When you think of the word “leadership”, what comes to mind? Do you think of the leaders who have influenced your life? Does the face of a past coach or teacher pop into your head? Do you think about your leadership brand and how you are leading?

That wasn’t a trick question. I hope you do think of those things. What you probably aren’t thinking about is how we are failing when it comes to leadership. Here’s why. Leadership has become a business. Bookshelves and magazine racks are flooded with folks who have theories and opinions on the subject matter. The problem: we are obsessed with talking about leadership, but we aren’t working on developing our leaders.

At Solutions 21, it is our belief that almost every aspect of an organization can be improved. Investing in leadership development is only going to aid in that improvement. It is, after all, this lack of investment that causes one of the biggest hurdles for any organization – large or small.

Think of it this way: if a child grows up around dogs — whether their own or a consistent interaction in their life — they will start to develop a comfort level and feel a sense of ease around this type of animal. On the contrary, if a child doesn’t grow up around dogs and at age 10 is greeted at their friend’s front door by an overly excited, hysterical, tail-wagging canine, you can sense their uneasiness as they tense up and fall victim to fear.

This analogy is the best way I can describe what we are facing in our workforce today. Like the previously mentioned pup when the doorbell rang, we are awaiting the explosion of a time bomb. In less than 5 years, 75% of the global workforce will be made up of Millennials — and if you don’t know by now, these are the folks born between 1980-2000.

Read that sentence again.

Less than 5 years.

The problem: decision makers in today’s 21st-century workforce have never been exposed to the complex work environment we are facing. NEVER. The multi-generational workforce is something that causes anxiety, confusion, frustration, and skepticism for baby boomer executives around the world. Don’t believe me? We see it. Every. Single. Day.

The reason: we haven’t intentionally prepared our next generation of leaders for the 21st-century workforce. We haven’t invested in them and taught them how to lead in this new type of work environment. What we have done is let old tactics linger — tactics that are far beyond extinction — and labeled them “development.”

The truth of the matter is that unless you are developing your 21st-century leaders with 21st-century development opportunities, you aren’t getting 21st-century results. The world has transformed in the last 5 years. If we had a time machine and could go back it would be almost unrecognizable.

What’s going to happen to your business over the next 5 years when Millennials are in leadership roles? Have you prepared them to lead? Or are you just talking about it?

The time is now! Get to work and start developing your future leaders for what they will face in the not too distant future. It is not a question of “if.” It’s a question of “when.”