A few months ago, Conversant engaged in an informal discussion about the exact meaning of the term “Emerging Leaders.” What does it mean to be an Emerging Leader? From a bona fide Emerging Leader, here are some key tips for working with us and for owning your identity as one.
We see this term more and more in organizations today. A few years ago, everyone talked about “High Potential” leaders. Now, Learning & Development departments want to support “Emerging Leaders.” In part, this is the cyclical nature of life and work and language. But it’s also indicative of a shift from thinking about developing people with high potential to thinking about paving the way for emerging leaders to take their first steps in leadership.
The Emerging Leaders at Conversant, with some input and thought-provoking questions from our top leadership, developed several distinctions. Emerging Leaders:
You’ll see in our rough definition a blend of innate qualities, cultivated talents, determination, and self-awareness. You’ll recognize an Emerging Leader by the hungry look in their eyes, how they’re often the first one to arrive in the morning and the last one out at night, and how they ask more questions than you thought one person could have. And you’ll recognize yourself as an Emerging Leader when you have the self-confidence to call yourself one!
What does this trend mean in the world of work? Emerging Leader is not an inherently age-based title, but we do see higher concentrations of Emerging Leaders in the millennial or Gen Z generations. Articles five and ten years ago focused on what to do with millennials and how the world of work would shift as millennials entered the workforce. Well, they’re here, and they’re here to play.
Many Emerging Leaders can feel frustrated that they’re not being taken seriously by their organizations, given opportunities to shine, or encountering enough chances to prove themselves. The organizations adjusting to these leaders can feel frustrated with relative newcomers impatient with spending time learning the ropes the way tenured leaders had to do.
We can all continue being mildly frustrated, or we can do something about it. Talking about aging is taboo in many organizations, but the reality of the situation is that we will all leave the workforce eventually (until science tells us otherwise), so millennials, Emerging Leaders or not, are going to be in decision-making positions sooner or later.
Whether you’re an Emerging Leader or someone leading Emerging Leaders, you don’t have to sit around and wait. Here are several ways to make the most out of the impact Emerging Leaders are already having in our world of work:
Or, if you prefer a quote, Jessie Potter famously said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.” What I love about her quote, and Leonard’s chart, is that they’re giving us another option: try new things! It may be easier said than done, but I guarantee trying something new will at the very least give us something to learn from together.
At Conversant, we believe that you can find an intersection with anyone if you are willing to listen with curiosity and speak with vulnerability. Emerging Leaders and established leaders alike can accomplish more together when we’re willing to lean in.