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Today’s Biggest Leadership Challenge – Part One

Leadership challenges vary by organization. Big organizations have different leadership challenges than small ones. Mature organizations have outgrown some of the leadership challenges that persist in newer organizations. 

In general however this is the biggest leadership challenge facing all organizations today: finding tomorrow’s leaders.

No matter how effective a leader you may be, if you do not at least help find and develop your successor then you will not have completely succeeded as a leader. You may have accomplished great things as a leader but if your accomplishments do not outlast you then you will not be remembered as a great leader. 

The best and most likely way to ensure your accomplishments outlast your tenure as the leader is to develop the next generation of leadership within your organization. 

But that’s not as easy as it used to be for two main reasons.

The first reason is this: The average employee today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, according to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is about half that. In fact, ninety-one percent of Millennials (born between 1977-1997) expect to stay in a job for less than three years.

There are many reasons for this job-hopping behavior but the biggest seems to be speedy career advancement. Job-hopping allows many younger employees the opportunity to “promote” themselves without the “dues paying” that older employees endured. 

This is NOT a knock on younger employees, they are every bit as committed, intelligent, and hard working as employees in any age group. They just (rightly) value life balance more than employees of older generations. 

But job-hopping also gives them a skewered view of what Authentic Servant Leadership, real leadership, looks like. They see “slivers” of leadership but not the whole picture. They simply don’t stay in any one place long enough to become well developed leaders because they don’t stay anyplace long enough to develop a mentored relationship with an Authentic Leader. The more career moves they make the more gaps they are likely to have in their leadership ability. 

Today’s leaders need to identify younger employees with leadership potential sooner and begin a mentoring relationship that will motivate them to see their potential where they are. Their personal motives are no different than any other generation; they NEED to know they matter and they need to know they can make a difference. 

Far, far more employees will leave the workforce in the next 15 years than will join it. Organizations hoping for future success are unlikely to achieve it without a strong mentoring program that encourages future leaders to stay where they are at. It doesn’t matter whether you lead a huge organization or a 5 person company, you will be impacted by the shrinking workforce. 

Don’t allow your organization to get behind the curve on this issue, put a mentoring program in place today.

In Part Two of “Today’s Biggest Leadership Challenge” we’ll look at the second issue hindering the development of future leaders, micro-managing. But for those of you who believe you are micro-managed don’t get your hopes up, you may be more responsible for this than you would like to admit. 

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