Followership – 4 Tips to be a Great Team Player
These four tips will help you show really good followership, which is the core of great leadership, as well as show that you've got great teamwork skills.

Followership – 4 Tips to be a Great Team Player

In our last post, we talked about how managers can understand Millennials, as well as build strong working relationships with them. Working relationships and respect are a two-way street. This week we’ll talk about how to be a great follower and team player. This is important for everyone, no matter what generation. Whether you’re Millennial, Boomer or Gen X, these tips are going to help you be a great team player. Even if you own your own business, you are still responsive to customers, clients, and possibly even investors. These four tips will help you show really good followership, which is the core of great leadership, as well as show that you’ve got great teamwork skills.

Followership Tip #1 – Know Your Organization’s Mission

We all get really head-down sometimes working on our tasks. Sometimes we divert in a direction that’s not really productive because we’ve lost focus on our mission. We focus so much on details, we forget we’re serving a larger purpose. That’s why we’re part of a team, to achieve something that we couldn’t do on our own. Recognize what your organization’s mission is. Focus your efforts on enhancing that mission. Don’t be afraid to speak up if an idea doesn’t align with the mission. Work with the people around you to ensure all your ideas and efforts serve your organization’s mission.

Followership Tip #2 – Know What Your Boss is Held Accountable For

Do you know how your organization measures your team for success? You may all be working towards a stated mission, but your team leader might be accountable for things outside of what your awareness. Your boss’s boss may be measuring the success of your team and your leader on other factors. What is your boss held accountable for? It may not just be what’s going on your team. Understand the metrics used to measure your team. Keep track of the metrics that senior leadership uses to measure success for the whole organization. You will learn how your leadership makes decisions as well as how to present your ideas so they will be well received.

Followership Tip #2 – Show Initiative

There’s always a lot of tasks to do in any organization. We all appreciate the people who step up and do them. Those people show strong leadership potential and we select them to be team leaders in the future. Find uncompleted tasks and do them. Don’t worry if it’s not in your job description. Or put together a small team inside your team to get it done. This comes back to what your boss is held accountable for. If there are things that are falling by the wayside, show some initiative and get them done. Show senior leadership you’ll be a great leader by exhibiting good followership.

Followership Tip #4 – Present Fully Formed Ideas

Last week we talked about how leaders should be coaching and mentoring young Millennials to fully form ideas before presenting them. Ask for mentoring and coaching, but also try to meet your boss halfway. Be as thorough as you can when you put together ideas to pitch to your boss. Recognize what the impacts will be, not just to you, but to your team as a whole. Also, consider impacts to other stakeholders outside of your team. Define those impacts in terms of money, time or any other important metrics, as well as solicit the perspectives of others. Talk with the other teams and find out how your proposal will impact them. Will they support your proposal? Bring all the relevant information and perspectives together and present it in a clear and easily understandable format. This will help you make a very strong case for your idea to your boss.

Followership is the core of leadership. In the Air Force, we worked very hard to create great followers that understood the principles of good leadership and became great leaders later on. and I hope that works for you too. Next time you want to propose something to your boss use these tips to make a strong case. Show initiative and put together a really well thought out plan. By meeting your boss halfway, you’ll have more conversations about great ideas, instead of just getting quick yes or no answers.

Managing up isn't just about getting our boss to accept our proposals. We need to build trust that we will act in the best interest of the organization.

Managing Up – 3 Tips for Managing Your Boss

Often, as leaders, we get wrapped up in day-to-day problems and leading our own team. We sometimes forget how important managing up is. We need to build strong relationships with our boss and our boss’s boss in order to lead effectively.

Effective leaders do more than just manage their team. They build strong working relationships their leadership up the chain. Managing up isn’t just about getting the boss to accept our proposals. We need to build trust that we will act in the best interest of the organization.

When I was a young Air Force Captain, I was working on a project and had to go see the Wing Commander. I had put together a few options but wasn’t really sure which one to choose. I went to the meeting and asked him what he wanted to do. He looked at me and said, “Jason I’m a Colonel, you’re a captain. You’re the project officer. Figure it out.” He then explained that he wasn’t trying to be harsh, but rather that he trusted me. As the expert, I should be recommending to him what the best alternative is. That experience taught me what managing up is all about. Bring solutions to the boss instead of just bringing problems or questions.

Managing Up Tip #1 – Bring Solutions, Not Problems

Effective leaders will go to the boss and present the problem, their thought process and their preferred solution along with several alternatives. Go to your boss with some solutions in mind. Don’t just bring more problems. The boss already has plenty of problems on his plate, we don’t need to bring him more. You show initiative by providing several solutions and build trust by showing that you have the best interests organization at heart.

Managing Up Tip #2 – Solve Your Boss’s Problems

Don’t just solve your own problems. Solve your boss’s problems. When you talk to the boss about a problem and how you’re going to solve it, think about the way your boss thinks about it. Consider their concerns they have across all of the groups they manage, not just your team. Also, be aware of the requirements that are placed on your boss from above. If you can solve your boss’s problems they know they have one, you’re effectively managing up. Your boss is going to trust you and see that you have that initiative to accomplish the mission and do what’s right for the organization.

Managing Up Tip #3 – The One Challenge Rule

What if your boss completely shuts you down on the solution you presented? That happens sometimes and we need to deal with it tactfully. In this case, you can use the one challenge rule to effectively manage up. You don’t want to argue with your boss over the right thing to do. After the decision, if you believe they are making a mistake, take one opportunity to say so. Lay out your case respectfully and calmly in a logical way. The boss may change their mind or decide to go with the original decision. Either way, you made your case and the boss will respect that you tried to do the right thing for the organization. Once the decision is made, go execute according to the boss’s guidance even if you didn’t get your way.

Next time you’re getting ready to pitch one of your ideas to your boss even further up the chain, think about these three tips before you go into the meeting. Remember, we’re trying to build a strong working relationship with our boss and all of the leaders in our organization. We want to build trust by showing them that we’re focused on our mission as well as what’s in the best interest of the organization.

Following the chain of command can be slow and painful, but there are some advantages. When you understand the chain of command, you can use those experiences to improve your own leadership skills.

Chain of Command – 3 Tips to Make it Work for You

Following the chain of command can be slow and painful, but there are some advantages. When you understand the chain of command, you can use those experiences to improve your own leadership skills.

While I was in the Air Force one of my assignments was rapid prototyping and testing of new capabilities. It was exciting and rewarding, but there was a lot of risk. We had to go through a lot of levels in the chain of command to get approval for our projects. When I first started this job, it was incredibly frustrating. But I learned over time that I was getting huge benefits by working through the chain of command. That experience forced me to understand the needs and interests of each leader in the chain. If you feel like you’re hitting your head against the wall with your chain of command, here are three things to consider of how it benefits your career instead of feeling like its holding you back.

Chain of Command Benefit #1: Improve Your Critical Thinking

Bosses ask a lot of questions and it can be kind of annoying sometimes. They ask these questions because they have concerns you may not be aware of. Answering these questions helps us get to the best optimal solution for the organization. It may not be the best or most convenient solution for you, but listening carefully to their questions and answering them thoroughly will set you up for success. Keep track of the questions that certain decision makers in your chain, or even out of your chain, ask. Chances are they ask the same ones over and over again because the same concern comes up on every project. If you already have a good idea what questions they will ask when you bring your next project, you can address it thoroughly in your first presentation to them and solve their problem before they even know they have one.

Chain of Command Benefit #2: Build Strong Relationships

When anticipating the questions your chain of command may ask, you may wonder how to get those answers? Building relationships with other parts of your organization will help you gather the information you need. To successfully navigate your chain of command for approval you’ll want to get the perspective of the other departments on how your proposal will affect others. Addressing all of those issues is daunting, but you can get the answers from people who work with them daily. Get out there, make friends with people in other departments. As you’re working on your proposal, talk about it with them. See if it causes any problems in their department. Ask how they can be fixed and if they can support that solution. Now, when you approach your chain of command, you can show that you understand the perspective of others and you’re working with them on the solution.

Chain of Command Benefit #3: Prepare Yourself to be a Boss

Developing your critical thinking and building these relationships provides a third benefit. All this effort and experience is preparing you to be a boss someday. Learning about the problems that the leaders up your chain have gets you thinking about them today and how you might solve them if you were in their position. Having the relationships with other departments already in place will smooth your transition into a position of more responsibility.

So those are the 3 ways you can think about how working through your chain of command benefits you instead of thinking of it as a burden. This still applied even if you don’t plan to stay in your current company forever. If you change jobs you’ll still have the critical thinking and relationship building skills that will help you be one of the great leaders of tomorrow!

 

Challenging the status-quo often runs into cultural norms and perspectives that have been in place in the organization for a very long time. Asking our team to change the way they do things, where they sit, or who they work with is often like asking people to change their identity. This kind of change is understandable very difficult for most people. As leaders, we need to recognize just how difficult this is and compassionately lead our team through the changes ahead. When we see an area that needs improvement, asking a few key questions before making any changes can help determine if change is necessary and how to get our team through it.

Status-Quo – How to Keep it from Holding You Back

“That’s the way we’ve always done it.” I’ve fought against those words for most of my career.  As leaders we often want to improve our teams and keep them from being held back by outdated practices. I know how it feels to come up against the resistance from others when we see better ways of accomplishing our mission. When we challenge the status-quo, it’s usually because we want to make things better for our team, not worse. If this is really our primary interest in making a change, then it’s helpful for us to understand what causes this resistance and makes the status-quo so powerful.

Challenging the status-quo often runs into cultural norms and perspectives that have been in place in the organization for a very long time. Asking our team to change the way they do things, where they sit, or who they work with is often like asking people to change their identity. This kind of change is understandable very difficult for most people. As leaders, we need to recognize just how difficult this is and compassionately  lead our team through the changes ahead. When we see an area that needs improvement, asking a few key questions before making any changes can help determine if change is necessary and how to get our team through it.

Questions for Challenging the Status-Quo

  • “What if?” helps us to think about outcomes that might be better than the current outcomes
  • “Why?” helps us to identify challenges we may face as we try to bring about change 
  • “Who? Where? When? How?” help us put together details that will make the change a reality

It’s possible to answer these questions and decide that no changes to the status-quo are necessary at this time. Also, we could decide that the solution will create so much dissatisfaction that an alternate solution might be better. Change for the sake of change has destroyed many teams even though the intentions behind it were initially very good.

The take-home lesson today is that even though change is difficult for many people, as leaders, we can’t be afraid to challenge long-held ideas or practices that no longer serve our mission. We must approach change in a thoughtful and empathetic way to get the improvement we are looking for.

This week we're going to shift the focus to a way that we can act courageously to complement the mindset we've started to develop. Avoiding groupthink is a problem that every team faces and it takes courageous leaders and followers to point out when it occurs and correct it.

Avoiding Groupthink – Video Guide

I hope everyone had a peaceful Memorial Day weekend and got to spend time with family and friends as we all remember the sacrifices that great men and women made in service of our nation. We’re wrapping up our month discussing topics about being courageous leaders. So far we’ve mostly talked about how to get in a healthy frame of mind to help us act courageously so that we can solve problems and make decisions courageously. This week we’re going to shift the focus to a way that we can act courageously to complement the mindset we’ve started to develop. Avoiding groupthink is a problem that every team faces and it takes courageous leaders and followers to point out when it occurs and correct it.

Groupthink occurs when members of the team are afraid to speak up or hold back information that is critical to the discussion because there may be social consequences for speaking out against the group. It can be very challenging for many people to contradict a position that the group has arrived at, especially if we are new in the group or we think that what we have to say will be unpopular with the other team members. As leaders, our job is to watch out for groupthink on out teams and cut through it to make sure that we’re getting all of the relevant information to make decisions.

In this week’s video, Jason discusses why avoiding groupthink is important for every team and describes some methods that we can use to recognize and avoid groupthink.

Avoiding Groupthink as Team Members

  • Speak up!
  • Include all relevant information
  • Be respectful of others
  • Employ Intellectual Honesty
  • Encourage others to speak up

Avoiding Groupthink as Leaders

  • Be prepared and research the topic
  • Understand different stakeholder interests
  • Insist that assertions are supported with evidence
  • Ask probing questions
  • Actively solicit information and perspective from quiet individuals
  • Consider the decision carefully before implementing

It’s also true that in many cases a group can reach a decision with a consensus without getting caught up in groupthink. Just because our team might come to an answer quickly and unanimously doesn’t mean that we have encountered a groupthink situation. As leaders, what we really want to ensure is that the group arrived at the result through a rational decision-making process and employed intellectual honesty in coming to a resolution.

Photo Credit: By Shane T. McCoy (U.S. Marshals Office of Public Affairs) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A common misconception is that someone is either a leader or a follower. The reality is that most of us engage in both followership and leadership at the same time. We may lead our team, but have to answer to another leader in our organization. Even CEOs and business owners often have a board or shareholders that they are accountable to. The good news about this dual nature that we find ourselves in is that the qualities that make a good follower are ones that help develop us to become great leaders. Patience, respect and trust are three of these traits.

Followership and Leadership – 3 Traits That Help Us with Both

A common misconception is that someone is either a leader or a follower. The reality is that most of us engage in both followership and leadership at the same time. We may lead our team, but have to answer to another leader in our organization. Even CEOs and business owners often have a board or shareholders that they are accountable to. The good news about this dual nature that we find ourselves in is that the qualities that make a good follower are ones that help develop us to become great leaders. Patience, respect and trust are three of these traits.

Patience in Followership and Leadership

Patience is essential to achieving our goals. While it’s important to hustle and work hard, it’s also important to take some time to see if our actions are having the desired effect. Not all reactions to our actions are immediate and making adjustments to our plans too quickly can have more detrimental effects than staying the course.

As followers, exercising some patience with those who lead us allows them time to be deliberate and think through a problem in their decision-making process. While we may be anxious to start implementing the solution we have proposed to whatever issue is facing our organization, giving our leadership time to thoroughly consider options and impacts on the organization will ultimately result in better solutions. On a more personal note, having patience allows us to appreciate the moments when there isn’t a major intense crisis going on.

Great leaders recognize that being patient allows us to take time to let our initiatives and decisions work before correcting. Often implementing the solution to a problem is like trying to turn a very large ship around. After we start to turn the wheel, it will take some time and distance before we’ll see the ship start to turn. It will turn slowly at first, but eventually we’ll be headed in the direction we want. If we aren’t patient and turn too hard to make the ship turn faster, we will overshoot the course we want to be on and have to correct back to get back on course. Showing patience with the members of our team as they work through problems gives them more opportunities to grow and develop than if we hand them our preferred solution up front.

Respect – A Two-Way Street

Respect is key to building strong professional relationships among teams and between leaders and followers. Without respect, individuals can feel alienated and start to act in their own interests instead of those of the team or accomplishing the mission. When we are a member of a team and a good follower, showing respect for others on the team and our team leader creates an environment where it is safe for individuals to share their ideas and build upon them. Fostering respect on the team ultimately results in optimized processes and operations that help us better achieve our mission. Team leaders are responsible to build this culture of respect by setting the example of respectful behavior. Allowing individuals to present their ideas and be given full consideration goes a long way towards building respect among the team. As leaders, one of the best ways we can foster respect on our team is to provide constructive feedback and insisting the other members of the team do the same, even if the ideas presented are not fully formed or on the mark.

Trust

Much like respect, trust is essential to a team that wants to perform at the highest levels. Having trust in others on our team means letting them engage in their part of the effort without judgment. They may not do the job the way we would do it or as effectively as we think they should, but if the team is meeting the goals and accomplishing the mission, we can trust them to do their part. If we are team leaders and there is a lack of trust on our team, members start to hold back on ideas, engage in private conversations that don’t include all stakeholders and jockey for favor. When the team doesn’t have trust in their leader, individuals may put forth only the bare minimum effort or, in some cases, actively work against the leader or go over their head to higher management. Building trust in our teams involves letting people make mistakes and correct the situation. Leaders will always need to provide corrective feedback and in some cases remove a team member who is not performing, but having trust in our team members when they are making good faith efforts to contribute will build a stronger team that shows initiative and puts in the extra work when it is needed.

Patience, respect and trust are key traits that are needed by both followers and leaders to build successful, high-performing teams. We can actively become better followers and leaders at the same time by consciously exhibiting behaviors that are consistent with all three of these qualities.

Tell us in the comments what other good follower traits help with developing our leadership skills.

Photo Credit: By Thomas Wilson Pratt Slatin, http://www.tomslatin.com/ (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

We all know the importance of good followership and showing trust and respect for the leaders who are appointed above us in our organizations. Sometimes we can experience an internal conflict when we disagree with a decision that our boss has made. We want to be good followers and support the decision, but also are concerned that the decision might actually prevent our organization from effectively accomplishing the mission. A tool that we have to deal with this is called the "One Challenge Rule" and it gives us an opportunity to respectfully approach the boss to voice our concerns. Used effectively, the One Challenge Rule lets us demonstrate good followership in a tough situation while still helping us look out for the best interests of our organization.

Good Followership

It’s pretty hard to come up with the name of a leader who started out at the top of their field. Almost everyone that we would consider to be a great leader started at some kind of entry level position and developed their leadership skills and technical expertise in order to gain positions of increasing responsibility. Working for other leaders gives us an opportunity to study leadership and develop our own leadership philosophy and style by observing the way others lead. Exercising good followership in our organizations is just as important to our professional development as looking for opportunities to lead others.

Good Followership and the One Challenge Rule

We all know the importance of good followership and showing trust and respect for the leaders who are appointed above us in our organizations. Sometimes we can experience an internal conflict when we disagree with a decision that our boss has made. We want to be good followers and support the decision, but also are concerned that the decision might actually prevent our organization from effectively accomplishing the mission. A tool that we have to deal with this is called the “One Challenge Rule” and it gives us an opportunity to respectfully approach the boss to voice our concerns. Used effectively, the One Challenge Rule lets us demonstrate good followership in a tough situation while still helping us look out for the best interests of our organization.

Innovate in a Stagnant Environment

Innovate in a Stagnant Environment – Here’s How!

Every boss claims they want innovation, but many don’t live up to the words they preach. For some it may be an aversion to risk, for others it may be out of their comfort zone to make improvements when the status quo is already working. How can we continue to innovate and improve our products and team members’ professional lives when faced with stagnation or resistance? How do we help improve the organization while still being good followers to senior leadership that is reluctant to innovate?

Small Changes/Small Victories

The most effective thing we can do is make small improvements that are within our own authority. Listen to your own team and see what suggestions they have that sound like they will make even minor improvements to effectiveness, productivity or communication. If it’s within your own purview to make the change on your team, go ahead and do it. Set a short fixed timeframe (a week, a month, 3 months) to evaluate it and the next leader in your chain know that you’re doing a trial evaluation of the initiative and you’ll let them know the results when it’s over. If it turns out to be unsuccessful, return to the old way of doing things and call it a learning experience. If it does work, share your results with your peers and other team leads.

Choose your opportunities wisely

There may be times when very senior leaders put out a call for innovative ideas or ask informally how you think the organization should be improved. These can be great opportunities if handled properly, but dangerous traps if they aren’t. Don’t leave your boss out in the cold when these situations arise. By pulling your boss in you can show that you have fresh ideas for the company but also show him and his superiors that you are looking out for all of them and trying to find ways to solve their problems. It can be as simple as telling that senior leader, “I have this great idea about X and my boss and I will get on your calendar to come fill you in on the details when you are available.”

Show the impact!

Showing tangible improvements is the best way to make sure your innovative ideas get adopted across the organization. If you can show a reduced cost, shorter time, or higher performance as a result of your initiative you’ll have strong evidence that you and your team have the organization’s best interest in mind. Being able to use metrics and data helps make your case, but be sure that you’re using the right metrics to show cause and effect. Many people lose credibility by trying to force data to fit their conclusions or apply metrics they don’t really understand to the situation. One of the best questions you can ask yourself before adopting an innovative idea is “How will I know this is successful and how can I measure it?”

These are ways I’ve seen innovation be successfully implemented from the bottom up, but the results may vary in your organization. If you think that these steps might work for you, but you want to talk through your strategy and the personalities involved with someone before taking the big step, feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to discuss and see if we can set you and your boss up for success!

 

Photo Credit: Alexander Blum (www.alexanderblum.de) [Attribution], <a href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AStau.jpg”>via Wikimedia Commons</a>

Why YOU Should Take On the Tough Projects No One Else Wants!

Every team or organization has some tough projects that no one wants to be in charge of. They may be perceived as a lot of work with little reward, may not be as prestigious as other projects or may be thankless jobs. Maybe a few others have tried to get it done and have failed. If you really want to develop and hone your leadership and team-building skills, you should jump on the next one of these that comes along!

Wait…What? Take on the tough project that everyone is hoping goes to someone else? What if I can’t pull it off? Here’s why you should try to see these challenging projects as an opportunity.

  • You’ll have to convince yourself that the project is worth doing in order to keep your project alive. In order to do this you’ll need to be acutely aware of how your project fits into the big picture for the organization. Understanding your boss’s priorities, concerns and willingness to take risks is a key component of this understanding. Asking yourself the tough questions your boss would ask you before he or she does is a good way to start aligning your project with those priorities and concerns.
  • You’ll have to develop your negotiation skills. If your project is unpopular, you may have to motivate a team that is probably not as invested in the success of the project as you would like. Convincing naysayers that this project is worth the effort for the payoff that it will bring to the organization is always a challenge. Finding a way to stay positive while dealing with others who have a negative mindset is a valuable skill that translates well into future efforts.
  • You’ll have to scramble and bootstrap for resources. Tough, unpopular projects are often tough and unpopular because they come with huge challenges but not enough people or money resources to accomplish them. Finding creative ways to acquire or share resources can provide some initial successes for your project and open the door for resource discussions in the future,
  • You’ll learn how to innovate new solutions to attack a problem. Many tough projects have languished for months or years because other leaders have attempted to solve a unique problem with the same problem solving model the organization has relied on in the past. Applying a different approach to solving the problem could crack the whole thing wide open.
  • You’ll learn to build relationships with the people who really control what is going on in your organization. Every organization has critical people or departments like finance, legal or human resources that can make or break a new initiative. Get to know these people early in your project and what concerns they will have about it. Addressing their needs in a genuine way from the beginning will increase your chances of success with them later on. Having a strong professional relationship will allow you to ask for their help or input when you are stumped on how best to meet their needs.
  • Finally, it will force you to find a way to continue the project in the face of adversity. Overcoming barriers to achieve success is one of the greatest confidence builders you can ever hope to have.

Taking on a project that no one else wants can be one of the best learning experiences you’ll ever get. If you accept the challenge and use this opportunity to up your game as a leader you have a good chance at completing this undesirable project successfully. Completing a tough project successfully is the best argument you can make for being given the next super sexy project that is up for grabs!

Discussion question: What other skills/traits have you developed by taking on tough projects nobody else wanted?

Photo Credit: By LaurMG. (Cropped from “File:Frustrated man at a desk.jpg”.) [<a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0″>CC-BY-SA-3.0</a>], <a href=”http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AFrustrated_man_at_a_desk_(cropped).jpg”>via Wikimedia Commons</a>

Leading Millennials and Beyond

One of the topics I often discuss with my colleagues, mentors and the individuals that I coach is the role that younger people are taking in the workplace. Some of the folks I talk with have very strong opinions about these younger cohorts, especially Millennials. I don’t want to get into labelling certain groups of people (although I kind of already have), but despite opinions, the younger generations are entering the workplace, or will be very soon. The challenge for today’s leaders is to determine how we can motivate and lead the younger people coming along as well as how we can grow them into high quality leaders of tomorrow. In order to do that it’s helpful to understand the background and mindset of our younger team members.

A few weeks ago Beloit College released their “Mindset List” for their incoming class of 2018. Beloit has been putting out the Mindset List every year since 1998 to help their faculty and staff understand the “cultural touchstones and experiences that have shaped the worldview of students entering colleges and universities.” (McBride & Nief, 2014) While this list is mostly just entertaining and doesn’t have a lot of direct bearing on how we lead our teams today, in several years these students will be entering our workforce and we will need to be able to lead them effectively and develop them professionally once they arrive.

A few items I found interesting on this year’s list:

  • The water cooler is no longer the workplace social center; it’s the place to fill your water bottle.
  • There has always been “TV” designed to be watched exclusively on the web.
  • “Good feedback” means getting 30 likes on your last Facebook post in a single afternoon.

 

From the list for the class of 2015 (just about to graduate and enter the workforce)

  • The only significant labor disputes in their lifetimes have been in major league sports.
  • As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.
  • Their school’s “blackboards” have always been getting smarter.
  • More Americans have always traveled to Latin America than to Europe.
  • They’ve always been able to dismiss boring old ideas with “been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt.”
  • They won’t go near a retailer that lacks a website.

 

And from the list for the class of 2010 (those who have been in the workforce a few years and are just starting to take leadership roles)

  • They are wireless, yet always connected.
  • Text messaging is their email.
  • They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on television.
  • They have always preferred going out in groups as opposed to dating.

 

So what does this mean for us as the leaders of these individuals? Primarily it means that the ways that we have developed organizational culture, adapted to new technology, and offered rewards and incentives may need to be re-evaluated. Collaboration in the future will definitely mean more than meetings in conference rooms and offsite retreats.

This doesn’t mean we have to accommodate every request that our younger team members make, but it might help balance their requests with other requirements if we can see the perspective that they’re coming from. As always, at some point the mission has to come first, but there may be ways to get the mission done better, smarter or faster by considering the “younger” perspective.

Also, a piece of advice for the younger folks coming along (just in case you thought you were off the hook). Understanding and communication are a two-way street and it is just as important to be a good follower as a good leader. Take some time to understand where your colleagues who have been around a bit longer are coming from. Unfortunately, Beloit didn’t start the Mindset list until 1998 so you might have to do some research to find out what makes us tick. I promise it will be worth the effort!

 

Discussion topics: What tensions exist between different age groups on your team? What perspectives have you gained from another age group that greatly assisted you in getting your mission accomplished?

References

McBride, T., & Nief, R. (2014). The Mindset List. Retrieved from Beloit College: http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/

 

Photo Credit: “US Navy 101028-N-8590G-005 Katy Jo Muncie, a law student, holds the ship’s wheel at the helm aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS The Sullivans'” by U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Gary Granger Jr. – This Image was released by the United States Navy with the ID 101028-N-8590G-005 (next).This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.বাংলা | Deutsch | English | español | euskara | فارسی | français | italiano | 日本語 | 한국어 | македонски | മലയാളം | Plattdüütsch | Nederlands | polski | português | Türkçe | 中文 | 中文(简体)‎ | +/−. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_101028-N-8590G-005_Katy_Jo_Muncie,_a_law_student,_holds_the_ship%27s_wheel_at_the_helm_aboard_the_guided-missile_destroyer_USS_The_Sullivans%27.jpg#mediaviewer/File:US_Navy_101028-N-8590G-005_Katy_Jo_Muncie,_a_law_student,_holds_the_ship%27s_wheel_at_the_helm_aboard_the_guided-missile_destroyer_USS_The_Sullivans%27.jpg

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