The generational shift of the next seven years will be an unprecedented opportunity for those who are qualified to ascend to leadership. There simply aren’t enough Gen Xers to fill the vacuum that will be left by retiring Boomers. For every two people who retire, there’s just one Gen Xer to take their place.
FACT: There are 81 million Boomers in the U.S, 51 percent are women. Yet, in the Fortune 1000 companies, there are just 42 women CEO’s.
FACT: According to Catalyst, the average board of a Fortune 500 company in is just 16 percent female.
FACT: There are only 46 million Gen Xers in the U.S., 52 percent are women.
To survive, companies will need to cultivate the young leaders they have so the Boomer Brain Drain has as little impact as possible on their organizations and their stock options (which could dramatically affect their retirement plans).
For those organizations that don’t prepare, the leadership gap could cause a greater economic downturn than the current recession. That’s because people with little or no leadership experience will be catapulted to positions they’re not ready to fill. Companies could poach qualified people. But there won’t be enough experienced men to fill those positions. Organizations that don’t create effective succession plans will be at risk.
For GenXers and a significant number of Millenials who aspire higher, now is the time to prepare yourself for leadership and management roles no matter where you work. Think about the knowledge that will be lost when Boomers retire and how you can begin to acquire that knowledge now.
• Take advantage of knowledge transfer opportunities in your organization and professional associations.
• Get a mentor and be a mentor. Mentors advance more quickly and can earn up to $25,000 a year more than their colleagues who don’t. Mentees learn the ropes more quickly than experience alone can teach them.
• Earn that degree you’ve been putting off.
• Volunteer on a non-profit board so you can learn and practice collaborative decision-making. Choose a board where you’ll be able to work alongside high-level executives. This will increase your confidence and expand your network.
These next seven years will usher in opportunities for people from all backgrounds. More women and people of color than ever before will be able to rise and take their place among the leaders of U.S. corporations and non-profits. You could be one of them.
Susan Bender Phelps runs Odyssey Mentoring and Leadership. She is the author of the best-selling book,” Aspire Higher,” true career and business mentoring success stories that inspire readers to use mentoring to create breakthrough results.