Developing the Next Generation of Leaders

Today’s leaders face unique global challenges, tomorrow’s leaders will have to learn to navigate challenges to keep moving forward. That’s why we have to rethink how we develop the next generation of leaders at our companies.

Effective team leaders have a huge impact on performance, so pinning down leadership development is especially important for human resources practitioners and talent managers. Employees want to see compassion, empathy and authenticity from their leaders, said Tom Hogan, SPHR, GPHR, professor of practice in HR management at Penn State, in a recent Alchemizing HR webinar. But these aren’t traits we’ve traditionally taught in learning and development programs.

Here’s what your HR team should prioritize when developing the next generation of leaders.

Define Transformational Leadership

So what is transformational leadership, and why is it important to grow at your organization?

Transformational leaders keep themselves and their teams moving forward. They practice self-management and support continuous improvement. Being a transformational leader requires a certain mindset, as well as exercising cultural intelligence, ethical decision-making and resiliency. They need to be adaptable, flexible and agile. 

In order to transform the workforce, the next generation of leaders should be authentic, open, compassionate, empathetic, curious and inclusive.

“Transformational leaders are important because they help communities, organizations and societies to reimagine a better future,” Hogan said. In the long term, leaders need to master strategic, conceptual and critical thinking as well as emotional intelligence to draw out the best from each person on the team.

Create Active Learning Experiences

HR needs to foster active learning, or ways that learners can engage in the learning process that don’t rely on passive listening. Training methods include in-depth readings and discussions, critical written reflections and transformational leadership development coaching. The goal of active learning experiences is to create cognitive dissonance by jarring participants from a sense of comfort. Teachers must provide tools, resources and support for leading students to their “a-ha!” moment.

Rather than simply telling someone something, active learning experiences help learners arrive at the conclusion themselves. “We seek to promote deep thinking by encouraging self-reflection, self-awareness and self-knowledge,” Hogan said. Interactive learning methods such as reading and discussion activities, logging reflections in an online journal and transformational leadership development coaching can transition high-potential employees to future leaders.

Expand Your Learning Resources

New learning technologies, like virtual and augmented reality, support growth and development by enabling learners to improve their intercultural awareness. Incorporating high-engagement activities draws students in and improves their learning outcomes.

But it’s important to understand that art is also an essential component of leadership skills development. Viewing art helps us learn compassion and empathy by seeing the world through someone else’s eyes. Art also inspires candidates for leadership positions to get in touch with their emotions.

New technologies and timeless art are valuable learning resources, but you may not have access to them on your own. Tap into development opportunities by collaborating with local colleges and universities.

Take a different approach to developing the next generation of leaders. Cultivate transformational leaders through active learning and non-traditional resources to fill your company’s leadership roles with positive and charismatic leaders.

Watch the recording for recertification credit.