Mindset is the real divide between the talent you want and the talent you don’t, says Maite Barón, CEO of The Corporate Escape, but changing ‘old’ corporate ways of thinking to embraces this is going to require an organisational evolution
From an early age we learn to divide the world into groups, from picking playground teams at school to then doing pretty much the same at work in later life.
Given the recent downturn and austerity measures, recruitment selection criteria have been more and more about cost. That's allowed younger, in other words often cheaper, workers to leapfrog their seniors into the relatively few managerial positions available.
This has spawned something of a workplace generation gap, with youthful ‘Millennials’ winning out over older baby-boomers, who are being increasingly side-lined and marginalised.
Not just a generation gap
However, through many years working as a leadership, executive and business coach with corporate employees at all levels, and across many sectors, I’ve come to realise that there’s another generation gap that’s far less obvious, and far from secondary.
This is the divide between two opposing tribes who are not divided by chronology, but by mindset – I’ve coined the SUPER– (negative) and the SUPER+ (positive) generations®, and I describe them in more detail in my book ‘Corporate Escape: the Rise of the New Entrepreneur’.
This difference in mindset is a fundamental division that can’t be ignored by managers or business leaders. This is because there is an urgent and growing need to identify individuals with the capacity to think and behave in a way that embraces change, and who have the resilience to function effectively in a business world that is ever more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.
In this environment, we are all faced with one of two choices: either make a conscious decision to take control whatever events we face, or relinquish ownership of our lives and be swept along on a tidal wave of change.
Though I have applied the acronym SUPER to both groups, it has a very different meaning in each case, seeking as it does to capture the unique characteristics of these two generations.
So members of the SUPER– Generation® will tend to be;
- Superficial - focused largely on possessions and external appearance
- Unfulfilled - they tend to feel ‘empty’ because possessions and appearance aren’t delivering satisfaction
- Pessimistic - with few ‘anchors’ in their lives, they feel out of control, unwilling to take responsibility for their own behaviour and actions, leading them to feel ‘negative’ about the future
- Egocentric - they tend to be self-centred, believing that the world is all about ‘them’
- Restless - since life is never particularly fulfilling for them, they are always searching for more possessions and the next ‘new thing’
Unfortunately, a large percentage of those you will find yourself with at work will be fully paid up members of the SUPER- (negative) Generation® club.
On the other hand there are those who fall in the SUPER+ (positive) Generation®. Unlike their counterparts, you will find them to be;
- Successful, because they don’t wait for things to happen, but make them happen
- Unconventional, with an individual take on the world that sets them apart
- Passionate about what they do, making them an inspiration to others, particularly when it comes to pushing projects forward; they aim to make a difference in the world, a trait that is often exhibited in their
- Entrepreneurial and enterprising in their mindset
- Relational, and by that I mean they will instinctively appreciate that we live in a world where ‘us’ is more important than ‘you’ or ‘me’.
It’s those who are in the SUPER+ Generation® that most managers will want on their side, but it’s these very characteristics that will drive them to seek success outside the corporate world.
And of course it’s also the SUPER+ Generation® that you most want to keep within an organisation, but they are the ones best able to survive outside it.
The very fact that SUPER+ people can’t fully express their innate characteristics within the corporate environment or big business is likely to be the catalyst for them to leave and apply their entrepreneurial thinking elsewhere. And as working for yourself increasingly becomes the first choice option for many, you should anticipate an exodus of senior workers, who will go on to success as independent contractors, freelancers, iPros, business owners and entrepreneurs.
This will be the case particularly with older and more experienced employees – 40+ and with their chosen career ladder all but at an end as they’re overtaken by younger ‘digital natives’, the incentive for them to stay and tough it out isn’t great.
So, when thinking about your next appointment, maybe it’s time to give being in possession of a SUPER+ mindset a little more weight than youthful enthusiasm.
Maite Baron is a coach at The Corporate Escape and author of ‘Corporate Escape: Rise Of The New Entrepreneur’ - Edge and inspire readers can download a free Kindle or iPad copy here