Guide on the side

Be a Guide on the Side in Corporate America

The way we communicate and the way we conduct business has changed drastically over the course of my career. So it’s no surprise the way young people are learning nowadays has evolved too. To adapt, the role of the educator has largely shifted from lecturer to “guide on the side.” Teachers are no longer the source of information, they are facilitators and curators of information—empowering students to think for themselves. So how can we apply this model to a professional setting? Here are some tips on how to adopt this methodology and reap the results in the corporate world:

Ask, Don’t Tell
A cornerstone of guided instruction is the notion of student-centered learning. With this approach, students are encouraged to contribute ideas and even help plan curriculum. Lessons are initiated with questions, not long, drawn-out lectures.

Similarly, many innovative companies have adopted an employee-centered work environment. Google allows its engineers to construct their own work spaces. Zappos has weaved in team building activities into its company culture. At Apple, your work isn’t only evaluated by your superiors but by your peers as well.

Companies such as these have realized that good ideas don’t necessarily come from the top down. And just like educators have observed in student-centered classrooms, employee-centered workplaces offer better opportunities for internal motivation, goal setting and perseverance.

Change the Game
What works for some, may not work for all. It’s up to the educator or manager to recognize this and change their approach when needed. National educational consultant and author, Rick Wormeli has said, “I might teach the way that’s uncomfortable for me, but that’s fine. My success comes from my students’ success.” Same goes for managers. Their team’s success is a reflection of how well they lead.

Teaching strategies like think-ask-tell and KWL foster collaboration and critical thinking that can be implemented in department meetings and performance reviews. Using the KWL technique as an example, employees would be prompted to state what they know about their current role and what they would like to learn as they progress. Then, when the next performance period rolls around, that supervisor can review that employee’s initial thoughts and ask him or her to reflect on what he or she has learned.

Certainly, applying new managerial strategies are not easy and require effort from all levels of employees. But, fostering a collaborative, engaged team that is passionate about the work they do will only generate positive results.

Do you work for an employee-centered organization? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the effectiveness of this environment.

Are you an Intrapreneur?

I believe that most people have the desire to create; whether it’s a business, a nonprofit, a work of art, there’s an entrepreneurial spirit in many of us. Today, companies are tapping into the entrepreneurial spirit of their employees by supporting and elevating intrapeneurs within their organizations. Are you an intraprenuer?

Intrapreneurship is known as the practice of a corporate management style that integrates risk-taking and innovation approaches, as well as the reward and motivational techniques that are more traditionally thought of as being the province of entrepreneurship. The term is not new, it’s been around since its first mention in a business paper in 1978, but today, the concept has morphed into something bigger. So big, in fact, that it is considered a movement. Check out the League of Intrapreneurs, where you will surely be inspired.

So where can you find intrapreneurs today? Most people envision the intrapreneur in a startup environment, where innovation and change move at warp speed with a pivot happening every day. True, there are many folks within those organizations who are risk takers and innovators but there is a growing army of intraprenuers within large corporations. And these folks are shifting the course of these companies from the inside. Let’s see if you fit the profile:

Do you dream of starting your own business one day?

Are you a problem solver who looks outside of your position/capabilities to find the best solution?

Are you comfortable failing?

Have you successfully built and led a team?

Is your desire for success infectious?

If you answered yes to the questions above, happily accept the badge of intraprenuership. Wear your new title with pride because we are certain you will excel within your organization and ultimately help lead and shape it.

How do you define intraprenuership? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Looking for a job that invests in intraprenuers? Lets talk.

Baby boomer

Baby Boomers in the Workforce – What’s Next?

I recently blogged about the Truth about Millennials in the Workforce. I hope that I displaced some of your misconceptions and offered you a new perspective on this misunderstood generation. Now let’s take a look at baby boomers and what lies ahead for this group of workers.

The U.S. Census defines baby boomers as people born during the Post–World War II era between 1946 and 1964. For boomers like myself, our careers are likely winding down. We’re thinking about retirement. Yet, many baby boomers are choosing to stay in the workforce. About 35 percent of workers continue to work past the age of 65. The reasons for staying employed vary—from financial need to wanting to work.

There is also a concerted effort by employers to keep skilled professionals in the workforce, creating more of a phased approach for the exit of those within retirement age. Businesses are trying to Stave off the Brain Drain, because there are not as many qualified professionals ready to assume the positions of those retiring. Companies are creating flexible work hours, additional benefits and more opportunities for those reaching retirement. Anything to keep older workers engaged so they can train and mentor younger employees.

However, this trend will surely have a ripple effect down the road. The prolonged rate at which people are retiring will certainly impact opportunities for younger generations, who will now have to wait longer to gain seniority.

But what I find most interesting is some of the commonalities between the two generational spectrums—millennials and baby boomers. While the millennials make demands for life/work balance and company authenticity, baby boomers are looking for much of the same. I think both groups can find common ground on many things, learn from one another’s experiences and work together to create a more skilled and happier workforce.

Are you baby boomer who is choosing to retire later? What would be your advice to millennials and vice versa? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Barefoot Leadership

Earlier this month we learned to talk like a leader; now we’ll walk like one. Barefoot Leadership is described in the internationally renowned book of the same name. The book chronicles real-life ‘barefoot leaders,’ how they overcame adversity and led their ‘followers’ to success. In a nutshell, barefoot leaders are those who are not afraid to go against the grain to do what’s right. I think the following characteristics exemplify a true barefoot leader:

Doing the right thing is oftentimes not the most popular course of action. Whether you’re facing a boardroom of superiors or a crowd of influential people – it’s scary to speak up. Regardless of the setting, letting go of your reservations and rolling the dice on the outcome is empowering. This can mean accepting responsibility for your actions and avoiding the blame game or making a move that seems unorthodox.

Lead by example. What better way to build trust among your followers than by showing them that you are not afraid to back down. This is how socio-political movements are born. Just remember that you are leading, not dictating, so leave your iron fist at the door. One of the core principles of barefoot leadership is that everyone is important; so don’t take a cheap shot, even against your adversaries. That builds respect.

Barefoot Leadership author, Alvin Ung, states that if leaders don’t possess the “5 C’s: conviction, character, capacity, compass and a (higher) consciousness…we don’t find them inspiring.” David Sivers’ TED Talk puts these ideas into context, albeit in a humorous way. He profiles a dancing, shirtless and, yes, barefoot guy who inspires others to join him in his groove. The lesson here is that anyone, not only CEOs and politicians, can be influential, effective leaders.

What do you think about barefoot leadership? Do you think it’s an effective leadership style? Share your thoughts with me below.