Transforming NextGen Leaders

“It is evident that conventional leadership development practices are no longer adequate. Organizations globally need to incorporate the next generation leadership competencies in order to address the development needs of their rising leaders. This expanded group of upcoming leaders need to have a broader skillset, one that equips them to think and act globally in a VUCA business environment. They must do so while embracing cross-cultural diversity and cultivating collaborative relationships within and outside their walls. These are the hallmarks of the mindset needed to develop effective global leaders.”

- Prof Sattar Bawany (2016)
As quoted in ‘2016 Trends in Executive Development: A Benchmark Report


2016 High Potential

The rapidly evolving demands of the 21st century include everything from climate change to demography, shifting customer requirements and expectations, the rise of technology, globalization, new markets, and new attitudes to work. Leaders must now operate in a way that inspires and engages people, while simultaneously addressing changing customer requirements and delivering results. Finally, all of these needs to be achieved with a sense of urgency, as the experienced leaders of the “Baby Boomer” generation continue to retire at pace (Hagemann & Bawany, 2016).

A company’s leadership pipeline is expected to deliver its “next generation” of leaders who are capable of leading now. The payoff is a supply of leadership talent that simultaneously achieves targets, strengthens and protects ethical reputation, and navigates transformational change in pursuit of a bright, competitive future. Because customers’ changing requirements are so significant, and customer focus is a “hot topic” for executive development leaders, investing an appropriate amount of time, energy, and other resources to develop the capabilities of high potential leaders in these areas will be very important. Mentoring, feedback and coaching, and training programs are all potentially valuable ways to address this need.

In essence, the heart of the managerial challenge that confronts today’s managers is learning how to lead in situations of ever greater VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) globalised business environment, allied with the needs to deal with scale, complexity and new organisational forms that often break with the traditional organisational models and structures within which many have learned their ‘managerial trade’. So the basic assumption that past experience is the key for future managerial success is more open to scrutiny than ever.

The Current Leadership Crisis

A VUCA world is one that is volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. The World Economic Forum (WEF) report “Outlook on the Global Agenda 2015” and the “Global Leadership Forecast 2014|2015” both recognise the challenges a VUCA world places on leaders.

A VUCA world increases the demand for quality leadership. Facing an increasingly VUCA world, society needs strong leaders more than ever. It’s concerning that in such times the quality of leadership is barley improving.

A startling 86% of respondents to the WEF Survey on the Global Agenda (See Figure 1) agree that we have a leadership crisis in the world today. Why would they say this? Perhaps because the international community has largely failed to address any major global issue in recent years. It has failed to deal with global warming, then barely dealt with the failure of the global economy, which has caused such severe problems in North America and Europe. Meanwhile violence has been left to fester in the Middle East, the region our Survey showed is most affected by, and concerned about this problem. So why are we suffering such a lack of leadership?

Figure 1 – The Leadership Crisis in the Global Context










Source: The Global Leadership Crisis - WEF Outlook on the Global Agenda 2015  

The “Global Leadership Forecast 2014|2015” was recently published as a joint effort of Development Dimensions International (DDI) and The Conference Board. The research is based on survey responses from 13,124 leaders; 1,528 global human resource executives; and 2,031 participating organisations.

The key findings of the Global Leadership Forecast 2014 - 2015 are as follows (See Figure 2):

  • 25% of organisations report their leaders are not VUCA-capable.
  • The top 20% of organisations performing well financially are three times more likely to have VUCA-capable leaders than the bottom 20 percent.
  • 15% of organisations rated their future bench strength as strong.
  • One in three organisations are focused on developing their leaders’ ability to foster innovation
  • One in five is emphasising development in global leadership.


Figure 2 – The State of Quality of Leadership Over the Years (2009 -2014)

Quality of Leadership over Three Global Benchmarking Studies












Source: Quality of Leadership -  DDI Global Leadership Forecast 2014|2015

Leading in a VUCA World

Leading in a VUCA world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (See Figure 3) not only provide a challenging environment for leaders to operate and for executive development programs to have an impact: it also provides a much-needed range of new competencies. The new reality is resulting in the realization that new and different capabilities are needed to succeed.


Figure 3 – Characteristics of a VUCA Business Environment

Leading in a VUCA World


In particular, leaders today must deal with:

  1. Volatility in economic conditions, including a slowly recovering economy and looming interest rate increases, and changing customer requirements.
  2. Uncertainty brought about by increasing globalization, as well as regulatory and legislative changes.
  3. Complexity driven by revolutionary technology changes impacting organizational products, and ongoing demand for increased innovation in a climate of rapid technological evolution.
  4. Ambiguity brought about by the generational shift accompanied by Baby Boomer retirements and Next Gen Leaders rising to take more and more senior roles. All of these factors combine to create an extremely dynamic climate that puts pressure on leaders to excel.


“L.E.A.P.” through the Fog in a VUCA World


LEAP through the VUCA World - July 2016

Adapted from: Sattar Bawany (2016), “NextGen Leaders for a VUCA World: Transforming Future Leaders for Success" in Leadership Excellence Essentials, Issue 08.2016 (August 2016).

To lead successfully in the VUCA World, leaders need to "L.E.A.P." through the fog and demonstrate the cognitive readiness competencies  and also possesses the following traits (Bawany, 2016):

Liberal: open to new behaviour or opinions and willing to adapt or discard existing values if and when necessary to adapt to the new world

Exuberant: filled with lively energy with sense of passion and optimism in engaging the team and other stakeholders

Agility: proficiently change and evolve the learning organisation with nextgen leadership competencies including cognitive readiness, critical thinking and emotional & social intelligence amongst others.

Partnership: Build trust-based partnership with teams (intra & inter) as well as externally with other stakeholders including customers and suppliers.

Building the NextGen Leadership Pipeline

Talent management and retention is perennially at the top of CEO’s most pressing worries. A company’s leadership pipeline is expected to deliver its “next generation” of ready-now leaders. The key to ensuring an organisation has the leaders it needs when it needs them, is to accelerate the performance of future leaders including high potential employees, so that their skills and leadership abilities are as strong as possible when they are needed particularly as leaders transition from role to role.

A company’s leadership pipeline is expected to deliver its “next generation” of ready-now leaders. The payoff is a supply of leadership talent that simultaneously achieves targets, bolsters and protects ethical reputation, and navigates transformational change in pursuit of a bright competitive future. Unfortunately, some Boards and CEOs neglect their talent management accountability - consequently, their pipelines run dry. When this occurs, the downward spiral of competitive capability becomes discernable, the edge is lost, and the “magic” disappears. The competition begins to outwit, outflank and outperform these companies.

Executive and leadership training programs may be strengthened, broadened and deepened to include inspiring and engaging others, as well as Cognitive Readiness and Critical Thinking skills. These capabilities can be addressed by incorporating specific activities and exercises designed to increase awareness of their impact and importance in familiar techniques, such as case studies or applicable business simulations.

Additionally, opportunities for application and practice can be provided in experiencebased approaches where participants work to apply the concepts and skills directly to real business issues, while colleagues and facilitators provide feedback based on behaviors they observed during their work together.

Because customers’ changing requirements are so significant and customer focus is a “hot topic,” investing an appropriate amount of time, energy, and other resources to develop the capabilities of high potential leaders in these areas will be very important.

Development of High Performance Organisation(HPO)

We are operating in a hypercompetitive VUCA business environment. The world moves faster today when compared to 20-30 years ago. Companies feel the pressure to decrease time to market and improve the quality of products while delivering on ever-changing customer expectations to maintain competitive posture – that is, be adaptive and nimble. Driving results in High Performance organisations (HPOs) is difficult even for companies who have the benefit of dedicated and knowledgeable employees and business leaders to leverage.

Leadership is all about the ability to have impact and influence on your followers so as to engage them towards achieving results of your organisation leveraging a repertoire of Leadership Styles, Ontological Humility, Servant Leadership (Level 5) blended with elements of Emotional & Social Intelligence Competencies (Bawany, 2014).Today, people often point to the importance of various leadership competencies including cognitive readiness (critical & strategic thinking skills), emotional& social intelligence, managerial coaching and leading team for performance, effective negotiation & conflict management and cross cultural communication & diversity management indriving results and achieving organisational success in a high performance organisation (See Figure 4).

Figure 4 – Framework for Development of Next Generational of Leaders

Framework for Development of Next Generational of Leaders


There are two things we can say with certainty about the future: it will be different, and it will surprise. Now, more than ever, leaders have to navigate unfamiliar, challenging times, a quickening pace of change, increasing expectations, and a rising tide of rapidly-evolving conditions. This new and different environment is challenging leaders to find new ways to lead their organizations and achieve sustained success. And, because of these circumstances, there is a thirst for leadership, yet leaders face a whirlwind environment laden with remarkable opportunities and daunting challenges through which to lead their people and organizations.


The Masterclass Series of Executive Development Programs with its various modules and content is proven in its success for development of the relevant competencies for leaders to operate in a VUCA business environment.

It is based on both CEE and our strategic partners’ extensive experience globally with a broad range of businesses across diverse industries, on contemporary, proven frameworks and approaches on what we know it takes to transform the culture and the next generation of leaders operating in an ever increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambigous business environment/ The Masterclass series includes the following:

Program 1: Leading in a VUCA World

Program 2: Results-Based Leadership

Program 3: Winning the War for Talent 2.0

Program 4: Managerial Coaching for Success

Program 5: Inspiring Your Multigenerational Workforce

Program 6: Building High Performance Teams with SCORE


For further information on CEE Leadership Development Programs and how we could support the development of your Next Generation of Leaders, please email us at .


  1. Sattar Bawany (2016), “NextGen Leaders for a VUCA World: Transforming Future Leaders for Success" in Leadership Excellence Essentials, Issue 08.2016.
  2. Sattar Bawany (2016), "Leading in a VUCA Business Environment", in Leadership Excellence Essentials, Issue 07.2016.
  3. Bonnie Hagemann, Sattar Bawany et al. (2016), Research on Trends in Executive Development: A Benchmark Report, published by Executive Development Associates (EDA); Pearson TalentLens and Performance Assessment Network (PAN), February 2016.
  4. Bonnie Hagemann & Sattar Bawany (2016), "Enhancing Leadership and Executive Development - Latest Trends & Best Practices" in Leadership Excellence Essentials, Issue 03.2016.
  5. Sattar Bawany (2014), “Building High Performance Organisations with Results-based Leadership (RBL) Framework” in Leadership Excellence Essentials, Issue 11.2014.
  6. World Economic Forum (WEF) (2015), WEF Outlook on the Global Agenda 2015