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One aspect of leadership that is often overlooked in the rush to achieve quarterly or year-end results is succession. The myopia that can affect even the most experienced leaders can have a significant impact not only on personal, divisional or even company-wide performance — I believe it has the potential to affect entire industries.

Young, wired and living life on the digital edge -- meet the Millennials.Now, when I say “succession”, I am not just talking about filling roles that will be vacated over time. As leaders we must think broader than this. We must consider the future impact of new workers on our work environments. We need to consider change management, business process, HR — in fact, we need to re-think the way that we manage the business of doing business. And if this post by Ryan Healy is any indication, Generation Y are ready, and expecting, to help.

Ryan sets out ten ways that Generation Y will change the workplace. And while there are some excellent points, my favorites include:

  • We’ll redefine retirement — the suggestion is that a career will be made up of multiple, mini retirements that occur in sync with life changing events (think childbirth, middle age etc) — “When we hit 65, it will be the new 45.”
  • We’ll find real mentors — Ryan suggests that the quality and pervasiveness of mentoring will improve. I too would like to see this expand particularly as it relates to women in the work place.

Let’s face it, organizations are going to need as much innovation as possible. It is claimed that over the next five years approximately 62 million Baby Boomers will be retiring, being replaced by around 40 million from the ranks of Generation Y. The net deficit is significant and the potential impact on businesses is enormous. Add to this the different approach to work that is fundamental to Generation Y and it becomes clear that leaders need to begin addressing these future challenges now — we need to begin to put “success” back into succession:

S – stimulate — Generation Y are renowned for being easily bored. Leaders will ensure that our teams have meaningful work that engages and challenges them. Provide opportunities outside your line of business to stop them looking to your competitor for inspiration.

U – understanding — Realize that Generation Y are wholly different. Change your methods of review and assessment. Decrease the cycle times for recognition and reward.

C- connect — This is the always-on generation. Don’t fear their network of connections — embrace it. There is wisdom in the crowd and it can be deployed to provide competitive advantage if managed well.

C – chaos — Generation Y demand streamlining — they reject the seeming chaos of bureaucracy and encumbrances of red tape.

E – embrace technology — To Generation Y technology is not an “enabler” it is a fact of life. They have never not been online. Technology should be used to provide flexibility (virtual teams, global collaboration etc), knowledge sharing, and career development (virtual classrooms, eLearning).

S – sayonara seniority — Promotion due to seniority is out with Generation Y. It is all about merit and performance. Workforce knowledge and career acceleration initiatives need to be put in place and embedded within your company’s DNA.

S – salaries — Demand is likely to drive up starting salaries — and when coupled with sites like Payscale.com and an openness in communication, Generation Y is likely to cost business more.


Nina Nets It Out: Preparing the way for Generation Y is no simple task. As leaders we need to begin re-imagining our businesses to not only attract but to retain and to grow this new generation of leaders.

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Are We Making Leaders Myopic?

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