Future leader challenges
need you to act now

Future leader challenges
need you to act now

We gathered a group of the most experienced and forward-thinking HR and Talent Directors to discuss their challenges around developing future leaders. Their industries are diverse, and their challenges vary, but one concern is shared. If you don’t tackle the issue in advance, you will be left with a huge leader-shaped hole and no time to fill it.

You can’t wait for the perfect plan to develop your emerging leaders, or until the senior leaders are all engaged… you just have to start. We heard from Bernadette Bruton, Global Talent and Organisational Development Director at Aviva; Elaine Vaile, Group Head of Leadership and Organisational capability at RBS; Alex Holland, Vice President of Talent and Development at RS Components and Janet Tidmarsh, Head of Leadership and Development at Sainsbury’s.

Our guests heard great insight into how these women started to change the future of their companies by tackling the difficult issues and planning a new way forward all the while moving their organisations from a state of ‘knowing’ about the problem to ‘doing’ something about it.  What they all made very clear is that, as talent leads, it is essential not to get bogged down the institutional prevaricating that characterises so many organisations and just get started. The very act of putting your plan in place will, in itself, be a catalyst for change. 

First you need to find your senior leaders who ARE interested in supporting and developing emerging leaders and kick something off. Reverse mentoring, an emerging talent programme, a shadowing programme. Just get started.

At Ivy House we work with clients to support their unique needs and develop programmes to support and develop the individuals. Their plans are not always fully formed when we start talking. But what we notice is that even those who start with just a few of their high potentials and create something for them, very quickly seem to attract support from areas where they previously had no traction.

Our panel members were also in union when it came to individual approaches. You can’t force one type of development programme on every colleague. By connecting forward thinking leaders with emerging talent, you will inject your organisation with a new energy. By giving them the kind of development that inspires them and makes them feel valued, you will kick something off. 

Our panel today talked about the great work they are doing, the progress they are making and the challenges they still face.  So don’t think all large companies have it all sorted – they don’t. Don’t think there is a silver bullet – there isn’t. But there is a very real threat… if you are not feeding your talent pipeline and preparing them for the future, you are in danger… so just start.

The Ivy House mentor experience

The Ivy House mentor experience

The Ivy House mentors play a fundamental role in the development of the next generation of leaders. Drawing upon their experience and expertise, they provide 1:1 guidance and support to our programme delegates. It is a hugely rewarding experience for everyone involved.

Spinny Witter, who heads up the mentor programme, says, “I have had the extraordinary pleasure of seeing first-hand the impact our mentors make. The feedback we get from our delegates is fantastic. They really appreciate the opportunity to connect to senior people from a range of forward-looking organisations. Both sides find it a truly inspiring process.”

We’re always delighted to hear from people who want to get involved. We look for senior leaders who believe passionately in giving the next generation the support they need to really fulfil their potential. Aside from the mentoring itself, our mentors have the opportunity to join Ivy House events and network with other senior leaders from a diverse range of backgrounds and experience.

Here is what some of our current mentors have to say:

“There is nothing better than seeing a person exceed their own hopes and expectations and it is humbling to be able to provide a bit of support on their journey. I probably learn more from my mentees than they do from me.”
Kate Griffiths-Lambert, Charles Stanley

“I supported one of my recent mentees as they applied for and got their dream job and I could not have been more proud!”
Sarah Anderson, Gordon Ramsay Restaurants

“Mentoring is a two-way street. We listen, we share experiences, we guide but we also learn from young professionals at the same time. Any situation where both parties contribute to the process of improved leadership in companies benefits society as a whole.”
Patrick Dewilde, Citigroup

“It’s invigorating to work with such talented, enthusiastic, and humble new leaders. Of course, it’s nice to feel I’m doing something positive for someone else but the thing I value the most is how much I’ve learnt from the mentees I worked with and how much I have personally grown through reflecting on my own experiences. Highly recommended.”
Chris Mitchell, Office for National Statistics

The word from Aviva

The word from Aviva

Ivy House has had the extraordinary pleasure of working with Aviva to develop their emerging leaders both on The Ivy House Programme and through our in house offering. We caught up with Bernadette Bruton, their Global Talent and Organisational Development Director, to hear more about her experience.

THE IVY HOUSE PROGRAMME
An exciting and determined group of emerging leaders at Aviva have come together with other delegates from a diverse range of forward-thinking companies for a transformational development experience.

“When we went out to the market to source a partner for our Emerging Leader Programme the team at Ivy House were streets above the others; they absolutely love what they do, they know intimately the audience they are trying to attract and develop and they brought an energy and a passion into the room that completely separated them from the rest.

Ivy House have built an innovative programme that truly responds to the changing needs of the next generation and future leader landscape, they are a valued partner in our business.”

IN HOUSE
Aviva engaged Ivy House to deliver their Global Emerging Leader Programme. It’s been an incredible journey. The 100% NPS score says all you need to know about the energy that was in the room.

“When we made the decision to partner with Ivy House for our in-house Global Emerging Leader Programme we were delighted that our Alumni delegates became part of our marketing campaign. They are telling the stories, bringing back their learning and applying it in our world; they are being recognised for the changes and impact they have made. Essentially, we have our own ‘future leader’ ambassadors right across the business – and that’s working really well.”

THE AWARD
We also asked Aviva what they thought about The Award for schools and the impact they believe that will have.

“We’ve done a lot of research about the workforce of the future. Overwhelmingly it’s telling us that purpose and a feeling of contribution are core needs of the next generation; developing that in school rather than when you’re 30 at work makes perfect sense.

I believe in what Ivy House are trying to do, driving a depth of self-knowledge and building self-leadership skills in young adults, before they move into the world of work will pay dividends.
Understanding inner traits and connecting with purpose, not just business purpose but their own purpose, will undoubtedly lead to healthier individuals and more successful lives.”

Ivy House interviews… Eliza Filby, Generations Expert

Ivy House interviews… Eliza Filby, Generations Expert

Eliza is an historian, lecturer and corporate advisor on the evolution of generations and how people’s values and behaviours are changing and the implications for work, politics, consumption, society and economics.

Q: Professional development of staff who then leave wastes time and resources. Given the Millennial and Gen Z preference for diverse experiences, are employers fighting a losing battle to retain staff?

A: This pinpoints the major challenge companies have in thinking they have got to retain their talent over a substantial period of their working life. For a Millennial to do the same thing for longer than 8 years is seen by them as a failure. They want diversity of experiences. The trend is not just towards diversity within a career but multiple careers.

A great analogy here is TV channels; Baby Boomers grew up with 3 terrestrial channels, whereas Millennials and Gen Z’s have had the ability to create their own channel. This reflects how they see their careers. Companies will struggle to keep this generation of talent. But there are certainly things they can do to stop them leaving.
Developing a training programme that doesn’t just stop after the graduate programme is important. Companies need to offer a working environment and training that is bespoke for the individual to flourish in the organisation.

Supporting them working in different locations; travel to Millennials is what the company car was to baby boomers. There is more status attached to going to work in New York for six months than a pay rise.

I knew a Millennial employee who worked in a large telecommunications firm for eight years with 10 different jobs across departments. She was given diversity of experience, roles and skills but then wanted to leave sector altogether. She liked the company and appreciated the lengths they had gone to, but she wanted to work in a different country, in a different sector: tech not communications. I don’t think she is unusual for her generation.

Q: What do companies need to think about to attract both Millennials and Gen Z’s to an organisation as they are so different?

Firstly, it’s important to know the difference. Millennials are not young anymore. They have caring responsibilities; over 50% are already parents and many more will need to care for their parents. Respecting and understanding their care and responsibilities is important. They want an employer who is inclusive; not just about shared parental leave but in a family-friendly environment with a flexible learning and development culture. Also, even though they are in their mid-20s to mid-30s, they don’t want to stop learning.

To attract Gen Z’s, you really need to talk their language and reach out to them via their mediums which is primarily video. They are also a politically switched on activist generation and see employment as a two-way contract.

As an employer, you really need to ask are your values aligned with theirs. Gen Z are savvy and sophisticated and won’t buy into false advertising in any way. The interview process needs to shift from not what employee can bring to company but to a dialogue and 2-way assessment as to whether the fit is right.
They are the most ethnically diverse, gender diverse and politically diverse generation there has ever been.

Employers can also retain them for longer by enabling them to be an entrepreneur within the business. Let them be successful disruptors within your business.

Q: Can it be ok for people to leave? If companies invest in alumni networks might staff return later having learned and grown even more?

A: Yes, there are some brilliant programs out there where staff are supported as they leave and then come back with more information and experience. The mentoring programme is geared towards getting you out if that is right for the individual. Which is fascinating. It’s like parenting; push them out of the house for them to flourish and then they will come back as a better version!

If you try to restrain them in to the corporate straitjacket you will lose them before you need to. There is something to be said for a very different form of leadership and management which focuses on the person as an individual and what they are interested in.

This is a natural consequence of a transactional economy. Nothing is forever. Jobs are not for life. My mum worked for John Lewis for 55 years. I’ve had three careers before I’m 40.

Q: Do differences in generations apply across cultures and countries?

A: There is a major difference between east and west. In India and China, the Millennials are like baby boomers in the west. They want stability, life insurance, savings, assets and to follow the path of standards and respectability as baby boomers did in their 20s and 30s.

Gen Z’s are much more similar around the globe than previous generations were. Technology has allowed common touchpoints such as downloading Ariana Grande or following influencers. There is a globalised youth culture which Millennials didn’t have. Travel and international study has changed.

Q: How can company leaders communicate with different generations in an accessible way?

A: There are four generations in the workplace for the first time. There needs to be generational understanding not just generalisations.

This means truly understand what they are influenced by. It is a reciprocal two-way dialogue. Baby boomers are still clinging on to their traditional ways. But we’re moving beyond the lanyard years and a silo-driven culture. We’ve gone from a generation who wants to be siloed to a generation who wants to create.
Gen Z’s can’t understand why you pick up the phone and can’t just email or why everyone sits in formal hierarchal structures.

Understanding must happen first. Then skill swap. Reverse mentoring is also important. You can also add Millennials to the board. Encouraging generational diversity can only be a good thing.

Who are our future leaders?

Who are our future leaders?

Developing future leaders is our focus at Ivy House. But who are they? Is there a ‘they ’at all?

At our first Ivy House annual lecture, generations expert and historian Dr Eliza Filby spoke of the differences in a multi-generational workforce that employers should be aware of.

Our experience of working with millennials (born 81-96) and Generation Z (born 97-2010) show they want both money and meaning. They want to be able to afford a house, and they want to do it in a way that is aligned with their values.

Eliza enlightened the audience with her research into the differences between Millennials and Generation Z.

Millennials are the most educated generation ever with over 50% worldwide holding a first degree and over 30% with a second degree.

That doesn’t mean that, like their baby boomer parents, they see education as over with when they finish their degrees. Instead, they see it as an ongoing part of their lives. This the first generation that can access lectures from the best universities online.

Millennials, Eliza told us, are a generation who have developed their own brand from age 13 and see themselves as commentators on what is going on.

Generation Z, on the other hand, are broadcasters and publishers. It’s all about video for them. While Millennials accessed data without much thought, Generation Z are serious about data protection. 

While the former focused on physical health, the latter feel they need to be more aware of their mental health.

Eliza said these generations are looking at 65 years of working. Which is why they are not fazed by a year off travelling, a few years back living at home with mum and dad or a year out to spend caring for family – both young and old.

Workplaces can no longer focus on employees having a three-stage life (education, work, retirement). Jobs for life have gone and the future work landscape is likely to be dominated by shorter periods of work, greater flexibility, far more self-employment and a career split into 4 or 5 definite job roles and multiple careers.

What was also clear is that younger generations expect to be heard, to make suggestions, to contribute and to make a difference. And, if their organisations don’t allow them to do this, they will leave, seeing it as clear evidence that they are not valued.

Through her talk, Eliza outlined a different path for the future in terms of how organisations engage with their employees. At Ivy House we are focused on creating a different path for leadership.

There is no doubt that we are currently in the midst of a leadership crisis but it doesn’t need to be this way. We need to turn traditional leadership development on its head by starting far sooner and instead of ‘pushing’ an organisation’s values and ‘leadership behaviours’ onto an individual, help them first discover who they are and what matters to them so that they can align to the organisation. On top of this, we need to recognise that a life time of focusing in on subject matter expertise needs to change. The future requires different skills – human skills based on relationship, communication, trust, authenticity, collaboration and creativity. More than anything there needs to be humanity in the system.

As robots take over jobs, we need to focus on the things only humans can do. Not just in the future but today. For the benefit of every generation.

The Ivy House
annual lecture

The Ivy House
annual lecture

Browse through a selection of photos from the Annual Lecture at the National Portrait Gallery with Eliza Filby.