Hiring manager: We’re just about done here. Do you have any questions for us?
Job candidate: During the 2020 pandemic, how long did you keep your employees on the payroll? And what was your rationale? What specifically did you do to keep your employees safe?
(photo by Headway on Unsplash)
Clayton Christensen, a professor at the Harvard Business School, is best known for his theory of disruptive innovation, in which he warns large, established companies of the danger of becoming too good at what they do best.
People who knew him personally speak of a fine human being.
You can find some of his seminal Harvard Business Review pieces here.
In conversations with managers, I often hear people say something like “Well, I can’t help myself, that’s who I am, I’m” an engineer / a finance person / a lawyer, etc.
I share Stephen Fry’s consideration in The Guardian:
“We are not nouns, we are verbs.
I am not a thing – an actor, a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, I act – and I never know what I am going to do next.
I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun.”
… any more than finding a recipe will make you a great cook.
Bill Bennett reflects on the writings of Alfred North Whitehead on learning. He ends up dismissing the pursuit of “best practices” as secrets to success in favor of a culture of discovery:
- Design your organization so that it develops new capabilities;
- Make it your job, as a leader, to help your organization be better at learning;
- Structure your organization so that your people must engage with important, unsolved problems.
- Establish routines that allow for failure and reward those who try to discover;
- Build a culture that values discovering over knowing, becoming over being;
- Lead by design.
And don’t forget the secret: There is no secret1
Millennials want the same things from their employers that Generation X and Baby Boomers do:
- Challenging, meaningful work;
- Opportunities for learning, development and advancement;
- Support to successfully integrate work and personal life;
- Fair treatment and
- Competitive compensation.
And all three generations agree on the characteristics of an ideal leader: a person who
- Leads by example, is accessible,
- Acts as a coach and mentor,
- Helps employees see how their roles contribute to the organization, and
- Challenges others and holds them accountable.
Full article here.