The statistics abound as to the impact that aging baby-boomers are starting to have on the workforce. To site a few, Business 2.0 magazine projects a a shortage of 5.3 million skilled workers by 2010 and, bringing this closer to home, American City & County magazine recently cited a study that identified the average age of public works directors to be 50. The workforce crisis is no longer looming; it is here. In this environment, it is fair to ask, “are you prepared?” Work on this problem has been going on for a number of years with a number of utilities, many of whom have taken a proactive stance in managing today’s changing workplace. Quite simply, these leaders understand that to continue to meet or exceed the regulatory, customer, financial, operational, and customer goals of their utility or public works agency, they need to have organizational continuity, which is not easy with today’s aging baby boomers. The key to attaining this organizational continuity is succession planning. We have found time and time again that this means having a sound leadership development and succession process in place and an effective performance management system to insure implementation.
What is leadership in today’s world, how do we develop it, and what does it take to make a difference? John Kotter in his book, Leading Change, states that leadership “..defines what the future should look like, aligns people with that vision, and inspires them to make it happen despite the obstacles.” Dr. William Schneider, author of The Reengineering Alternative and a TAP Resource business partner, defines leadership as “Creating a vision and direction for the organization and mobilizing people to accomplish them.” Dr. Schneider also indicates that to effectively develop leadership within the organization it is important to understand the organization at its core.