Articles & E-Books


The Next Generation - Emerging Leaders

Sep 01, 2016

Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric, once said, “If we don’t get the people thing right, we lose. It’s the most important thing in all of our businesses.” Ultimately, people, the right people, are your competitive differentiator and advantage. So, what are you doing to develop your emerging leaders and strengthen your business? Your executive officers are charged with long-range thinking: Where do you want to be in the future? What values do you want to demonstrate? What systems do you need to take you there? What types of people do you need to fuel your future? Your challenge, and obligation, is to develop a culture that embraces and celebrates a multigenerational work environment. Diversity builds depth and strength. And there can’t be a whole lot more generational diversity than what we have today! We have five generations in the workplace.

Whenever the next generation enters the workforce, speculation abounds as to what is going to be different. How is the new workforce going to change the work environment or how we conduct business? Will the next generation be ready to assume positions of leadership and influence?

The events and conditions each generation experiences during their formative years determine the lens through which they see and perceive things around them. As a result, each generation adopts or is labeled with (more accurately) a generational “personality.” Lancaster and Stillman, authors of When Generations Collide, characterized four generational personalities quite succinctly. Traditionalists have the generational personality of “chain of command,” Baby Boomers of “change of command,” Xers of “selfcommand,” and Millennials of “don’t command; collaborate.” A generational personality has not yet evolved for the recently emerging Generation Z, but perhaps it will be “demand collaboration, technology, and diversity.” Financial institution leaders must understand and execute a focused plan to gain the benefits of a generationally diverse workforce.

Baby Boomers are transitioning into retirement and/or alternative work arrangements at an increasingly rapid pace. As such, the next generation of leadership is being called on to assume higher levels of responsibility, often without the benefit of focused development opportunities. In addition, just on the basis of pure numbers, Millennials are leapfrogging over Xers and Boomers, thereby creating opportunities for conflict and miscommunication. Therefore, it is important to establish an intentional, systematic strategy to support and utilize the inherent differences and strengths of each generation. The challenge is to build an integrated culture of “us” and to recognize the capability and capacity of each employee to drive short- and long-term business results.

Emerging leaders need your commitment to help them develop. Consider the following areas for concentrated and focused development:

  • Strategic direction
  • Organizational structure and role alignment
  • Competencies and performance standards
  • Learning and development
  • Receiving and giving effective feedback
  • Performance management
  • Rewards and recognition
  • Talent assessment
  • Succession management

It is no secret that the single most important factor of any successful financial institution is the quality of its management. Emerging leaders must be agile. They must be able to execute strategy, promote accountability, reward implementation, remain responsive to changing business conditions, and proactively pursue innovation and do so with great emotional and social intelligence. To support the development of emerging leaders, CEOs may wish to engage an executive coach to provide emerging leaders with a thought partner and confidant to increase self-awareness, establish specific development goals, engage in problem solving, and receive encouragement when expanding skills and competencies in unfamiliar areas.

By the very virtue of the Millennial personality, which embraces collaboration and partnering together to achieve outcomes, business and industry have a very bright future.


Julia A. Johnson
Director, Organizational Performance
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