"To me," says Charlotte de Brabandt, "the definition of a true leader is someone who identifies talented professionals and pushes them. This leader should push them until the young talent is even better than the leader themselves." She goes on to suggest that this is the type of leader she aspires to be.

She's well on her way.

Earning ISM's Megawatt Rising Star award and accepting a spot on the organization's Thought Leadership Council, she's distinguished herself as a role model for the next generation of Procurement professionals.

Recently, she joined Gravitas Detroit Founder and ExecIn moderator, Jan Griffiths on the Source One Podcast. Together, they advocate for a new kind of leadership and discuss the ways Procurement can adapt itself to empower young professionals in the years to come.

Adaptation and Evolution

Griffiths and de Brabandt agree that the benefits of a great mentor are limitless. de Brabandt recalls the influence of her father who encouraged her to define and pursue a decade's worth of goals at a young age. Mapping out her aspirations at age 10 instilled a sense of ambition and a feeling of purpose that has driven de Brabandt throughout the years since.

Purpose became a recurring theme throughout the conversation.

Introducing this reason for being, Griffiths suggests, is an essential part of becoming a truly inspirational leader. To her mind, it's what separates true inspirational leaders from run-of-the-mill managers.

"When I speak to people who are just getting started in their careers," she says, "I often ask - 'what's the most important thing that a boss can do for you?'" She gets one answer more often than any other. "They say talk to me, spend time with me, make me feel like I matter and I'm connected to something."

More than anything, Millennials and members of Generation Z are eager to serve a higher purpose and do something that really matters to them. While there's still a lot of work to do, Griffiths remarks that more and more organizations are beginning to recognize the value of purpose.

True leaders are starting to consult with their teams, gather feedback, and work alongside them to drive purposeful initiatives.

Changing Priorities

de Brabant believes that purpose will only grow more important as young professionals evolve into leadership roles. Currently, millennials face a fair amount of push-back as they look to exert control and drive initiatives. Their priorities are not typically aligned with those of more senior professionals in Supply Management. 

She identifies feedback, flexibility, clarity and inspiration as the must-haves for both rising millennials  and the members of Generation Z and Alpha who'll follow them into the professional world. While it will undoubtedly prove challenging for many leaders to abandon the old way of doing things, de Brabandt encourages leaders to look at the transition as a valuable opportunity. It's a chance, she suggests, to reflect and recommit themselves to purposeful

It's clear these priorities will need to change sooner rather than later. Though we tend to look at cross-generational friction and collaboration from the millennial perspective, the next generation is already flooding the workforce. They're more diverse, more tech savvy, and more ambitious than any group before them. Empowering them could be as simple as starting a conversation.

"The next transformation," de Brabandt concludes, "will flourish with good communication and the ability to build relationships. Leaders need to establish a sharing community and give their teams the sense that they belong to a family."

Subscribe on iTunes today to listen to the first half of the conversation. Don't forget to check back in next week for the conclusion.
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