The Millennial Challenge

The Millennial Challenge

Last week I was at the Niagara Economic Summit where they tackled some issues related to employment in the Niagara Region including a power talk on the topic of millennials. The millennial discussion was led by a panel of millennial speakers including Chris Sinclair, Julie Rorison, Allie Hughes, Alyssa Lai, Stephanie Harper, and Stephen Murdoch. In the discussion, the panellists spoke about the way Millennials differ from previous generations. I call this the Millennial Challenge. Gen Y differs in their work styles and their experiences and perceptions of employees and employers. The panellists also shared some strategies for other millennials to get themselves started in the work force.I have recently been doing some work supporting the start-up of a non-profit focused on helping millennials make the leap from student to productive professional. I found the discussion at the Summit fascinating given some research I've been doing in that work. It is one thing to read professional research and perspectives on...
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What Have You Done For Me Lately?

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

I was speaking with someone recently who had recently been downsized from a company that they had been with for over 15 years. Over that 15 years they had moved up the corporate ladder and were regarded as a rising star in the organization early in their career. Over the past couple of years however their political "stock" had started to fall as the organization had shifted their focus and direction slightly and there had been some turnover in the senior management team. Ultimately this individual had been part of a broad set of job reductions that the company had taken to improve productivity.They were lamenting the fact that they had given 15 years of their life and hard work to an organization that didn't appreciate that legacy and they were feeling very "hard done by" by the whole situation. Having recently gone through a similar experience myself it gave me a great opportunity to reflect on what was different...
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Diversity: The Art of Thinking Independently Together

Diversity: The Art of Thinking Independently Together

The word "diversity" is thrown around in corporate circles on a regular basis, but like many such common corporate words (like "innovation", "synergy", "culture", or "strategy") the word itself doesn't carry a common meaning and so it loses a great deal of its power. Sometimes people mean diversity in terms of race, heritage, or origin. Sometimes it means diversity in terms of gender. Rarely does it meet the standard of diversity that I think it needs to. The most important fact about American liberty is that it has never been a single idea, but a set of different and even contrary traditions in creative tension with one another. This diversity of libertarian ideas has created a culture of freedom which is more open and expansive than any unitary tradition alone could possibly be. David Hackett Fischer While the quote above is focused on an American concept the foundation of the quote is universal. Diversity is a broad concept that requires leaders to...
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Leading to Outcomes

Leading to Outcomes

One of the more successful strategies I have seen managers take in their organizations has been shifting their focus from managing the process to leading to outcomes. In the age of employee empowerment, one of the best ways to allow your team to feel like they have a say in the work is to allow them some flexibility in the process and approach. As long as they deliver the desired outcome, they should be able to define the path. The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it. Theodore Roosevelt I would suggest that the act of simply managing for outcomes isn't enough in the current corporate environment. Setting goals and offering flexibility in the approach by Leading to Outcomes is a far more effective approach. If you retain the concept of managing in the approach, you won't achieve the full...
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Emotion Leads to Action

Emotion Leads to Action

I joined a group of Niagara professionals at IdeaShare yesterday for breakfast and met some very inspiring entrepreneurs who had some great stories to share. The IdeaShare concept is essentially a Mastermind group (think Napoleon Hill - Think and Grow Rich) where a group of business leaders and entrepreneurs get together to discuss issues that are relevant to their business and the rest of the members provide advice and/or thoughts that might help them work through their challenge.At the end of the meeting, Dennis O'Neill shared something he was told by a mentor previously in his life which was resonating with him - and it definitely resonated with me: Logic leads to conclusion; emotion leads to action. (more…)...
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Connecting Strategy and Execution

Connecting Strategy and Execution

I will be speaking next week at the Bank-IT Conference on the topic of "Building a Full Stack Strategy: Integrating Strategy from Business Vision to Tech Execution" so I felt that I would share some of my thinking more broadly here. While my discussion next week is focused on the Technology area, connecting strategy to execution is critical across the organization. Integrated strategy drives execution excellence.Too many organizations build their strategy in a silo. The strategy is separate from the business lines and supporting organizations required to execute. In many organizations, you'll find "Strategic Management" offices or "CEO Strategy Board" functions. These teams operate at the highest level of the organization and focus on the macro issue and strategy. They then pass their plans and white papers off to the supporting teams on the assumption that will result in the execution of those plans.(more…)...
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Who Are You?

Who Are You?

I've been thinking a lot lately about how I define myself as a person. What parts of my life define who I am and if I'm asked what would I consider the most important things to communicate about who I am? What I've found is that by taking a good long look at all of the components of my life I have been able to create a better framework for how I face daily challenges and big decisions.(more…)...
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Take Chances When Opportunity Strikes

Take Chances When Opportunity Strikes

I've recently had new opportunities present itself on multiple fronts in my life both personally and professionally. Those opportunities couldn't be different from one another in their context, but upon reflection I think my potential success in both cases is very similar.The key to my success will be a willingness to take chances when the opportunities exist. If I spend too much time thinking and weighing options or and don't commit myself to my first step toward the goal then I will likely doom myself to either failure or minimal success.(more…)...
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Don’t Play a Leader… BE a Leader

Don’t Play a Leader… BE a Leader

I got out to play some shinny hockey this morning (I'm a goalie) and the two hour session could best be described as a tale of two halves. I played on Monday and had a great session, was seeing the puck well, and seemed to be able to stop almost everything. Today when I got started I wasn't seeing the puck at all and everything seemed to be going in. Being an analytical type I decided to think about what was different between Monday and today and see if I could change how things were going.Then it hit me... today I was trying to hard to "play" goal while on Monday I was just being a goalie. It's a subtle difference, but when I realized it my play immediately improved and I was even better today than I was on Monday (frustrating the heck out of the other team in the process).(more…)...
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What Are You Feeling?

What Are You Feeling?

I've spent a fair bit of time reflecting over the past few months about what I've always considered to be more of a "non-business" issue - feelings. Through that reflection and reading however, I believe I have connected some dots for myself that I thought might be valuable to share more broadly. What I've discovered is that the times where I have been most successful in my career as a leader (and personally as well) have been when I stopped trying to separate feelings from work and actually embraced them.(more…)...
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