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Part of successful leadership is adapting your leadership style or behaviors to address the qualities and needs of the followers – a component of the highly-effective transformational leadership. The emerging group of workers – who most are calling the “Millennial Generation” – born between 1980 and 2000, are a different breed than the generation before them (Generation X) and the Baby Boomers before them.

Here are the ways in which Millennials differ from their predecessors:

They are Technologically Savvy. Obviously. They grew up with PCs, the Internet, and i-phones. They embrace, rather than resist, new technology (as opposed to Boomers). AND, they are interconnected. Bully an employee and you will end up on eBosswatch, Rate My Boss, or another on-line “evaluation system” – and their 840 facebook friends will instantly know all about it, too.

They Play Well With Others. (Good in teams). Millennials are so networked that they are never truly alone. They can collaborate and aren’t afraid to ask others for assistance (as opposed to the do-it-alone, Gen Xers).

They Want the World (and They Want it Now). Millennials are hopeful, and cautiously optimistic. seo data . They are “civic-minded” and want to change the world and make it a better place, but they are impatient about it. Millennials grew up volunteering in school and elsewhere, so they are committed to social causes and to righting the world’s ills.

They Want Recognition and to Be Taken Seriously. Doted on and empowered by their parents, Millennials want their ideas to be heard. They want to participate in decisionmaking, and they don’t believe much in the authority hierarchy or in the idea of having to have “put in time” or “earn your stripes.”

They Want Employee-Centered and “Fun” Workplaces. With the tough job market, Millennials are realizing that they need to be creative, flexible, and innovative to support themselves. But, the thought of spending their lives in a traditional corporate environment is seen as a fate worse than death. Google and other cutting-edge organizations realize this and have developed creative, fun, and employee-centered environments to attract and retain the most talented Millennials.

So, how do you manage and lead Millennials?

Take into account their needs. Realize that they are creative and good at multi-tasking, but they need structure. In their creative hubbub, they might get lost without it. Take advantage of their tech-savviness and their ability to work together well.

Importantly, Millennials are idealistic and have a strong sense of what they want their leaders to be. In short, they want their leaders to be heroes (superhero movies are box-office winners with Millennials), who have integrity, and a sense of fairness and concern for employees. Leading the Millennial Generation successfully is going to be the key to success in the near future.

There are a variety of resources and an emerging body of research on Millennials. There is a great deal of attention to Millennials from colleges, libraries, and in the career and recruitment literature because most Millennials are still in school or just emerging into the workplace.

Post published by Ronald E Riggio Ph.D. in Cutting-Edge Leadership

Sujansky & Ferri-Reed  “Keeping the Millennials (link is external) (link is external)

If you’re looking to benchmark your leadership ability the following self examination by Mike Myatt, Chief Strategy Officer, N2growth will give you a baseline to build from. While this test is not as detailed as more comprehensive assessments, I have nonetheless found it to be fairly thorough. That said, any self exam is only as good as the honesty of those taking the test. If you check your ego at the door and give a thoughtful, introspective evaluation of your ability, it is likely that you’ll learn something about your leadership abilities or lack thereof. Better yet, for those of you bold enough to place yourself under what might be the harsh scrutiny of others, you can get the benefits of a mini leadership 360 review by asking your co-workers to rate you as a leader. If you’re game to test your leadership ability read on to take the exam…
The examination is broken down into 10 sections, each worth 10 points. If you believe you possess a fully developed competency in a section give yourself 10 points. If you possess no competency whatsoever give yourself 0 points. Grade your examination as follows:

  • 90 – 100 points = A
  • 80 – 89 points   = B
  • 70 – 79 points   = C
  • 60 – 69 points   = D
  • 59 & below        = F

As I mentioned above, use the results of the exam to determine your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. If you find that you lack skill sets and competencies in certain areas seek out mentors and coaches to shore-up your weaknesses, and more importantly, use your professional advisors to assist you in leveraging your strengths. On with the exam….

Section I: Character.
Great leaders do the right thing regardless of circumstances, situational context or other influencing factors. They will not compromise their value system and personal ethics for temporary gain. Without a consistent and enduring display of sound character you’ll find it difficult to earn the trust and respect of those you lead. While your character will be tested often as a leader, great leaders no there is no substitute for the truth.
Section II: Vision.
Great leaders possess the ability to create a vision for the organizations they lead. They have the foresight to not only create a clear and well defined vision, but also have the ability to articulately communicate the vision. Perhaps most importantly they have the ability to align interests and sell the vision unifying leadership, management, staff and external stakeholders as well.
Section III: Strategy.
Great leaders are strategic thinkers who have the ability to translate their vision into an actionable strategy to insure its success. Strategically inclined leaders think in terms of creating leverage, anticipating & leading change, managing risk & opportunities, being customer focused, astutely deploying resources, always insuring that the business model is in alignment with current market conditions, but fluid enough to accommodate changes in market dynamics and any other items that create an advantage or defend a weakness.
Section IV: Tactics.
Great leaders tend to be tactical geniuses and display a strong bias to action. They understand the difference between raw data and useful information. Moreover they know how to leverage information and resources to achieve their objectives. They are focued, results driven and achievement oriented.
Section V: Focus.
Great leaders are focused on the mission at hand. They don’t bite-off more than they can chew by falling prey to initiative overload. Great leaders don’t major in the minors and understand that the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing…Great leaders are committed to not losing focus and not giving-up.
Section VI: Persuasiveness.
Great leaders understand how to manage conflict and close positional gaps. They tend to be contextual leaders who know which skill sets to draw upon based upon the circumstances at hand to create needed outcomes and to catalyze change. They lead by serving as opposed to intimidating. Great leaders are masters of inspiration being able to take even the most critical skeptics and convert them into evangelists for the cause.
Section VII: Likeability.
Great leaders possess great interpersonal skills. They tend to be people-centric and understand the concept of servant leadership. People tend to like leaders who display good decisioning skills and high levels of integrity. While great leaders are typically very direct, they are also intuitive individuals who thrive on finesse and subtlety. They don’t expect or need to be liked to get the job done, but realize the value that likeability can offer where it can be achieved without comprising trust or integrity.
Section VIII: Decisioning Ability.
Great leaders possess the ability to consistently make good decisions. They thrive on making the tough call and are willing to be accountable for their actions. Great leaders also have the ability to make decisions quickly and often with incomplete data sets. Rarely do leaders have the luxury of being able to secure all of the information needed for a risk free decision. Rather they understand how to make a timely decision while managing any corresponding risks as others are still trying to connect the dots.
Section IX: Team Building.
Great leaders create great teams throughout the entire value chain. They understand the need for talent and are effective at recruiting, deployment, development and retention of tier-one talent. Great leaders also surround themselves with the best professional advisors possible and they openly seek the counsel of others in matters of importance. They are committed to both personal and professional growth. They tend to almost be addicted to increasing their knowledge base and sphere of influence. They are voracious learners always looking for better methods, different approaches, enhanced efficiencies, better technology and increased velocity. They are not afraid of change and growth in fact they tend to relish it.
Section X: Results.
The proof of great leadership is ultimately found in the results being attained. Leaders can be extremely strong in any of the areas above, but if they are not leading effectively or productively, if they are not meeting performance expectations, then they have work to do. Great leaders get results…

There you have it…rate yourself from 1 – 10 in each of the above sections, tabulate your score and assess the outcome based upon the grading schedule contained above.


Bruce Mau and John Kao
Image: Dave Gillespie (Bruce Mau) and Eva Kolenko (John Kao)


Bruce Mao: The Labor of Creativity A renowned designer of everything from carpets to soft drink packaging to planned communities says that creativity comes from going the extra miles.
“Creativity has been made into a mythology. Certain people have it and certain people don’t. The reality is it’s hard work.” That’s the creative wisdom of Bruce Mau, one of the world’s most sought-after designers.
Mau — whose company, Bruce Mau Design, has offices in Toronto and Chicago — has made a career of challenging the sacred priesthood of creativity. He demonstrates how to meld big ideas with practical realities and consumer psychology. He is at the vanguard of a movement to transform design from an insular world of magical seers to a practice that can solve problems from sustainability to poverty.
Mau’s reputation as a savvy creative tactician has led to a very unorthodox client list, from Guatemalan leaders looking to create a brighter future for their people to Arizona State University, whose president is working with him to redesign higher education. Mau’s firm has designed everything from the look of Canada’s largest bookstore, Indigo, to the décor of New Meadowlands Stadium in New Jersey, future home of the New York Jets and Giants.
Belief in the myths, instead of the reality of creating, keeps companies from reaching the pinnacle of inventiveness necessary to stand out in a crowd and grow, Mau says. Chief among the folk tales is the belief that great ideas or product designs spring fully formed from the minds of innovative people. We see the finished result, not the hundreds or thousands of hours that went into spawning, developing, refining, honing, testing, retesting and rethinking. Mau thinks entrepreneurs are too impulsive and don’t spend nearly enough time on the crafting, thinking and vetting.
“They look only at the idea, and the real challenge is looking at the idea in context,” he says. “You have to look at the market as well as the product. You have to get into the heads of customers. The ability to see the context as well as the object–that’s a design method.”
When Mau was hired by architect Frank Gehry to design the signage for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, he tested 5,000 typographic variants. Running the fonts through animation, he and his team invented a new font from imagery that appeared as one font blended into another.
The creative process is far from inscrutable, Mau says. There’s an actual methodology that can be taught to others. He’s just launched a new business with partner Bisi Williams, the Massive Change Network, to spread design techniques via the web to help solve issues from overpopulation to climate change. He spelled out his keys to the creative process in “The Incomplete Manifesto for Growth,” a 43-point menu of strategies and attitudes (see it at
The gist? Throw out everything you thought you knew about creativity. A few examples:
Keep moving. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
Ask stupid questions. Assess the answer, not the question.
Capture accidents. The wrong answer sometimes is the right one in search of a different question.
With the complex issues facing entrepreneurs, Mau is adamant about the necessity of teams. And, he contends, the difference between great design and design that misses the mark is empathy–the ability to make the human connection.

John Kao: Think Like a Musician

A leading expert on business innovation has a radical prescription for any company serious about growth: Play harder.
John Kao thinks you need to play on the job. “When people use the word play in a business context, it sounds kind of frivolous, but being playful is very much the source of new ideas,” says Kao, author of Innovation Nation and chairman of the global Institute for Large Scale Innovation.

Kao, a jazz pianist who once played with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention before going on to create executive and MBA programs in innovation at Harvard Business School, says entrepreneurs can learn a lot about the creative process by listening to jazz music.
Creativity requires a skill set that’s polar opposite from results-oriented production mode. Instead of end points, the goal is what Kao calls the jazz musicians’ white space,” the zone of improvisation in which new associations and connections are born in the moment, without regard to where they are going.
“The balancing act is finding the sweet spot, as jazz musicians do, between discipline and structure on the one hand and freedom and inspiration on the other,” says Kao, author of Jamming: The Art and Discipline of Business Creativity. “You need to have freedom from judgment to explore new things. If you laugh at other people’s ideas or go to the feasibility questions of how much is it going to cost and how long is it going to take, you’re never going to get new ideas.”
Motivation research shows that we are more creative when we are driven, not by the external reward or result, but by the enjoyment or challenge of the experience itself. This allows for freewheeling brainstorming without the fear of failure.
Failing is good, Kao says–at least in the idea department. That’s where innovation has always come from, whether it’s in the experiments that lead to discoveries in science or the doodling that leads to new products and services. That kind of environment is hard to find at most offices, though, because few executives have a clue when it comes to the creative process.
“They think creativity is about periodically letting your hair down and coming up with wacky ideas, being bohemian for a day,” Kao says. “It’s about coming up with ideas that have value and execution. There’s a lot of execution in creativity. It’s not just inspiration.”
Creativity isn’t an option anymore, if it ever was. “If you don’t have it, you’re behind the eight ball,” Kao says. “Other companies and countries are striving to be in this race and they may be more creative than you.”

This article originally appeared at Entrepreneur.

Joe Robinson is the author of Don’t Miss Your Life, on the hidden skills of activating life after work

Your organization won’t innovate productively unless some underlying factors are in good shape.

An interview with Vijay Govindarajan, Professor, Tuck. To create an innovation mindset, managers must bring in fresh voices from outside their company, encourage collaboration, and consider how emerging markets’ needs can spur ideas for innovative offerings.


If “10” is outstanding and “1” is poor, how do you rate your organization on each of these?

1. A compelling case for innovation. Unless people understand why innovation is necessary, it always loses to core business or the performance engine in the battle for resources. The performance engine is bigger, is the center of power, and can justify resources based on short term financial results. So the case for innovation has to be made, and it better be compelling.
2. An inspiring, shared vision of the future. Most companies anticipate the future based upon the past. Not surprisingly, the company always looks relevant in that future. However, if the past is suspended and a holistic view of the future is envisioned, then it’s easier to recognize tidal forces of change and (surprise!) the company may not look so relevant in that future. For this process, it is best to take a 10-20-year perspective. It is not about predicting the future. It is about developing hypotheses about the future.
3. A fully aligned strategic innovation agenda. As the Cheshire Cat said to Alice, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Innovation is a journey into the unknown and there are many paths open to the innovator. Before starting it is essential to know things like: 1) What business are we in now and want to be in going forward? 2) What is our risk tolerance for pursuing big, game-changing ideas? In our experience, the #1 reason why game-changing innovation fails is because time is not invested up front to align the organization behind one strategic innovation agenda.
4. Visible senior management involvement. Incremental innovation can be pushed down into the organization where the strategy is clear, decision metrics are understood, and management models like Stage-Gate create a level playing field. However, for game-changing innovation it’s the opposite. The strategy is fuzzy, and traditional metrics can’t be applied early in the process, because that which is truly new has no frame of reference nor benchmark. So Stage-Gate models can unintentionally kill potentially big ideas. The pursuit of game-changing innovation only works when the person who can say yes to big spending visibly sponsors and participates in the work and provides air cover to the work team.
5. A decision-making model that fosters teamwork in support of passionate champions. Breakthroughs cannot survive without a decision-making model that is different from the one used for incremental innovation. It’s not about metrics; it’s about “the educated gut.” Old models don’t work. Autocratic decision-making fails to engage all of the critical stakeholders, while consensus sinks every decision to its lowest possible common denominator. It doesn’t work without a passionate champion who can make decisions and engage the team to support those decisions.
6. A creatively resourced, multi-functional dedicated team. The best teams have three ingredients: project champions who can make decisions during working sessions and advocate for them with executive sponsors, relevant capabilities and expertise, and naïve, seemingly irrelevant diversity. Most often a breakthrough starts with the naïve and then the experts determine how to do it.
7. Open-minded exploration of the marketplace drivers of innovation. Organizational change is driven by marketplace factors: customers, competition, government regulation, and science and technology. Only by exploring these drivers of change can a company begin to recognize what it must do to be relevant in its envisioned future.
8. Willingness to take risk and see value in absurdity. Albert Einstein once said, “If at first an idea doesn’t seem totally absurd there’s no hope for it.” Innovators understand that you have no choice; you must take risks, often big ones, by moving toward the absurd, the “seemingly” irrelevant, in order to create pre-emptive competitive advantage while competitors move in the “obvious” direction.
9. A well-defined yet flexible execution process. Companies that have been in business for a while are good at executing on small, incremental changes. And that’s challenging enough. What they don’t know how to do is nurture, support, and modify potentially big new ideas with a more flexible execution process. There are three elements to innovation execution. First, build a dedicated team for innovation. seo data . Breakthroughs cannot happen inside the performance engine — it is built for efficiency, not for innovation. Second, link the dedicated team to the performance engine so that it can leverage key assets of the core business. Third, evaluate the innovation leader for managing disciplined experiments, not for hitting short-term profit goals.

If your personal ratings total more than 70, you work in a pretty innovative environment. If your ratings fall below 70, then you may want to think about how well you are poised for the future.

Note: This post was written with Mark Sebell and Jay Terwilliger, managing partners at Creative Realities, Inc., a Boston-based innovation management collaborative.

Vijay Govindarajan is the Earl C. Daum 1924 Professor of International Business at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. His most recent book is The Other Side of Innovation.
Vijay Govindarajan


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