Topics included the future of finance, education, and medicine, and attendees ranged from A-list celebrities to Nobel laureates to high-profile entrepreneurs and beyond. Maynard was honored to be among them, having been invited to join a panel for a talk entitled “The 21st Century Workplace.”
The discussion addressed our evolving professional landscape: a world where Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers are converging in an increasingly diverse U.S. workforce, and where business managers are challenged to both lead their employees to achieve strategic objectives and satisfy those employees’ myriad personal goals.
Moderator Tamara Erickson of the London School of Business opened the discussion with some statistics about the characteristics of today’s U.S. workforce:
- 50% of the workforce is female, and women are beginning to outnumber men at higher education institutions.
- By 2050, the largest group in the U.S. workforce will be Hispanics. Young Hispanics report wanting to work for large companies, whereas Millennials as a whole report a desire to be entrepreneurs.
- There are 4 million jobs the government classifies as “unfillable”, yet there are 10 million unemployed nationwide, indicating a mismatch between our supply and demand for talent.
With these facts as the backdrop, the panel offered insights and strategies to ensure our increasingly diverse, global workforce remains cohesive and motivated. We’ve highlighted some of the top advice:
Listen More Than You Talk
Do I feel like my opinion matters? is the number one question that correlates to employee retention, according to Beth Brooke of EY. As a result, senior leaders must be empathetic and broad-minded, understanding the importance of paying attention to traditionally lesser-heard workplace voices.
When leaders “really value differences that don’t align with their thinking,” the panel advised, innovation will follow.
Lauren Leader-Chivee elaborated: “In a hierarchical leadership model the most junior employees would never be heard – but in fact they can offer companies some of the deepest insights into the business because of their technological savviness.”
Connecting to Others is Good, But Relating to Others is Better
As young people prepare to become leaders, the panelists suggested, they should focus on building meaningful relationships. Beth noted that the most successful relationships are based on what you can do for the other person – not what they can do for you. This will, in turn, not only render you invaluable to your team, but promote a culture of collaboration.
“Everyone should experience being an outsider,” said Lauren, advising that being able to relate to a minority perspective is one of the best ways to develop empathetic leadership skills.
Invest in Your People
Raghu Krishnamoorthy of GE discussed the importance of company cultures that are forward-looking, rather than focusing on past performance. He noted that in these types of cultures managers often act more like coaches, automatically assuming the role of sponsor for their workers, and becoming just as invested in their employees’ futures as the employees themselves.
But one question came from the audience: “Why should I invest in my employees if they are just going to leave?”
Maynard assured that the more you invest in your people, the more they will stay. He advised companies that “it’s up to you to be the employer of choice – so treat your employees well and grow them.”
No One Cares About Your Career More Than You
Maynard made the point, however, that regardless of whether you’re part of a large company or an entrepreneur, you should never wait for someone else to discover and develop you.
Instead, be the agent of your own success. By doing the job that no one else wants to do, helping someone who hasn’t asked for it, and actively seeking feedback on how you can improve, your leadership skills will get noticed.
You can view the discussion in its entirety here: