emer·gent \i-ˈmər-jənt\ — arising unexpectedly, newly formed.
Early-Career Leader Development
For companies that rely upon a well-educated professional workforce, developing those entering the talent pool as early-career professionals is critical. Management is properly concerned with ensuring engagement in order to retain and get the most from this segment of the talent pipeline. However, another important priority is early identification of the potential to lead.
Too often, our reliance upon traditional and ad hoc mechanisms for identification of potential results not only in too many “false positives” but, more importantly, in even more “false negatives.” Unless you are among the few experiencing an over-abundance of next-generation talent who assert acts of emergent leadership at all levels of the organization, you may be interested in what we have learned about getting the most from this segment of your professional workforce.
Here’s what we see as prevailing trends in today’s business world:
Pervasive impacts of a global economy. We are all affected by the global economy, whether we choose to operate close to home, across the nation, or around the world.
Advances in communications technology. Technology brings opportunity and threat; it brings customers and competitors nearer, and it lowers barriers to entry.
Need to transcend the old leadership prototype. Think-manager-think-male may still prevail in many sectors, but its constraining effects on performance are becoming undeniable.
Ethnic and cultural diversity. As societies become more diverse, we must not only acquire new people skills, we must appreciate diverse peoples, their experience, values, and desires.
Generational differences in expectations. A diverse talent market, e.g., millennials, women, and older workers, want work/life balance, flexibility, and autonomy – and they want meaning.
Unrelenting performance pressures. Post-financial-crisis norms demand we run leaner and cope with heightened scrutiny, all while focusing governance on triple-bottom-line results.
In short, the obvious implication is that there are few firms who can afford to rely on yesterday’s approach to talent management and leader development. We need more of an all-hands-on-deck mentality with respect to leadership. Key senior leaders should be setting direction, ensuring alignment, but even more important, empowering their most talented people to contribute aligned acts of emergent leadership as called for by the presenting situations that unfold in the course of execution.