Despite the external factors at play, the success of a business largely comes down to the quality of its leadership. There’s no doubt every organization will experience hardship and difficult times, whether it’s economic, social or political. However, effective leadership will be the differentiating factor between those who thrive and those who don’t survive.
To continually foster success among emerging leaders, organizations need to appreciate that with each new generation comes a new set of priorities and values at work. New generations enter the workplace with fresh expectations, stemming from their lives outside work, and now that means lives steeped in technology, advocacy and efficiency. Nurturing this emerging talent means understanding exactly what they bring to the table and helping to accelerate this within the business.
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The importance of nurturing emerging leaders
When we talk about emerging leaders, we are talking about the business leaders of the future. Those who will take businesses to the next level, grasp new technologies and drive innovation. The development opportunities people get in the early stages of their careers can be the difference between untapped potential and expedited professional growth.
Today, emerging leaders arrive in the workplace with a pre-nurtured skillset from the tech-driven world they have grown up in. As digital natives, emerging leaders are already proficient in new technologies, sometimes more so than existing leaders. With this in mind, young people shouldn’t be patronized and instead encouraged to allow existing skillsets to thrive and inspire their colleagues.
While there is arguably no replacement for experience, the digital-first mindset lends itself to innovative practices essential to the growth of business today. Learning and upskilling can become a two-way street for both seasoned and future leaders, with those with more experience sharing lessons learned, while benefiting from the native digital skills that are needed to support continual change.
How Generative AI will level the playing field
With technology dominating every facet of society today, digital prowess is a key part of leadership. Generative AI has exploded into the public conscience and now dominates boardroom agendas. The advent of this technology and the exponential transformative power will change what is needed of leaders in the future and the tools at their disposal to succeed.
Technical skills are still essential, but emerging leaders will be expected to graduate from the basic IT skills most people use today, and Generative AI co-pilots will level the playing field. By using AI to enhance knowledge, productivity and experience, emerging leaders will be able to quickly achieve the same level of value and effectiveness as more experienced colleagues. What’s more, it is expected that future leaders will not only be digital natives but AI natives too, completely at ease working alongside artificial colleagues.
Businesses should think about how AI can now be strategically applied to unlock the most value from emerging leaders, which will drive forwards innovation and productivity, but will also raise the interesting problem of finding the right balance between “years of experience” and capability. This is already fundamentally challenging the long standing convention of age and years of experience being essential to be a senior leader.
Businesses need to start thinking now about the right people and workforce strategy to both encourage and enable emerging leaders to step up more, balanced with still creating career pathways and value for those who have more years of experience.
Changing career pathways
You cannot look at the leaders of the future without thinking about the roles they will inhabit. The spotlight on Generative AI has triggered conversations about job role changes with fears among some that AI will disrupt the job market beyond recognition.
Generative AI will no doubt change the nature of job roles, even creating new ones. What is regularly overlooked is that this is not the first time advances in technology has meant roles need updating and workers welcome this – for a career in digital, the ability to learn, grow, adapt and continually change is already a core skill.
Thanks to the AI-first mindset from emerging leaders, it is expected businesses without AI will lose out, especially when it comes to emerging talent who will not accept a role dominated by repetitive work and lacking in fulfilling development.
This means there is a need for ongoing efforts to provide emerging leaders with rich learning experiences, ensuring they have the adaptability and perseverance to benefit from the changes brought about from AI technology.
The Emerged Leader
Discussion of ‘emerging leaders’ can be incorrectly limited to discussion of young people entering the workforce, and with new generations comes renewed expectations, ideas and talent. However, we should not limit ourselves to thinking of emerging leaders as just those who have not grown into their careers yet.
Digital-first leaders embody the characteristics of future leaders, those who see how the world is changing and rather than fear it, feel empowered to lean-into exciting technology developments that they understand better than the leaders that have come before. Businesses have an exciting opportunity to nurture new talent, implement Generative AI to support leadership ambitions and see the business impact.