How to Develop Future Leaders in Your Industry


October 19, 2023

The future of any industry is shaped by the people who work in it — and associations give these individuals a way to come together and make their voices heard. But as an association leader, you know it’s not enough to simply bring together people with common interests. You need to help them achieve their full potential and make a positive impact on the industry. One effective way to achieve this is by creating tailored learning programs specifically designed for these future leaders. This blog explores the importance of creating learning programs and highlights the benefits they offer to emerging leaders within your association.

Identifying Potential Leaders

With their vast networks and extensive reach, associations have a unique advantage in identifying emerging talent within their industry. By actively engaging with members and staying updated on industry trends, associations can identify individuals who demonstrate potential and exhibit qualities of effective leadership. By recognizing these emerging leaders early on, associations can better nurture and guide them towards their full potential.

Creating a Tailored Curriculum

Find out what your leaders need to learn, and design learning programs accordingly. For example, if your association is looking to develop leaders in the area of advocacy and policy development, you might offer a series of courses on lobbying and advocacy strategy. If your association is focused on professional development, you might offer online courses that provide members with additional tools for success — or even an entirely new skill set. Incorporating a blend of traditional classroom-style training and workshops can create a well-rounded curriculum.

Establishing a Mentorship and Networking Framework

Effective mentorship and networking are vital elements of any learning program for emerging leaders. Associations can leverage their extensive network of experienced professionals to connect emerging leaders with mentors who are well-respected and accomplished in their respective fields. 
Mentors provide guidance, support, and invaluable insights that can shape a young leader's career trajectory. Additionally, networking events organized by the association enable emerging leaders to develop relationships with industry veterans, exchange ideas, and gain exposure to different perspectives.

Continuing Support and Development

Creating a learning program is just the beginning; associations must also provide ongoing support and development opportunities for emerging leaders. This can be achieved through follow-up assessments, feedback sessions, and additional training as necessary. Encourage emerging leaders to share their learnings and experiences through conferences, webinars, or publications, further establishing their credibility within the industry. By continuously investing in their development, associations ensure a constant pipeline of skilled leaders who can drive the industry forward.

Providing Recognition and Awards

To inspire and motivate emerging leaders, professional associations should consider recognizing their achievements and contributions. By establishing prestigious awards or accolades, the association can elevate the profiles of these individuals and encourage others to strive for excellence. Recognition not only rewards the efforts of emerging leaders but also boosts their confidence and credibility within the industry, helping them secure future opportunities.



Associations have a tremendous opportunity to shape the future of their industry by creating learning programs tailored to the needs of emerging leaders. By identifying potential leaders early on, developing a customized curriculum, providing mentorship and networking opportunities, offering continued support, and recognizing their achievements, associations can empower and nurture these leaders, ensuring a bright future for the industry as a whole. Through their commitment to fostering leadership development, associations play a key role in driving innovation, progress, and positive change within their respective fields.

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