Ideals of what it means to be an effective leader have evolved significantly over the last decade, as has the nature of the workplace.
Emerging leaders are developing very quickly to fulfill the kinds of roles they’ll have in the near future, which in many cases is a good thing. The ability to learn and adapt quickly has become vital to our current society, and leaders who possess those strengths are better equipped to succeed than those who do not.
Challenges Facing Modern Emerging Leaders
However, the fast pace of leadership development has led to some issues.
Emerging leaders today lack certain qualities that older leaders may have had more time to develop. The primary reason for this is the sheer velocity at which modern leadership must move.
A few decades ago, decisions weren’t necessarily more difficult, but they did tend to come at a slower pace. Leaders had time to think things through, but that quiet quality time has become scarcer as emerging leaders move from meeting to meeting and decision to decision.
The constant evolution of the market and technology is one factor that contributes to this need for quick decision-making and development. As companies grow and adapt, they need leaders who will be able to take control sooner rather than later.
For this reason, emerging leaders need to grow into their roles more quickly now than ever before.
Strengths of Emerging Leaders
This type of environment does help the development of certain strengths in spite of the challenges (or perhaps, more accurately put, because of them).
Some of the strengths today’s emerging leaders exhibit include:
Naturally, an agile work environment produces agile workers, and those workers develop into agile leaders.
Current leaders are able to adapt to new situations and learn quickly, making them ideal for the rigors of contemporary corporate settings. They are able to keep up with developments in technology and methodologies, often helping produce those new methods themselves.
Commitment to Quality
The agility required by our day also means quality work is paramount.
The market is flooded with products and services, and the standards consumers and clients have are increasing as a result.
As such, only those with a commitment to achieving real results (rather than just meeting the status quo) are able to survive. Consequently, this means today’s leaders tend to have a higher commitment to quality than previous generations.
Ability to Involve Others
Given the velocity at which new issues and decisions come, collaboration is key.
No longer are leaders able to handle decision-making on their own. Collaboration with a team has become paramount.
Perhaps a result of both the need for quality and the fast pace of modern corporate environments, present-day leaders are better able to collaborate with others to resolve difficult problems. This allows others an opportunity to contribute and develop themselves, leading to a stronger workforce and more future leaders.
Weaknesses of Emerging Leaders
While today’s emerging leaders are able to develop the above skills to a high degree, there are still challenges.
Some weaknesses that future leaders often possess include:
The first most glaring issue that comes about is sheer lack of experience.
As quickly as emerging leaders may learn, this doesn’t replace the wisdom one gains from resolving multiple tough problems over the course of decades.
Lack of Focus
The velocity of modern workplace decision-making also may lead to a lack of focus.
Rather than choosing a few objectives and sticking to those, emerging leaders may become bogged down in droves of peripheral issues that may not be immediately important.
Compare Themselves to Others
The need for results may lead to a tendency to compare oneself to others.
Today’s emerging leaders often measure their growth and success against that of their colleagues, and while the focus on personal development is vital, social comparison isn’t the way to do it.
Turning Emerging Leaders’ Weaknesses Into Strengths
Fortunately, these weaknesses don’t completely undermine an emerging leader’s ability to be effective, and in some cases, they can be turned into strengths.
When managing emerging leaders, the following methodologies may help.
Mentoring from Established Leaders
A lack of experience can be remedied through close mentoring with veteran leaders.
This allows emerging leaders to draw on the experience of those who have gone before, enabling them to develop the level of focus and wisdom needed to lead effectively.
As a company mentors future leaders, it is important to encourage them to focus on their own personal growth rather than compare their results to those of others.
Providing them time to reflect on their day and consider how they might improve their own strengths can help them supersede themselves rather than attempt to compete with others.
Focus on Strengths
The reality of the situation is everyone has strengths and weaknesses.
Emerging leaders may be well aware of their shortcomings, and it’s important to help them understand how to use their strengths as well as those of others to cope with their weaker facets.
By helping them acknowledge the aptitudes they bring to the table, businesses can help their emerging leaders develop into the competent decision-makers they’ll need to be in the future.
Managing Strengths and Weaknesses of Emerging Leaders
The main takeaway, then, is that while the fast-pace of modern corporate settings can lead to some challenges for emerging leaders, those issues can be overcome through competent mentoring and a focus on applying their strengths.
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