Our 2021 Future of Work Virtual Roundtable Series recently continued with a session from leadership consultant and author Susan Goldberg. In “Reinventing Leadership: Generation Z and the Millennial Workforce,” Goldberg discussed how reinventing leadership is a necessary and impactful exercise, especially when encouraging newer employees who may be part of the Millennial workforce.

Below is an excerpt of Goldberg’s presentation, and you can view the full session on our YouTube channel. Join us for our upcoming Future of Work sessions by signing up here. And, to experience Mursion’s virtual reality simulations and see for yourself how this platform can support your own business to achieve its leadership development and other business goals, schedule a demo today.

“I welcome you and thank you for being willing to talk about reinvention. I find that reinvention is one of the most difficult challenging subjects there is. If you are here, you have courage. You are my superheroes. 

However you came here, I believe that you were being called to step into a greater leadership position. You realize that in our uncertain circumstances, they call for reinventing leadership, or you wouldn’t be here. I have lived reinvention inside and out. I’ve studied it. I have analyzed it. I know that with reinvention, if you use these three elements, you can increase opportunities, commitment, and productivity.

The Power of Regular Reinvention

Would you mind if I told you a little bit about a personal story? It’s my personal reinvention story. Every day I get to experience the light because I get to work as a catalyst with my clients so they can realize their potential. I built a business doing what I love to do and I’ve had to reinvent myself many times before I got here.

Earlier in my career I was a marketing director and I was hired by Bloomingdale’s to relaunch a prestige brand under Bloomingdale’s. I had never been the entire marketing department for such a big brand before. I had lots of bosses. I had the creative director, the head of sales, the head of this particular brand at every single one of these stores that are merchandising. I reported to all of them.

There was no one there to train me because the person who was in this role previously, who’d been there for years, left months before. I was creating my own roadmap. A few months in, the head of sales calls me into his office. ‘Leave. Go. You are a disaster. You cannot do this job. You should be in the back office crunching numbers. You should not be working with people. Don’t let the door slam behind you.’

I felt ashamed, lousy, embarrassed. I lived with that for a few months until I realized I don’t have to agree with my former boss. I could make my own version of me. What had he been missing when he judged me so quickly? He didn’t see what was really there and all my talents and what I could have brought to the brand when he fired me so quickly. This caused me to connect with people deeply, people who’ve been in similar situations who hadn’t had the necessary training, who didn’t feel valued in their career, who didn’t know which way to turn.

I took this experience truly, deeply connecting with people, and I took it to a new field, executive search. If anyone knows anything about executive search, it’s all about people. You are finding people. You’re interviewing people. You are doing reference checks for people. You’re onboarding them. I rose from research associate to associate, to principal, to partner. Before I started my own executive search firm, I was the first female partner in a 12-office executive search firm.

As president of my trade association, I had increased membership to 200%. Then, in 2017 my firm was recognized by Forbes as one of the top executive search firms. I brought some of that same reinvention and that connection to people when I started Susan Goldberg Leadership Consulting. Now, I’d be working with people who, for whatever reason, were facing obstacles and challenges in their current role.

I would work with them so we could remove those blocks and they could succeed and reach their potential. Companies could hold onto them longer and they’d be able to implement what they were meant to bring. When I work with someone, I teach them to look at reinvention from all sides. Because I learned that the ability to reinvent is critical, I believe that I’m being called to share these three elements for you to increase productivity, commitment, and opportunities.

How the Individual Benefits the Whole

I want to make sure you walk away with implemental strategies you can use right away on these three elements of reinventing leadership, when it looks to you both as an individual and within an organization that there are five generations in the workforce today. Everybody brings value. In today’s world where everything is short, curt, texting, emails, instantly judging or assuming, there’s a lot more that you are missing out on. Making the time and having the curiosity to get beyond the surface paves rich roads for self-discovery and potential.

If you reinvent leadership through the lens we’re talking about and use these three elements to get beyond the shortsightedness, the dismissals, you have access to contacts and resources you never realized before. Leadership today is about getting results and bringing out the best so an organization thrives. Understanding people are individuals and, as humans, they bring along with them certain benefits that come from when they were born. Also, understanding every generation has merit and brings along certain qualities, resources, and experiences is to embrace all of what people bring to the organization and why it’s important to value and retain all of them.

First element: recognize. When you’re recognizing someone, you’re truly seeing them as special and unique, this breathing, wonderful human being.

You see them, they’re not a role, or a title, or a category, or a generation. Everyone, regardless of their background, age, role, title, wants to succeed and accomplish and get stuff done. I want to feel valued, appreciated, and learn how to be even better at what they do. Forty percent of employed Americans say they’d put more energy into their work if they were fully recognized as what they uniquely bring more often.

An individual in an organization has value. It’s important to understand the totality of what they bring, that value, their gifts, their experiences, their talents, their abilities. This way, you can understand what they can personally bring to an organization.

Second element: redefine. Once you have seen someone, you can then experience them in a new light when you redefine them. To redefine what you had thought previously, which no longer matters. Let’s talk about redefining. The ability to redefine yourself is a bold, daring, and purposeful choice. It doesn’t just happen. You have to make a conscious, intentional choice and then follow through. For instance, forging a new path, changing habits, thought patterns, and your inner circle of friends.

Third element: retain. Once you see someone and you have redefined their value, you want to hold on to them because you know what you have, you know what their potential is, whether they’re a team member, an associate, a resource, or just an alternative voice, you want them to stick around both for you and for the organization.

Encouraging Leadership in the Millennial Workforce and Beyond

In order for an organization to retain promising enterprising and driven employees, according to Jim Clifton, who’s a CEO of Gallup, you have to answer yes to three questions. I’m going to say these twice in case you missed them. At work, my opinions count, someone encourages my development, and I have the opportunity to do what I do best.

At work, my opinions count, someone encourages my development, and I have the opportunity to do what I do best.

According to a white paper from O.C. Tanner on engagement and retention: 79 percent of people quit their jobs of lack of appreciation. You may have actually been in that place before. I have a story that could have gone that way. I have a client who was a managing director at Accenture. She didn’t feel like her boss and her client saw her. She didn’t think they valued her work, her integrity, her professionalism, her leadership. She felt like a failure, and she was ready to quit, and that’s when she reached out to me. We worked together, and I discovered, she had all these senior-level contacts at the company, and she wasn’t talking to them. We made a plan, and the plan was, she would talk to them and plant the seeds for a new role.

So, she had these conversations, and she planted these seeds. We discovered, these senior executives at the organization, not only did they see her, they valued her contribution. The last thing they wanted was for her to leave.

Given a few months’ time, she found a new role. It was a new role, with much greater visibility globally. She was reporting into an executive, a leader, who was actually able to teach her leadership skills and other things she hadn’t been able to receive before. For the first time she had a team reporting into her, and that team adored her. The reason they adored her was because they understood that she listened to them, she really heard them. If you feel like you’re being heard and appreciated, and your voice matters in your role and at your company, how likely are you to want to leave?

Bringing this to the bigger picture. The majority of organizations are suffering right now. How many of them would benefit from increased market share, increased revenue, new products, leveraging what and who they already have, but they don’t know? It starts with leadership. You can reinvent what it means to be a leader. When you find yourself making quick assessments, you can use these three elements: recognize, redefine, retain. Again, recognize, redefine, retain. See beyond the superficial into the potential for increased productivity, commitment, and opportunity.

Productivity, because if people are recognized, they want more of that, so they want to do more. Commitment, because if your work is being appreciated, you’re more bonded to it, you’re more bonded to the company and the people around you. And, opportunities, because now that you see individuals’ skills and resources, you can utilize them. If you find yourself having a conversation, and you feel like you’re on another planet, or you’re speaking another language, you can use these three elements to discover who this person is. Because, what is essential isn’t visible to the eye. 

If you do this exercise, it will take you through the first of the three elements, and that is, recognize. You can have a lot of fun with this. You can think of one person from each generation, that you think is just special and unique, and you want to tell them how wonderful they are. Then you’re going to email, or give it to them, or call them, however way that you want, but you’re basically writing a testimonial for them, that one person in each generation, and those other ages, and recognizing just how wonderful and how important they’ve been to you. It’s wonderful to be able to do this, but also how you feel, after you’ve recognized someone, is not something I can even communicate. You have to experience it yourself.”

by Wendy

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