Generation Next - Ready to step up, or step out?

In this research brief we share data from DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2011 with survey responses from 1,897 HR professionals and 12,423 leaders from 74 countries. The focus of the Global Leadership Forecast is on organizational trends and best practices around building leadership bench strength. This brief focuses on differences regarding age/generations that were uncovered in the forecast study. 

Global Leadership Forecast 2011 Jazmine Boatman, Ph.D., Richard S. Wellins, Ph.D., and Aviel Selkovits

A SPECIAL REPORT FROM DDI’S GLOBAL LEADERSHIP FORECAST 2011 In this research brief we share data from DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2011 with survey responses from 1,897 HR professionals and 12,423 leaders from 74 countries. The focus of the Global Leadership Forecast is on organizational trends and best practices around building leadership bench strength. This brief focuses on differences regarding age/generations that were uncovered in the forecast study. For purposes of this study, the generations were broken out by birth year as follows: • Generation Y (1981-2002) • Generation X (1965-1980) • Baby Boomers (1946-1964) • Traditionalists (1927-1945)

For more information on the Global Leadership Forecast, including the full global report, please visit www.ddiworld.com/glf2011. A FAST-RISING GENERATION OF LEADERS Generation Y (a.k.a. Gen Y, Generation Next, or Millennials) comprises roughly 25 percent of the world’s population, numbering over 1.7 billion (Puybaraud, 2010). This group of individuals is now in the workforce and they are making their presence known. But are organizations taking advantage of all this generation has to offer? The research would say “no.” Of all leaders surveyed, those in Gen Y were found to be the least engaged in their jobs (Figure 1), though members of this generation are heavily engaged in technology and social networks in their personal lives. They also value the workplace as a source of learning and development, as well as a way to network and socialize with others (Puybaraud, 2010). They may be young (mostly under the age of the 30), but they are driven and have a clear focus on where they want their careers to go (Bissett-Powell, 2010). Unfortunately, organizations are falling short when it comes to engaging these leaders and harnessing their potential.

Gen Y leaders are in a unique position because not only are they new leaders, but they also have before them an unprecedented opportunity as organizations have begun to identify potential in leaders earlier in their careers. This is reflected in the 42 percent of Gen Y leaders in the Forecast who indicated that their organization had identified them as high-potentials, and also in the nearly 80 percent that have been promoted one or more times in the past year. These leaders have been identified as critical talent for future organizational success. When comparing their importance to their level of engagement, and the fact that organizations are already concerned about their future bench (only 18 percent rate it as strong in the survey), organizations must find a way to re-engage these leaders, and help guide their careers. In this report we explore some of the differences in how Gen Y views themselves (as compared to other generations in the workforce—Generation X, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists), and what they are asking for from their employers.

HOW CAPABLE IS GENERATION Y? The Global Leadership Forecast 2011 asked respondents to rate which skills would be most critical for future success. Figure 2 shows the five skills that rose to the top globally, and how effective Gen Y leaders feel they are in these skills as compared to all other workforce generations. Gen Y is the least confident in their skills, except when it comes to fostering creativity and innovation. In general, Gen Y leaders have been shown to have a penchant for innovation (Heinl, 2010), but as leaders, they need to do more than be innovative. They need to understand what it means to foster an environment with their teams and workgroups where innovation and creativity can flourish. The fact that only 50 percent of these leaders are confident in their skills related to fostering creativity and innovation means organizations need to help these leaders understand what’s required of them, and how their leadership roles can enhance or destroy innovative ideation that comes from their direct reports and teams.

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