Unleashing Passion and Performance in Younger Generations

Future Leaders

 

Over one hundred million people make up millennials and Generation Z.

How do we motivate these young people? How do we unleash the power of these new generations?

Mark Perna is an author, CEO and generational expert. His new book Answering Why: Unleashing Passion, Purpose and Performance in Younger Generations, is designed to help leaders awaken the potential of the Why Generation. I recently had the opportunity to ask him about his research and new book.

 

McGraw-Hill Education found that only 20 per cent of college students feel “very prepared” to enter the workforce.

 

The Why Generation

What is the Why Generation? What qualities and traits distinguish it?

The Why Generation is my term for Generations Y and Z, which include basically everyone under 40 today. Collectively, I call them the Why Generation because they want to know the reason behind everything. And this is exactly how we reared them. A lot of older-generation folks in management roles often perceive this as disrespect or insubordination, but it’s actually not. Young people want to know the reason why so that they can fully understand what they are being asked to do, and even more than that, so they can see if there is a way they can improve the process. They want to bring their own unique, special, and important contribution to the success of the plan, whatever it may be. They want to be engaged; they want their work to be relevant and mean something. They are not being rebellious when they ask why; they really want to know. They want purpose, and they will perform to the expectations we set for them (whether high or low). We have to answer the big question they are always asking in one way or another: why?

They place great importance on their personal values, which are often characterized by social and environmental activism. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves, and once they buy into a cause, they’re committed. Every decision they make is influenced to some extent by how it affects their desired lifestyle.

They’ve brought a fresh perspective to the working world. Both the Millennials and Generation Z want their work to be about more than the paycheck. They prioritize a flexible working environment that allows them to work from home and/or work nontraditional hours, and many companies are taking these preferences into consideration. They also want to rethink the ways things have always been done to create new processes to complete the work more efficiently.

They’re also digital natives who have grown up surrounded by technology. It’s their norm to have multiple screens going as they maximize their digital experience. Because they believe they’re unique, special, and important, they are constantly looking for ways to tell their story on the vast array of social media options. They also communicate differently, much more briefly than older folks are used to.

 

Only 11 per cent of business leaders perceive college graduates to be ready for work, according to a recent Gallup poll.

 

In what ways can we realize the full potential of the Why Generation?

How the Best Leaders Energize People Every Day

leaders unlock potential

How the Best Leaders Energize People

If you want to be a great leader, you must be a great communicator. The Inspiration Code: How the Best Leaders Energize People Every Day  explores the link between leadership and communication.

Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach specializing in executive communication. You may have read one of her articles in “Forbes” or encountered her other book, The Power of Presence . Her extensive research and survey into what inspires people was fascinating. I recently asked Kristi about her latest work on inspiration in the workplace.

 

“When we highlight potential, we boost confidence.” -Kristi Hedges

 

4 Factors to Enhance Your Inspirational Effect

Tell me more about the four factors that enhance our inspirational effect, what you call the Inspire Path.

The Inspire Path puts a structure to the research I found that uncovers what communication behaviors inspire others. It’s a guide to increase inspirational impact. While we can’t force someone to be inspired—and if we try to push, it backfires—we can create the conditions that foster inspiration. People are most often inspired through certain types of conversation with others. If we want be more inspiring, we should focus on being:

 

“What we concentrate on gets stronger.” -Kristi Hedges

 

PRESENT: investing our full attention and letting conversations flow

 

PERSONAL: speaking genuinely, listening generously, and acknowledging the potential of those around us

 

PASSIONATE: exhibiting sincere emotion and exuding energy attuned to the situation

 

PURPOSEFUL: helping others find meaning and see their place in the bigger picture

 

Copyright Kristi Hedges, All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

 

“Our choices bring our purpose in sharp relief.” -Kristi Hedges

 

How do you train Type-A, driven, device-obsessed executives to be more present?

What Do You See in the Clouds?

Leadership Perceptions

 

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” –Edgar Degas

 

An artist I know loves to show me a blank canvas and describe, in detail, the painting. To her, it’s so clear. Where I see only a blank canvas, she sees an entire landscape full of vibrant colors.

An entrepreneur I know once took his family on a tour of a remote piece of property. He shared his vision for where buildings would go and all the customers who would be mingling in various parts of the land. The family couldn’t imagine it, but he saw it all vividly. And, today, it looks exactly like that. It’s a thriving business.

An author friend of mine creates characters in her mind. Month after month, she dreams about them, talks with them, listens to them. They become so real to her that, when she finally starts writing, it’s as if she is merely recording what happens instead of inventing it.

 

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.” –Vincent van Gogh

 

That’s the power of imagination. It’s the power of creativity.

  • Seeing something magical where others see mundane.
  • Seeing something beautiful where others see garbage.
  • Seeing potential in someone they don’t see in themselves.
  • Leaders inspire us by seeing a positive vision for organizations.
  • Successful people see opportunities when others see problems.

If there’s one skill you want to cultivate, it’s seeing the positive, the beautiful, the magical in others, in yourself, in challenging times, in dark places.

Because that change of perspective can make the difference in your outlook.

 

“To change ourselves effectively, we first have to change our perceptions.” –Stephen R. Covey

 

On a recent vacation, my wife was relaxing on a deck with a view of a mountain. As she often does, she was bringing people into her mind and praying for them one by one. Mesmerized by the beautiful scene in front of her, she decided to take a quick picture with her phone.

When we returned home, she was looking at her pictures and shared this one with a few close friends. Immediately, the responses started coming back. There’s something in the clouds!

 

“The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up.” –Chuck Palahniuk

How to Build A Culture Primed to Perform

How do you create a culture that is primed to perform?

What does science say about changing organizational culture?

Is there any tool that can help measure and track your culture over time?

 

Build A Culture Designed to Perform

Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor have just written a book, Primed to Perform: How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures Through the Science of Total Motivation, that answers these questions and more. It is written as a guidebook for those who know how important a strong culture is, but they don’t know what steps to take to create one. I recently spoke with Neel and Lindsay to learn more.

 

“Culture is what tells your people why they should work.” -Doshi/McGregor

 

The Magic of a Great Culture

Often people think of culture as something that is like art, but you say that the “magic behind great culture is actually an elegantly simple science.” Tell us more about your research.

We all know that culture is important. We’ve felt it. Some cultures are filled with fear and stress, while others inspire creativity and enthusiasm. What has eluded us, however, is why. Our research provides an “elegantly simple” answer: culture is what tells your people why they should work, and why they work is what determines how well they work.

Here’s the kicker though: not all “whys” are created equal, and too often, cultures are designed to motivate using the destructive “whys.”

Our answer is not only elegantly simple, but also empirically powerful. Using our total motivation framework, we’ve measured the motives of over 20,000 people at more than 50 major institutions. We’ve observed an incredibly strong relationship between their culture and performance metrics like sales and customer experience. In one study, employees with high levels of total motivation (or ToMo for short) generated 38% more in revenues than their low ToMo counterparts.

Culture is an entirely quantifiable and engineerable asset—and the most important one. ToMo gives leaders the tools to unlock the highest levels of performance in their people and company.

 

“Why you work determines how well you work.” -Doshi/McGregor

 

Why You Work Determines How Well You Work

What is total motivation? How does this drive performance?

Total motivation is simply the notion that why you work determines how well you work. The effectiveness of the “why” depends on its distance from the work. Let’s take a mid-level management consultant for example:

Play is when you work for enjoyment of the work itself. Play is the most powerful motivator: twice as potent as purpose and almost three times more than potential. Our fearless consultant might enjoy conceptual thinking and the process of breaking down big puzzles into digestible, actionable pieces.

Purpose is when the outcome or impact of the work is why you do it: maybe she values seeing how a new strategy improves a client’s well-being and helps his customers.

Potential is when the work enables a future outcome aligned to your personal goals: she might want to manage operations at a big company or a company of her own down the line, and this job will help her achieve that.

 

“Culture can’t be managed by chance.” -Doshi/McGregor

 

The Surprising Potential of Entrepreneurship

The Potential of Entrepreneurship

When you hear the word “entrepreneur,” what do you think of? Many may think wealth creation, risk taking, or start ups.

What if it also meant social change? What if it was a way to close the wealth gap? What if we looked at it in a completely different way?

To say Steve Mariotti believes in entrepreneurship is more than an understatement. He is the founder of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a global nonprofit organization that has educated more than half a million students. He passionately believes in entrepreneurship as a transformational experience that can be used in schools, prisons, villages, and inner cities. His new book, An Entrepreneur’s Manifesto takes a completely different view of the role of entrepreneurship.

 

A Life-Changing Jog

You were mugged by a group of teenagers and it changed you. Not many people would have an event like that and decide to serve low-income teens for life. Would you share this story and how it impacted you? 

Cover ImageI was mugged in 1981 by five teenagers while I was jogging one afternoon along the East River on New York City’s Lower East Side. I only had $10 in my jogging shorts and gave that to them, but they continued to threaten and humiliate me. The mugging caught me emotionally off guard, and I had flashbacks and anxiety afterward. Frankly, I became afraid of tough-looking kids. And there are a lot of tough-looking kids in New York City!

To overcome that fear, I decided to face it head-on by becoming a New York City public school teacher. My first assignment was at Boys and Girls High in Bedford Stuyvesant, which was full of tough-looking kids. Within the first day, though, I wasn’t afraid anymore. They were just kids!

The mugging also got me interested in the huge risk my muggers were taking by assaulting people for small amounts of money. Had they been able to sell me something or ask me to invest in a business deal, they could have gotten a lot more money, and it would have been a win/win situation for everyone.

I began sneaking business lessons into my classes, and my students were riveted by them. They were eager to understand how business works, and that in turn motivated them to learn math, reading and writing. In 1987, I founded the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship to bring entrepreneurship education to low-income youth around the world. To date there are more than 600,000 graduates of NFTE programs from Chicago to China.

“Entrepreneurship education really could change the world.” -Steve Mariotti

 

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