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Leading organisational consultant, speaker and author Simon Sinek has an excellent video about which professional traits are genuinely appreciated in the workplace, and which are actually valued in terms of rewards and promotion…

What he discovered was a profound disconnect in how we evaluate those who ‘hit the numbers’ and those who are great people to work with or be managed by.

To give you the gist: in the workplace, the parameters of ‘performance’ and ‘trust’ are what set a ‘value’ to someone’s contribution.

As expected, those employees who score high in terms of both their performance and how greatly others trust them, are those seen as the most valuable, and this is reflected in their pay, status and responsibilities.

Those who are the least able to fulfill their responsibilities and who inspire a minimal amount of trust, are the most ‘unattractive’ people. Their diminished contribution and trustworthiness is also reflected in their lesser status and reward.

But then Sinek zooms into something contradictory.

And that is that, very often, professional norms reward those who score high on performance… but whose indifference to their teammates’ feelings or comfort levels rank them low in terms of ‘trust’.

These are the ‘toxic’ yet ‘high-performing’ leaders who push their people relentlessly to achieve targets, but who noone actually likes, or who actually inspire fear or anxiety, who demean and diminish their teammates’ self-respect, confidence and dignity.

Up to now, such people have often been rewarded handsomely for their high scores in ‘performance’… despite their long-term negative effect on their colleagues.

Conversely, there are those people who may not be as high-performing in terms of the numbers, yet, in the eyes of their colleagues, nevertheless score very highly in terms of trust, and who their peers know will be at their side when the pressure mounts, and unexpected trouble strikes.

These are the people who will not play blame games and seek to throw others under the bus at times when mistakes are made or losses are suffered. Who are generous and gracious when others are exhibiting weakness or pain.

And they are the same people who will share the praise and lift up others when things are going well, rather than claiming all the credit as their own.

And yet… these same high-trust-scoring people are often valued and rewarded far below the toxic ‘high performing’ people by organisations, despite the long-term cost to the team’s well-being. And even though, given enough time, the high-in-trust people can even potentially ‘overtake’ the toxic people in terms of performance.

The takeaways from these insights?

For an organisation to have a healthy work culture in the long-term, i.e. able to carry out its mission while sustaining its success… it is vital for people to feel ‘safe’ working shoulder to shoulder with each other.

It is vital that they can ‘trust’ that their leaders are as invested in their well-being as in achieving company goals.

In other words, it is vital to ‘reward’ the ‘trust’ generators and not overlook their irreplaceable contribution, because this will also signal to potential high-performance toxic people that their technical achievements will not excuse their negative relations with their teammates.

In a day and age when it is more challenging than ever to build a sustainable work culture, organisations prioritising performance at the expense of trust, will eventually fall victim to competitors optimised for trust.

To learn more about my corporate training services and to book a free consultation, please visit: www.leonidasalexandrou.com/services/evolution/

 

Remember your early twenties? I remember mine.

With a university degree under my belt and inspired by the relationships I had cultivated with both fellow students and professors, I was full of passion (still am), optimism and self-belief, and gripped by the absolute conviction that focus, discipline and clear goals were all I needed for success.

Today, hand on my heart, I still believe in those principles as crucial to professional and personal growth and achievement…

However, like all of us as we acquire real-life observations and experiences, I’ve evolved my views over time. Especially when it comes to getting young people ready for the 21st century workplace.

These days, the words on everyone’s lips are ‘disruption’, ‘automation’ and ‘Artificial Intelligence’, as well as ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

In other words, a tsunami of relentless, escalating and no-guarantees change on every level – from technological to financial to professional.

Here are a few more words: ‘unemployment’ and ‘Generation Z’.

Gen Z are the newest cohort to be showing up at hiring interviews, following on the heels of the famously entrepreneurial ‘Millennials’ or Gen Y, having been born after 1995.

More risk-averse, conservative and privacy-loving than Millennials, Gen Z have never known a pre-internet world, and they are the true digital natives.

However… my takeaways in mentoring these young people, either during the FEARLESS self-development workshops I lead, or the one-on-one mentoring I undertake throughout the year, is that most Gen Z teens are still VERY under-prepared for the skills expected in today’s workplace.

According to professional networking platform LinkedIn, the top five HARD skills that companies need most in 2019 are:

  1. Cloud computing
  2. Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)
  3. Analytical reasoning
  4. People management
  5. UX design

What about 2019’s top five most-desirable soft skills? LinkedIn tells us they are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Time management

But I think that beyond hard and soft skills… there are timeless LIFE skills which new Gen Z workforce members need to know and implement, in order to become a truly FEARLESS generation.

And these are:

  1. Cognitive flexibility (the ability to switch between thinking about two different concepts, or think about multiple concepts simultaneously)
  2. Problem solving (finding solutions to difficult or complex issues)
  3. Critical thinking (competently analysing facts to form judgments)
  4. Goal-setting and execution (the development of an action plan to motivate individuals or groups to materialise a target or achieve a pre-determined milestone)
  5. Resilience (the ability to cope with a crisis or failure, or minimise the impact of stressors or pressure)

These are the game-changer skills that people of all ages would do well to learn… and they are PARTICULARLY crucial to Gen Z, who, unlike previous generations, will have managed their home, school and social lives almost exclusively via smartphones and apps, without having had the independent opportunity to cultivate and practise the life skills listed above.

They say time waits for no man (or woman), and that is especially true today, with exponential disruption occurring across almost every industry and profession.

And for every generation still represented in the workplace – and most particularly for Gen Z hires – displaying cognitive flexibility, problem solving, critical thinking, goal-setting and resilience – are only going to grow in desirability in the years ahead.

Which is why, helping young people acquire these skills, so they become as natural as brushing teeth or riding a bike, is ultimately part of my personal mission in helping create (and grow!) a truly FEARLESS generation.

For one-on-one mentoring to transform your teen’s communication, leadership, self-management and long-term employability potential, please check out the FEARLESS track of my services by clicking here.