Bette Price is a good writer, and a thorough researcher. (She also attends the First Friday Book Synopsis, and has since we began in 1998).
Her earlier book, co-authored with George Ritcheske, was True Leaders: How Exceptional CEOs and Presidents Make a Difference by Building People and Profits. The subtitle says it all: leaders build people as well as profits.
She has spent this most recent chapter of her life paying attention to Gen Y. And when I say “paying attention,” I mean she has delved deeply into this group, learning just what they are like, what they like, what matters to them. A few days ago, Investors Business Daily focused on one of her key findings in the article Gen Y’s Integrity Focus by Steve Watkins. In the article, he quotes extensively from Bette. Here are some key excerpts:
The future of America’s leadership may be better than you think. The up-and-comers rank integrity high among qualities they desire in leaders. Ways companies can benefit from that:
• Appeal to priorities. Dallas-based consulting firm Price Group conducted a recent survey of people age 20 to 30. They had to be in college, graduated or working.
“Trust and integrity permeated through the entire research,” Price told IBD. “Their value profile was almost identical to the ‘true leader’ profile I had done a few years ago.”
• Keep the faith. It’s vital for this younger group to feel trusted. The survey showed that three-fourths made a point of not wanting to be micromanaged, which is a sign of distrust, Price says; 88% strongly said they wanted to work for a supervisor they could trust.
• Win back their confidence. “This generation is the most cynical ever,” said Michael Josephson, president of the institute. That finding backs up the Price Group survey.
• Retain your talent. People turn cynical if they expect leaders to be trustworthy but they turn out not to be. Result? The exit. “If they feel there isn’t trust, they’ll probably leave,” Price said.
• Be honest. One woman told Price that she opted not to interview with a firm when she saw that some information on its Web site contradicted what a recruiter had told her.
“They want to know what reality is and base their decision off that,” Price said. “Integrity is huge.”
• Send a message. Make it clear that your company does things the right way and won’t tolerate cheating or stealing. Show that you’ll fire people if they violate those tenets.
• Set an example. You can’t expect your people to operate with integrity if the leaders don’t. Display the behavior you want others to show.
“The best way to fuel cynicism is to be a false prophet,” Josephson said. “Dishonest companies will generate dishonesty.”
• Open up. Be upfront with your people. Price says one guy in the survey said his boss called him in to discuss a project. All was fine. But when the guy got back to his desk, the boss had sent him an e-mail criticizing him.
The guy thought, “‘How can I trust him when he won’t even say anything to my face?'” Price said.
My comment: integrity really is the coin of the realm. But examples of denial and cutting corners and outright dishonesty abound. It would be nice to have a generation help us all rediscover the centrality of integrity.
Back to Bette Price: When Bette tackles a subject, she genuinely becomes an expert. If you need come help understanding, relating to, and working with Gen Y folks, you might want to tap into Bette’s expertise. Here’s her website.
Cheryl offers: One of the activities I’ve recently volunteered for is collecting wine corks. While this might sound like I don’t have enough to do between running a business and teaching at SMU, I can assure you I am quite picky about how I invest my discretionary time. This opportunity came to me through my friend Linda Wind, dynamic master mind of the Wind Foundation for Woman dedicated to creating educational scholarships for disadvantaged women. Why corks? Besides the value of recycling, we earn 2 cents per cork and the money goes to create these scholarships. Our goal is to collect ONE MILLION WINE CORKS and I can tell you right now, that’s a lot! What I’ve noticed as I’ve made the rounds for the local wine bars and restaurants is how differently people from the various generations respond to the request for their support. By far and away, the most enthusiastic and engaged supporters are members of what we might call Generation Y; you know the ones many refer to as selfish, lazy, not willing to put in the work, entitlement crowd. In 100% of the cases when I’ve asked someone less than 30 years old if they would help, they have said “Yes!” And the best part is, they keep their word. So, to all those out there who are fearful about the future of our world passing to these young people, I say, “No worries , my dear, Gen Y is here. Thank goodness!”
Cheryl offers: I frequently hear people talking about our young generation graduating from college these days. Many times the comments just aren’t generous. My teaching experience at SMU has been just the opposite, so I’m often puzzled by this apparent gap in perceptions. The story coming out of Indiana from the University of Notre Dame to be precise is just another reminder that today’s young people are hard working, smart trailblazers. Katie Washington, will be the first black student to graduate with the honor of being the class valedictorian. She’s a biology major with a minor in Catholic social teaching carrying a perfect 4.0. And I can tell she’s a leader; her comment regarding her honors tell it all. “I am humbled. I am in a mode of gratitude and thanksgiving right now.” Does that sound like someone who feels entitled, is lazy, or lacks a work ethic? Not to me. And if you think this is no big deal, think again. Research tells us this is a monumental accomplishment because being a woman of color “combines the stereotype about race with gender stereotypes to present even greater challenges for women” according to Women and Leadership by Barbara Kellerman and Deborah L. Rhode. I cannot fathom how much hard work, determination and guts achieving this great honor must have taken this young woman. She’s off to study medicine at Johns Hopkins and some day she’ll likely be a great researcher or physician. I can only hope to live long enough to be the recipient of her good work.