with them. Two other factors conspire to create
a triple threat: the industry-wide shortage of talent to fill open jobs, now estimated to be around
400,000 positions in the U.S., plus the new skills
and functional requirements of the digital age.
It is the digital challenge, of course, that poses both the biggest opportunity and the most
significant threat. Companies that are able to
transition to being digital businesses have a
greater likelihood of future success. But companies that don’t change their mindsets and
don’t either develop or bring in people with
digital acumen could be at grave risk.
So where do companies think the next gen-
eration of leadership will come from? Ac-
cordingly to the Manufacturing Leadership
Council’s new survey of Next-Generation
Leadership, a majority of companies, 54%, say
they expect the new wave of executives to come
from internal sources in their companies. Fully
one-third, 33%, says that new talent will have
to be externally acquired and seven percent ex-
pect it to come from family succession.
For the many expecting to tap internal sources for new leadership, a plausible argument
can certainly be made that deep knowledge of
a company’s history, products, customer base,
and ways of doing things are necessary to ensure continuity. Just as plausible, however, is the
argument that sometimes a fresh perspective,
provided by someone new, is better. With the
transformational technology, organization, and
leadership challenges of Manufacturing 4.0, it
may behoove the 54% to consider at least some
combination of external and internal talent to
help cross the bridge to the digital age.
Perhaps Sir Isaac Newton, in his first Law
of Motion, said it best: ”A body at rest will re-
main at rest … unless it is acted upon by an ex-
In the case of the manufacturing industry, now
poised for Manufacturing 4.0, that external force
could very well be new blood.– David R. Brousell
NE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT WORKFORCE AND LEADERship
issues confronting the manufacturing industry for some time now has been the
retirement of the so-called Baby Boomer generation, those individuals born between 1946 and 1964.
Even allowing for the exception of some Boomers working past what had been
the normal retirement age of 65, large numbers of both executives and workers in manufacturing
have left or are in the process of transitioning out, taking much industry knowledge and expertise
LEADERSHIP JOURNAL .................... ....................
What's the Best Source of New Leadership Talent?