10 Signs Your Next-Gen Talent Isn’t “Ready-Now”

When your organization struggles to maintain or regain lost momentum, will your next-gen talent be ready to lead?

Here are 10 signs that show they aren’t “ready-now:”

The reality is, when facing a crisis, companies often scramble to fill key leadership gaps. If next-gen talent isn’t equipped today to solve new problems, it hinders the business from getting back on track.

It’s not that companies don’t try to strengthen their bench. Most identify high performers based on their strong track record of success and built a leadership pipeline.

To reinforce this they add “talent development” to managers’ annual performance objectives. They invest in internal or external resources like topical lunch-and-learns and self-paced online training to help employees gain new skills.

These are good starting points, but on their own they are insufficient.

With managers constantly grappling with day-to-day challenges and shifting priorities, it’s easy for leadership development to slip down or fall off their to-do list.

Providing online or one-off courses for employees to take self-directed training may be a nice perk to refresh their existing skillset. However, it’s inadequate to shift the needle when it comes to growing leaders.

Why? Because that’s not how adult learners learn.

Mastery doesn’t occur when an employee answers eight of 10 questions correctly following a 30-minute video on “leading with emotional intelligence” or “improving your strategic thinking.”

It only checks a box. And you won’t develop “ready-now” leaders by checking a box.

Go Beyond Checking the Box

For training to be “sticky” – impactful, actionable, and retained – it must incorporate the four essential components of adult learning:

  • Learn: Providing content that is meaningful and relevant to the participant AND actively engages their participation with the material and other learners.
  • Do: Applying the knowledge acquired to real-world situations and practical exercises to test understanding and build proficiency.
  • Reflect: Incorporating group discussions, critical thinking, and self-assessment to gain insights that will inform future actions.
  • Connect: Integrating new knowledge and skills into daily work and collaborating with others to share and scale learnings.

When training excludes or overlooks this, your employees won’t be “ready-now” when elevated into leadership roles. They will be ill-prepared for the challenges they face, and they’ll soon slip into what we call the “4 Ds of a Leader’s Downfall:”

Everyone is surprised by this – after all, the person was so successful in the past.

But what many fail to realize is most employees can’t simply “grow” into a new role. Now, this might be true for early and even some mid-level roles that leverage highly transferable skills. However, all employees eventually reach a tipping point. When that happens, “how” they do things is more predictive of their new role success than “what” they know.

Who’s Doing This Right?

The companies who do this right – who set up their next-gen talent for success and provide support to lock it in – know three things:

  • Talent Identification Is Critical – They utilize a variety of sources, including evaluations, leadership assessments, and competency frameworks, to see which employees’ performance truly distinguishes them from others.
  • So Is Predicting Success – These companies develop robust criteria and build future success profiles that ensure skills and strengths align with the company’s values and culture. They evaluate traits such as resilience, emotional intelligence, and possessing a growth mindset that are absolutely critical to leading effectively in challenging environments.
  • Futureproofing Is Nonnegotiable – They equip next-gen talent with ongoing learning and development so they thrive even in uncertainty and disruption. Moreover, these companies foster a culture of learning and adaptability that encourages leaders to prioritize professional growth throughout their careers.

Additionally, they use a robust framework that prioritizes leadership development and readiness alongside other critical business objectives:

Companies call on us to help them grow “ready-now” next-gen talent to tackle relentless disruption in today’s markets. Whether it’s through our Upskilling Sprints, New Leader 90-Day Acceleration Program, or our cohort training on Leadership Essentials, we provide next-generation talent with the skills, knowledge, and reinforcement they need to take on emerging challenges with confidence, resilience, and consistency.

Want to learn more about how we partner with smart organizations to grow “ready-now” leaders? Book a capabilities briefing with us today.