Monitor’s NextGen leaders prioritize their ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance and value companies that make room for them to do so, putting greater emphasis on their own mental and physical health compared with working long hours without much time for themselves.
“I think handling mental health and other challenges requires an open mind and willingness to overcome any given obstacle. You must invest the time to clearly understand the situation before you can develop a strategy for moving forward successfully,” one respondent to this year’s Monitor NextGen survey said. “I think the best policy is to take challenges head on versus avoiding or minimizing them.”
Another respondent said they prioritize their morning workout because “an intense morning workout keeps [their] mind sharp and positions [them] to better handle the inevitable speedbumps in a normal workday. By doing this earlier in the day, [their] evenings remain available for networking events, team activities or a long walk with the dog.”
“While I am often behind a desk or traveling for work, I take every opportunity I can to get outside. It is science that movement is medicine,” another respondent said. “Exercise and movement help you sleep better at night, clear your mind and reduce stress levels associated with work. The work we do can be a 24/7 grind, so it is imperative for me to carve out some outdoor time.”
The working environment necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic created greater flexibility for employees, and this year’s NextGen leaders have continued to value and champion such an approach to their working lives. For example, working parents have been able to attend meetings while being home caring for a sick child, displaying how flexible work arrangements can allow employees the ability to attend to their work and parenting duties.
“In today’s work environment, not all jobs need to be done completely from the office,” a survey respondent said. “The most important things to do to achieve work-life balance is to set priorities and establish boundaries.”
“Being ‘present’ as a remote employee is important, so instead of communicating excessively via email, I tend to make more calls to catch up on any changes taking place and to maintain a good relationship with our team,” a respondent said.
“During the pandemic, we pivoted to a fully remote schedule, causing many people — me included — to juggle multiple responsibilities in our professional and personal lives,” a respondent said. “I think the most important thing that we can learn from the past few years and the flexibility that has come from it is that we can truly do it all with appropriate boundaries and open, honest conversations with management.”
“Gone are the days where working moms couldn’t hold leadership roles,” another respondent said. “Technology has provided an opportunity for a person to be home with a sick child and still attend those weekly managers meetings. I believe there is a shift in the mindset of company leaders, and I think we will see more empathy, compassion and awareness toward work-life integration for both men and women throughout all company roles.”
“My favorite thing to do is exploring the city with [my child], taking the train to different places, checking out different shops and stopping for some sweet treats,” a respondent said. “As a busy working mom, I also make sure I have time to myself and a key part of my self-care routine is working out first thing in the morning. It helps me avoid distractions and keeps me energized throughout the day.”
“I find that I am fresher, happier and more resilient to setbacks when I get that [worklife] balance right,” a respondent said.
Leadership is Crucial
As part of the NextGen survey, Monitor asked this year’s honorees several questions about leadership, including what impacts them most as leaders. Among the qualities listed in the survey, technological advancements are affecting young leaders the most. In addition, while everyone has a different definition of what aspects of leadership matter most, like communication, teamwork and adaptability, most of this year’s young leaders agree that creating a connected work culture is the most effective way to lead.
“Young leaders in the world of finance have the challenge of influencing others to adopt change,” one respondent said. “The current state of the world and the younger generation have demanded change for the better in the workplace, including flexible schedules, increased benefits and acceptance of a variety of lifestyles. Young leaders are faced with the task of bridging the gap and merging the traditional world of finance with new age demands.”
“Technology has been a driving factor in terms of how easy you can get to data and score a deal, portfolio, rates, credit, etc. [This] allows sales reps and organizations to scale their volume quicker and to deliver results in a commercial space as fast as possible since consumers are used to consumer lending when they get instant credit decisions (0% finance, credit cards, auto loans, etc.),” another respondent said. “Also, having peers to connect with and older mentors to help better understand the business and how it has changed over the years and what we need to do to keep up with current trades [is impactful]. A lot of young leaders have been stuck in a very low interest rate environment and now that rates have changed, they have to adapt and change the way they sell or the markets that they sell into.”
“What makes me a unique leader is that I truly believe that I am only as strong as my team members,” another respondent said. “I strive to nurture and empower those around me so that we can succeed together.”
“I want to make a lasting impression on the staff and be that employee ambassador that people can rely on and trust,” another respondent said. “I’m always happy to be the voice of reason and give unbiased opinions.”
“One of the key qualities any leader can have is vision — the ability to see the big picture of where the organization or team is headed, what it’s capable of and what it will take to get there,” one respondent said. “I see my path to leadership as establishing positioning, identifying target audiences and developing marketing plans with specific objectives across different channels and segments.”
“I attribute my success to the accomplishments of my teammates,” another respondent said. “With their continued support, collaborative mindset and commitment to excellence, we have been able to accomplish the unthinkable. I am truly grateful to work alongside such talented individuals.”
“I am not afraid to ask questions and challenge existing methods that have become stale,” another respondent said. “I’m also a bit of a nerd, so I am always looking for new advances in technology and software that can improve company processes. I love automation and researching new ways to have technology automatically assist so I can focus on other tasks.”
This year’s batch of NextGen leaders largely said that older generations are displaying a greater acceptance of flexible schedules and more consideration for the mental health of their colleagues. Such a transformation can help create more robust and supportive company cultures, which is a major factor in retaining young talent. In this year’s survey, toxic company culture was the most common reason given by NextGen leaders to explain why they’ve left jobs in the past. In addition, respondents identified factors like a lack of advancement opportunities, poor management and inferior compensation as other reasons they have moved between jobs.
Strong company culture isn’t just about flexibility, of course. This year’s NextGen leaders expressed that transparency, empathy, collaboration and respect are all critical ingredients as well.
“A healthy workplace environment is where you can speak freely and not feel judged, even if it is a hard conversation to have, but you know and can trust that everyone respects your input and can create for great relationships that exist in the office and outside of work,” one respondent said.
“A successful company culture is one that challenges employees to become their best, to speak up and to grow while feeling rewarded through a healthy work-life balance and competitive compensation,” another respondent said. “Team members should be empowered to define the career that they want and a successful company culture supports this.”
“Trust and support are common themes in a successful workplace culture,” another respondent said. “It is a culture where the individual can thrive due to the overwhelming support to both succeed and be themselves.”
“A successful company culture is one in which people are able to be their authentic selves in the workplace, whatever that might mean. It’s also a culture that adapts to the everchanging social and economic environments,” another respondent said.
By prioritizing self-care, personal relationships, strong company culture and growth while learning to remain flexible and adapt to new ways of being productive, this year’s NextGen honorees are a well-rounded group of future industry leaders who are in the perfect position to continue to transform what the equipment finance industry is and what it will be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Markiesha Thompson is associate editor of Monitor.