their leadership skills and credentials are frequently overlooked in educational leadership development. Aimed at addressing this issue, a qualitative action research study performed in New Zealand worked in partnership with 12 young women and used a process of co-construction to design a leadership development program. The young women then participated in, evaluated and modified the program before teaching it to another group of students. Co-construction was an effective way to develop a relevant and authentic leadership program that met the needs of the young women. The findings indicated that this approach challenged existing views of teaching and learning, and highlighted the importance of including young women in decision-making processes related to their leadership learning. Future consideration in this area could result in creating a sustainable leadership culture in schools by engaging this process across many year levels.
  • Encouraging managers to develop their team (Source - Talent Developer, UNC Leadership Survey 2014) - A 2014 report suggested organizations were facing a difficult challenge of replacing senior talent and qualified incumbent employees. Despite this, convincing managers to develop their employees was a significant challenge to leadership development. Reasons for this were given as short-term business requirements, budget, and balancing long term goals. To address this the majority of organizations planned to increase learning development activities in the immediately short term future. The vision was for development activities to be fully integrated with business strategies, better development programs and more efficient practices.

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