It seems as though we’re always hearing about Baby Boomers’ retirement in terms of the strain it will place on Social Security and other services, but we should stop to consider the skills gap that will be left behind once Baby Boomers have left the workforce. Up until the Millennial generation, Baby Boomers had been the largest generation in history. That means there’d been more Baby Boomers in the workforce than there were of the generations right before and right after them for decades. When the Baby Boomers retire from the workforce completely, they will leave the largest leadership gap in history.
Already much of the Baby Boomer generation has retired. Currently only one in three Baby Boomers is still working, but that is still enough of a population to be quite significant in the workforce. Millennials are entering the workforce in droves, but there is concern that they don’t have the necessary skills to fill the leadership gap that is starting to open up as Baby Boomers retire. Many business leaders believe the new generation lacks skills such as collaboration, teamwork, relationship building, strategic thinking, and effective communication. The good news is that many of these necessary skills can be developed.
There is a combination of factors leading to this skills gap. First, parents believe what worked for them will work for their children. Second, educators aren’t helping students become more emotionally intelligent. Third, businesses are ignoring the problem and just going with the flow. To develop leaders in the current generation, there must be an emphasis on developing emotional and intellectual capacities, as well as on developing decision making.
Developing the next generation of leaders requires a new approach: a catalyst-level leader. The catalyst-level leader has the ability to learn from failures, can effectively navigate change, can see other people’s points of view and take them into account, and has the ability to persevere during times of adversity. Catalyst-level leaders welcome mavericks into the mix as individuals from whom the team can learn. They can build strong teams and lead them effectively, as well as share knowledge freely to develop the rest of the team.
It’s going to take some time to develop the next generation of leaders, but the bottom line is we must start identifying those who have the potential. The way we did things in the past isn’t going to work anymore, and the first step is recognizing that and figuring out what to do about it. Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation to date. They’re already in the workforce and they are already climbing the ladder. It’s time to identify the leaders and help them develop the skills they will need to lead the next generations in the workforce.
Learn more about leadership development from this infographic from Genesa Leadership.