How to foster the next generation of leaders in your organisation

A photo of someone's hands gently holding a pile of soil with a seedling growing from it. Photo by Jennifer Delmarre on Unsplash.

By Katerina Vourlakos, LN Member

In May 2023, I was awarded a place on the Thirty Under 30 for Learning Technologies and I believe much of the guidance I received can be implemented into organisations to help the next generation of leaders reach their fullest potential!

What is the Thirty Under 30 for Learning Technologies?

As the Learning Technologies website states: “The goal of the Learning Technologies Thirty Under 30 Programme is to provide support, visibility, voice and development for the next generation of Learning Leaders.”

Why was I selected? I was responsible for overseeing the e-learning team at a Scottish charity. I had worked there for six years, and over that time, the e-learning participants grew from 100 learners to over 40,000. I discussed the impact the e-learning courses had on participants and included impact statements as evidence of their importance and effect.

Would your organisation like to help a future leader apply for Thirty Under 30?

It’s important that a future leader shows their potential and passion in being a leader in their chosen expertise. In my application, I discussed:

  • My passion for accessibility in education
  • My goal of becoming an expert in this topic
  • How I’m constantly trying to discover more about accessibility and inclusion
  • My aim of becoming a vocal voice in empowering individuals to embrace their life experiences and use their wisdom to shape accessibility in training
  • How I’m always looking to break down barriers to education

I would love to see the field grow and embrace the need for more accessibility experts in online education.

How your organisation can foster the next generation of leaders 

Make sure your future leaders have supportive networks. This includes a supportive manager, team, and organisation. More importantly, a support network outside of your organisation. You may be wondering:

  • How do we support our future leaders?
  • How do we create supportive networks outside our organisations?

Everyone should be supported to achieve their fullest potential in their organisation. Are managers supporting employees and mentoring them to become future leaders?

Does your organisation have a leadership programme? If not, why not? How are you supporting the next generation of leaders? Is there a clear path forward for them? These are practical questions which you need to untangle as an organisation. If you have a leadership programme, then congratulations you are fostering a supportive culture in your organisation with clear career progression.

What practical steps can future leaders take? 

Make your appraisals and supervisions work for you! Make sure there is a career goal that you are working towards. Would a course give you more knowledge which you could use to set you up for future success? Would it be better to shadow your manager? Should you go on a secondment? There are many ways to progress and learn more about your chosen field.

Build a network

Join a network online or in-person. I am a member of the Learning Network and I try to regularly attend their online and in-person events. You can also attend many free webinars online. I also love in-person conferences as you get to network with experts in the field.

If you are a future leader and don’t feel supported, speak to your manager and ask them for more support or seek out a mentor in your company who can guide you to take the next step in becoming a leader within your chosen field. The Learning Network also provides a mentoring scheme for their members.

It’s so important to have a supportive outside network to help with any questions or to provide guidance.

Here’s a personal example. I had thought about applying for the Thirty Under 30 for a while. I have a supportive manager, colleagues, and organisation who all backed me. But, for some reason, I was still unsure if I should apply. I attended a Learning Network social event and spoke to Paula Hughes, a Learning Network director, and we spoke about the award. She encouraged me to apply. I’m not sure I would have applied if she hadn’t taken the time to listen to me and offer some advice. We don’t always know what advice can have a massive impact on someone. We all have a role to play in offering support to the next generation of leaders.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to experts in your chosen field.

Follow them on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send a message and ask for some career advice or chat to them at an event. Ask someone for an introduction if you are a little nervous.

Are these actions you can take? Are you or your organisation already doing some of these things? How has it paid off? Are there more things you can do? Let’s keep the conversation going and keep fostering the next generation of leaders in L&D.