In early 2019, CNBC conducted a survey of CEO’s that defined the top three challenges facing organizations as::

  1. Attracting & Retaining Top Talent
  2. Creating New Business Models to Address Disruptive Technologies
  3. Developing Next-Generation Leadership

Specific to the topic of Attracting & Retaining Top Talent and Next-Gen leadership, Escalate Solutions has featured a number of posts regarding emerging leaders, including content regarding risks associated with expectations of responsibility and accountability without empowerment and authority

Escalate Solutions has seen examples of both business success and failure. Our experience tells us that the quality of product/service and competition are typically NOT why most businesses fail. Business plans are developed and they don’t always hit the mark, but that’s why it’s important to consider strategy as an ongoing, multi-phase process. There is a reason for the fourth phase of strategy (Refinement & Optimization): Improvements can be made, products can be ideated and refined, a better hire can be brought on board, and analytics can be applied to dissect issues, make corrections, and overall strategy can be pivoted when necessary. Just because leaders set goals and don’t achieve them, that doesn’t mean an organization is on the course to failure. Strategy can be redefined and the tactics utilized to achieve objectives can be reset. Business are about analytics and adjustment on a daily basis.  

The real reason why organizations fail typically has more to do with culture, communication and/or cash. And when it comes to Next-Gen leadership development, delegation continues to be the most vital when it comes to long-term organizational viability.  What matters to the next generation of leadership is (1) how you value your people, (2) how you communicate and convey that value, and (3) how you invest in making advancement of Next-Gen leaders happen. 

What does it take to achieve these goals?  The first element of delegation has to do with leadership skill set. The good news is that a leadership delegation learned and refined…a checklist that can be followed:

  1. Identify a need.
  2. Figure out who will help address that need.
  3. Establish objectives.
  4. Clarify expectations.
  5. Communicate those ideas and then follow-through. 

 It isn’t complicated, but still difficult for some.  But this process is learnable….and therefore very achievable.  It doesn’t have to be intimidating. 

Much more intangible, and potentially more difficult to achieve is the concept of establishing a culture that allows for delegation to occur in the first place. I hear so many times from leaders that they are overtasked because they don’t have anyone to hand off to.  ‘I didn’t have time to train them” or “I haven’t found the right people”. And I tell them, if that’s the case…. “You have no one to blame but yourself”.  What is needed to overcome this leadership gap?

  1. Trust
  2. Hiring
  3. Training
  4. Empowering

A culture of delegation is based on trust.  That means committing to hiring the best, investing in training those individuals, embracing learning at every level,  and therefore empowering – not just enabling…truly empowering – individuals to move forward and grow within the organization.  What do you provide them in return?

  1.  Opportunity
  2. Experience
  3. Impact
  4. Escalation

Failure to delegate is not an option….and not just because senior leaders have limited time and need help. Those behind us, wanting to escalate, are chomping at the bit for the opportunity.  It is true that some people can go through their entire career sitting very comfortably in the same place and the same position….but they are the exception and not the rule.

I am personally not one to buy into blanket negative connotations applied to Millennials (those born between the 1980s and mid-1990s) and Generation Z (those born from 1995 onwards). But I do believe they have characteristics that we need to pay attention to.  By 2020, these two age demographics will comprise more than half of our workforce. They are collaborative, digital centric, adept at multitasking and their attitudes and expectations are focused on greater autonomy and flexibility. 

The aspiration for personal development is strong in emerging leaders. Surveys show that many young employees are motivated to leave their companies because they feel they aren’t being given the opportunities to develop their skills. But it is not only training that Millennials want. They expect a clear career path that allows them to explore new ventures.

Next generation leaders demand opportunity.  Regardless of age.  They want to make an impact on the world.  And they want to gain experience….to HAVE experiences.  The bottom line is, if they want it bad enough and as leaders we won’t give these advancements to them….guess what?  They will find it elsewhere. In a recent survey conducted by the international consulting firm Deloitte, 60 percent of global millennials surveyed responded that seven months of working in the same place is what defined them as being a loyal employee.  Seven months. 

We need to give emerging leaders opportunity or they will leave.  It is that simple. Talk about attracting and retaining Next-Gen leaders…fail to provide these opportunities for them and they will run out the door so fast it can make your head spin. 

The takeaway: As a business owner, member of the c-suite or senior manager, you have choices facing you every day:

  1.  Develop a leadership skill set that yields positive opportunities for Next-Gen and Emerging Leaders vs. negative/ low morale
  2. Create a delegation culture that encourage early expertise vs, missed experiences
  3. Recognize the integrated relationship between minimal efficiency of over-taxed members of the c-suite and senior management and the desire of emerging leaders to to make an impact and escalate to the next level. 
  4. Have conversations that address the common gap between balancing responsibility and expectation with authority and empowerment – is as much about communication as anything else.  Don’t be afraid to have targeted conversations geared toward attracting, retaining and developing Next-Gen leaders.