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Creative Leadership for the Next Generation

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Today’s workforce is dominated by the 78-million strong baby boomer generation.  But that’s about to change. An estimated 40-percent of baby boomers are eligible to retire in the next two years, but are there enough qualified workers and leaders to fill those vacated positions?  Generation X, the workforce waiting in the wings to replace the boomers, is populated with only 58 million people.  As baby boomers begin retiring, there may not be enough Gen Xers to fill that gap.

“The talent gap is very real and very significant,” says Sarah Sladek, president and founder of Limelight Generations, a firm that focuses on attracting and retaining younger workers. “We are on the verge of the largest demographic shift in human capital in history. It’s unprecedented.”

Some estimate a shortage of at least 10 million workers in the next two years. So right now, organizations are asking one very big, very important question: How do we capture the wisdom and talent that is getting ready to walk out the door?

It is evident that companies are losing leaders much faster than they are able to produce them – up to 30-million in the next five years.  It is also apparent that the next generation differs significantly from its predecessor, from its values and aspirations to its vision of life balance and company loyalty.  More than just getting Gen Xers up to speed on leading the next wave of American industry, companies must learn how to enlist, engage, and inspire a new generation of leaders.  This isn’t just important for the immediate changing of the guard, right on tails of the smaller Generation X is Generation Y, the largest wave of workers yet – topping out at 80 million people. And as you might have guessed, Gen Y has its own unique set of values and goals.

Here are a few of the generational differences recent research* identifies:

Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1965) Have a wealth of knowledge and expertise; serve as great mentors; great networkers; concerned about recognition and salary; may have two to three careers in a lifetime; were the largest generation (until Gen Y came along)

Generation X (born 1965 – 1980) Self sufficient; self-starters; entrepreneurial; good at time management; see a task through; collect a repertoire of skills and experience that they can take with them; seek time and balance to raise their children; want immediate feedback; may have eight or nine careers in a lifetime.

Generation Y / Millennials (born 1980 – 2000) Collaborative; team minded; wants to be friends with co-workers; technology and media savvy; multitaskers; want flexibility in scheduling Integrated and connected; are the largest generation; may have a double-digit number of careers in a lifetime.

For organizations to survive in the coming years, it will be imperative to create a collaborative partnership between these generations. Future leaders will need frequent coaching and feedback as well as instant gratification. Companies will need to invest in teaching emerging leaders managerial and leadership skills.

According to Kathy Goodin-Mitchell, a director of Human Resources for PPAI, “Companies that succeed will recognize the fact that skills and talent are very valuable…If you want to cultivate that talent, you have to learn what makes [younger generations] tick. If you can work with them, mentor them and really appreciate what they bring to the table, then they will be important leaders in a company.”

To understand more about the Talent Gap, and what you can do to prepare your organization for the future, contact Xponents today and learn about our array of products and services aimed at tapping into the values, vision, purpose, and mission of tomorrow’s workforce. 

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* as reported by PPB Magazine

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