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I Want to Contribute. Will You Let Me?

By October 31, 2016February 14th, 2019Articles, Leadership

contribution“People may hear your words but they feel your attitude.” John Maxwell

Last week I met with a passionate, switched on and very confident woman. You know how sometimes you meet people who’ve just go it? This is Laura. She is a millennial and so keen to be part of something meaningful and to contribute to creating a great culture in the company she works for.

Laura is someone I would want working for me. As the great John Maxwell said, having one person with passion is with worth 99 people who are interested. So I simply assumed her company were embracing her with open arms and welcoming the contribution she was so willing to give. I was wrong!

As our conversation continued she told me about a situation where, with her General Manager’s blessing, Laura took some ideas to the CEO of the company as to how they could improve the culture of the business. The catalyst for Laura coming up with the proposal was the recent increase in the number of people leaving the business because they weren’t happy. Laura told me she went to great lengths to ensure the conversation was positive, to not criticize but to offer ideas how ‘we’ collaboratively could improve.

As the CEO, what would you do in this situation? Remember, he’s busy, is probably unaware there is a problem and in this case is driven by results.

What the CEO should do is listen, ask questions and thank Laura for being so invested in the company. Instead, what this CEO did was to cut her down, raise his voice and recommended she keep her ideas to herself unless asked. Understandable, Laura was very upset by this and crept back to her desk in dismay and feeling completely disempowered.

Yes, a modern day leader still responds in this manner. I hope you are as shocked and horrified that this happened to her as I was. And yes this situation is real. Laura isn’t her real name but this happened last week!

Clearly there’s a reason the company is losing people. The fish rots from the head. And the CEO is rotting in what I am guessing is busyness leading to irrelevance right now. There is no excuse for that behaviour.

Leaders, you need to think differently about how you’re leading your people.

It’s so common for leaders to be struggling to work out how to engage the millennial generation and how to get them to stay longer than a year or two in our organisations. What we need to realise is the Millennial’s are no different to us in what they want for a company they work for. They want to be valued, they want to feel as though they have contributed, they want to be able to reach their true potential and they want to be respected. Is that so different to what you wanted when you were or are progressing through your career?

Laura is now considering her options and whilst this situation won’t stop her from trying to influence what she can at ground level to make the working environment a better place for her team members she doesn’t see this company as a place to progress or where her true potential will be realized.

Do you blame her?