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Developing the Leaders of Today and Tomorrow with Bill George — Virtual Gathering Recap

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On September 14, 2022, Conscious Capitalism Inc. board member and Jump Associates CEO Dev Patnaik interviewed former Medtronic CEO Bill George regarding development of the next generation of leadership and how to attract young talent, which Bill wrote about in his new book True North: Leading Authentically in Today’s Workplace, Emerging Leader Edition.

Here are our takeaways from this insightful discussion on how to identify, attract, and develop prospective leaders in the younger generations.

The next generation of leaders wants alignment of values and Higher Purpose

As Millennials and Gen Z continue to enter and work their way up in the world of business, the differences between them and previous generations have become more clear. More and more young employees view work as something beyond means to a source of income. Companies need to consider their Higher Purpose and how to create a genuine commitment to it.

“The newer leaders are embracing this. In fact, they don’t want to work for your company unless you’re a Conscious Capitalist,” George shared. “They ask you questions like ‘What’s your purpose? What are your values? Do you have a climate change plan? Do you have a diversity and inclusion plan?'”

Not only does having a Higher Purpose matter, but executing a continuous commitment to it is important too. Claiming to care about issues but not backing them up will be seen as empty promises.

“[The next generation] want[s] your actions. They really don’t care what you say,” Bill explained.

Listening to employee feedback helps you become a better leader

Employees are on the front lines of every business and can identify problems and opportunities that may not be obvious to leadership. Getting feedback from the team is a great opportunity for organizational growth and individual growth as a leader.

“I spent about 30% of my time with employees at Medtronic because I really wanted to understand where our employees are coming from. You know, just walking in the lunch room and sit down with a group of factory workers or office workers and say ‘Hey, what’s going on, tell me what’s happening.’ That’s where you learn is informal interaction. I think it’s that engagement level that’s going to help you understand the people you work with.”

Informal interaction not only shows employees that they are valued, but also allows for relationship-building and finding new opportunities to grow as a leader.

Support leadership development at all stages of employees’ careers

Talented leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and can be any age. Giving promising younger employees opportunities to lead now will increase their chances of becoming Conscious Leaders.

“Don’t wait until their forties to start developing leaders. Give them the opportunities. Look for people that raise their hands and are willing to do things and give them a shot.”

“Don’t wait until their forties to start developing leaders. Give them the opportunities. Look for people that raise their hands and are willing to do things and give them a shot.”

Giving opportunities to those who show enthusiasm will reward employees who step up to the plate and take on greater responsibility, creating a Conscious Culture of enthusiasm and greater willingness to learn. It also allows for younger employees to learn through experience and develop leadership skills earlier on in their careers. Like any other skill, leadership improves with experience. If employees are given opportunities to lead in their twenties they will have more practice and become more efficient and dedicated leaders when compared to their peers who get their first leadership experience decades later.

As an additional benefit to the company, increased opportunity for growth attracts and retains top talent. Employees will recognize your commitment to developing leaders and grow more loyal to the organization.

Informal leadership is a great way to start

On the flip side, young employees do not need to wait to be formally recognized as leaders. Anyone at any level can be a leader. Find opportunities and run with them, whether it’s going above and beyond on a task or taking point on a new project. Executive leadership will recognize young talent that works hard and is willing to take charge.

Bill advised young employees to “Find a place where you can make a difference and lead now. You don’t have to have a title. You can lead now. No job is too small to lead.”

Don’t be afraid to ask for greater responsibility or training on a new skill. When opportunities present themselves, seize them. If not, create them.

Want to continue this conversation with other Conscious Leaders and gain access to exclusive post-event discussion questions? Join our Senior Leader Network for more.


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