How can we get the best out of the future generation of leaders? Hanover's webinar explains

Andrew Watson our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 27 July 2020
With Generation Z set to account for over a third of the global population – and a quarter of the global workforce – it's clear that business leaders need to focus on this demographic in order to remain competitive in the coming years. All leadership and talent strategies should therefore include a focus on identifying and developing future leaders. At Hanover, we know just how valuable the next generation is in helping organisations to achieve sustained, long-term growth. This is why our Leadership Solutions team has the expertise to help clients with future leader development and succession planning. 

To help communicate this message, Andrew Watson and Richard Waddell of Hanover hosted an online event and welcomed guest speaker Major General (retired) Paul Nanson CB CBE to present a webinar on Leading Generation Z to over 200 senior business and HR leaders. The invitation-only event was an interactive session to explore how C-level executives can get the best out of the next generation of business leaders. Paul shared his personal insights on how the Army’s approach to attracting, engaging and retaining Generation Z can be applied in a business context.
 
As one of the British Army’s most combat-experienced Generals, Paul Nanson is an expert on leading and motivating others - particularly young and upcoming leaders. He was most recently Director Leadership for the British Army and Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the world’s premier military leadership institution. This experience has given him unique insight into how the Army has adapted their approach to best suit Generation Z.

Here is just a taste of what attendees learned from the webinar:

Understanding Generation Z

Generation Z – those born between 1997 and 2010 – are digital natives with a focus on diversity and inclusion and concern for the environment. They are more connected and collaborative with a desire for authenticity and purpose in the workplace. As Paul Nanson noted, they also crave the certainty of direct response, they live and think in the immediate moment and can often lack the self-awareness and patience that people from older generations have. Because of this, they are a unique group of people to manage and develop but have enormous potential when engaged in the right way. 

What businesses can do to maximise the potential of Generation Z

Leaders who know how to attract, engage and inspire Generation Z will benefit from their hard work, passion and disruptive ideas, says Paul. He believes the next generation want leaders who are truly authentic, live their values and work hard to build strong relationships, allowing young people to learn and grow from their mistakes. While it’s important for leaders to retain accountability, young people must also have the freedom to be creative and to make decisions, developing resilience and confidence as they grow as workers and hopefully leaders.

The Army does this well – their approach to finding and selecting future leaders focuses on character, values and motivation, knowing that skills and competencies can be added later through training. This training provides ample space to ‘fail safely’, enabling young leaders to learn from their mistakes and those of others, providing them with insights to help them build diverse experience and refine their approach. This is a concept rarely seen in the business environment except in, for example, cutting-edge technology businesses.

Paul noted that when leading Generation Z, it’s important to have regular check-ins to stay connected to young leaders whilst examine your own leadership and impact on them. They respond well to ongoing coaching and mentoring which helps them to feel heard, challenged and supported. Reverse mentoring is a great addition to the standard approach, and something Paul has personally benefited from in the Army; he worked with a young female officer who helped him to understand the perspective of Generation Z leaders in the military.

Paul went on to describe how teams that feel a sense of belonging and have relationships built on trust will be higher performing, with clear, honest communication key to this. Paul’s learnings from the military include how important it is to create environments where leaders feel empowered and supported to make decisions, which can be cultivated through open, trusting relationships. 

In the military, this concept of ‘mission command’ and devolving responsibility and decision making to the lowest appropriate level is a key factor in making the British Army one of the best in the world. Trust and involvement are critical to developing high-performing teams; Generation Z employees who are asked to contribute to the “why” and “how” as well as the “what” will not only feel more engaged, but will also be more likely to use creativity and initiative to solve problems. 

As the youngest group in the workforce, Generation Z has the advantage of diversity of thought, a natural affinity with technology and a unique perspective on the world of work, all of which can be a business advantage. By balancing leadership with followship and inviting this group to contribute ideas and be part of business decisions, you’ll utilise the power of the team and strike the balance between enabling the authority to act and encouraging everyone to participate.

How Hanover can help with your leadership and talent solutions

At Hanover, we can help you to identify and develop future leaders. With 25 years’ experience in executive search, leadership solutions and market intelligence across a range of industries in the UK, USA, Europe and Asia, we’re a truly global provider of talent solutions. We can help you identify, engage and develop talent at all levels, including Generation Z, to help grow your business and ensure you have a strong pipeline of future leaders.

Our Generation Z webinar was attended by over 200 senior decision makers from Financial Services and Technology organisations. If you’d like to be notified of future events, register your interest here. For more on Paul Nanson's experiences and learnings, take a look at his book ‘Stand Up Straight’, and watch a recording of the webinar here.

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