How Can We Champion The Next Generation of Leaders?
by Betsy Burton
I am so pleased that Aragon Research is holding a Women in Technology Panel at the Boston Transform Tour. The more diverse our workforce and executive leadership is—not just women, but people of diverse ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, and economic context—the better we are able to innovate, serve our customers, and grow our business.
The best thing about encouraging leadership growth and diversity is that it is something each one of us can actually do something about—whether you’re a CIO, CEO, business leader, or manager. This blog offers actionable insights you can put into practice today to start developing the next generation of leaders.
Leading the Next Generation of Leaders
Over the past few years, I have had a number of CIOs, CEOs, and business leaders talk to me about their career….and their legacy. They often express that they have become so preoccupied with reacting to and pushing forward their business and career that they may have forgotten to take a breath and consider their longer-term legacy impact. The question they are asking themselves is: have I been a leader in creating the next generation of leaders?
The good news is it is never too early or too late to consider your reputation as a leader of leaders.
It’s Less About What You’ve Done; More About Leading Leaders
I am sure that many of you, like me, have thought at one time or another that strength comes from getting things done—projects, sales, products, plans, etc.—but real leadership is more than one person getting things done, or even one person getting a group to complete a task.
Real leadership is about how you’ve helped others across your organization reach their potential and create the opportunities they need to become leaders themselves. A real leader is often found at the back of a pack encouraging others to lead; are you a CEO or CIO who opens doors so others can go through?
Knowing When To Let Go
A leader must be willing to let others be wrong sometimes. The reality is…rarely are projects so vital that they can’t withstand some mistakes or misdirections. But the learnings and innovations that can come from successes and missteps can be invaluable.
As a real leader we need to train, guide, educate, and inspire people. And, once they get the foundation they need, we need to give them the freedom of being on their own and empower them to succeed…or not. Raising the next generation of leaders means giving them space to learn from failures and successes.
Identify a few people you can mentor to become leaders this year; not just at work but also in your community. Don’t just look at the obvious people. Look for diverse people that you might not have thought about before.
Listen to them and their context first. Then ask how you might help empower them. You might be a sounding board. You might be making connections. Or, you might be helping them more directly (education, advice, advancement, collaboration, etc.).
Be honest about your concerns. Identify issues that might make you a little nervous about stepping back and empowering others to become leaders. And then…lean into this concern. It will make you a stronger leader.
Seek out peer opportunities, like our leadership panels at the Aragon Transform Tour, to learn what others have done to lead the next generation of leaders, while also growing their own career.