Before I sat down to write this column I had just finished a coaching session with a newly promoted mid-level manager. Julie started our conversation with “It’s true, it is lonely at the top. With my promotion I enjoy the opportunity to make a greater impact, but now my actions are scrutinized, former peers are now direct reports and I can’t admit I don’t have all the answers. “
Leaders like Julie are often starved for someone to talk to, a person who can provide unbiased, safe and supportive feedback. Part of the issue is we expect leaders to be savors and heroes. For them to ask for help or show vulnerability breaks the leadership-myth. All of us, leaders and followers, need to boldly share our brilliance as well as our bruises, to engage in positive change, not wait for an invitation.
Executive coaches’ help, but leaders need on-going support from people within their companies.
According the Daniel Pink in his book, Driven, this is the defining question of the baby boomer generation. He goes on to say:
“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the US alone as 78 million baby boomers, this means that each year more than four million Americans hit this soul-searching, life-pondering birthday. That’s more than 11,000 people each day, more than 450 every hour.
Every thirteen minutes another hundred people — members of the wealthiest and best-educated generation the world has ever known — begin reckoning with their mortality and asking deep questions about meaning, significance, and what they truly want.
One hundred people. Every thirteen minutes. Every hour. Of every day. Until 2024.
When the cold front of demographics meets the warm front of unrealized dreams, the result will be a thunderstorm of purpose the likes of which the world has never seen.“
“Gen X and Gen Y employees don’t have a solid work ethic.” “Baby boomers are slow to change.” “The younger generation is one of entitlement.” “The older generation values money over a quality work environment.”
You’ve heard these comments. You may have even made them. Whether they are true or not, baby boomers and younger workers are having trouble embracing one another.
At the last Arizona Leadership Forum we invited a group of baby boomers and college students to tackle the issue of how these two groups can work effectively together.
For reasons that include fear for our own well being, companies that measure and reward individual instead of team results, a new generation of employees who feel more entitled than their older peers, and a US culture that reveres individual success, it appears we’ve entered the age of narcissism.
Meetings have become the bane of business. How many of you have gone to a meeting and left asking yourself: “What was the point of that? Why was I invited? Will any actions take place as a result of this meeting?” Sometimes just getting people to meetings is a trick in itself. One company I worked with forced late arrivers to sing a song: incentivize promptness through embarrassment. Back in the 90s the amount and quality of food offered to employees at Microsoft determined how many people showed up for a meeting: Incentivize attendance through food.
So what is the cost to business when meetings are ineffective? Results from a recent national survey stated 69% of all meetings are considered unproductive. Factor in the average middle class income and the average number of meetings we sit in on each day, the cost to business for unproductive meetings is $44 per employee per day. That means a company with 200 employees could be losing $2.3 million annually in unproductive meetings. Wow!
The holidays are over and we’re tempted to do is what we do every January: Make resolutions for the New Year.
But let’s face it: How many of you acted on the resolutions you made last year? For many, great plans start with a bang but end with a fizzle. Why is this?
Why do well intentioned people set goals but don’t reach them? More importantly, what should we be doing instead? After 18 years of coaching executives, running strategic planning sessions and training people on leadership, this issue has come up quite a bit.
To see American management 20 years ago visit a company in India today. Like many other developing countries India imitates American business. Yes, U.S. businesses have leaped forward in many ways. But we’ve also taken several steps back. Today in this country, we often avoid conflict by tiptoeing around issues and discouraging debate. In an effort to be sensitive to others we’ve stopped speaking up.
My nephew’s wife, Netu, worked for a large financial firm in India. At her job in Delhi she tells of real teamwork, dynamic and open communication and the debate of ideas; American ideals, that two decades ago, were more of the norm than the exception in U.S. companies.
The Stephen Covey group hits the nail on the head when they describe the clash between day to day urgency with longer term goals. Urgency always wins and our strategy gets pushed back or dies of lack of attention. This short video has some great suggestions about how to keep focused on strategy while attending to the daily work of putting out fires and keeping the business going.