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Lifting Up Heads and Laying Down Foundations: Why Current Leadership Must Adapt for Next-Gen Talent in the Tech Channel

Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts quickly today. The tech industry is as fast paced as a coder with a double shot of espresso. Yet, despite this relentless push for innovation in products and services, there’s often stagnation when adapting leadership styles for the next generation of talent.

For those of us in the technology and communications channel, the conventional wisdom surrounding talent, routes to market, sales, and partner relations have been our bread and butter for many decades. However, while we were working hard, an evolution in our talent was happening – at times without our knowing how significant the impact was on our business. The bottom line is that if our talent wisdom doesn’t evolve, it risks becoming the dry toast of tomorrow’s tech marketplace.

So, why should current leaders lift their heads and look around? To start with, the next generation of channel leaders are not just younger versions of the current guard, even if they might be related to some of us! They are fundamentally different. Ah yes, it’s not merely a case of “Kids these days,” but “Channel business these days.” Here’s why and how current channel leaders can (and should) pave the way for their successors.

The Landscape of Change

The New Vocabulary

First off, let’s update our vocabulary. Millennials and Gen Z professionals often don’t speak the stodgy corporate and channel language we have all become accustomed to daily. Those acronyms you’ve gotten so comfortable with over all your years in the industry – are alienating the next generation, making them feel disconnected and left out. 

This next generation is more about purpose, work-life balance, and making an impact than they are just about clocking in and climbing ladders. If your company culture still revolves around 9-5 schedules, quarterly reviews, and an overdose of hierarchy, expect your recruitment efforts to be as successful as beta software with endless bugs.

Digital Natives in a Digital Economy

Next-gen leaders are digital natives. They’ve grown up swiping, clicking, and streaming. They are the living, breathing examples of how IoT, AI, and the SaaS model aren’t just industry trends but life trends. In contrast, if your company’s leadership approach hasn’t been updated since Y2K was a concern, you’re not just behind the curve—you’re off the graph.

The upcoming talent pool cares deeply about social issues, corporate ethics, and a company’s impact on the world. In a survey conducted by Deloitte, 76% of millennials and Gen Zs believe that businesses should make a positive impact on society. If your company doesn’t have a meaningful mission statement or social responsibility program, you’re not even in the running for attracting these passionate individuals.

How Current Leaders Can Adapt

Open Dialogues

Start by listening. It’s more than nodding your head while checking your smartphone. Engage in active dialogues about how the organization can be more inclusive, flexible, and forward-thinking. Although this sounds like overly simple advice – ask open-ended questions and listen for the answer! Not only will you attract new talent, but you’ll also be less likely to appear in a scathing Glassdoor review. It’s a double win if you ask me.

Mentorship Over Management

The next generation of leaders crave mentorship rather than the traditional command-and-control management style. According to Harvard Business Review, 55% of millennials are not engaged at work and are open to new job opportunities. Show them the ropes, but also give them the freedom to innovate and contribute. They’re not looking for a boss; they’re looking for a mentor.

Update Your Toolbox

From agile methodologies to data analytics, ensuring your business methods are modernized is crucial. It shows you’re aware of industry trends and willing to adapt and innovate. The new talent wants to work with the latest tools and tech; your willingness to invest in these tools is, in itself, an investment in attracting them.

Flattening Hierarchies

Hierarchies are like an old operating system; they get the job done more efficiently and elegantly than their modern counterparts. Adopting a flatter, team-centric model encourages cross-collaboration and gives younger team members a voice. In turn, they’ll reward you with loyalty and innovative ideas.


The stakes are high, but so are the rewards. The next generation of channel talent offers a fresh perspective that can accelerate the industry to new heights. But to tap into this resource, current leaders must break free from outdated traditions.

Lift your head and take a good, long look around. What you’ll see is a new world of leadership ready to blossom—if given the right soil, that is. And if you don’t adapt? Well, let’s just say that even the most brilliant architects can’t build skyscrapers on quicksand.

So, dear current leadership, are you ready to roll up those sleeves and prepare the grounds for the leaders of tomorrow? I hope so. After all, the future waits for no one, especially in tech.


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