It’s likely you’ve heard about the drama surrounding the royal family right now, even if you’re not a royal watcher.
It’s big news and not just for England.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex – emerging leaders – have decided to “step down from roles as senior members of the royal family.”
While every family business owner likely understands the heartache of the next generation not wanting to be a part of the family business, the Sussex’s decision brings about a larger conversation about succession and career pathing.
None of us–not even the royal family–can assume anything about the future of leadership. We need to cultivate it.
Discussion topic: What are you doing to ensure the people you thought would lead in the future continue to be interested in doing so?
While with Prince Harry there are many people in line for the throne before he would become monarch, there’s more to the royal family than just the king or queen. There are many roles that need to be filled and the fact that the young prince is walking away is a pain many of us in leadership can understand.
But how do you safeguard against it in your chamber?
You do that by ensuring clear career and volunteer pathways and following these tips:
How to Ensure Your Chamber Has the Future & Emerging Leaders It Needs
Understanding the Obstacles
Leader succession is a stressor on the head of every business and it’s becoming more and more difficult. The younger generation desires notoriety and fame but doesn’t necessarily want to lead. They want to be known and they want the spotlight but leadership is a different beast altogether and they haven’t been groomed for it.
Gen Y (the oldest of the generation are turning 40 in 2020, if you can believe that!) and Gen Z have grown up in an atmosphere of team collaboration. While leaders often emerge from those types of projects, they haven’t been specifically rewarded for doing so.
In fact, this is the generation where everyone gets a trophy whether you came in first or last. The emphasis on group projects means these generations work very well with others. But always working in a group doesn’t reward top performers. The emphasis is on everyone completing the assignment together.
It’s also important to acknowledge how a large percentage of these generations desire to be in an entrepreneurial role as part of the gig economy.
That makes it difficult to find the future and emerging leaders you need in your chamber.
But difficult doesn’t mean impossible.
You just have to create the right pathways to help younger people understand the benefits of leadership because they certainly understand the benefits of community and group work.
Understanding What’s Needed
Before you even begin identifying future or emerging leaders, make sure you have a clear idea of what type of person is usually the most successful in the roles you’re scouting for.
For instance, some leadership roles require a ruthless ability to separate emotions from results, while others may be more successful with soft skills. When it comes to chamber leadership you likely need both, like knowing how to make difficult decisions while still cultivating those very important social skills.
Before you begin thinking about future leaders draft a list of skills that are helpful in the position. Don’t worry about creating a formal job description at this point. This list is just for you as you begin thinking about the type of person who would be the most successful in the role(s).
Culture plays a big part in this. Think about the current culture of the chamber and what types of skills will make a leader successful in their role.
If you’re in the midst of changing the current chamber culture, then consider the type of leader you want. Think about the evolution of the culture you’re proposing and how certain skills will match well in that environment.
Now it’s time to flesh out job descriptions for these volunteer leadership roles. This document will be public-facing. Include time expectations so that people understand how much time the role may take.
Sometimes this can be a big selling point. Often someone will hear a job title and assume a certain amount of time is required for that position. They may be pleasantly surprised that it’s not as much as they thought it would be.
Including this information in the job description can help people make good decisions based on the amount of extra time they have in their personal life.
In addition to job descriptions, best practices documents are also good to have. For instance, if you are scouting for future social media ambassadors and you find someone who is willing to fill the position, you want to give them some parameters on how to best help the chamber.
Having these drafted ahead of time will make you more successful should you find your ideal candidate sooner than you expected.
After you know what’s needed, the next thing you need to do is identify talent. The easiest way to accomplish this is to look among members for people who fit the profile and skills you deemed necessary to be successful in the role.
But sometimes that’s not enough.
Sometimes you either don’t have members who fit the needs or you have reluctant numbers, people who fit the profile but aren’t at all interested in leadership. In this case, you need to expand your reach.
In order to do this successfully, you need to begin marketing the positions you’d like to fill in the future. That means building them up to the point the type of person you are looking for will be attracted to the position.
Take a look at how advertising works. Watch a commercial. It should be clear exactly the type of person they’re targeting. They never say directly that “this product is for this type of person, who is this age and this gender.” But it becomes evident when watching by looking at the actors, and listening to the jingle and the script.
By paying attention you know the target. The same should be true of the volunteer positions you have.
Before anyone worries that this type of targeting for future leadership prohibits a diverse environment, it shouldn’t. If you’re looking for diverse leadership you should “ advertise” the position that way. By “advertising” I don’t mean paid for ads. Instead, you want to rewrite the descriptions of the positions on your website, use inclusive pictures of people from diverse backgrounds, and ensure that you are sharing the content with everyone in an open forum.
Your community may have preconceived notions as to the kind of people you want in the volunteer positions at the chamber. By changing how you speak about these positions and how you showcase them, you can help change that public opinion and attract the type of candidate who will be most successful in the role.
Cultivating and Refining Talent
Once you’ve identified the talent and you’ve approached them about leadership positions in the chamber, it’s important to know that just because you see them as a potential board president doesn’t mean they need to start there.
Talk to them about their interests. Then make some suggestions about the types of volunteer positions available at the chamber that you think would be a good fit. Establishing volunteer career pathing can help people contribute to the chamber success no matter what level their career or how much time they can spare.
Another benefit to identifying feature leadership is that there are some talents and skills you can teach and refine after they’re in the position. That’s why it’s important to scout for potential and not always the perfect resume.
Avoiding the Appearance of Burnout
No one will want to volunteer for a leadership position if they see your current leaders dragging around like Atlas with the weight of the world on his shoulders. The easiest positions to fill are the ones where people look like they’re enjoying themselves.
Make sure your volunteers know they represent the chamber at all times. Any sort of outward appearance of burnout will make it that much harder for you to cultivate future leaders. That’s something for you to keep in mind as well if you’re mentoring your own replacement.
Establishing Pathways and Growth Opportunities
Most larger businesses have an org chart and clear pathways for someone to progress up the ladder of the company.
While your chamber may not need, or be large enough for, career pathways, you can create a document that shows the links between positions.
That way people who enjoy certain aspects of their current position can clearly see what shared skills the current one has with other positions. A document like this can help volunteers make a transition in the future when their current position no longer holds the same challenge for them.
You can also organize a chart like this based on skills so that people can self-identify the perfect volunteer opportunity. For instance, you may create an infographic list of all of your volunteer positions as well as the skills that are necessary to them. Headers may include phrases like “if you love written communications you may enjoy being a social media ambassador” or “if you love interacting with other businesses and members you may enjoy being an on-boarding associate.”
Make it easy for people to understand what their perfect fit is when it comes to volunteer leadership opportunities at the chamber.
Helping Them Avoid Burnout
Ideally, you’ll recognize potential leaders early and get them involved on a basic level first. Then as they grow and they’re exposed to the many opportunities for leadership within the chamber their desire for the type of volunteer leadership they’re involved in will grow as well.
The risk you run in this course of action is that they might burn out before they take on larger leadership roles. You certainly don’t want that. Keep a close eye on volunteers at all levels. Here are some tips on how to help them avoid volunteer burnout.
Your leadership legacy will matter little if it stops with you. Most good leaders keep an eye on the future. They’re always looking for people to mentor, even indirectly. Use these tips to help your chamber continue to be successful long after you’re gone.