Not everyone is a born leader; some are self-made while some emerge in the midst of adversity, with greatness thrust upon them.

So how does one become a leader? Leaders are aware that a strong vision alone is not enough. Building a culture of ethics, values and compatibility in an organisation, while being able to tap into every individual’s unique resources, is the key to being a leader.

What does it take to develop the next generation of leaders? Research has shown that the millennial generation, often described as technologically obsessed, lazy and entitled narcissists are, in fact, more confident, adaptable, techno-savvy and idealistic.

Not only are they open to ideas, they also have creative energy and bring fresh ideas to the workplace. They are also more aware of global developments and are more tolerant of cultural, racial and generational differences.

This generation values action, is achievement-oriented, and works more efficiently and productively to earn a work-life balance.

My personal observation is that this new generation are optimistic entrepreneurs who challenge the status quo and authoritarian hierarchy with a strong sense of purpose.

They celebrate diversity, technology and feedback. They welcome teamwork and open communication, and are well-educated, knowledgeable and conversant due to their compatibility with the various social networking platforms on the Internet.

Adaptable to change, they are used to the phenomenal global changes that have sharpened their sense and desire to make a difference. More importantly, they have the desire to become leaders with a heart.

These are all extraordinary qualities, and they are the hallmarks of outstanding leadership needed for the next generation.

However, organisational leaders are facing accelerated rates of complexity, ambiguity, uncertainty and market volatility. This generation’s greatness will therefore also be determined by how they react to challenges.

In his book, The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership, internationally recognised leadership expert John Maxwell identified the following:

•   Personnel determine the potential of the organisation;

•   Relationships determine the morale of the organisation;

•   Structure determines the size of the organisation;

•   Vision determines the direction of the organisation; and

•   Leadership determines the success of the organisation.

In this fast-changing world, agility also determines the sustainability of the organisation and the empowerment of its employees in future. To meet the complex needs of this highly competitive world, leaders have already identified transformational leadership principles for this high-potential generation:

•   Sharing vision;

•   Empowering;

•   Motivating; and

•   Inspiring.

Based on my decade of global entrepreneurial and professional experiences across three continents, ethnicities and cultures, I have identified the following key ingredients — summed up by the acrostic “ARRIVED” — that will define the success of the future generations of leaders:

Authenticity: To be self-aware, understanding your intrinsic value and that of others; embracing the need for constant change, personal growth and continuous life-long learning.

Resilience:  To be flexible in times of survival.

Risk-taking: To initiate action/experiential learning and engagements beyond the immediate responsibilities. A “successful failure” fosters new ideas and opportunities that can lead to innovation and success.

Innovation:  To develop skills and a strong commitment to innovation, leading your organisation to have an edge, tempered by situational reality.

Versatility: To encourage broader experiences to develop a wide variety of skills. To evolve beyond the narrow confines of disciplines to embrace the chaos and uncertainty of a rapidly changing world.

Emotional intelligence: To embrace EQ skills and identify, assess and control attitudes and behaviours to influence and make an impact.

Diversity: To recognise, accept and respect unique individual differences regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status or culture.

Not only must the next generation of leaders equip themselves to be highly agile, they must also have clear goals and communication skills that can drive creative thinking and innovation.

Article by Anjali Parmar, assistant director of Training Edge International. She has 13 years of professional experience in multiple levels of higher education, and has worked on corporate, hospitality, municipal and visual arts projects in the United States, India and Singapore. For more information, e-mail Anjali at or visit