How to ease the coming upheaval in the nuclear power industry.
The U.S. nuclear power industry is caught in a vise. On the one hand, the industry stands on the brink of a great resurgence. The need to reduce carbon emissions has made clean nuclear energy an attractive option; the Energy Policy Act of 2005 included a number of incentives for the industry; and approximately 30 applications for reactor units are expected to be filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the end of 2009.
On the other hand, just as the industry prepares to expand dramatically over the next decade, it faces a yawning talent gap. A 2005 study by the Nuclear Energy Institute found that half of the industry’s employees are over 47 years old, and more than a quarter of nuclear workers already are eligible to stop working. Meanwhile, as the baby boomers retire, there will be far fewer available replacements with nuclear knowledge.
Given these demographics and the resurgence of nuclear power, executives will pursue a number of different strategies to bridge the coming talent gap. Some of those strategies entail seeking leaders from largely unfamiliar sources both inside and outside the industry—leaders who bring with them different leadership styles. In any organization, a new leadership model has profound implications for the company culture. Call it “revolution from the top.”