My advice to Gen Zers: Differentiate yourself from your peers to compete for that next promotion by meeting/exceeding expectations and have a sense of ownership for what you are responsible for. Demonstrate your value proposition. Exercise initiative and creativity. Undertake assignments that push you outside your comfort zone. Challenge paradigms, which are established ways of doing things. Be an influencer. This is how you grow professionally.
We should all be guided by what I identify as “fundamental principles” of effective leadership. Unfortunately, many leaders in business, nonprofits and politics miss the mark. They are not effective leaders. To guide the next generation of leaders, these fundamental principles need to be taught to all undergraduate students, regardless of their major. Many of them will assume leadership positions during their careers. This is what they need to know.
The best talent will want to work for companies where there is a high level of trust with the senior leadership and among fellow employees. This is the type of company at which we all want to work. Whether you are the CEO, a mid-level manager or an individual contributor with no direct reports, trust needs to be earned. So, how do you earn the trust of others?
In complex organizations with multiple lines of business, when should a staff service be centralized at corporate and when should it report into a business? If that service is mission critical to the success of the business unit by being part of that unit, that service should report directly into the business unit. Otherwise, the service should be centralized.
Be sure to perform due diligence on any board you are thinking about joining. Understand the boardroom culture. Do some directors have an agenda that might steer decisions in a direction against the best interests of the company? Do directors have sufficient experience to ensure good governance? Is the CEO open and transparent with the board on issues impacting the company? Are the directors people you would enjoy working with?
How do people really get promoted? Doing the hard work is part of the equation, but its not going to be enough to get ahead. It’s about meeting/exceeding the expectations that your manager never tells you about. It’s about the unspoken rules that are not in your job description.
Facing the brutal facts and addressing them early can prevent disastrous consequences later. Valery Legasov, the hero of the HBO miniseries “Chernobyl,” stated, “Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid.” I cannot think of a more appropriate statement that describes the importance of facing the brutal facts of reality. In addition to Chernobyl, this also applies to the Titan implosion, the Challenge disaster and global warming.
A toxic corporate culture is the result of a CEO setting a tone at the top that tolerates toxic people within their organization. As the CEO, you should never tolerate a toxic individual. They cause great harm to your organization. If they cannot rapidly change their management style, part company with them.
Speaking about people who quiet quit and only do the minimum required, Mark Cuban said, “Don’t apply for a job with me… The one thing in life that you control is your effort, and being willing to do so is a huge competitive advantage. Most people don’t.”
The equitable treatment of employees and fairness of any disciplinary action needs to be made using common sense and good critical judgment. It doesn’t appear that this was done by Starbucks when deciding to fire Phillips. This was an expensive lesson for Starbucks. It’s a lesson for all organizations.
You have “served in the trenches,” acquiring the skills of all successful businesspeople through real-time experiences that have monetary consequences—much different than only learning from case studies sitting in a classroom. Most undergraduates don’t have these experiences until they are well into their careers.
Always hire people with common sense and good critical judgment, because someday they may need to violate company policy or their authority to save the company money, reduce liability exposure or protect its reputation. Employees who on occasion violate company policy for the right reasons are your change agents and future leaders. Celebrate them.