Many industries are experiencing a talent drain as leaders retire from the workforce, prompting anxiety among senior executives about a lack of capable successors, according The New Wave: Next Generation Executive Talent.

The next generation will lead a different type of organisation: more dynamic, decentralised, and based on digital solutions. So, what are today’s leaders looking for in the next generation executives?

C-suite executives understand the imperative for agile and entrepreneurial leadership that can shake up old approaches to business. They are looking for next generation of leaders to drive change, ranking ‘leading change’ as the top leadership attribute that could provide a competitive advantage to their organisations. Business leaders also seek talent who are empathetic and individuals who combine critical thinking with an innovative mindset.

However, the study points out that digital transformation and doing business in new ways can be a challenge for existing management: “For true enterprise-wide digital transformation, traditional hierarchies must be dismantled and smaller, flatter, self-organising teams must be able to easily develop from project to project. Thus, for digital to truly flourish enterprise-wide, it often requires a significant shift in both culture and structure requiring leaders who can rally their teams around a new way of thinking that can feel daunting, especially for those less comfortable working in more nimble, fluid environments.”


While global business leaders are cautious, they are also optimistic about leveraging new opportunities with the next generation of leaders. Both Gen X and Gen Y hold promise.

According to AESC, “many Gen X leaders are well positioned to drive digital transformation in their organisations, understanding the experiences of both Baby Boomers and Millennials who have grown up on either end of the digital divide, so instilled with the empathy and emotional intelligence required to rally teams and foster a culture conducive to enterprise-wide shift.”

At the same time, “Millennial leaders are well positioned to pick up where Gen X leaves off and drive digital to an immersive and innovative new level.”