It’s amazing at how many things are sold to professionals which claim to be the next best thing in advancing your career. From books and seminars to workshops and online tutorials, there seems to be an endless supply of crap that many of us buy to help our careers yet few ever see any real return on investment.
There is one thing that doesn’t rely on fancy sales pitches or overdone workbooks and it can truly elevate your professional game. Best part is we all have access to it and most often it is completely free of charge.
Welcome to MENTORSHIP.
No matter where you are in your career having a mentor is highly advisable as it can be the difference between you navigating the waters of a successful career versus drowning in the murky depths of the rat race. Mentors aren’t just strategic career advisors they’re the angel over your shoulder whispering sweet nothings into your ear.
So if having a mentor was so impactful how come more people don’t have them?
Typically it’s because we’re scared to ask for help. It’s possible we don’t think we need the help, though many would object. It could also be because we don’t know where to look to find such a connection.
At the start of this year I decided it was high time to get me a new mentor. I’ve been lucky in my life to have a consistent and very good mentor in my father which I’m incredibly thankful and fortunate to have. I was looking for an additional mentor that had specific experience – growing a business from the ground up and doing so with a technical customer base.
After doing some snooping around I landed on the website of Micro Mentor. It’s like a dating site for professionals looking for a mentor, but no hanky panky is involved. You fill out a profile and then your needs and interests are matched with a possible mentor. Both parties get to review one another’s profiles after which they have an initial conversation to see if the match is a good fit. This is where I met Bonnie.
Fast forward Bonnie and I have now been working together for eight months and I’m continually impressed and appreciative of the guidance and thought provoking perspective she brings to the table. Bonnie started a technology service business in San Francisco a couple decades ago by investing a couple thousand dollars to start the company. From that start she grew the business to over 100 employees and has recently retired, earlier nonetheless, as a result of the success she experience along the way. Needless to say I feel like I can accomplish a lot knowing I have Bonnie in my corner. (let’s also not forget my father)
Why am I sharing this with you? If you don’t have a mentor you need to get one!
The relationship, when done right, will positively change every aspect of your career and outlook on business. I’m so passionate about mentoring that I too am a mentor – it’s worth every minute of my day.
Here’s what mentors, like Bonnie and my father, bring to the table and why they’re so incredibly valuable to you and I:
> Business Savvy – they bring experience and knowledge to the table that just can’t be matched by a text book or online workshop. You can’t replace real experience. Learning from a mentor isn’t just about accomplishing big feats it’s also about learning from their mistakes. Yes they’ve made plenty of them just like you and I.
> External Perspective – often times when we need advice we go to people who are close to us, most commonly that work for the same company. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing what is important to remember is that these people have a certain level of bias in their thoughts and advice. Having a mentor outside your company gives you the chance to get advice which focuses on the situation at hand rather than personal bias or internal company politics. Mentors can also share with you how they have dealt with situations perhaps in other lines of business or industries which could provide you with a fresh approach to handling a situation. When your mentor is outside your company you can also rest easier knowing you can share your true feelings and thoughts and know that information won’t get back to your boss or be passed along at the water cooler.
> Confidant – Mentor are great listeners. Like my mentor Bonnie, she’ll sit on the phone with me and graciously give me ample time to spill my guts at which point she does an excellent job summarizing the situation and delivering exceptional feedback. I trust that I can be open with her which ultimately helps my development process.
> Accountability – Mentors vary greatly in this area and how they approach it. If you are going to ask for a mentor make sure you are willing to actually implement the ideas and suggestions the two of you collectively come up with. There’s no better way to ruin a good mentor relationship than to talk the talk but not walk the walk. If you are one of those people that sometimes needs a swift kick in the ass to get going mentors can also be utilized for that, just be careful how much ass kicking you need. Mentors ultimately aren’t baby sitters and they’re not supposed to run your business or career for you.
> Comfort Zone Executioners – let’s face it, we all love dancing in the comfort zone for longer than we should. Mentors are great at breaking up common thoughts or practices to get you out of your area of complacency. When this happens true growth is right around the corner.
Back in January of this year I was less than a month away from being a first time Dad. To put it bluntly, I was scared! What do I know about raising a kid and how will I show up for our daughter so that she grows up to be a strong and healthy young woman? It’s a daunting thought process for a new parent as there is so much left to the unknown. What I hoped was that I would be able to lean on some of my leadership experiences from my career to get me through the soon to be experience of being a parent.
Six months later I’m amazed at what I’ve learned along the way about being a father. Infants have much to teach us as their souls give us a glimpse into perfection. They don’t have a negative bone in their body as their main desire in life is to be loved and cared for. Simple as that. Accomplish that and they’ll love you unconditionally. Along the way I’ve picked up some nuggets of knowledge, which mind you were bestowed on be by an infant, and are now the cornerstone for my focus in business and as a leader.
> Caring for others without expectation
I’ve learned quickly the importance and result of what happens when you give all of yourself to someone for their benefit and their benefit only. When we do things for people because we’re looking to get something in return it cheapens the relationship as the receiver almost always sees through the other person. What’s amazing is infants have this same perceptive quality. When you care for them unconditionally they love you no matter what. They appreciate and respect your kindness and give it back a thousand times what was originally offered. Leadership is the same way. Put yourself out there for others placing their careers ahead of your own and you’ll have a team of people who happily run through brick walls, achieving great heights along the way.
Even if you don’t have kids you’ve probably heard this…kids require a lot of patience. My whole life I’ve struggled in this area yet through some caring feedback over the years I’ve managed to slowly improve. My daughter requires a whole new level of patience that I’ve never had to deploy before yet I find myself yearning for the opportunity to give it. What you come to realize is that many times people don’t do things on purpose which leads to feeling of being upset, frustrated, irritated, etc which is what can cause people to lose their patience. A lot of times it’s just a simple miscommunication. When we keep this top of mind at work we can approach situations with a calmer, more understanding mindset which alleviates our need to get fired up.
> It’s the small things that count
It’s so easy to get wrapped up in life, focusing on things that are completely irrelevant to our day or perhaps even the reason for being alive in the first place. I must admit, I struggle with this often. One of the best things I’ve learned from my daughter is most of the worldly challenges I’m faced with are actually quite insignificant and the reality is that some of the smallest things in life are what really makes a difference. A great example is every morning when I go to get her out of her crib (sometimes at a ripe 5:15AM mind you) I’m greeted with the biggest toothless smile you could ever image. It goes ear to ear and immediately puts me in my happy place. It’s moments like these that are great reminders for us that life is not all about spreadsheets, bottom lines and performance reviews. If we take this same approach with our employees at work we’ll find ourselves much more satisfied with our career experience.
> The Platinum Rule of Relationships
The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one would wish to be treated oneself. I’ve learned from my daughter that the ‘Platinum Rule’ is far more effective as the focus is to ‘treat others the way they want to be treated’. If I take the time to do the things which are important to my daughter (like throwing blocks, yelling at trees, bouncing to music or gnawing on the couch cushions) I find she’s far more involved and happy with me than when I have her do something I want to do. (which typically means she’s sitting there supervising me from her Bumbo) This same rule applies to our employees as when we treat them how they want to be treated and not how we ourselves want to be treated it sends a very specific message that we care about them and what’s important to their cause.
While this may sound a little cliché I can assure you it is all too real. I’ve grown up experiencing a life full of grand adventures and silly shenanigans. Let’s just say I’ve had a lot of fun living life yet somewhere along the way I forgot how to have good, honest fun. How to pretend. My daughter reminds me that having fun is a state of mind and should be a source of achievement often. While that may sound daunting and rather tiresome to focus on always having fun I can assure you the other side of the coin sucks royally. When you aren’t having fun life feels like it’s just dragging on by. So now if we aren’t having fun I make an abrupt face change in what we’re doing so that she’s smiling and giggling all over again. Your employees will do the same. If you purposefully make their work environment an enjoyable place to be your employees will enjoy coming to work, rather than having a serious case of the Mondays.
The craze of the new hot app, Pokémon Go, has taken the world by storm as people meander aimlessly trying to catch little creatures to their hearts content. As users continue to increase and we gain a better understanding of the fanfare this game has adopted an interesting parallel is developing which isn’t necessarily what the game is about at all, yet it’s a great learning opportunity for anyone in a leadership role.
Before we get into that, let’s start off with what the heck is this game anyways?
What is Pokémon Go?
It's a free-to-play, location-based, augmented reality, multiplayer online mobile game. It’s a rebirth of a game that came out originally in the early 90’s which allows you to search for critters, catch them, train them and battle with them. The game that was launched on July 6th uses your phone's GPS to track where you are while making use of a stylized Google map as the primary game board. Your character moves in the game as you walk around in real life, and events and objects – known as PokéStops – are associated with specific locations in the physical world. You can look at the game world through your phone's display which serves as a viewfinder that mixes reality with game objects.
What has Pokémon Go accomplished?
It took a mere 3 hours to hit #1 on the iPhone app sales charts and a total of 13 hours for the game to hit the top of the US sales charts, bringing in $2M a day in revenue. If that wasn’t impressive enough, its daily user penetration rate (% of people who download the app per day) is 10.81% whereas other blockbuster apps prior were only around 1.67% and 0.84%. The average amount of time a user spends on the app each day is upwards of 45 minutes and the games retention rates are double the industry norm. Lastly, this single app managed to raise Nintendo’s (creater of the app) market share by more than $7 billion, or 25%. Basically it’s minting money left and right for the gamer maker.
Why are so many people across such a large age range totally immersed in this app and what could we learn from it to implement in the workplace? After reading that some of you might be thinking “why do we need to learn anything from it? It’s a game, not work.” That’s a valid point and you would be justified in saying that however I think there’s a great learning opportunity for any business owner or person in leadership to take note.
People like Pokémon Go because it’s an experience!
As leaders in business if we took anything away from what this app has accomplished it should be that the majority of people out there respond positively to things which elicit an interactive, creative and fun experience. Is it then possible to harness the Pokémon Go experience and create that in a business setting? You bet your backside it is, it’ll just take a little creative licensing to make it work.
Before we get into the 'how' let’s quickly explore why we would want to do this in the first place?
It’s a simple fact that happy employees produce successful companies. When employees are cared for, respected and engaged successfully their productivity levels and general happiness soar in the workplace. When people are happy they take less sick days, require less vacation and go above and beyond on the regular. They don’t need to be told to go above and beyond as they do so naturally. It’s not a utopian day dream to think that this is possible for every company out there because it is indeed possible. It just requires someone to recognize the need for positive change and actually do something about it.
Now we’ll take what we’ve learned from the Pokémon Go experience and translate that into the workplace.
To create an experience that people will gravitate towards in the workplace we first have to listen and give people what they want, not what you (the leader) wants. Once we know what our people desire we need to deliver on it by creating a work environment and culture that people are drawn too. As Pokémon Go shows us people are willing to adopt things very quickly when it meets their needs and interests. Creating a culture and environment that supports collaboration, appreciation and respect, along with having fun, are good starting points.
We also need to keep in mind that over complicating things at work doesn’t necessarily make it a better experience. In fact, the simpler something is the better. Pokémon Go does this perfectly by using something we already know (our phone GPS) and integrates it with our personal space and creative expression. As a result we, the user, are put in the drivers’ seat to create an experience that is catered to our unique interests. What that looks like at work is giving people the autonomy to make decisions and do their job effectively.
There’s an added bonus for us in the workplace!
We can create an experience that is stimulating and rewarding without the worry of being hit by a car, running into light poles or literally falling on our faces, which have been some wonderful experiences to come as a result of using Pokémon Go.
Back in December of 2015 I wrote on a topic that was near and dear to my heart as it is something I came across often in business, matter of fact still do today. It’s a challenge which all companies deal with quite frequently and seem to struggle creating a sound solution to the problem.
What is the challenge you ask?
It’s transitioning an individual contributor into a management role for the first time and doing so successfully.
Identifying a person, let alone the right person, to take on management responsibilities is becoming increasingly more difficult. HBR put out a stat recently which indicated companies fail to choose the candidate with the right talent for the job 82% of the time when hiring for management roles.
If it is so tough to hire for management than imagine the challenge and stress a person feels when they do get the job and are new to the role. I’ve been there and can share from direct experience that most often you get thrown into the deep end, left to tread water with a giant weight over your head. The majority of companies out there don’t offer formal training programs to their newly promoted managers therefore the sink or swim mentality is a very real and potentially frightening hurdle people looking to be promoted need to be aware of. Without the right training, development and mentorship it’s incredibly challenging how tough management jobs can be.
Have no fear my friends. Even if you find yourself in a management role without the necessary training and development there are many things you can do to improve your likelihood of success. If you follow these 13 steps you will be on your way to building a future that is purposeful and aligned for success as your lead your team to victory. (or a full write up and details of how each step below works click on the following links: part-1, part-2 and part-3)
1. Read “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann
2.Have a 1:1 (One-on-One) with Your New Boss
3. Communicate Your Plans to Your New Team
4. Learn About Your New Role and How It Impacts the Business
5. Identify a Professional Mentor Outside of Your Immediate Company
6.Schedule 1:1 (One-on-One) with Your Team
7.Create Performance and Professional Development Plans
8.Develop Time Management Structure
9.Develop Relationships With Other Leadership
10.Create A Department Game Plan
11.Present Game Plan To Your Team
12.Create Systematic Communications & Follow Ups
13.Plan A Team Event
These 13 steps are to be used as an outline to reach success as you step into leadership. My best advice is to use this framework in combination with a style that is authentic to who you are as a person and who you want to be for others.
It is my belief that anyone CAN be successful in leadership so long as they have the right attitude, mindset and care for others. This is the foundation for which you need to be successful in leadership. Having a leadership game plan along the way merely keeps you on track, increasing your chances for success and happiness, providing you the best opportunity to serve those lead.
It happens to the best of us. Mistakes, errors, mucking it up, screwing the pooch, what have you, are bound to happen to us all. Mistakes are so prevalent in the business world it's probably better to look at it as 'it’s not if it will happen, but when’!
The best of the best out there know and live one thing that many people struggle with…it’s having the ability to admit when you’re wrong or have made a mistake.
People make mistakes. It’s a fact of life. I’ve made plenty of them in my time and gather I’ll make some more before the day is over. It’s what we do when a mistake is made that makes all the difference. I recently learned of a story which had a great impact on me as the person in question was and is undoubtedly a mega-giant to success. Case in point, his children, represent #8, #9, #11 and #12 of the wealthiest people in the world based on the 2015 Billionaires list put out by Forbes. (note - I chose to highlight this individual not because I agree or disagree with his business and their practices but because he overcame a costly mistake and succeeded greatly as a result. This piece is not intended to support or criticize the Walton's or Walmart)
Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, made an error early on that could have cost him his entire career. After being in business for a rough first five years, Sam started to finally see some incredible success for his single location general store located in Newport, Arkansas. His sales quadruped that year. He was a pillar of the community, involved in a variety of social and political groups, giving and putting everything he had into trying to make his business work in the 7,000 person community of Newport. What he didn’t realize initially but knew all too well when the time came was that his store, his only store, was not available for renewal as the lease expired. The owner was handing the store over to his son and Walton was on the short end of the stick.
In this day and age we might not think that’s a big deal as you can always go find another place to set up shop, however back in the late 40’s when Walton came face to face with this mistake he had made, he said it was one of the worst mistakes he’d made in business. Not only could he not renew the lease on the only store he had, but there were no other options in town for him to choose from. His entire business revolved around that town and now he was forced to seek a new birth elsewhere.
What happened from there? Walton took ownership of the situation without allowing his blunder to spoil what would eventually become one of the largest retailer chains, if not the largest, in the world. So Walton drove across Arkansas and found a new store, bought it outright this time and uprooted his entire family for the big move. The rest of the story results in the Walton’s basically turning into a real life Scrooge McDucks basically swimming in wealth; I’m sure as a result of some very hard work along the way.
Remarkable as that story may be given what we all know of Wal-Mart in current day, Walton’s decisions and actions in the moment are what truly separate him and other ‘greats’ from the rest of the pack. He admitted his mistake without placing blame on others, owned it, learned from it and moved on without allowing the mistake to crush his business and dreams.
When we face our mistakes head on we show courage and an ability to be trusted. Since no one is perfect, those who can admit their mistakes openly seem to be trusted more than those that project themselves to be incapable of making errors. When we admit our mistakes we are taking ownership of the situation; once ownership is established the best of the best use those mistakes as an opportunity to learn and improve from moving forward.
Mistakes also have a nasty ability at times to knock us off our pedestal, dampening our confidence. When we admit to our shortcomings what often happens is those around us respond with support which helps level set our mindset back to the passion fueled great people we are.
Next time you find yourself in a situation where a mistake is made and you might be the culprit, take a leap of faith and ‘lean in’ as Sheryl Sandburg says. What happens next may surprise you in a great way.
Leaders aren't born, they're created! While some people have natural traits and characteristics that aid in their ability to work with others, leading successfully is a skill that can only come with experience and training.
Leadership, an art form in itself, is incredibly difficult to master, even after years upon years of experience.
Good news! There is a way to speed up your leadership learning curve and do so successfully. With all the training, seminars, books, coaches/ mentors and leadership philosophies – where the heck do you even begin? The best advice I’ve been given is to keep it simple. Actually, what was really shared with me was an incredible scientific methodology called KISS, ‘keep it simple stupid’.
Keeping it simple means you’re much more likely to successfully understand, implement and retain the things you learn. As it relates to leadership, SQR1 developed a philosophy and way of leading, called STEP Leadership, which focuses on keeping things simple while removing all the scientific data and tough to understand language which often plagues leadership development, philosophies and training.
Focusing on the things you can control, STEP Leadership teaches leaders how to successfully lead any team or company through four easy to understand areas of focus:
For the full article click here...
Could your boss stand up to a Jedi from the movie Star Wars? Before you go dismissing it as if there’s no way in hell your boss could go toe to toe with a Jedi, let’s take a moment to see how GREAT leaders stand up to the defenders of the galaxy and beyond.
As you may know by now, Star Wars is back! Han Solo, along with Chewy, R2D2, and a whole list of other great supporting characters, reunited for a movie that is sure to break all sorts of box office records, sending fans screaming for more. Growing up in a generation where Star Wars was basically the second coming, I found myself oddly intrigued with the concept of the Jedi and that little green guy named Yoda.
With the new movie coming out in December I’ve spent some time reading up on what it’s all about and in the process I’ve stumbled upon an interesting parallel between the Jedi and present day business leadership. (Good leadership, that is) Weird as that may seem, it’s striking the similarities when you put them side by side one another.
Before we get into those similarities, it would be good to provide a little overview of who the Jedi are in the event you’ve been living under a rock for the past 40 some odd years and aren’t familiar with them. The Jedi are the protectors of ‘good’ and vanquishers of ‘evil’ in the movie saga, Star Wars, which was originally released in 1977 by George Lucas. Jedi live their lives to serve others and have an insatiable drive and focus on honing their craft, which is the search for knowledge and the development of the use of the ‘Force’.
Now that we have a basic understanding of our Jedi compadres, let’s take a look at their characteristics:
serving others, patience, humility, discipline, honesty, loyalty, responsibility, teaching others, listening, observing, preparedness, positive mindset, defending others
Now, think about your boss. Hopefully doing that doesn’t make you spasm with angst. Go back through the list of Jedi characteristics and see how many of them your boss possesses. If you’re part of the growing number of Americans in the work force which have underperforming leaders you may find that your current boss would get their rear end handed to them in a battle royale against a Jedi. We’re at a (good) leadership deficit in the States, and the gap only seems to be widening. That said, you may need to compare the characteristics of the Jedi to the best leader you know; in doing so, things start to balance out. It won’t be perfect but what you’ll see is the similarities between being a great leader in business and being a Jedi in Star Wars are one in the same.
It all starts with mindset. To be a Jedi, you have to master your mindset first, then you can move onto the incredibly difficult, life consuming task of training. If you are a Jedi you know firsthand it is impossible to be perfect therefore rigorous training and continuous development are essential. Being a great leader is exactly the same. To be a great leader one must have a positive mindset which then becomes the foundation for who they are, WHY they do what they do and what they stand for. Only then can a leader in todays’ business world successfully start to lead others.
It doesn’t stop with our mindset, it also has to do with our outlook on people. Both Jedi and great leaders serve others, viewing leadership as a servant role rather than a perch which one can dictate from. When we focus on serving others we find that we are more patient, humble about who we are and what our part is in the grand scheme of things and ready to take blame while defending others when need be. Great leaders spread the wealth and give praise to those around them rather than taking the kudos themselves. Their team is first, as they are a servant and only as good as those who make up the team.
Good leadership, like being a Jedi, can only be accomplished when we are sound of mind. Our self-health is a prime indicator to our success rate in leadership. When leaders focus on having an open positive mindset, are continuously developing themselves and lead by example, they are building the cornerstone for a present day Jedi, one which others will follow willingly not because they are told too, but because they believe in them.
Like being a Jedi, being a leader is a commitment often times larger than life itself and to be great you must CHOOSE to do so. One cannot just say “I’m going to be a great leader”, it’s your actions, not just words that make the difference. Once you develop the correct mindset, you will find your inner Jedi emerges, helping you lead successfully while serving those who are the most important – your team.
Millennials have a tendency to get a bad rap as a collective group. There’s a lot of people who write articles on the Millennial generation, often times I find the information within those articles to be a bit brash, at times lacking hands on experience, as the information comes from a survey or a study. It seems as though there are a fair amount of people who came before the Millennial generation who have a hard time understanding and interacting with Millennials in general.
As a result they label an entire generation as ‘difficult to manage’, ‘entitled’, ‘impatient’ and ‘socially incompetent if it wasn’t for their smart phones’. Ouch! Back in the day them be fighting words. I may not be a Millennial but I do believe there’s a lot more to this group of people than meets the eye.
By the by, older generations have been throwing haymakers at younger generations for decades, so perhaps the Millennials getting a bad rap is nothing new. Each time a new generation becomes of adult age and starts entering the workforce, the generations that have to deal with them always have the same song and dance.
Perfect example is what happened with The Beatles. When The Beatles hit the US for the first time in 1964 the Silent Generation (parents at this time) almost keeled over thinking their kids (Baby Boomer generation) were going off the deep end. Why? Because the kids of that day were listening to the musical sounds of long haired, sex-centric, young men who wore weird flashy military clothes and sang of love and peace. Last time I checked The Beatles are about as bad for you as the broccoli I reluctantly ate last night.
I have a different outtake on our Millennial cohorts. After the better part of a decade of leading and working side by side with them, I believe, and have experienced firsthand, that the Millennial generation stands to make one of the biggest positive contributions to society we’ve seen in several generations.
Big words, I know, but allow me to share with you why I believe this.
Millennial are fearless. They grew up in a world where dear ole Mom and Dad told their young techies that they could do and accomplish anything. They were born winners. (regardless if that was true or not) As a result, the Millennial are fearless and act accordingly in the workplace. They would rather up and leave a stale job to start something new, even if that meant completely starting over. They’re built to be entrepreneurs. Perhaps some of that can lead to entitlement, but I believe it gives them an edge that allows them to overcome barriers to entry that would otherwise keep out those of us that are less optimistic or daring.
There are some great case studies out there right now which highlight the fearlessness within the Millennial generation. Learn about anyone of these people and you’ll see what I’m talking about: Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Evan Spiegel/ Bobby Murphy (Snap Chat), Palmer Luckey (VR Oculus), Adam D’Angelo (Quora) and John & Patrick Collison (Stripe).
#2 Expectations of Grandeur
Unlike delusions of grandeur, Millennials are used to things working well and improving consistently. Back in the day people settled for mediocre technology and products, because well that’s all we had. Millennials are quite different. They expect companies to produce great results. When they don’t, the companies hear about it before the products even hit the shelves through a barrage of tech talks, social media outpouring, etc. This cause and effect keeps companies, especially consumer electronics manufacturers on their feet, which is good for everyone.
Millennials are also used to change, even expect it. Unlike The Silent generation who would be with the same company for their entire career, Millennials don’t have a problem switching things up if they don’t like something. Again, this causes employers and managers to have to be on their toes providing quality places to work. If they don’t, Millennials just won’t work there, or for long. Change is part of life, some deal with it well, others not so much. Millennials embrace it and encourage it. There are three things in life that are certain…death, taxes and change. Millennials have at least a leg up on us on the third one.
#3 Technology Whizzes
This number tends to be all over the place, however most signs point to a Millennial being someone who was born between 1983 – 2004. It’s the technology generation. Internet not only changed the world at large but it changed this generation. By the time Millennials where in high school they had internet access to assist with research papers, fact finding, even websites providing information on their teachers sharing who was worthy and who not. (I would have loved information like that when I was in school as I felt like some of my teachers were Mrs. Krabappel from the Simpsons)
Obviously the internet has made a huge impact on society at large. So too has the iPod with music, the personal computer, social media and gaming, to name a few. All of these have revolutionized the way we live and interact with others, yet these things are second nature to those in the Millennial generation. They were born with a joystick in their hand or a TV on in the background and it’s become a central part of their life. As a result their ability to use and create technology often surpasses other generations.
Lastly, they enjoy having technology at the forefront of their daily life, which definitely isn’t the same with other generations. Call it a dependency, call it whatever you want, however the outcome is that Millennials are superior as it relates to their understanding and use of technology which in turn gives them an edge for the future when we’ll all be living like the Jetsons.
#4 Creative Expression
More and more Millennials are venturing outside the norm and creating their own path as it relates to the workplace and social interactions. Why is this? Well, because they have too. In a world where so much has already been done, the Millennial generation has to be creative in order to compete. Millennials also make up for the largest group of people in the world who write blogs, build websites and upload audio & video files for information sharing. They also have a keen eye for design and art as they were born and brought up with products where form & fit was just as important as function. Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding with the fact that websites like Deviant Art are in the top 50 most trafficked sites on the net.
By now my hope is that some of you reading this have given some new thought to the Millennial generation. Sure, there may be some bad apples out there that rep the Millennial generation, as there are with all generations, but the larger number of people have a lot to offer.
When you take the attributes of the Millennial generation and place them side by side one another (fearless, high expectations, technology experts, creative) you’ve got a recipe for a group of people who can and WILL do great things in their lifetime. They have all the ingredients necessary to lead us into the next frontier. It just might take some time as they’ve barely been in the workplace a full decade. So let’s be patient and see what happens.
As a token of my appreciation to the Millennials I’ve had the chance to partner with, learn from and lead, I am forever thankful to you for the opportunity to work side-by-side with you all. Your fearlessness has become my driving force in all I do.
What if Peter Drucker himself had an opportunity to review your leadership work, what do you think he would say? Would he say you're an effective leader?
If by chance you are new to the philosophies, teachings and writings of Peter Drucker I highly suggest taking some time to familiarize yourself with him. Short and sweet – Drucker is the Godfather of Business Leadership (let’s just go by GBL moving forward) and is responsible for much of what we know today in how effective leaders work and operate.
What makes for an effective leader? I just finished reading a fantastic, classic leadership book by GBL himself, ‘The Effective Executive’, originally published in 1967. As noted on the front cover of the book, ‘The Effective Executive’ provides a straight forward, simplistic guide to “getting the right things done” for people in a leadership capacity. What I found amazing about this book is how relevant and simplistic Drucker’s advice is, even for todays’ purposes in a business world that is far different from when these thoughts were put to paper some 48 years ago.
So, what is it then that makes for an effective executive [leader]?
All too often I find people enjoy making the topic of leadership how-to’s overly complicated. Maybe they do that to sell more books, or justify their new and insightful leadership methodology. For me, I’ve found that the more simplistic something is the better chance I have in understanding it, implementing it and continuing to act on it as a new habit.
Watch Out Now – just because something is simple doesn’t necessarily mean it is easy to do, or consistently for that matter.
Drucker’s approach to leadership success and effectiveness is simplicity at its best. He identifies the following five core competencies successful leaders should have as a part of the fabric that guides them through their daily work:
“Intelligence, imagination and knowledge are essential resources [for a leader], but only effectiveness converts them into results.” - Peter DruckerWhile this list may seem incredibly simple, I can tell you from personal experience it’s anything but that. Often times the most simplistic things in life can be the most difficult to master. Why? Because it takes discipline. Though these concepts may be easy to understand, the difficultly comes in the form of holding oneself accountable to doing it above all other things. That’s the tough part!
Being disciplined to doing the right thing at the right time is certainly easier said than done. So much so that Drucker identifies that
"the number one reason for leadership failure is the inability or willingness to change with the demands and expectations of the new job".So therein lies the secret! Thank you, GBL! The leaders’ who are willing to change and adapt while being disciplined to doing the right things at the right time are the ones that will be the most effective.
Zip it up! Not the fly on your knickers. (then again, if your fly is down please do zip it up)
Zip it, your mouth that is! Our mouths enjoy writing checks our bodies can’t cash and it’s going to catch up with us in a hurry, if it already hasn’t.
Are you getting a bit agitated that someone would tell you to close your mouth and listen? Don’t worry, I struggle with this as well, along with the large majority of leaders in business, politics, sports…you name it.
I’m writing this with a bit of tongue-in-cheek on purpose, but I promise my brazen efforts are only to share with you a great truth about leadership. That truth is the art of listening. As in, not speaking and allowing others to talk, a foreign concept for many of us.
Why is listening an important habit to develop to be a good leader? Those who possess the ability to listen earnestly experience deeper relationships, advanced awareness of how they show up and how others are impacted by them (EQ), are genuine in their care for others and are touted as being “leaders people would run through a wall for”. To become an exceptional leader, you must develop your ability to listen.
You may be thinking, “Well, that’s not very profound. I listen all the time.” But, do you really listen?
Let’s see how good of a listener you are. If you’ve done one of the following in the last week you’ll want to continue reading this article:
Why is it we don’t listen? Short answer – our egos get in the way of allowing someone else the stage to talk.
The long answer – Perhaps you’re the exception as your listening skills are top notch. For everyone else out there, which I’ll gladly throw myself into this boat, as leaders we struggle with listening. We tell ourselves that others are wrong; only we know the truth; “I don’t have time for this”; I can multi-task while we’re talking; my point makes more sense; they’re idiots; they must not see the big picture (love that one); they have to hear my side before we can move on, etc. With so much going on in the world today it’s easy to fall into the trap that you don’t have time to have a conversation, especially if that conversation isn’t of grave importance.
Leaders – read closely here. The success of your job depends on your ability to listen. Forbes writer Glenn Llopis says that when “leaders judge, they expose their immaturity and inability to embrace differences.” Did you know that your act of not listening actually sent such a strong communication to the person on the other end? Imagine how it made them feel!
How can we fix this?
Short answer – zip it (our mouths that is) and focus on the person in front of you.
Long answer – put away your phone, your work at hand, close your computer screen or turn it off, close your door for that matter and stop mulling over that rerun episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians you watched for the sixth time last night. Do whatever you need to in order to give the person on the other side of the table your complete and undivided attention.
WHY should we focus on being better listeners?
If you haven’t come to the conclusion by now, we may need to get some backup in here asap. Let me get to the point then. Your job and career as a leader depends on it.
People follow and support leaders who live a servants’ mentality which means when their people have an idea, a question, a problem, or a wild haired suggestion, they listen as if listening is going out of style. Being a servant doesn’t mean a leader is weak, it means their people and company come first, before themselves. Conversation is the gateway to a persons’ mind, body and soul. Its best we listen or we’ll run the chance of missing out on some truly incredible moments.
About the Author
Serving over a decade in the technical services industry in Orange County, CA, Travis Smith has developed a talent for assessing technical talent and overseeing technical projects. His other areas of specialty include: leadership development, business development, resource planning and creative solutioning.