How to spot emerging leaders in your organisation

Last updated on 16 November 2022

Sometimes identifying the right young leaders for your business can be the hardest part. [Source: iStock]

If you have realised that you need to start fostering the next generation of young leaders within your organisation, you may be scratching your head on how to identify the very people who could make significant and meaningful change within your company.

Not every person who becomes a leader will have the same level of confidence and is willing to put themselves up for the role.

You may need to ‘dig for gold’ to find the emerging young leaders who will take the helm of your organisation in the future.

Tegan Roberts, Product Development Manager of the Learning and Professional Development Unit at Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA), believes that organisations need to find the people with leadership potential and put them on the right track to reaching their full potential.

But it will be a process to find the right young people with the right skills and the right attitude.

Benefits of young leaders

There are many ways that fostering young leaders can have an immediate and positive effect on your business.

Young leaders can lead to better retention within your organisation and Ms Roberts says if you provide a desirable working environment with obvious career growth, this will secure your workforce and improve your overall worker retention.

The next generation is also more likely to champion innovation and change within their organisations.

This group, generally defined as between the age of 26 – 41, has experienced a lot of industrial shifts and innovative technology. They are adaptable and ambitious, and their actions are often influenced by their attitudes, values and choices.

Additionally, young leaders who are positive about their place within your business can permeate through the workforce – just like negative feelings among some workers can lead to poorer attitudes among your employees.

Shifting perceptions

Over the last few years, the aged care sector has had a harsh light shone on its failures and according to Ms Roberts this has led to young people, and potential young leaders within the sector, not wanting to stay, as well as dissuading people from wanting to join the industry.

In many cases, the ongoing negative narratives about the industry aren’t being offset by the positive narratives that are occurring on a daily basis within aged care facilities and services around the country.

Ms Roberts explained that a shift of perception to show the good of aged care will greatly improve the retention of people who may become young leaders, as well as encourage more people to apply for positions.

“There are lots of positive narratives in aged care. I think it is about shifting perceptions of career opportunities within the sector, which will improve people’s understanding and therefore lead to better retention,” she said.

Providers need to be looking at ways to rewrite the narrative and put themselves forward as an employer of choice.

Identifying young leaders

The one big question you are probably wondering is how you find these young leaders?

Ms Roberts says there are a number of ways you can find the right people to make up the next generation of leadership, and it should be a top-down approach:

  • Foolproof your recruitment and onboarding processes

From the interview stage to having a new person working within your organisation, the recruitment and onboarding process can be an important part of ensuring the person you have hired is right for the role and is eager for leadership and knowledge.

In these interviews, you can canvas to see if a prospective employee is willing and has aspirations to grow in their skills and ambitions for career development. The dreaded “where do you see yourself in five years?”, can be a part of that process!

You can learn more about good recruitment practices in our article, ‘Top tips for a successful recruitment process‘.

  • Have regular career conversations with staff

The best way to find out something is to go to the source!

You can’t always expect people to put their hand up and take on that leadership role. Sometimes it comes through nurturing and aligning the career goals of young leaders with the organisations overall strategy.

This should already be a regular annual conversation with those in your workforce anyway during annual reviews. However, it can be a good idea to even do basic check-ins with staff and even keep a lookout for employees putting their hands up for extra training. 

But keep in mind, not everyone wants to move into leadership roles, which is why having these conversations can help temper expectations for both parties.

  • Undertake regular skill audits

Skill audits of your workforce can be really beneficial in a business, especially in a skill-driven industry like aged care.

These audits can be integral to understanding what holes you may have in care, but can also be a way of identifying people that want to have extra training or upskilling, which can lead to career advancement.

Additionally, skill audits can help your organisation identify what key skills and qualities you are looking for in potential leaders.

  • Connect with young leaders in the right way

When searching for young leaders, Ms Roberts said it is ideal to reach this younger generation – a media-savvy generation – on a platform they use and understand.

You don’t want to be running newspaper campaigns in a medium that may not be widely used. Instead, opt for social media campaigns and reach this audience in a different way.

These recruitment campaigns also need to be offering the right opportunity and resonate with them – whether in terms of intrinsic needs or professional needs. 

“It is about having a meaningful engagement and making sure their time in the workplace has meaningful outcomes,” she said.

Once you have identified your young leaders, you can start putting strategies in place to make sure their career trajectory is supported and encouraged. You can learn more about encouraging your young leaders in our article, ‘Encouraging the future of young leaders‘.

Being an employer of choice

Finally, for businesses that are looking for those young leaders within their business, or just outside their doors, Ms Roberts recommends making sure to develop “employer of choice” cultures. You can learn more about being an employer of choice in our article, ‘Do you have the WOW FACTOR? Become an Employer of Choice‘.

She said many organisations will find that the current young leaders are highly driven by company ethos and very socially conscious. And businesses need to take that into account when looking for emerging leaders.

“It all comes back down to looking at being that employer of choice. Ensuring that the workplaces reflect the desires to bring younger people in that reflect diversity, they reflect sustainability, they reflect opportunity – it’s in your HR strategy, it’s in how you create your documentation, it’s in how you do marketing,” she explains.

“You must invest in people, it is worth doing that. It is tenfold or more of what you will get back, if you invest.”

Shifting your approach to hiring or workforce management and planning can make all the difference to finding the best people to be that catalyst of change within your organisation.

How do you identify potential young leaders in your organisation? Tell us in the comments below.

aged care
aged care workforce
business leaders
young leaders
emerging leaders
staff retention
staff recruitment