850 global business leaders were recently surveyed by the Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants (AESC) to explore their thinking around the most significant challenges and opportunities for building next generation leadership.

Among the top priorities for every industry to develop next generation talent to lead through uncertainty and drive innovation?

A focus on empowering top talent, diversity, proactive succession planning and cross-functional development.

Empower top talent 

Global business leaders clearly understand the best way to develop next generation leadership is to empower promising young talent. C-suite leaders responding to the AESC survey consistently ranked empowering top talent among the top ways to develop next generation leaders.

To prepare next generation talent to best move into the C-suite, organisations will need to include next generation talent more in decision-making. This includes providing meaningful feedback, understanding that Gen X talent may place more value on maintaining a sense of independence while Millennial talent may better respond to constant feedback and direct mentoring. As both Gen X and Millennials value development opportunities, both will be looking for meaningful, structured coaching.

Succession planning, ranked second by survey respondents, can also help develop next generation talent, by identifying opportunities early and accelerating the path to the C-suite.

Diversity matters

Similar to attracting and retaining next generation talent, diversity plays a major role in developing next generation leaders. Diversifying the C-suite now creates a broader cross-section of role models and mentors for younger talent. And more diverse and inclusive leadership introduces new perspectives throughout the organisation, which is essential to improve innovation. A diverse and inclusive C-suite is well placed to prepare rising leaders for managing their various stakeholders when they are in the driver’s seat, and to deliver better, more innovative products and services for their customers.

Expose rising talent to different experiences and functions

Organisations are becoming flatter, and lines between functional roles blur as teams collaborate and come together on a project-to-project basis. The new business climate demands learning agility and collaboration skills over functional expertise. While expertise is absolutely still important for C-suite leaders, that expertise needs to include varied experiences and insights into different functions. Siloed expertise no longer cuts it in today’s business climate.

Business leaders also ranked cross-functional development and international and cross-cultural opportunities among the top ten ways their organisation can best develop next generation talent. C-suite leaders already understand that, in order for their next generation talent to perform well in a fast-paced, globally connected business environment, they need to expose that talent early to different cultural experiences.

For support building out your next generation of executive talent, contact the team at Morgan Young.