As a businessman with a full-time job and a brood of growing children, quiet time on the weekend is scarce. On a recent Sunday, however, my wife and I found ourselves with two full hours of this precious, uncommon time. All three kids were on the same nap schedule and the yard work and housework was complete. Time to relax.
My wife quickly fell asleep, taking a well-deserved nap! As I’m sure some of you know, taking care of three kids under the age of four is no easy task. Because I am incapable of napping, I turned on the television to find the PGA’s Players Championship coverage. The competition was winding down and the last men standing promised to be an eventful ending to the tournament.
It was during this uninterrupted quiet time that I witnessed a commercial that might be the best of all time. Seriously, I am talking better than any other commercial in the history of television commercials. I know that there might be some people who will debate me on this, but honestly, what I saw was pure genius.
At Solutions 21, we are a global consulting firm that primarily focuses on building better bosses, shaping strategy, and preparing people. We discuss the art and science of these things within leadership. Part of the science behind our method is something called the Reticular Activating System. Your RAS is located in your brain stem and acts as your brain’s front door. You can literally program your brain, or your RAS, to accept or refuse information. Needless to say, once you see this commercial, you’ll understand why my RAS was triggered and the 15-second advertisement uncharacteristically mesmerized me.
Take a look for yourself here. I’ll wait!
Well? Wasn’t that genius?! I mean, really! Regardless of whether or not you play golf, I’m sure you can relate to this commercial. I’m sure you have someone in your life that always has the answer. The advice-giver. The quick-fix-er. The Johnny know-it-all.
In my line of work, I constantly face pushback from senior folks who think that developing a high-potential employee is as simple as “keeping your head down.” What’s even worse, when these emerging leaders aren’t properly developed, or decide to leave, these executives say something like, “See? I told them to keep their head down when they hit the golf ball!”
Development is intimate. Much more intimate than what is being practiced in today’s workforce. Demographics clearly state that in less than 10 years the overwhelming majority (75%) of the global workforce will be Millennials. These are the same folks we are telling to “just keep your head down and watch the golf ball.” These are the folks that will be leading businesses for the next 30+ years.
Let me share this piece of information with you, sort of a secret message to current leadership, if you will: You have something we Millennials want and crave! (I’ll pause for reaction.) The experience and wisdom you possess is invaluable to us. If communicated and revealed properly, it helps to develop a culture that creates and promotes knowledge transfer. Customize a plan for the folks who need to develop the leadership principles that are necessary to be an effective leader. Create an employee lifecycle process that allows you to recruit the best talent and mold them to reach their true potential.
I am not a fan of quotes. Ever. Kind of like commercials. This quote, however, spoke to me; a lot like the commercial. During Peyton Manning’s retirement press conference he quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson by saying, “Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he could be, and he will become what he should be.”
This is a burning platform on which we are standing! These cookie-cutter classes, two-day seminars, and 20th-century methods are simply not working. Telling someone to “keep their head down” as the only feedback they receive is exactly what we are doing as leaders in today’s workforce. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Development must be ongoing and intentional. Just like in golf, there is no quick-fix solution.
It’s not about ping pong tables, free lunches, or company happy hours. As a Millennial myself I can tell you with 100% certainty that those incentives are nice. But what I want the most is to be led by a strong leader!