Don’t you want my job?

Don’t you want my job?

An entire generation of senior leaders (including business owners and Promoters) are shocked that the people they thought were their chosen successors (including their children), the ones who were part of their talent plans are not really excited about taking their jobs.

“These individuals are my potential successors. They have it in them to do my job. But I just don’t see that fire, that initiative – that ambition. Why are they not aspiring for my job?” I hear them ask.

Well, I feel like telling them that there is only one very complex and extremely difficult way to find out – ask and then listen intently and not tell them what they should aspire for!

So, while leaders find the time and energy and skills to have such engaging conversations, I would like to hazard a guess about why individuals may not want their bosses jobs.

First, as the next generation of managers and leaders look at the people above them, they don’t always find their lives inspiring enough to follow their footsteps. In fact, having seen their bosses and their lives in close quarters for many years, they are not sure if that is what they want to do. More importantly, if that is not how they want to do it.

Second, they also realise that there is so much uncertainty in the world around them including their manager’s careers and so don’t see the point of aspiring for something in such a setting of ambiguity. Succession does not appear as neat as it is made out to be. In fact, their guess is that even their manager often does not know where and when he or she is going next.

Third, what their managers accepted as “allowable dishonesties of organizational life” they are not sure if they want to accept and live with.

Fourth, for many, they have ambitions for sure but for different things in life which their managers may not even understand and appreciate. And a big element of this ambition could even be to reduce the level of stress that one would want to live with.

Fifth, the new world of work allows for talented individuals to find ways to earn well and also get a life.

Having said all this, a good conversation may help us help employees look at this from an alternate perspective – that to even stay in one’s current role and remain effective and perform to full potential, one needs to learn, acquire new competencies and be open and flexible to change.

So, when conversations are based on such grounded realities, there might be progress.