Different Leadership

Much has been written about the differences in various generational groups. Especially the vast differences when it comes to leading Millennials. 

 

But new information has recently come to light that reveals some surprising insights into who this mysterious demographic actually is. As it turns out, they are people! And they are people who have more in common with other age groups than you might think. 

 

If you’re leading Millennials it might be good if you knew something about them, something that’s actually true. 

 

Millennials now make up the largest generation in the workforce. They are beginning to assume leadership roles of their own within organizations. Their impact grows by the day. 

 

Millennials’ goals are surprisingly similar to older generations. 25% want to make a positive impact on their organization verses 23% of Boomers. 22% of Millennials want to help solve social and environmental challenges vs 24% of Boomers.

 

Most older generations assume that Millennials want to do everything online yet when surveyed Millennials say their top three preferences for learning new skills at work are physical, not virtual. They would prefer to attend a third-party sponsored conference, attend in-person classroom training or work alongside knowledgeable colleagues. 

 

Everybody knows that Millennials want constant acclaim and they think everyone on the team should get a trophy. Everybody knows that except Millennials. 

 

The facts say that 35% of Millennials simply want fair and ethical treatment. 35% want to work in a transparent environment where relevant information is willingly shared and 29% want to work in an environment where their actual accomplishments are recognized. That sounds an awful lot like Boomers to me!

 

You need to be careful when investing in Millennials because they are more likely to jump ship if a position doesn’t fulfill their needs, right? Well, not exactly. 

 

Employees of each generation share the same reasons for changing organizations. 47% of Gen X’ers leave a company for more money or a more creative environment. That number is 42% for Boomers and …. are you ready for it…. 42% for Millennials. 

 

There are obviously differences between the generations but there always has been. This is nothing new. As a leader you must educate yourself on what those differences mean to your organization and understand how you can actually use those differences to build a stronger team. You must also realize that overall, there are more commonalities than differences.

 

Millennials aren’t lazy, they aren’t disloyal, they aren’t any needier when it comes to recognition than any other age group. If you focus on the differences between groups of people you’ll find them. If you view “different” as bad it will be bad, if you view different as an opportunity then that’s what it will be.

 

While you should be aware of the differences between generations what you really need to be aware of are the differences within the generations. Lumping all Millennials into one group and trying to lead every member of that group the same way is a huge mistake. Just as it would be to lead every member of any generation exactly the same. 

 

You cannot lead everyone the same because everyone is different…even within generational groups. You need different leadership for different people.

 

The most effective leaders talk with their people often enough to truly understand their differences, they ask questions until they grasp what makes each person unique. Then they lead them in such as way as to help them succeed. 


It’s a lot of work to lead everyone differently but it’s really the only way to lead authentically. If your people aren’t worth the time it takes to truly get to know them then I’m sorry to say that you may not have time to lead. 

The Bad Habit of Excuse Making

Making excuses is habit forming and it’s as destructive a habit as almost any habit you could have. If you’re working for someone who accepts your excuses then you’re working for someone who is doing you a tremendous disservice. 

 

If you’re a leader do not accept “can’t” from the people you influence. Rather help them turn their can’t into can by focusing on what is possible. Don’t allow the people who you claim to lead to use the fact that they can’t do it all, as an excuse to do less than they possibly can.

 

There is only so much time in a day and when it’s spent making excuses then it’s not invested in making progress. 

 

And speaking of time, that is the worst excuse of all, because no one in this world has more time than you. (Before you tell yourself that’s not true stop for a moment and think about it) You absolutely do not lack time, what you most likely lack is the ability to prioritize and the ability to distinguish between what’s merely urgent and what’s truly important.

 

People who lack these abilities usually end up doing the easy stuff that accomplishes little while finding excuses for not doing the more difficult things that can lead to greatness. They feel busy because they are doing “stuff” all day long but if they are honest with themselves at the end of the day they will realize that most of that “stuff” was just a distraction from what they actually should have been doing.

 

The real problem starts when you begin believing your own excuses. Take the “not enough time” excuse as an example… you feel pressured because you “can’t” get everything you want done when you want. You spend a great deal of time lamenting this “fact” rather than investing a few minutes to prioritize your activities to align them with your goals. You don’t accomplish what you want and you use that as proof that you don’t have enough time. 

 

You end up using one excuse to justify another excuse neither of which are valid. Breaking the bad habit of excuse making requires a tremendous amount of honesty….with yourself. It’s a tough habit to break and many people don’t try because the people around them accept their excuses. 

 

If that’s the case with you then I have some really basic advice for you. Just do something. Doing anything, even making a mistake, is better than doing nothing because a mistake can be fixed while it’s pretty hard to fix nothing. You don’t have to know where your path to success ends to start on your way; just do the next right thing and once you’ve done that then do it again and again.

 

Pretty soon you’ll see where you’re going and you’ll be able to develop a plan to get there even sooner.

 

When your mindset becomes one of “can’t” then you’ve virtually assured yourself that you won’t. When you convince yourself that you can’t or you have excuses prepared before you even try to succeed then you willingly sacrifice your potential for success.

 

I heard someone say that success comes in cans and failure comes in “can’ts”. I don’t recall who said it but I agree with them 100%!

 

Never let the fact that you can’t do it all prevent you from doing all that you can. When you start down that path of doing all that you can you may just discover that you can do a whole lot more than you ever thought possible. 

 

I understand that the “tone” of this post may feel a little harsh; accepting excuses in place of progress is even harsher. Don’t do that to yourself because odds are you are capable of so much more!

 

 

 

 

Are You in the Three Percent?

Research shows that less than 3% of people write down their goals.  Most people are statistically more likely to spend time organizing exactly what they want from the supermarket than they are working out what they want from life.  Crazy but true.

     

One way, most successful people would say the best way, to get more out of life is to develop meaningful personal and professional goals.  The biggest predictor of success is purposeful direction.  If you don’t have something to aim for in life, the chances are you will end up achieving far less than you would like.  Almost every successful person in the world started with a clearly defined goal and a plan to achieve it.

    

The beauty of setting goals is that they actually help to streamline your life, adding focus and something tangible for you to work towards while shedding unproductive low yield activities.  In some ways goals are like guideposts helping you to move towards a meaningful life, towards something that holds special importance to you.  What that special something is, is a very individual choice.

    

The first step to working out what you want is to establish what is important to you in life.  If for example, you value your friends and family above anything else, then it makes sense to set a life goal of spending as much quality time with them as possible.

 

Consider answering the questions below and start devising goals around the answers you produce:

  • What would you want to achieve if you knew you could not fail?
  • What is the legacy you most want to leave behind?
  • What and who exactly are you when you’re at your absolute best?
  • If today was your last day on earth how would you spend it? Who would you spend it with?

Your answers to these questions will provide you with valuable insights about what is truly important to you in your life and help you jump start your goal setting process.  

 

Put yourself in in that 3% and you’ll have a chance to make 2018, and all your years to come, the very best years of your life! 

 

 

Why Would Anyone Follow You?

People are pretty interesting to study. So many people from so many places, so many different cultures, backgrounds, and histories. So many differences.

 

But even in a world of differences there are some things that most everyone has in common, and one of those commonalities is that the majority of people hold others to a higher standard than they hold themselves. It’s just far easier to speak your principles than it is to live them. And that’s likely a key reason why most people are not Authentic Leaders. Authentic Leaders, the type that we would all follow, hold themselves to a higher standard than they hold others.

    

Most people have high expectations for themselves but Authentic Leaders do not merely have high expectations, they have high standards too. We may expect much of ourselves but we too often also provide ourselves with many excuses that Authentic Leaders simply don’t need. Authentic Leaders don’t make excuses, they make commitments to excellence.

 

Authentic Leaders are led by their core values and one of those core values is almost always to make certain that their actions match their words. They do what they say they will when they say they will do it. That makes them very easy to trust. 

     

Authentic Leaders know that people tend to “follow up”, that is they follow people they respect and trust or they follow someone they believe sets an example of the type of person they would like to become.  

 

People seldom “follow down”, they don’t follow people that they would not want to be like or people that they cannot trust or respect. When someone with a leadership title or in a position of leadership holds themselves to lower standards than they hold others they lose the trust of their people and they lose the ability to truly lead.

     

Here’s a few important questions for you: Why would anyone follow you?  Do you expect more from others than you expect from yourself? Do you hold others to a higher standard than you hold yourself? Do you allow yourself excuses that you would not allow others? Are the majority of your mistakes “excusable” but not the mistakes of others?

    

In order to properly answer those questions you must be completely honest with yourself because if you can’t be honest with yourself you most certainly won’t be honest with anyone else.

     

Excellent, experienced, Authentic Leaders pause from time to time to ask themselves those very questions. They will also ask their mentors and accountability partners. If they don’t like the answers, they take immediate steps to change them.

 

A truly Authentic Leader has no other choice.


Are Your Key Employees a Flight Risk?

For the past several years I’ve been trying to alert leaders to an impending existential threat to their organizations. I no longer feel the need to do that because it’s no longer impending. The danger is upon us and if you still don’t know what it is then frankly there is little long-term hope for your organization. 

 

Hopefully you’re at least in the group who has the feeling that it’s harder to find people than it used to be…what you need to know is that it’s not just a feeling, it’s a very serious threat to the very existence of your business or organization.

 

The threat I’m talking about of course is the significant shrinking of the available workforce. Upwards of 10,000 Baby Boomers a day reach retirement age and they are being replaced by a much much smaller number of millennials. Even with the Centennials, iGen, Generation Z or whatever you want to call them joining the workforce very soon it won’t be enough to replace all the retiring boomers. 

 

With all due respect (if they still deserve respect) to the politicians who are claiming credit for the near historic low unemployment rate in the United States it has little or nothing to do with their efforts. It’s all about demographics.

 

The math is simply and it does not lie. 

 

One of the worst mistakes a leader can make today is to assume that their key people are not vulnerable to offers from other organizations simply because they provide a fair wage and a good work environment. 

 

Everybody, I repeat everybody, wants something and if you’re not working diligently to provide your people what they want then rest assured some other organization will. 

 

I could go through a long list of what your people might want but “might” doesn’t get it done. You need to know precisely what each of your people want and you need to know it before they are offered it by someone else. 

 

That’s why I’m such a proponent of “stay interviews.” Conducting an exit interview to discover why you’re people are leaving is of little use when compared to conducting a “stay interview” to determine how you can keep them. 

 

Sometimes when asked in a “stay interview” your people may say that “everything is fine” or that they don’t really know what they want. If that’s the case then it’s your job as a leader to help them discover what it is that they want, what it is that will help them stay motivated to remain a part of your organization. Then it’s your job as a leader to deliver it to them if it’s at all possible.

 

I absolutely promise you that if you don’t do that someone else eventually will and it’s getting more likely that it will be sooner rather than later.

 

The number of small businesses closing their doors or hanging on by a thread due to lack of an available workforce is beginning to grow. It is already spreading to larger organizations. If you’re in business then you’re in the people business. If you’re in the people business then you’re going to need to fight for your piece of a shrinking workforce. 

 

The fight begins by not losing the people you currently have. 

 

I truly do not have the vocabulary or writing skills to convey how serious an issue this is becoming for all businesses and organizations. The demographics are just crystal clear!

 

There are a limited number of larger companies who had the vision and forethought to get out in front of this threat and develop programs to retain their people and even recruit new ones. While that’s good for them it makes the situation even more critical for those organizations behind the curve. 

 

The answer to the question that makes up the title of this post is YES! Your key employees are a flight risk. Even if they are not looking to leave there is another organization out there who will try to entice them to do just that. You need to covet them as much or more than the organizations that don’t have them….yet.


Oh, one more thing before we close this out…. if you have an employee who isn’t key to your organization then what the heck are they doing working for you?

Do You Have a Plan for Success?

I’m sometimes asked for my definition of success. I always start the same way, by explaining success is very personal and my definition is likely to be different than the next person’s. But I’m convinced that whatever your personal definition of success happens to be you’ll be more likely to achieve it if you have a solid plan. 

 

To be sure, a plan does not guarantee success, there are other factors in play as well but a plan, a good, well thought-out plan, can take into account many of those factors and provide you with a level of control over seemingly uncontrollable events. 

 

As I’ve seen again and again through the years the single biggest cause of failed plans is that they are never actually put into action. No plan, no matter how good it may be, will succeed if you never take action on it. 

 

While a plan does not guarantee success not taking action on a good plan virtually does guarantee failure or at least much more limited success than you otherwise might have. The bottom line on plans is pretty clear, if your plan is not actionable then it’s not really a good plan.

 

As we near the end of 2017 I’d like to share with you a planning method I’ve used through the years with great success. It is a simple process for developing an actionable plan; be careful however not to make the mistake of thinking that a simple process makes the execution of your plan simple, success is hard work.

 

I also feel the need here to add another caution; we’re talking here about a strong 2018 but don’t let that lull you into thinking 2017 is over, there’s still time to finish strong. No matter what kind of year 2017 has been for you how you finish it absolutely matters. Finish strong!

    

So, first let’s determine what an actionable plan is not: It is not, “I’m going to work harder” or “I’m going to work smarter” or any variation of the same. That is not a plan; it is a dream, a dream that turns into the nightmare of the same old thing.

     

A plan that succeeds has action built into it, the actions are very specific, and the actions have measurable standards that leave no doubt as to whether they have been accomplished. Each individual action has its own deadline, a deadline which is critical because you’ll never find “someday” on a calendar.

    

Here is an 8-Step Planning Process that has been proven time and again to help people achieve success if they are willing to put in the required effort:

1. Develop a clear picture of your current situation – we must know where we are before we can know where we are going

2. Be certain you know your vision of the desired situation – specificity is a key here

3. Develop short, medium and long range goals – it is perfectly okay to adjust your goals as circumstances change and don’t forget, one of the secrets of goal achievement is to break big goals into smaller ones to make the big goal easier to achieve 

4. Develop your program – how will you succeed – what will you sacrifice – remember success is not just about what you will START doing, often what you STOP doing is just as important. Be as specific as you can possibly be in this step

5. Determine the investment you are willing to make (time & money) – the commitment of time is frequently harder to make than a financial commitment

6. Set your Time Table – When will it all happen – just like it says, Time Table, specific dates and times, giving yourself a range of dates is giving yourself the opportunity to delay your success

7. Implement the total plan – no plan is more worthless than the plan never put into action

8. Follow-up – Check back often on how you’re doing – and while you’re checking back find someone that cares about you to hold you accountable to your plan, this is a lot of work and is almost impossible to accomplish alone

     

That’s it, there is your planning process, and before you start telling yourself you can succeed without doing all this “work” let me share something else with you: What you call success today will pale when compared to the success that is possible when you execute a solid plan.

     

Don’t think of your plan as work, think of it is an investment and it is the greatest investment you can make because it is an investment in yourself. You matter, your success matters and if you will commit to a plan you will see results almost immediately. The plan may not always “work” the way you intended but I can promise you the planning always will.

The Value of Differing Opinions

Almost every leader has “The One.” “The One” is their most trusted confidant or advisor. They are trusted above all others and play a key role in most, if not all, major decisions. 

 

That’s pretty normal since leaders are human beings and human beings are naturally closer to some people than others. Humans “click” with some people and keep them close by while distancing themselves (at least emotionally) from those that they simply don’t connect with.

 

While that’s perfectly normal that doesn’t mean it’s perfectly good. It is not!

 

It’s hard not to value the opinions of people who hold the same opinions as you. When a leader has someone who consistently agrees with them the leader feels better about their own thinking and over time values the opinion of that someone even more. 

 

But if you’re a leader you need to understand this absolute truth: if the person or people around you always agree with your thinking then it’s very likely that they are not thinking at all. You must understand that you can sometimes be wrong and that means that someone else could sometimes be right. 

 

While no leader will ever completely eliminate “The One” (nor should they) they do need to hear diverse opinions and different viewpoints in order to make as informed a decision as possible. Even if your “One” occasionally offers an opinion different than your own, a single different opinion is not enough.

 

Every person’s opinions and viewpoints are shaped by the events of their life. Their upbringing, their surroundings, their education, and their experiences all play a role in determining what they think and feel in any given situation. 

 

Now this might be a bit of an over-simplification but in general the greater the variety of opinions a leader receives the better their decision will be. 

 

The world is which business is conducted today is too diverse to consistently value one person’s opinion over all others. It greatly diminishes an organization’s potential and limits a leader’s options.

 

So, if you’re a leader who is relying too heavily on “The One” then begin today to seek out differing viewpoints from a variety of people….before it is too late. 

 

You will know it’s too late when you finally ask for input and receive mostly silence in return. You may be tempted to think that the silence means agreement but that’s a huge mistake. Silence is almost never agreement. 

 

What the silence usually means is that the people who you need to share their insights have determined there is no upside to sharing their opinion. It makes no sense to expose your thinking when you are fairly certain that your thinking will be “out-voted” by “The One.”


When votes don’t count smart people stop voting and it doesn’t take long for smart people to realize their vote doesn’t count.