Are the next generation of leaders equipped with the right skills and qualities to confidently handle the unique challenges of the future workplace?

New Insights Into Leadership Qualities

A new report (“Leadership Qualities: How Emerging Leaders Differ From The Crowd”) by Hudson has revealed some insights at odds with popular belief in this area. The report followed a survey of over 100 emerging leaders in Australian businesses and compared them to established leaders – those of whom they are intended to succeed in the next 5 years. Surprisingly, what this highlighted was a tendency for emerging leaders to be averse to change and have a preference instead to rely on proven ways of doing things.

It is likely that what worked for many of us when we first started our careers may not necessarily work now. This is evident in the identified skills gap of emerging leaders. Many of us started our careers in a technical space and after some time we became proficient enough to be regarded as an expert. An expert is then promoted to a management role, mainly because of their ability to work independently and achieve results, and is automatically assumed to have the right leadership qualities to succeed.

This strong task focus appears to come at the cost of building effective relationships, even though communication was otherwise identified as a strength in emerging leaders. So while a strategic focus is adopted, motivating and influencing other people to embrace that vision sometimes receives insufficient attention.

Response From HR

The report recommends that human resources practitioners focus on four key areas in the development of emerging leaders – improving their confidence in decision-making, embracing change, encouraging more participative leadership styles and coaching in the art of persuasion and motivation.

It is evidently clear that businesses of all sizes need clear talent management strategies in place to ensure that emerging leaders can be identified early for development. There is also generally no “one-size-fits-all” approach to this task as what makes a successful leader in one organisation does not necessarily translate across to another.

Emerging Leaders Programs

What Employment Innovations have done internally and across our ongoing work with clients is clearly define the unique qualities of a successful “A Player” in that business – with a particular focus on the qualities that are found in its current and future leaders. Such individuals are typically motivated to perform, actively pursue success and inspire a high performance culture throughout the business. They generally share the same positive personal characteristics, display and promote behaviours consistent with company values. A future leader will demonstrate additional network qualities – at all levels of the business – to influence others in achieving business outcomes.

Once talent is defined, we make an effort to measure each employee’s individual performance and impact across the business against these qualities. We have a similar tool used during recruitment so that we are constantly assessing talent both within and outside of the business – and have developed top-graded interview questions matched to these qualities.

This is a fairly simple tool to measure individual performance and impact – but also a better way for the business to demonstrate an improvement in its overall “Talent IQ” over a period of time – by shipping out “C Players”, developing “B Players”, and retaining “A Players”.

Exceptional individuals are identified through this exercise to participate in an emerging leaders program which has its own purpose and set objectives – consisting of “jungle gym experiences” – matching emerging leaders with strategic and diverse projects – and masterclasses – focused learning and mentoring opportunities targeting specific skills gaps.

Tips For Fostering Leadership Development

EI’s tips for fostering talent and developing emerging leaders:-

  • Having a clear criteria to identify emerging leaders;
  • Creating a clear pathway for emerging leaders;
  • Matching emerging leaders with unique assignments outside of their current role;
  • Designing tailored training and development programs for your emerging leaders; and
  • Measuring the success and ROI from your overall talent management strategy.