In the last six months (January to June 2013), we interviewed eighty-eight* ‘leaders-to-be’ to discover what success in the making ‘walks-like and talks-like.’
Seven (7) patterns of thought and action emerged from semi-structured ‘conversations’ we had with college-educated, leading-edge business professionals from the ‘Millennial’ generation (b. 1982 – 2002) in the USA**.
The participants were chosen because they are committed to their careers in various fields and aspire to leadership. Some, in fact, are currently in leadership roles and on their way to the ‘top’***.
All participants reside in Denver, Colorado as of 2013. In those interviewed to date: 70% were Caucasian; 30% were People of Color; and there was a 70% Female to 30% Male split.
Since we are experts in the field of organizational communication, we used a communication approach in interpreting the data.
We contrasted and compared the data gathered in the eighty-eight interviews and discovered seven patterns of thought and action. Then, we categorized the patterns based on the type of thought and action each reflected.
Secondly, we devised a set of indicators for each category based upon its supporting interview data. All indicators are relevant to climbing the corporate ladder; some more than others****.
The patterns are listed below and each Category (A – G) is described below with Indicators (1 – 7).
*The point of data triangulation. **The thought and action patterns that emerged from the interviews are particular to the American (USA) corporate culture (given the participant base). Obviously, additional studies both within and without the USA are needed for further understanding.. ***The top is defined as each participant’s #1 career goal as told to us during the interview process. *****Indicators showed differences in strength – from low, to moderate to high. Strength of indicator will be addressed in future studies, but will not be discussed in this study (#1) due to its general scope.
A. Worldview (How to understand the world)
1) They see people as subject – not object.
2) They see the organization as a living eco-system – not a static machine.
3) They see becoming a leader as a holistic process that happens from the inside-out.
4) They understand leadership as service.
5) They’re savvy about organizational culture – or ‘how we do things around here’ – and have the knowledge, skills and abilities to get things done within different organizational sub-cultures.
6) They don’t just manage time and money to be successful – they manage ‘mindset’ and ‘worldview’ – theirs and others.
7) They extend trust first and build trust by being trustworthy.
B. Motivation (How to move to action)
1) They see how their personal goals line up with organizational goals.
2) They know that motivation is intrinsic. They inspire others to motivate themselves.
3) They know what is expected of them at work and they exceed it.
4) They know when to tell and when to ask based on performance needs; not ego needs.
5) They ask why first to discern purpose when making structural changes.
6) They learn how to learn – an essential skill for facing future challenges.
7) They see themselves as ‘acting with’ intention – not ‘victims of’ fate.
C. ‘Good Work’ Practices (How to repeatedly achieve successful end-results at work)
1) They build habits of success and practice them as a way of life.
2) They understand the to and fro of success. Rest and relax; the give and take.
3) They lead with their strengths – not from a textbook model of leadership.
4) They buy-into the emotional intelligence of leadership.
5) They manage up, down and across.
6) Their timing is impeccable – in other words, they don’t propose marriage at a funeral.
7) They discover what works and what doesn't work -- continuously.
D. Rapport and Relationship (How to manage self and others at work)
1) They are self-oriented – not selfish – and focus on their highest and best use in life.
2) They strengthen self-confidence on a daily basis.
3) They used humor to create a humane workplace – and not to scapegoat others.
4) They differentiate between masculine and feminine communication styles and use both as needed.
5) They’re patient; not blundering – and they create rapport like Mozart composed music.
6) They don’t use passive-aggressiveness. They re-level to reflect their truth.
7) They partner with others instead of attempting to control.
E. Decision-Making (How to choose)
1) They understand the others’ points of view when making decisions.
2) They have discovered the map is not the territory.
3) They look for meaning first, details second and decisions third.
4) They know what you resist (emotionally) persists. Nix complain/blame/shame at work.
5) They use finesse – not bluntness – due to the complex relationships in the global workplace.
6) They cultivate their minds to instill sound judgment.
7) They know the difference between good and great – and choose to become great at work.
F. Knowledge (How to communicate)
1) They use both appreciative language and critical language.
2) They learn via the depth of foundational knowledge and discovering new knowledge.
3) They use a torch in the dark. Clarity of thought and word: superior leadership skill.
4) They re-imagine failure and success to persevere.
5) Focus is an attribute. They aren’t easily overwhelmed.
6) They pace themselves to grow, peak and shine repeatedly.
7) They speak up for solutions.
G. Self-Reflection (How to understand the self)
1) They establish credibility before attempting to lead people.
2) They nix self-sabotage and play a win-win game in life and at work.
3) They self-reflect, learn and take action, self-reflect, learn and take action, etc.
4) They know life moves forward as a spiral; not a line.
5) Listening is a personal strength.
6) They combine intellect, instinct and intuition when making decisions.
7) They aren’t enmeshed in their world – in it, but not of it.
LEADERSHIP IN THE 21ST CENTURY
Complexity is a mainstay of the 21st century. The Categories A – G and their respective Indicators (1 – 7) reflect capabilities ‘leaders-to-be’ need to move up the corporate ladder – or simply to be successful in their current role – in organizations of today.
The seven capabilities are not all encompassing to leadership, but a starting point – a foundation for growth in the world of complexity that is 21st century America. The capabilities are nuanced – particular to the individual leader. Develop them within the context of who you are.
If you are a Millennial (b. 1982 - 2002) living in the Denver Metro Area and you would like to participate in "Leaders, At The Ready!, contact email@example.com.
© Treat Consulting
Organizational communication maven by day. Food, wine and beer buff by night. World traveler. Entrepreneurial spirit. Contact Eroca Gabriel, a former Fortune 100 Human Resources Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org to speak at your corporate event.
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