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Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Young Leaders Are Shaping the Future of Organizations

Female leaders analyze the main movements that are shaping the future of corporations and society

  • June 2023

Who are the leaders from younger generations entering the market today? What ideas do they bring and what changes do they provoke? How can they help veteran leaders and organizations? These were some of the questions explored during the event Leaders & Daughters 2023, held by Egon Zehnder on May 29 in São Paulo.

The gathering, moderated by journalist Natuza Nery from Grupo Globo, brought together senior executives Luciana Antonini Ribeiro, co-founder of eB Capital; Talita Lacerda, CEO of Petlove; and Natalia Paiva, founder of Alandar Consultoria em Políticas Públicas, for a panel discussion on the impact young leadership will have on the future of companies and society.

Read on for the major takeaways:

A More Global, Connected, and Purpose-Driven Generation

The new chapter in the history of organizations is being written by a more global, connected, free, autonomous, and purpose-driven generation. "What I see in young people, in general, is their connection with the whole. And with that comes a connection with the environment, a connection with society. That brings me a lot of hope," said Ribeiro.

She added that one key focal point of young leaders is the strengthening of society. "Not only in Brazil but throughout the world, young people are a voice and a force in this regard, bringing the emphasis on collaboration."

Autonomy and Diversity

Lacerda emphasized the role organizations have in shaping society, and how they can impact people, highlighting that the current transformation is very positive. Among the many changes, the CEO highlighted a movement closely linked to young people, which is the greater balance between professional ambition and personal life. She drew attention to the point of equilibrium in this equation. "This proposal for flexibility is very healthy. At the same time, businesses need to generate results. So, it is necessary to harmonize that with agendas, which are the key to management," she pointed out.

Other fundamental aspects that are reshaping organizations are diversity – a topic closely related to new leadership – and autonomy, a characteristic that is transforming corporate relationships. "Previously, we saw organizations as more hierarchical. Today, young people have great potential and a lot of passion, a lot of drive. So, the way of working also changes, becoming more decentralized, with much more autonomy," she assessed.

Anxiety and Volatility

Among the major ongoing transformations, Paiva said that organizations need to prepare for a generation that deals with high complexity. "They have purpose, they have freedom, but there are also high rates of anxiety and depression among young people. And everyone needs to provide multiple answers to that," she warned, calling for reflection: "What kind of society are we creating? What kind of demands are we placing on young people within an increasingly competitive market?"

According to Nery , this generation of new leaders is more anxious and eager, but at the same time, knows how to set more boundaries and work with purpose. "This is beautiful and must generate enormous personal fulfillment. But we need to understand what kind of difficulties this urgency for results and volatility among the leaders of younger generations can create for an organization," she pointed out.

Continuity and Idealism

For Ribeiro, companies often train and bring new people on board, and the mobility of the new generations is a point that deserves attention. "I believe that young leaders have a perspective of continuity, of the long term, and if the direction is correct, there is a path to be pursued. Young leaders bring a freshness that is very important in how they face problems and connect with what is happening in the world," she analyzed.

In Paiva 's assessment, young leaders have a higher level of criticality, of pointing fingers and saying, "That's not it, I don't want that." "I am very idealistic. I strongly believe that this new generation will have a much more structural and long-term impact on companies. It will even impact economic motivations and, with that, bring about changes in terms of institutional foundations, as we have already seen with diversity. I think it may also question the way we see and evaluate a company's performance."

Resilience and Behavior

The panelists highlighted that young leaders and their beliefs are breaking patterns and significantly influencing new management practices worldwide. Behavioral themes are emerging, according to the panelists, guiding a new organizational path for companies, which includes a stronger sense of connection, collaboration, purpose, diversity, resilience, fluidity, autonomy, volatility, and more sensitive issues such as anxiety and mental health.

A Generation that Does not Wait

Moderator Nery asked the panelists about the positive aspects and also the challenges posed by the new leadership that might put organizations on alert or make them uncertain about how to act. According to Lacerda, one positive aspect is courage and willingness. "This new generation doesn't ask for permission, doesn't ask for forgiveness. That is something very cool because these people grow very quickly, they make things happen. The biggest challenge is resilience. It is essential to go through different stages of the company's cycle to learn, make mistakes, and take action. It's about time, the process of being there, making things happen."

Paiva also regards resilience as essential but offers a reflection. "I wonder if, when thinking about the resilience of the new generations, we aren't basing it on misunderstanding. Perhaps we were resilient and accepted going through certain things because they were important for our personal experiences. So, I've been questioning this while thinking about the current generations. They bring a different perspective that we should think about more," she evaluated.

"Everything is possible. That's the positive side," believes Ribeiro. And the challenge, for her, is not only for the younger generations. "We need to start walking more side by side. Often, what young people are thinking and feeling is not clear. It is not so easy for the older generation to understand, and vice versa. So, it's important for us to put ourselves in each other's shoes and assume that the obvious is not always so obvious."

Writing the Future, Together

Nery concluded with a reflection: "The helping hand is not only extended from the veteran leader to the organization because we don't function alone. We function in multiplicity," she emphasized, reminding that veterans and young people will together write a new chapter of organizations.

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