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A Publication of WTVP

A new generation of leaders is on the rise, working diligently to make a difference in central Illinois—and in the world. So much has changed in the 17 years since InterBusiness Issues recognized the first class of 40 Leaders Under Forty. It’s a new world of increased responsibility and increased demands, and today’s emerging leaders face challenges that could scarcely have been imagined by their predecessors.

But some things have not changed: our young leaders’ enthusiasm and commitment to bettering their communities, places of work and worship, homes and schools; and the time and dedication they devote to those pursuits. A quick look at the accomplishments of this year’s 40 outstanding young individuals may well be the perfect antidote to the cynicism evoked by the headlines of the daily news cycle.

“This is the age of the leader,” claims Dr. Chuck Stoner, the Robert A. McCord Professor for Executive Management Development in the Foster College of Business Administration at Bradley University, and a widely consulted specialist on the issues of leadership, organizational change and interpersonal dynamics in the workplace. “The development of emerging leaders is one of the most critical challenges facing contemporary organizations.”

Over the next few years, Baby Boomers are poised to leave the management ranks in record numbers and pass the mantle of leadership on to a new generation. In this issue, Dr. Stoner lays out the promise—and the challenge—ahead as a generational shift of epic proportions continues to make waves in the workplace.

With four distinct generations working side by side, and their own unique—and sometimes conflicting—views on their careers and work/life balance, the effective management of these differences is vital to every organization’s continued success. Recognizing that each generation brings something new to the table and appreciating the value of their unique traits can make all the difference when it comes to this balancing act.

Since the first class of 40 Leaders Under Forty was introduced in 1994, the number of nominees has grown nearly every year—as has the diversity of their life stories. Just ask Jules Purvis of Color Classics Portrait Gallery, who has graciously donated his time and talent to photograph all 680 of them.

As one of the judges who reviewed the 119 nominations received this year, I am consistently amazed by the remarkable acts of these leaders throughout the community. They are the Generation X’ers and Millennials who are taking over the reins of leadership, a little bit more each day.

Many organizations, says Dr. Stoner, face “a striking gap between the leaders they need and the talent available to assume the mantle of leadership.” Here in central Illinois, we can breathe a little easier knowing that the next generation is ready to step up and take charge—because we’ve been developing our leaders for years. iBi

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