“By doing nothing more than observing and acting upon the obvious a person can change the world.” – Buckminster Fuller
Everyone knows s*** happens. This statement of fact is not highly useful. Real leadership is about making shift happen. I have lost count of the number of executives asking me about ways to increase their competitive edge, to get more value creation and engagement from the people in their organizations. After all, even well-run organizations only get about 30% of what is possible from the Human Systems side of running the business: innovation, ownership for outcomes, creative problem solving, breakthrough thinking and full engagement. The answer to getting far more from those working with you, to become more powerful at making shift happen means cultivating a “millennial soul” way of thinking and engaging others.
By millennial I am talking about a mindset, a way of thinking and working that is both liberating and radically different from previous generations. I call it “soul” because while found in many of the millennial generation, it is not found in all, nor is it exclusive to that age grouping. Richard Branson, Anita Roddick, Oprah Winfrey, Elon Musk and Buckminster Fuller, to mention only a few, have manifested that “soul” in their ways of leading, generating amazing outcomes. In fact, this mindset creates better results, engages more of the “discretionary effort” available within people, promotes learning and invites more breakthrough thinking and better solution sets. The millennial soul is one that can be characterized as:
- Focused on developing personal mastery – eager to learn, to stretch, to grow and willing to step into the unknown and take greater risks in order to do so
- Purpose driven – seeking to be part of something greater, larger, more meaningful-eager to draw the larger circle in life
- Enjoying life and meaningful relationships – working to create equilibrium in life, time with family and friends as well as time at work – working to live versus living to work
- Valuing autonomy – having some say so in their work lives, weeks and days
- Being heard – having a voice that is valued, engaged and engaging others to come up with even better ideas and ways of getting things done
When those five aspects are engaged, then shift happens more often and there are higher levels of engagement throughout the enterprise. The research results from the Gallup organization consistently shows that organizations with the higher levels of engagement are more robust, resilient and profitable with higher levels of customer satisfaction.
So, how do you cultivate this “millennial soul” in self and those around you? There are 3 key messages you have to consciously and consistently send in your behaviors, interactions as well as words. These messages sum up the critical engagement paradigm behind all great leadership and while easy to spell out, they are much harder to deliver in a consistent and effective way. These messages are what engage the millennial heart and mind, cultivating the soul of breakthrough thinking and effectiveness. They are:
1. You matter-are important
2. What we are doing here matters-we are purpose driven
3. Together, let’s create the extraordinary
Now every one of the 200 plus CEOs with whom I have worked have focused on sending message number three, “Let’s create extraordinary results” while often skipping number one and two. Please note: you cannot really engage message number three unless you send messages one and two first! In fact, all 3 messages are required to cultivate the millennial soul within yourself as well as others. When you send message one you are taking the time to effectively hear the voice of others, valuing them while also showing you appreciate the need for autonomy and developing personal mastery. When you send message number two you are engaging the “purpose-driven” side, the core WHY of the business and work to be done. This is inspiring and highly engaging. Then, when you invite others to create the extraordinary, it builds on valuing others, listening to them, engaging them and focusing on the greater meaning behind all of the work. When you consistently let people know that they matter, are doing purposeful work and invited to create the extraordinary, you are valuing and generating relationships that are life giving.
Are you ready to liberate the purpose, passion and power of your organization by shifting into the millennial soul? How effectively are you sending the 3 core messages required to do so?
Written by: Dusty Staub, CEO of Staub Leadership