March 9, 2010

Org Purgatory Defined: Being a GenX Leader with a 2.0 Millennial Mind

Recently, via pretty much any social network and email system I belong to, the ‘How Millennial Are You’ quiz was making the rounds.

For disclosure purposes, I scored 82/100.

I am currently 38 years young and for most of my existence on Earth, I have lead pretty much anything I have come into contact with including but not limited to school presidencies, athletic captainships, corporate world roles and community endeavours. Not boasting, just providing some colour for you the reader about this humble ENTJ blog scribe.

My natural leadership DNA tendency is to include, involve, engage and be mindful of the human element … at all costs. Without the team, nothing gets accomplished. There’s an unattached adage I live by, which is “we’re not here to see through each other, we’re here to see each other through”.

This brings me to the aforementioned title point of purgatory.

Although potentially frivolous and certainly not scientific, the quiz mentioned above demonstrated to me that many leaders (regardless of generational classification) have 2.0 tendencies that Millennials also employ, but there are many individuals working in organizations locked into a 1.0 framework. Not bad, per se, merely an observation.

Don Tapscott (1998) describes Millennials using defined themes: (1) independence, (2) openness, (3) inclusion, (4) strong viewpoints and free expression, (5) innovation, (6) early maturation, (7) investigative, (8) immediacy, (9) consumer savvy, and (10) authenticity. Skiba & Barton (2006) augmented the definition to contain attributes such as interactivity, connectivity, and collaboration.

Forthrightly, I’m all of that.

As organizations wrestle with the latest 2.0 technologies, we not only need to stop, drop and roll, we need to think through how these defined themes not only affect Millennials, but how they affect leaders/employees of the organization who have demonstrated these traits for years. It’s not just a Millennial thing. It’s an everybody thing.

Secondly, the defined themes and traits of a Millennial, to me, are merely the definition of the new 2.0 organization itself. Call it Work 2.0, Future of Work, Future of Management, Culture of Collaboration  … I don’t care … it’s the evolution of the workplace, and it’s happening right now … across the entire globe.

Millennial, GenX, Boomers, Silent Generation, etc. are simply labels and we are retrofitting those labels into the culture of an organization. The culture of your organization is the single most important aspect to focus on if you want increased revenue, profits, customer satisfaction, etc. The identity of your organizations rests on finding ways in which to bring the Tapscott, Skiba and Barton themes to life, regardless of generational vernacular.

Once this is accepted, adopted and implemented, only then will the 2.0 technologies make sense for the organization.

I am a GenX leader with a Millennial frame of mind; I’m a blue ribbon personality who wants to ensure the entire team is treated equally and fairly. I want to ensure the team is continuously being engaged to explore options, ideas and opportunities before decision making or execution is underway. I use the latest (and sometimes greatest) 2.0 technologies to foster a collaborative work environment. This is fast becoming the new ‘norm’ from a bottoms-up perspective, but it’s incumbent upon ‘the organization’ to sort out how the technologies can assist the culture, which in turn assists the people inside of the organization to feel engaged and a part of the answer.

In conclusion, what is organizational purgatory?

Organizational purgatory slaps the Millennial label solely on Millennials. Taking the characteristics of a Millennial and attaching them to the cultural fabric of tomorrow’s organization is as 2.0 as it can get.

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