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Emerging Leaders: New Directions for the Next Generation -Part 1

By Dr. Joseph Cerami—In this first blog post (part one of a two-part series), I want to pay attention to the next generation of leaders: the Millennials. I conducted a study at the Bush School of Government and Public Service of Texas A&M University entitled: “Developing Emerging Leaders: The Bush School and the Legacy of the 41st President.” The main point of the study is how to train and educate future leaders. In this blog post, I will outline the main findings from my study, and future blog posts will discuss the research that lead to the main findings, as well as offer ideas about how to lead and how the findings can be applied in business, nonprofit and public sector organizations.


The study findings highlighted three main points. These areas deserve continuing and even increasing attention for integrating emerging leader development in the workplace:

1- Linking assessment instruments and performance measures;

2- Including the role of apprenticeships as part of professional development

3- Bridging transitions for individuals at all levels.


Linking Assessment Instruments and Performance Measures

First of all, the study found that one-size-fits-all assessment tools that are not linked to personal development planning and coaching are not taken seriously and do not provide the desired results and outcomes. An organization can emphasize developing its people only if resources, such as people, time, and programs, are made to guide the use of assessment tools.

It is also important from the organization’s perspective to explain how the development of human capital can create value by improving performance of the individual, the team and the organization. Moreover, these performance indicators become more important and more complicated as organizations are engaging in cross-functional and cross-cultural work environments.


Considering the Role of Apprenticeships as Part of Professional Development

Second, more opportunities outside of traditional schooling should be explored when it comes to leading Millennials. Indeed, in the past years, online university and certificate programs have drastically increased.  At the same time the cost of moving, housing and losing time in the workplace have all increased.

When it comes to online courses, it would be important to integrate work experience as a supplement to these new learning opportunities. The goal would be to make “integrated, work-learning experiences relevant for individual development while improving performance in workplace, in real time for individuals, teams and organizations.”


Sarah Ayres, a policy analyst for the Center for American Progress describes the potential of structured apprenticeships with “5 Reasons Expanding Apprenticeships Will Benefit Millennials”:

  1. Apprenticeships are jobs
  2. Apprentices earn higher wages
  3. Apprentices gain an education with little or no debt
  4. Apprenticeships create a pathway to middle-class jobs for those without a 4-year degree
  5. Apprenticeships grow the economy by making American businesses more competitive.


Overall, incorporating formal apprenticeships would allow a flow of “creative thinking and suggests potential initiatives for improving human capital and professionalism” across all sectors.


Bridging Transitions for Individuals at All Levels

Finally, there is a clear need to assist individuals with transitions. For example universities provide career services or leader development programs (such as the Leadership Studies minors offered through the Center for Ethical Leadership for UST undergraduates).

However, resources are mostly offered for the undergraduate or graduate levels and the early transition from school to entry-level positions and new work environments are complicated. That is why there is a much greater need for early and sustainable transition coaching than for leaders of mid- and senior-levels.   In brief, there is clearly a need for emerging leaders to bridge the school to workplace gap.

Focusing on the 3 points mentioned can help develop Millennials in their organizations, as well as train and educate them as future leaders. In a future post, I will give more background information on the research that lead to these main findings.


Joseph Cerami, Ph.D.

Director of the Center for Ethical Leadership

Burnett Chair of Ethical Leadership

Associate Professor of Management




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