Have you ever said to yourself, “It sure would have been nice to know that 20 years ago?” I think we all have had that thought at some point in time in our careers. For me, it took 20 years of working to understand that I love change. I like driving change and creating change in people and organizations to improve outcomes. In fact, once things get “fixed” the maintenance bores me. So why did I have to wait 20 years to learn that? Part of the reason is maturity, and the other is gaining enough life experiences to truly understand that about myself, as well as having the work experience to learn business and the key drivers in leading and growing a successful business.
But does everything have to wait based on years of experience or can some of the learning and lessons be taught earlier. I think that we’re missing the boat in many areas by not teaching our young professionals the leadership skills and overall business acumen for them to have a greater impact in their careers earlier. Why do most of us gain this knowledge in our late 30’s or 40’s when we’re promoted into leadership/management positions, but don’t have the skills or knowledge to truly be successful in impacting our organizations?
As many of you know, Journey Consulting works across many areas of business, but one area is exit and transition planning for business owners. With the demographic shift of baby boomers exiting their businesses, there is a growing opportunity for the younger generations to seek business ownership and/or leadership opportunities in these transitioning businesses. Yet, we are lacking the leadership talent and business acumen to capitalize on these opportunities.
What if we started teaching some core, practical skills of creating, protecting, and building business value to our current managers and up and coming leaders? What if we spent time investing in their leadership development and self-awareness? Do you think that we could achieve greater outcomes? Do you think that this wave of business transitions would be less scary for those transitioning because there are leaders and business-people that could step in and run these businesses?
The gap in the marketplace isn’t just that the number of sellers will exceed the demand from buyers, the gap is that there isn’t enough leadership and business talent to step in and lead these organizations.
What are you doing in your organization to educate your up and coming business leaders and owners on the key drivers of business value creation: people, process, customers, and culture? What are you doing to train them on leadership skills that engage self-awareness, team building, decision making and problem solving? If you’re not spending much of your time and resources on creating this bench strength in your organization well before you need it, you won’t have it when the need arises. Those who are investing in people are going to be the winners in this changing economic marketplace. The shortage of workers is going to continue. The need for quality people is in high demand, and if you’re not investing internally, you won’t find it externally. Waiting for 20 years of experience is not going to cut it. This process needs to be accelerated, but it won’t happen without a concerted effort to build it from within.
Consider your organization’s greatest strategic threats. If it’s not finding, hiring, developing and retaining quality people, I’ll be shocked. The real question is what are you doing to address it, not just to get by, but to create an environment that continually invests early on to develop the skills that the organization needs for the future? Your opportunities will continue to increase based on the talent you bring to the table. Your weakness will be your inability to develop from within.
Many businesses and business owners see this challenge and hope that it fixes itself. You can see this as an obstacle, or you can see this as an opportunity that if done well will be your differentiator well into the future. So, which is it for you?
“Don’t Limit your Challenges, Challenge your Limits.”
Jayne McQuillan, CPA, MBA, CEPA is a strategic management consultant, and the owner of Journey Consulting, LLC, in Green Bay