The Next Management Stars: Divergence Generation

Fortune Magazine is currently doing an issue on Leadership with the usual flavor of 10 Best Companies For Leaders and How to be a Great Leader. Although I don’t think there is any significance to Fortune doing these articles now, beyond it being a yearly topic, it is timely for me.

Yesterday I wrote a post about Paul Krugman’s illustration of the US over the last 100 years. The depiction shows that since 1987 or about 20 years, the US has changed into something called the Divergence Generation. Well, 20 years is almost the same as the age as the next leaders coming out of college. This group won’t know the middle class America, this group knows the Divergence Generation. Well, to hop on the bandwagon of catchy labels, I will call this group the Divergence Generation, or D/Gen for short. The sounding of the name is purposeful, for good and for bad reasons.

Fortune submitted today a good article from Geoff Colvin called How Top Companies Breed Stars. It has several ideas that I agree with, such as “academy companies” where one company has such talented leaders that other companies hire them away for even larger roles in their firms. Another idea I agree with is that even though we are currently in a credit crunch, it is still no comparison to human capital crunch. Talented people are such a vital asset. Here is a blurb that I especially liked:

Even if that weren’t true, companies would still be beefing up
leadership development for a more immediate reason: The best young
employees are hungry for it. It seems young people understood the new
nature of today’s economy before a lot of CEOs did, and they insist on
jobs that will keep making them better.

Judy Pahren, senior VP for development and diversity at credit card bank Capital One Financial (Charts, Fortune 500)
(No. 5), says that new employees cite “job flexibility, development,
and community involvement” as the top three factors in keeping them at
the company. GE’s Immelt says his company is responding by, among other
things, sending high-potential employees to the company’s famed
Crotonville, N.Y., leadership-development center much earlier in their
careers; in attracting top prospects, “that’s a strong selling point.”

are finding that the advantages of building a reputation for developing
talent are greater than they may have thought – “a first-pick
advantage,” as the RBL Group calls it, an edge in attracting the cream
of college and business-school students.

Says Hewitt’s
Gandossy: “Companies that provide people with opportunities to learn
and grow become talent magnets, drawing scarce talent in droves.” By
continually attracting the most promising graduates and then developing
them, these firms become higher-performing organizations, enhancing
their ability to attract the best – a self-reinforcing cycle that makes
the company more dominant every year.

The very first paragraph talks about how the best young employees are hungry for leadership development. This is D/Gen instituting some sort of collective plan.

  • The current economy contains baby boomers transitioning their jobs into routine process for potential outsourcing.
  • The new economy has D/Gens, untethered by middle class experience, demanding the very things that won’t make their jobs routine:
  • leadership resources,
  • flexibility,
  • development,
  • community involvement,
  • and I’ll add creativity.


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