What do Rising Leaders Want?

By wendymerrill Uncategorized 2 Comments on What do Rising Leaders Want?

Here’s a peek into the minds of those “next in line”.


Recently, I conducted a poll to gauge what ambitious employees between 21-40 feel they need to support their efforts to become impactful leaders.

The average professional tenure of the poll participants was between 6-15 years and some of the sectors represented were non-profits, professional services, finance, government contracting, human resources, healthcare and public companies.

Here were the most interesting findings:

  • When asked what was most important to participants, the availability of leadership and professional development opportunities ranked as highly as compensation. Most respondents, however, said that their employers rarely offer them the professional development investment needed to propel them to successful leadership positions. Those offered this investment said that the programs were often not successful because they lacked customization and were “off the shelf”.


  • 72% of respondents described upper management at their organizations to be apathetic towards their professional development, or claiming to be invested in their rising leaders’ success but with actions that said otherwise.


  • 80% of respondents claimed that their current leadership had not clearly laid out expectations of their staff, nor had they provided a clear path on how to prepare for succession.


  • 84% preferred to engage in professional development through in-person workshops, with the focus on leadership skills, business development and self-advocacy/confidence building.


  • 60% of the participants worked for organizations larger than 250 employees, 25% from companies between 2-50 employees and 15% in firms with 51-249 employees.


This poll underlines the importance of investing—properly—in the future. For organizations that seek firm footing, it is imperative for them to provide individualized and thoughtful guidance and support to their “rising stars”.

Various studies on the real cost of employee turnover show results ranging from between tens of thousands of dollars to 1-1.5 times someone’s salary. And these studies do not always capture the “toxic trickle” effect attrition has on impressionable remaining staff members.

Younger aspiring leaders must lose their fear of failure and feel backed by their superiors to gain the necessary skills to land them in the succession queue.

Our programs are designed to provide Rising Leaders with the structured guidance needed to prepare them to take the reins.

Learn more: 410.746.8212


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  • Len Shindel
    Posted on January 8, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    How much do the current leaders’ failures to develop the potential of their subordinates stem from a cost-benefit analysis that sees their “investment” as one that does more for others than themselves, by preparing subordinates to leave their enterprise to lead others in the same or other field?

  • Donn O'Neill
    Posted on January 8, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    A very well stated and succinct article that gets to the heart of the matter. From my experiences, as a group, upper management needs to lose the fear of being replaced by developing younger people who may be more adept. Organizations who develop leaders, who in turn, have the humility and cognizance to develop leaders have the winning formula.


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