For the past several years, experts have been predicting, debating, and quaking in their boots over the impending talent shortages in this country. With Boomers slowly aging and their retirement funds slowly rebounding, a talent war is quickly moving from a question of “if” to an issue of “when.”
Rest assured, despite what might be said, there are plenty of Gen-Xers and Millenials chomping at the bit to occupy any leadership vacuum left as the “Boomer wave” swells and crashes along the foundations of large and small companies alike. Their desire, enthusiasm and zeal are unquestioned in that regard. So, why all the worry?
Simply put, wanting to lead and know how to lead are entirely different qualifications entirely. While the former exponentially improves the latter, i.e., good leaders need both the know-how and the desire to influence and motivate others, wanting to lead without understanding the experience of actually having led is not enough. The quest for human resources in the upcoming decade will be to help separate the wheat from the chaff, to identify those younger professionals with both the ambition and the leadership experience to excel in the knowledge and leadership wake of departing Boomers.
The military ranks hold much promise for anyone searching out emerging, yet proven leaders. Yet, very few organizations actively pursue recruiting and staffing solutions that maximize this potential. For those who figure out a strategy, a major battlefield of the talent war will be easily conquered.
The problem? Lack of understanding and respect for the cultural transitions necessary to capture the talents of veterans, and the simultaneous difficulty by many veterans to translate their leadership experiences into easily understood and transferrable “corporate speak.”
The solution? Simply put, the key lies in raising the joint awareness of both corporate America as to the benefits of Veteran (capital “V”) leadership and of the veterans themselves as they trade in their uniforms for pinstriped corporate attire. Both parties stand to benefit only if they each can better understand the other’s value and culture, and ultimately can bridge the inevitable gap between the two.