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Transforming the Next Generation of Leaders: Developing Future Leaders for a Disruptive, Digital-Driven
Era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) (Business Expert Press, 2019)


A company’s leadership pipeline is expected to deliver its “next generation” of leaders who are capable of leading now. The payoff is a supply of leadership talent that simultaneously achieves targets, strengthens and protects ethical reputation, and navigates transformational change in pursuit of a bright, competitive future. It is evident that conventional leadership development practices are no longer adequate. Organizations globally need to incorporate the next generation leadership competencies in order to address the development needs of their rising leaders. This expanded group of upcoming leaders need to have a broader skillset, one that equips them to think and act globally in a highly disruptive, digital and VUCA-driven era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (also known as Industry 4.0).

One of the biggest challenges facing organizations today is that they are facing greater pressure to develop future or next generation of leaders faster, in response to dramatically changing the digital and highly disruptive business landscape.  Who is the next generation of leaders? What makes them great? What do Business and HR leaders need to know about developing the next generation of leaders? What are the competencies and best practices tools that can be leveraged upon to be able to lead in today’s business environment that is fast-paced, highly disruptive and VUCA-driven?

Talent management represents an organization’s efforts to attract, develop, and retain skilled and valuable employees which includes the high potentials which are the nextgen or future leaders. Its goal is to have people with the capabilities and commitment needed for current and future organizational success. An organization’s talent pool, particularly its managerial talent, is often referred to as the leadership pipeline. However, one of the biggest challenges facing organizations today is the greater pressure to develop future or nextgen leaders faster in response to the challenges ahead for the new normal.

How do organizations develop the next generation of leaders? This book is designed to provide insights into an understanding of the best practices and contemporary approaches to identification, assessment, selection and development of future leaders of an organization with a focus on executive and transition coaching as a development tool.

Identifying, Assessing and Developing NextGen Leaders (High Potential Talent)

Developing a leadership pipeline starts with identifying and then transforming high-potential individuals through a variety of developmental opportunities and experiences (Bawany 2014). This is achieved by identifying and cultivating emerging talent early while enhancing organizational capability. But organizations face unprecedented challenges in their effort to cultivate new leadership. This includes developing leaders from different generations, (likely to be from Gen Y or Millennials), meeting the demand for leaders with global fluency and flexibility, having the ability to innovate and inspire others to perform, and acquiring new levels of understanding of rapidly changing and emerging technologies and new disciplines and fields.

As experienced leaders, managers, and professionals continue to leave an organization, their intellectual capital and tacit knowledge, unless codified, will be lost. This adds to the challenges, especially at a time when the market is growing globally. It also translates to tougher competition in the marketplace, making the search for high-potential people more difficult and future success more elusive. Furthermore, there is a sense of urgency for organizations today to accelerate the effort to build competence, and this compounds the challenge of building a strong leadership pipeline from within (Bawany 2018).

Many organizations recognize that assessment, selection, and development procedures for their people are of paramount importance in order to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Increasingly, they are turning to the Assessment Centre (AC) approach, which, when carefully constructed and well run, can provide a number of benefits to an organization seeking to improve its approach to the selection and development of their talent. This can, in turn, identify and predict key behaviors in the workplace that transform future leaders.

The purpose of an AC is to obtain the best possible indication of a person’s actual or potential capability to perform in the target job or level of responsibility. The AC is designed to focus on the systematic and objective identification of behaviors of an individual for the purposes of selection, placement, promotion, development, career management, succession planning, and training. The AC method is now regarded as one of the most accurate and valid assessment procedures and is used globally for both selection and development.

The field of identifying and assessing high-potential talent in organizations is evolving. Based on the challenges as identified through various research and stated earlier, we believe several key issues in the area need to be addressed in the future in order to advance the field.

There is certainly room to do better in terms of identifying high potentials. The greatest opportunity for improvement starts with having a clear definition of potential, followed by a systematic assessment of those nominated for inclusion in the high-potential pool. Increasingly leading companies use the competency-based talent review process to select and align on high potentials.

Redefining Leadership 4.0

Leadership 4.0 is about leaders creating their own digital transformation strategy and ensure it is aligned with the business and growth plans of their organization. It is critical that there must be a commitment to and ownership of it by the various stakeholders including the Boards and senior leadership team. For those willing to embrace this new world, it presents huge opportunities to be leveraged, which offers the prospect of new markets and new customers. However, to accomplish this, it would be crucial for the next generation of leaders to develop the relevant knowledge and skills, and that will help them evolve into a digitally transformed leader.

Leadership 4.0 is also a “digital leader” who can build teams, keep people connected and engaged, and drive a culture of innovation, risk tolerance, and continuous improvement. As digital disruption sweeps across every major industry, regrettably leadership capabilities are not keeping pace.

As part of the cognitive transformation, digital leaders who think differently by applying innovative thinking to their managerial leadership challenges is one step in creating an innovative, organizational response to changes resulting from Industry 4.0. What is required is to develop a culture of innovation, where others throughout the organization apply innovative and creative thinking to solve problems and develop new products and services.

Studies have shown the climate for creativity in organizations is directly attributable to leadership behavior. What this means is that leaders must act in ways that promote and support organizational innovation by demonstrating specific competencies, skills, and behaviors known as cognitive readiness that would support an innovative and knowledge-driven learning organization.

This new normal is challenging leaders to find new ways to lead their organizations and achieve sustained success as reflected in the latest Report ‘2019 Trends in Executive Development: A Benchmark Report’ published by Executive Development Associates (EDA), a pioneer in custom executive development in partnership with BTS, a world leader in business simulations.

The impact of digital disruption has to be managed alongside the more general volatile, unpredictable, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) operating conditions of recent years. An ability to calculate and manage/mitigate risk will, therefore, be another key requirement of leaders seeking to propel their organizations into the digital age. Navigating a course through these difficult conditions may also force leaders to look at their individual leadership style and decide whether it needs to be adjusted.

About the Publisher: Business Expert Press, LLC, New York (BEP)

The book, published by Business Expert Press (BEP), has been made available to the market globally since May 2019.

Business Expert Press (BEP) was founded on the proposition that executives and business students need reliable, concise information and guidance from experts across the field of business. Professors from around the world typically focus on writing journal articles, lengthy monographs, textbooks and topical articles for magazines. BEP combines and summarizes these published works to help students and business executives improve their understanding of theories and gain more in-depth knowledge of a particular topic.

The BEP Digital Library and special topic collections is a revolutionary new compilation of eBooks. Experienced authors present accurate and concise information that business students and executives can refer to when they need to put learning into action.

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