Developing the next generation of business leaders

Regardless of the industry that you work in, the way in which you and your management team nurture the next generation of talent in the first decade of their careers can have a huge impact on their prospects for the future. Given that the world of business is constantly evolving, it can be quite difficult to pin down exactly what career progression looks like for your employees. However, one thing is certain, if we don’t develop the next generation, we will not have any future leaders.


So what can today’s business leaders do in order to support the development of tomorrow’s talent?


Fostering a culture of knowledge sharing across the business, between different levels of staff, can give your juniors the opportunity to learn new skills and develop their capabilities. This is a vital strategy not just for your junior’s eventual permanent career progression but also to give you the flexibility to have them ‘act up’ temporarily to cover a manager’s sick leave, or parental leave for example. It also means that managers will have someone they can trust to call in for help when their workload is particularly heavy, meaning that deadlines are less likely to be missed, and productivity rates remain high.


When developing your team, it’s important to avoid a very narrow focus. Professional development and training should be as broad as possible in order to expose your future leaders to different challenges and ways of thinking. Businesses also need to recognise the value of soft skills and actively teach them. Good communication skills, critical thinking, conflict resolution and good decision-making skills are some of the most important soft skills that future business leaders need to learn as they come up through the ranks.


A proactive stance on diversity is critical at the more junior level in all organisations. If businesses can be more diverse and inclusive at this point in people’s careers, then future management teams will consist of a much broader spectrum of people from different backgrounds. Businesses often complain that they can’t diversify their boards or senior management teams because there ‘just aren’t the right people out there’ but one of the reasons for that is because businesses haven’t proactively developed diverse teams from the ground up. In order to become a senior manager or board member, you need to be given the right opportunities and experience earlier in your career.


While it might seem that this type of broad development for your employees might mean that they become better equipped to leave you, this is not necessarily a bad thing! All businesses need change to grow and develop, and your leaving employees may go on to work for your clients or competitors, either bringing you new work, or encouraging you to up your game to stay competitive! Crucially, if you are planning on a management buy-out as your exit strategy from your business, you are going to need to have developed a team who are capable of taking your business on so that you can retire and sip Pina Coladas in the sun!