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Energizer Blog

  • Writer's pictureEileen McDargh

The Alphabet Gives Clues for Tomorrow's Leaders

Traditional titles in organizations offer little insight into what research says today's workers and the incoming generation are seeking. A salary and good health care benefits are givens. But here is what else a Deloitte Millennial survey reported: workers want purposeful work, the ability to blend work and life, and an opportunity for growth and advancement. My data also says they want a place where laughter and fun are not forbidden.

Furthermore, the term "leader" doesn't just belong in a C-suite. Rather, a resilient organization that will attract and retain talent works diligently to make sure that a culture is created in which everyone has a title. After all, engagement is a two-way street. Just as a marriage doesn't work if only one partner is doing the heavy lifting, so too in business.

Go beyond the titles of CEO, COO, CIO and CTO. In fact, these titles only use three of the available vowels. Look what happens if an organization gives everyone a few other titles.

The CAO is the Chief Accountability Officer. The questions that all would be asked to consider are these:

· What are you holding yourself accountable for?

· At the end of the day, what did you achieve?

· What are you doing to develop your personal and professional skills?

· How have you leveraged your network?

· Have you asked for feedback to assess your performance?

· How are you integrating your work with your life and controlling what you can?

· How could you benefit from 360 feedback? Note that these questions also apply to the CEO, COO, CIO and CTO.

The CUO is the Chief Understanding Officer. The softest skills are also the hardest skills to master. Without understanding the needs and values of others, it is difficult to effectively communicate and solve challenges as well as look for opportunities - all hallmarks of a resilient organization. This is why I always start every management offsite with a segment that allows participants to understand each other better. Consider these questions:

  • How well do you understand the customer or client? What does he or she really need from you? What value can you add?

  • How well do you understand your colleagues? Remember the platinum rule: treat others as they wish to be treated - not as you wish to be treated.

  • Are you listening to yourself with understanding? What will help you feel a sense of purpose and pleasure?

Without understanding, which is a function of deep listening, it is hard to move forward. The book of Proverbs was right: seek first to understand rather than to be understood.

Lastly, to varying degrees – even for the sternest is the CYO: Chief Yippee Officer. No one wants to work with or buy from people whose faces are carved in stone or people who can barely grunt a greeting much less smile with genuine delight. To be sure, some will grab this title with gusto, making themselves in charge of merriment, fun, and finding the humor that creates a spark for creativity. For others, a "yippee" might be couched in feeling the joy of accomplishment. When you laugh at "it", you can live with it. If everyone held this title of CYO, there would be no room for the person who casts a black cloud over others, who complains constantly, who moans about every assignment. Some people develop eye strain just looking for trouble. A CYO does NOT seek trouble.

Consider adopting these three additional vowels in the Romance languages: A, U, and Y when crafting and keeping a resilient organization. Best of all, there is no cost, no board approval, or statute of limitations. Begin today with accountability, understanding, and laughter. Tomorrow is too late. The future for leaders starts now.

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