Last month, after delivering the opening keynote at an advertising technology conference, an economist named Samuel Wolkenhauer delivered the most engaging, humorous, and unique presentation on economics I’ve ever heard.

He demonstrated Authenticity, Clarity, and Energy – the three components of my ACE Model of Leadership Communication – and, most importantly, he educated us on a critical reality in the American workforce: the dearth of available leaders.

He explained that the Baby Boomer population is larger than the Gen X group that succeeds it, meaning: there are more leaders retiring than the bench of possible replacements. 

This is in line with what our clients say:

We need to build our leadership bench

Our pool of leaders is too small for the number of positions we have available

We are investing in our future successors

There’s more: as you consider your organization’s future, AI will have a significant impact.

A recent New York Times op-ed argued that as AI automates our technical and data-driven tasks, most roles will focus on human-centered responsibilities like collaboration, critical thinking, and negotiation (even for those who remain in technical roles, like engineers).

Organizations cannot simply wait for “natural” leaders to emerge from within their ranks. The success of your organization depends on proactively investing in leadership development so your talent can develop skills to build trust with colleagues and clients, influence and motivate diverse teams, and raise the organization’s profile, especially in times of uncertainty.

So what can you do for your organization today?

Provide opportunities for your employees to build essential, human-centered skills like leadership communication, which is consistently rated by top CEOs as one of the most desired skills for their talent. And your team has opportunities to practice and build these skills every day.

Here are three ways to help your talent learn to Lead with their Voice in their current role:

  1. Invite them to lead client meetings. Give them opportunities to practice delivering your unique value proposition, responding to tough client questions, and building rapport with clients. This will increase their confidence and lead to strong future relationships. BONUS: Practice and feedback are crucial to successful adult learning. Provide constructive feedback after each meeting to establish a relationship of trust and transparency, with an emphasis on coaching.
  2. Position them to speak at industry events. Your team has a wealth of knowledge and experiences. Provide them with opportunities to demonstrate their subject matter expertise and represent your organization in front of their peers. If they aren’t quite ready to speak to a crowd, consider speaker readiness training so they can develop the skills and confidence to craft compelling presentations that make an unforgettable impact.
  3. Up-skill them before you promote them. Give them tools for their current and future roles. Leadership communication skills are helpful to every person, regardless of their industry, role, or level of experience. Help your team advocate for themselves and others today and as they move through their careers.

In a recent episode of the EOS Life podcast, Eric Lindsley of Knight Watch says “Great leaders create leaders who create leaders.” This should be a significant part of any leader’s role.

There isn’t a simple or holistic solution to address today’s demographic challenges, but investing in your talent’s leadership skills often and consistently throughout their careers will ensure they are better equipped to lead your organization into the future.