There’s a generational shift in leadership at businesses across the country, with the pandemic causing some Baby Boomers to retire a little earlier than planned. Although stock market losses have compelled some to hang on to their jobs, others have determined that they’ve made enough to live comfortably and want to spend time with the grandkids. Or they’re trading in their jobs in corporate America to take a “giving back” role.
The departures are providing an opportunity for millennials and Gen-Xers to step into leadership posts. The question is: Are they ready? “You know, I think my grandmother would have questioned whether we were ready,” says Matrice Ellis-Kirk, CEO of Dallas-based executive search firm Ellis Kirk Group. “I’m very comfortable that these companies are in very capable hands.”
Common mistakes companies make when hiring for C-suite positions include confusing what they think they want with what they need—or mixing up vision and strategy. “It requires getting things aligned to know what the vision is, and then setting the strategies to get there,” Ellis-Kirk says. “When you don’t have that kind of alignment, you oftentimes see that the C-suite hire is more aspirational. And if it’s too aspirational, you’ve got a delta between where you are now and where you want to be.”
Once a new leader is hired, he or she will find that the corner office is not what it used to be. There are no more benevolent dictators; employees today want their CEOs to be authentic and transparent and have humility. To be successful, Ellis-Kirk advises creating a community around their vision and inspiring workers to innovate to achieve the shared goals. “A lot of people have hit the reset button,” she says. “They’re redefining what success means to them and what that means for their futures.”