5 Ways to Develop Leaders of Tomorrow

The hardwood lumber industry has not been immune to the influence that the millennial generation has on the U.S. workforce. Many businesses have been faced with the challenge of grooming younger employees for future leadership positions in this fast paced, highly connected, high-tech period of time.

 DSC0081 editLike others in our industry, Baillie Lumber works hard to attract and retain new employees into  the industry. We place the same emphasis on recruiting employees for our sawmills and hardwood concentration yards as we do for corporate positions through our internship and recruitment programs across the country. As we have noted before, businesses must demonstrate to this emerging generation that “while we’re proud of our legacy and tradition, we also embrace the use of technology in our operations.”

Here are a few things we have found helpful in trying to cultivate what we hope will be the future leaders of the hardwood lumber industry.

  1. Identify potential leaders now. You may have already identified individuals who demonstrate the makings of executive leadership within your organization. Start nurturing their potential immediately. Consider doing this in terms of their daily work experience, opportunities for professional development and performance evaluations that highlight their strengths and address their shortcomings. We have found that as we identify these young leaders within our organization and groom them to be leaders in the hardwood lumber industry, they have accepted the challenge with excitement.
  1. Cultivate leadership qualities. As in any workplace, only a handful of individuals have the potential to become effective leaders. We have found that this is no different in the hardwood lumber industry. As business leader Nicole Gallucci points out, those identified as showing promise will benefit from development in both tangible and intangible leadership qualities, such as the capability to:
  • Differentiate valuable information from irrelevant data
  • Motivate others through inspiring and transparent communications
  • Be accountable for their decisions (and acknowledge mistakes when they happen)
  • Clearly address the organization’s vision of the future
  1. Match the individual employee’s goals with company goals. The best leaders-in-the-making feel their own professional ambitions are synced up with those of the organization. Try to make the effort to fully understand what your potential leaders want in their careers and do all you can to harmonize those objectives with the future of your company.
  1. Offer a vibrant mentorship program. It’s likely that members of your executive team have the talent and experience to serve as mentors to the up-and-coming generation. We have seen positive results in finding ways to implement high-quality mentorship programs within our organization. Watching an experienced leader work hand and hand with a youthful counterpart has resulted in benefits such as:
  • Bridging gaps of knowledge and culture in different generations
  • Offering valuable advice and guidance to potential leaders
  • Broadening perspectives among seasoned executives (by exposure to younger points of view)
  • Developing the most relevant leadership skills for the organization
  1. Keep the option of bringing in tomorrow’s leaders from beyond your company’s walls.

Whether it is in one of our sawmills or in our corporate office we always prefer to develop our future leaders from within our organization. However, sometimes it may be equally useful to leverage your industry and online networks to seek out potential leaders outside of your organization. Look for ways to make contact with these individuals. Maintain a relationship over time, so that when new leadership opportunities arise, you can jointly explore how their presence in your company can benefit everyone involved.

What other strategies have you found successful when identifying and developing the leaders of the future? Let us know!

Tony Cimorelli
Baillie Lumber
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