In the next few years, we will witness a wider cross-generational workforce mix with today’s Generation X assuming the top leadership positions, Generation Y vying for those leadership positions and Generation Z (iGen) entering the workplace.

preparing Generation X to be effective future leaders

As the global workplace becomes more diverse than ever before (both in terms of culture and age group), the need to engage, and manage multi-cultural teams and cross-cultural communications will more than likely intensify.

Organisations should consider whether they have the right leadership talent on board, leaders who are capable of navigating through the increasingly global and cross-generational workplace and who can create an inclusive and cohesive working environment; one where every generation works together in harmony to realise their full potential and maximise organisational productivity.

What are the major challenges for organisations preparing Generation X to be effective future leaders?

Possessing necessary skill set

Ability to manage change, negotiation and conflict resolution skills,and collaboration skills are some of the important skills that leaders possess today. But, these skills alone are not sufficient for effective leadership in the 2020 workplace. Gen X leaders need to acquire new skills such as technology and social media skills, while retaining the ones existing today.

Acquiring core competencies

Apart from the above mentioned skills,Gen X lacks many of the core management skills such as managing, leading and coaching skills,required to lead effectively in a diverse workplace.

Confidence to lead effectively

There is a deep-rooted lack of self-belief among Generation X who perceives its current skills to be lower than what is required. Additionally, there is a general lack of confidence across the different age groups in the workplace, as to Generation X’s leadership skills levels both today and in the future.

Thus, organisations have a major challenge on their hands making sure their Generation X managers not only acquire the new skills and core competencies but also use them confidently to their best effect.

What steps do organisations need to take now in order to prepare Generation X to be effective future leaders and thrive in the 2020 workplace?

  • Leadership styles must evolve as we move towards 2020

Leaders need to evolve from micro-management to a more collaborative leadership style to reflect the changing demographics of the workplace.

  • Technology’s greatest role in the workplace is in Learning & Development

Technology continues to revolutionise how people work, live and learn. Technology has the most important role to play for leaders in learning and development.

The challenge for organisations however, is ensuring that technology learning tools are deployed to the greatest effect and are not just used for technology’s sake.

  • Generation X need to be given hands-on leadership experience and to be coached

To develop their leadership skills, Generation X need to be provided hands-on experience, coaching/mentoring and talent mobility opportunities, the opportunity for international assignments and cross-functional movement.

  • Training programs for leading a cross-generational workforce need to be more future focused to be effective

It’s good news that the majority of organisations are investing in training specifically to prepare current and future managers and leaders but they need to take care that their training initiatives are focused on the challenges ahead, instead of being too ‘now-centric’ or past driven.

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