Monday, January 22nd, 2018

You Want Talent–Does Talent Want You?

Almost ten years ago, in my role as EVP of Organizational Development for a global food retailer, I brought together a group of fifteen Hi-Potential leaders from across the globe to Sweden for a Leadership College I had designed. The idea was to explore new ideas in a different culture from any where we had stores. We visited various companies to see what their business culture and financial models were like. The last exploration was at a local college in Stockholm. My team and I ran a daylong Future Search. This is a methodical way to talk about what future trends and needs and to get agreement on opportunity and action. (See Future Search by Marvin Weisbord and The Search Conference by Merrelyn Emery)

Our hi-potential leaders served as facilitators and observers during the day. The last bit of work had the visiting executives listen to the summaries of the work of the students. Our officers (men and women) all had on light color shirts and dark skirts or slacks. They looked like rumpled IBM employees of the 60’s. The students had morphed (not moved) away from assigned tables into a shapeless coagulation of people. The student group was colorful—hair, tattoos, clothes and language.

The future was there in front of us. Here is what these future employees wanted:

Work and home to blend totally. Anything done at work could be done at home and vice versa—hair salons at work, executive meetings from home, dogs under the desk, ping-pong in the hallway, performance reviews in the local coffee shop. They wanted no accountability for their time put in at work, only on their results.

In the workplace (if there was one) they wanted movable desks and office cycles so they could carry their work with them and cluster together as needed or disappear for some quiet work. Each cycle would have all the latest in technology on the dashboard.

The students thought they would work for 5-7 companies in their career over their life time. “Career” was a word they avoided and did not want it used about them. When they got bored or lacked stimulation for being creative, they imagined they would move on but NOT necessarily up. They assumed there would be breaks in employment for life events of all kinds.

The goal was to have a tailor made life with lots of flexibility. There would be no need for much policy. If an employee was sick, they would stay home until they were well. If they needed time off, they would take it. This would work because the whole team would be a company of people that would have one another’s backs.

The students didn’t mind leaders because some people have that talent. They didn’t think leaders should be paid much more than others. They did’nt want a flat organization but they wanted no shadow of power over others. The words they used instead of leader, when asked, were “orchestrator, facilitator, path finder, and jokingly, “a shepherd”.

These student/future employees were not terribly dedicated to any one product or industry. If they could use and develop their talent and have fun and flexibility, they were happy.

This list of requirements for work was created twelve years ago.Not sure we listened well enough to be ahead of the wave, because here is what is wanted today, especially by Milennials, but not only:

Two contributors to Forbes Kaytie Zimmerman and Larry Alton write recently about Millennials and what goes on as they mature and what will be needed to keep this very entreprenurial generation attracted and attached to large corporations.

They want good jobs in good companies—work that matters in companies that are exceedingly ready to give to the world and to the community. They want time off to volunteer and the company to be highly ethical and ecologically responsible. They want to have social impact.

Diversity and inclusion will be demanded. This is a generation of travel and contact with many different people. They don’t think present leadership has done a very good job. Diversity will not be a policy issue but one of company culture DNA.

Millennials want Employer Benefits that fit their values such as 529 Savings Plan for college for their kids and supports of time off to help with aging parents. The Millennials are very family oriented. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial Survey, they want “the stability of fulltime work and the flexibility of free lancing.

They want a very new kind of leadership. Power comes from collaboration and involvement and using talent to the fullest. It does not come from command and control. Leaders will need to be accessible and authentic and respectable. No scandals.

And guess what? Millennials are getting older and are settling down. They no longer job hop as easily as they did before marriage and kids. Those Millennials who have stayed in companies are heading to leadership roles and now have to figure out what to do about Generation Z which is a very confident, liberal, self-expressive and open to change bunch.

Progress? I think so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monday, January 15th, 2018

Leaders! This Is What We Want

Blind Spots of Power is the subtitle of this blog. In my work as EVP of Organizational Development I saw top leaders be unconscious of their impact. I, myself, was one of those top leaders who didn’t “get it” more often than I knew. That’s the double bind of the blind spots of power. You can’t always know your impact by trying, even with good intentions. I  had enlightening conversations after it was too late to know what would have been helpful to know earlier. That’s why I write this blog.

With or without good intentions, you often can’t see yourself as other’s do, and with top power in your hands, often people will not tell you. I am reminded again and again as I write this blog of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale called The Emperor Has on No Clothes. (See link at end of blog) The upshot is that the vain, self-centered Emperor walks through town naked and no one will tell him for fear of reprisal—except one little innocent boy who shouts, “The Emperor Has on No Clothes”. I am quite a bit older than that little boy, but I shout in my own way about the blind spots of power. Why? We need wide awake, self aware, leaders who know how to carry power without denial of reality or desire for self aggrandizement only.

Here are some of what we want from you:

We want you to be a real person so we enjoy your humor and your foibles. It makes you relatable. AND we also want you to be something a little more. Not quite so real as we are. Power adds a dimension that is not all bad. Please assume your power and carry it as the responsiblity it is. Have a touch of grace and dignity.

We want to be proud of you. You matter to us. When we see you interact or speak or walk through the halls we want to take pride in you. We want to see others outside our company or business respect you. We want to be proud to work for you.

We want you to understand our work, not just the resulting P&L of our effort, but the nitty gritty everydayness of what we do. We want you to know that most of us work hard and earnestly. Let us know that you understand the contribution of what we do.

We would like to be loyal and not feel stupid for being loyal. Knowing that it is safe to be loyal and that you return our loyalty adds a galvanizing force to what we can do. We understand sometimes wrenching changes are needed, but often they are not. Figure out how to create a workplace where being loyal is not stupid.

We want to understand your decisions and how and why they are made. They often seem preposterous. Talk to us, all of us, about high impact decisions. Even if you don’t like them, tell us why you have to make them. We are not dumb. We are practical. Own your decisions by sharing the process publically whenever you can. Share as a leader, leading, doing what needs to be done.

We are often afraid and anxious and distracted from the work of the company, because we worry about losing our jobs. You are in charge of our ability to have enough to care for ourselves and our families.

We are so much smarter than you think we are. We could sit in as part of your team and, if updated on events, could add a lot to the conversation. Use us as part of the big picture thinking. Don’t do it to placate us and make us ‘feel’ involved. Involve us in a real way for important  discussions when you can. You can figure out how to do this.

We need to feel you are in charge and have your arms around the whole business. We need to trust your competence even when you don’t have the answers. We want  to know that you are creating a path for our company to do good work and help everyone in the company prosper.

We know you struggle and are overwhelmed sometimes. We don’t expect perfection. We expect great effort with us in mind as the aspect of the company no one can copy. We are the unique human power and individual effort that can make or break the business.

Just saying—–

www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/…/TheEmperorsNewClothes_e.html

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Monday, January 8th, 2018

Keeping the Core Fit

I’m thinking about New Year’s resolutions and how they help pay the price for  the over indulgence of the holiday season. I’m thinking about how fitness and health is ‘in’ and ‘diet’ is out. I’m thinking about how big the investment is in New Year’s resolutions. Health clubs, gyms and eating plans (not diet) are joined with coaching and products to support new effort. And I’m thinking about how fast the enthusiasm and commitments dwindle.

Which leads me to think about you, CEO’s and top leaders, and what magic you have to work to go from vision, to strategy, to goals, to plans, to execution. I’m wondering about the over investment in the new “resolution” and the dwindling of commitment and concept as it goes through the journey to execution. Add to that the complexity of taking all those steps through every level of the organization with varying time lines and emphasis and no wonder effort and commitment might dwindle.

And, Ms or Mr CEO you have to be the core energy and core communicator and core protector of this work, this journey, this business path for your company—at each step and at each level. It is exactly the same as strengthening your core in working out. Your resolution can not fade. How fit are you and your company?

Here are some questions as food for thought for top business leaders  on the core work of every business  that needs constant refreshment as 2018 offers a new start

—How is your vitality level and individual excitement about the vision,strategy, goals, action plans and execution your company is manifesting. Where are you bored? Where are you unclear? Where do you need a booster shot, and where is the organization weak or stuck in any of these steps?

—How does you calendar support this basic work of your company? Where do you need to drop in to give clarity, support and demand? How do you increase company vitality and enthusiasm about the core work.

—How fit and healhy is your company culture. Is it out of balance with either ‘nice’ and ‘fun’ or ‘command and control’ as it’s mantra?  Does your culture keep a focus on the work as satisfying, worth the effort and enhancing learning and talent? Does the culture have its own momentum about the business and its unique value?

—How can you touch your company to take its pulse and not rely on second hand information. I’ve never known a CEO that didn’t get energized and educated by a day in the field with customers and the people who serve them. How can you make decisions without this grit?

—Where and with whom can you tell yourself the truth about your own doubts and stress so that you can be lighter and more optimistic as you give to the people of your company.

—Who do you think about the most? The Board? The Stockholders? The customers? The associates? Where does your focus need to be for this coming year?

—What kind of support and tools do you need to keep the path clear from Vision to Execution and to remind yourself that all else is noise and distraction?

I offer these questions as nutrients for fitness. May your year be well focused and meaningful and profitable for all.

 

 

 

 

I’m thinking about New Year’s resolutions and how they help pay the price and deny the over indulgence of the holiday season. I’m thinking about how fitness and health is ‘in’ and ‘diet’ is out. I’m thinking about how big the investment is New Year’s resolutions. Health clubs, gyms and eating plans (not diet) are joined with coaching and products to support new effort. And I’m thinking about how fast the enthusiasm and commitments dwindle.

 

And I think about you, CEO’s and top leaders, and what magic you have to work to go from vision, to strategy, to goals, to plans, to execution. I’m wondering about the over investment in the new “resolution” and the dwindling of commitment and concept as it goes through the journey to execution. Add to that the complexity of taking all those steps through every level of the organization with varying time lines and emphasis and no wonder effort and commitment might dwindle. How fit are you and your company?

 

And, Ms or Mr CEO you have to be the core energy and core communicator and core protector of this work, this journey, this business path for your company—at each step and at each level. It is exactly the same as working on your core in working out. Your resolution can not dwindle.

 

 

Here are some questions for top leaders for the core work of every business that needs constant refreshment as 2018 offers a new start

 

—How is your vitality level and individual excitement about the vision,strategy, goals, action plans and execution your company is manifesting. Where are you bored? Where are you unclear? Where do you need a booster shot, where is the organization weak or stuck in any of these steps?

 

—How does you calendar support this basic work of your company? Where do you need to drop in to give clarity, support and demand. How do you inc rease company vitality and enthusiasm about the work.

 

—How fit and healhy is your company culture. Is it out of balance with either ‘nice’ and ‘fun’ or ‘command and control’? Does your culture keep a focus on the work as satisfying, worth the effort and enhancing learning and talent? Does the culture have its own momentum about the work and its unique value?

 

—How can you touch your company to take its pulse and not rely on second hand information. I’ve never known a CEO that didn’t get energized and educated by a day in the field with customers and the people who serve them. How can you make decisions without this grit?

 

—Where and with whom can you tell yourself the truth about your own doubts and stress so that you can be lighter and more optimistic as you give to the people of your company.

 

—Who do you think about the most? The Board? The Stockholders? The customers? The associates? Where does your focus need to be for this coming year?

 

—What kind of support and tools do you need to keep the path clear from Vision to Execution and to remind yourself that all else is noise and distraction?

 

May your year be well focused and meaningful and profitable for all.

 

 

 

 

I’m thinking about New Year’s resolutions and how they help pay the price and deny the over indulgence of the holiday season. I’m thinking about how fitness and health is ‘in’ and ‘diet’ is out. I’m thinking about how big the investment is New Year’s resolutions. Health clubs, gyms and eating plans (not diet) are joined with coaching and products to support new effort. And I’m thinking about how fast the enthusiasm and commitments dwindle.

 

And I think about you, CEO’s and top leaders, and what magic you have to work to go from vision, to strategy, to goals, to plans, to execution. I’m wondering about the over investment in the new “resolution” and the dwindling of commitment and concept as it goes through the journey to execution. Add to that the complexity of taking all those steps through every level of the organization with varying time lines and emphasis and no wonder effort and commitment might dwindle. How fit are you and your company?

 

And, Ms or Mr CEO you have to be the core energy and core communicator and core protector of this work, this journey, this business path for your company—at each step and at each level. It is exactly the same as working on your core in working out. Your resolution can not dwindle.

 

 

Here are some questions for top leaders for the core work of every business that needs constant refreshment as 2018 offers a new start

 

—How is your vitality level and individual excitement about the vision,strategy, goals, action plans and execution your company is manifesting. Where are you bored? Where are you unclear? Where do you need a booster shot, where is the organization weak or stuck in any of these steps?

 

—How does you calendar support this basic work of your company? Where do you need to drop in to give clarity, support and demand. How do you inc rease company vitality and enthusiasm about the work.

 

—How fit and healhy is your company culture. Is it out of balance with either ‘nice’ and ‘fun’ or ‘command and control’? Does your culture keep a focus on the work as satisfying, worth the effort and enhancing learning and talent? Does the culture have its own momentum about the work and its unique value?

 

—How can you touch your company to take its pulse and not rely on second hand information. I’ve never known a CEO that didn’t get energized and educated by a day in the field with customers and the people who serve them. How can you make decisions without this grit?

 

—Where and with whom can you tell yourself the truth about your own doubts and stress so that you can be lighter and more optimistic as you give to the people of your company.

 

—Who do you think about the most? The Board? The Stockholders? The customers? The associates? Where does your focus need to be for this coming year?

 

—What kind of support and tools do you need to keep the path clear from Vision to Execution and to remind yourself that all else is noise and distraction?

 

May your year be well focused and meaningful and profitable for all.

 

 

 

 

 

0 Comments

Monday, December 25th, 2017

Practice Being Present

The practice of being “on” and “productive” and “controlling” is not only in the role of top executive. It is also in the person. I’m practicingbeing present myself as I say nothing more in order to play Sponge Bob Square Pants with my granddaughter who is waiting to go downstairs to see what Santa brought. Good luck to those who practice being present with me,

On Sabbatical until January 8th.

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