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I was teaching at a conference with a group of colleagues a few months ago on leadership. As I perused through the surveys I saw one comment that caught my eye (I am not sure why the negative comments always “catch our eye” but they do). This comment for some reason really got me thinking. The comment was, “This was OK but it was nothing new”.
My first reaction was to think, holy cow, should we have been presenting in a different manner, was our material not relevant, what can we do different? I let that settle in my mind for a while and did not share it with anyone else.
The more I thought about it, the more I wondered; does everything have to be “new”? I think most of our challenges are not from what we do not know, but rather, what we do not do with what we know.
After many years of leadership, training and coaching I realize being accountable and following through with the knowledge we have is the greatest challenge. If we are not careful we are always looking for the newest, latest and greatest trend in leadership and not even applying what we have already learned. The wisest man on earth once said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” If we believe that to be true then the challenge is not finding a new way to lead, but to apply what we have already learned. I think we have to guard against the desire to be stimulated with something new (or at least what we perceive as new) and practice executing what we already know. How many of us go to a conference, get several great ideas, maybe try one or two when we get back to the real world, put the conference binder on the shelf and go back to our routine?
I would love to hear what you think. Is taking on new information or a new way of saying/doing something more exciting than actually doing it? If so, how does a leader bring the two closer together?
1. Steer clear from annual reviews, they don’t work. Historically they bring too much anxiety and take up too much valuable time. There is also too much time between reviews to measure progress or work on developing anything.
2. Do monthly or quarterly reviews depending on the size of your staff.
3. Have each team member set quarterly goals that are smaller and easily evaluated and are attainable.
4. Have team members complete their own review and bring it to the meeting. The leader will then assess the review, giving their thoughts and feedback to how to reach their goals and steer the team member towards helping the company reach it’s goals.
5. Use behavioral tools (assessments) such as EQ and DISC or Emergenetics to help you connect with your team member. Strength Finder is good too.
6. Ask team members what motivates them. Help each team member to discover their own flow and internal motivations so their work is inspiring and not drudgery.
In my experience as a coach to emerging leaders from this generation and as a parent of a Millennial, there are challenges and strengths just like any other group. We see in this generation a creative ability to multi-task and use technology to get things done more efficiently. They tend to see everyone as being on the same playing field. Organizations should be flat and everyone has the right to speak and to be taken seriously and judged on their merits, not on status or position. The challenge is that the greatest strength can become the greatest weakness. We know that multi-tasking can actually create an inability to focus and more mistakes in the long-run. We know everything cannot be solved via text or email, that human interaction, soft skills, the ability to read and express proper body language is imperative to business success. We also know that even in a flat organization a leader will rise even without a title. So I think as with any generation, this generation brings amazing skills to the table. They will also have the challenge of the school of hard knocks, which all of us will agree is a powerful teacher.
I will share a story with you. I have always believed in everyone pulling their weight whether in a business or a family. When my son was 16, I was having a difficult time getting him to keep the yard up. I was a full time, single working mom (not to mention he needed to do this anyway to be responsible) and needed his help. I was so frustrated with “nagging”. I then began to think a little more, How can I motivate this kid, what inspires him? Well, he likes to be in control, he wants to make his own decisions, he likes positive feedback and he likes to spend money. I made him the yard director for the summer, gave him a budget and told him to spend it however he chose but the outcome was to be a great looking yard. This feed all his needs. I could not believe the pride he took in our yard. What this means is that if you are leading a Millennial, you are going to have to think deeper than “just do this because I said so”. “That dog don’t hunt!” I don’t know if this is any different than it was with any other generational cohort. The difference is this cohort is not afraid to ask why. They want to attach meaning to their work – purpose. Truth is, there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone does not get the trophy at work but you can build a relationship (which is very important to Millennials) and mentor them to greatness. This may be the next great generation. Our ceiling should be their floor! I think they can make amazing entrepreneurs. They have funding money, technology, relationship support but they need to develop their interpersonal, leadership development and long term thinking skills and they can create success. I believe all funding organizations should require a year of leadership/business coaching to be included in their funding to help ensure their success rather than handing over money from a good business plan to make better widgets.
Re-discovering authenticity through the following steps:
I have personally found there are many executives still investing in personal and organizational leadership. I believe leaders who have a vision for the future see leadership development as a necessity, not an option. I have even seen many come to the realization, I need to invest in the leaders I have left now more that ever. There is a lot of reorganization and restructuring going on. This is a perfect time to invest in yourself and your team of leaders.
We are offering the first annual Authentic Leadership Summit 2010, Oct. 14 – 15. We have strategically focused on “authenticity” and keeping the price low so executives from many different organizations can benefit. Check it out at: www.authenticleadershipsummit.com. Below are some excellent comments to this question from three of our conference speakers:
“Executives are at their best when they are able to fully claim their role as leaders through leveraging their strengths, identifying self-defeating behaviors, and truly knowing themselves.”
“Learning resilience is the most important skill for executives in this economy. When leaders are resilient they are able to carry their vision forward even in the hardest of times and inspire others to follow.”
Michelle Prosser, President – Energy Focus
“The educational needs of executives has changed a great deal since the economy imploded. There is a greater need to be with your peers to both network and learn. The extraordinary circumstances we face as executives today carry a heavy leadership burden. We need to be connected with other executives to help us understand that we are not alone in these tough times. The best source of education right now is to hear what my peers are doing to address the common challenges we face.”
David R. Phillips, CAE, RCE Chief Executive Officer
“Because of the costs associated with travel, room and board, I believe that it makes more imminent the need for “digital” or online learning. I learned recently from a local company of a solution that would readily allow for virtual classrooms. People from all over the country perhaps even the world could share a classroom experience from their home locations.”
Bill Cooper, UVA Director of Diversity
This topic will either make total sense to you… or not. That is because if you are “bent” to have this addiction you will get it right away, and if not, as with any other addiction you just don’t get it. I am writing to those who “get it” and/or those who have to live and work with those who “get it”.
Addiction is being compulsively or physiologically dependent on something habit-forming. Busy is habit-forming. The first step with any addiction is to “own” it. I first realized I was “addicted to busy” about eight years ago. Someone said something very simple to me, “you know, you do not have to do all this, you bring it on yourself”. I found myself pondering that thought. It was not the first time I heard something like that, but it was the first time it hit home with me. I realized no matter what I do, whether it is volunteer work, doing something for my family, or job related, I had a tendency to do more than necessary. In some ways that is a good trait, but as with most strengths it can become a weakness.
I began to do some self-observation activities and discovered much of my self-worth was built upon what I accomplished, thinking busy somehow meant important and how this made me look in the eyes of others. I also realized when I didn’t want to deal with something; I would get REAL busy in another area i.e. something at home, in my marriage or another work issue. If I was busy, I should not have to deal with “it” right…? This is a poor way to measure self. As with any addiction, it is never satisfied.
I have found that it is helpful when I find myself in this place of “addicted to busy” to do the following:
The beautiful thing about life is that we are always growing and learning… we never “arrive”. Aren’t you glad….?! It is a journey. Practice enjoying doing nothing – “Concentration is the ability to think about absolutely nothing when it is absolutely necessary.” — Ray Knight
I would love to hear from you. If you have found yourself “addicted to busy” or know someone who is write in and share other ways to overcome this addiction.
A colleague of mine shared something with me regarding being “addicted to busy”. This is a quote from her daughter – the most interesting part is that she is 12 years old “A day not laughed is a day wasted, no matter how much work you got done.” Hmmm, “from the mouth of babes….” ?