Emerging Leaders in the Next Generation

By Renae Oswald-Anderson, Partner I am continually amazed by the bright, talented, and tech savvy Millennials (those in their 20s and 30s) who will be our next leaders in both the board room and in executive offices. How do we as seasoned leaders attract young people to the important mission-driven work we have chosen to commit our careers and lives to? What attracts a young person to serve on a board when everyone in the room looks like me: over the age of 50, middle class, and enthusiastic about the mission? We all have a lot to gain as do our organizations when we invest in emerging leaders.

Include generational issues in all aspects of the organization from the board room to agency operations…early morning all-staff meetings may be challenging for a young staff.

Mentor match board buddies of different generations, have an experienced senior manager and an emerging leader plan and lead the board or staff retreat. We can all learn from each other’s unique perspective.

Target market by generation – social media tools like Facebook offer fundraising appeals both in print and on-line that appeal to Millennials.

Age down – How do we keep the pipeline of young volunteers and staff full? Both the private and nonprofit sector are exploring college debt forgiveness programs as a recruitment tool to attract talent given the projected labor shortage.

Meet “techspectations”   use technology in meetings, trainings, and service delivery. Create social media policies for board, staff, and interns.

Ask –  A hallmark of leadership is asking, listening, and communicating openly and honestly. Speak of who you are, knowing that actions speak louder than words. Leaders say “thank you” often.

We want our next generation of leaders to create a vision for an organization, and then educate, encourage, and inspire others (often via social media) to engage while they make it their own.

Success is often measured differently based on your world view and the chair you sit in. There’s no doubt that I and others have benefitted tremendously from mentors, mistakes, thousands of lessons learned, and colleagues who have generously shared their wisdom and insights. Now it’s time to invest and embrace a multi-generational board and staff.

The world is changing rapidly. Equipping our next generation to be our future leaders will yield dividends beyond measure.

Watch the Strategic Consulting & Coaching website for the upcoming “Are you Ready to Be an Executive Director?” series.