Leading Millennials and Millennials Leading

Fields, Bea

Dr. Relly Nadler: This week we are very happy to have Bea Fields talking with us about Leading Millennials and also Millennial Leaders. Bea is an executive coach and President of Bea Fields Companies, Inc., and she is the founder of the Five Star Leadership Coaching Training.

She specializes in leadership and team coaching for high-growth companies, non-profit organizations, and medium sized businesses. Fields is the Chief Principle of the GenY Project and is the co-author of Edge: A Leadership Story, and Millennial Leaders: Success Stories from Today’s Most Brilliant Generation Y Leaders.

She has served on the Board of Directors for the University of North Carolina Children’s Hospital, The Episcopal Day School in Southern Pines, North Carolina, and the Moore County Chamber of Commerce in North Carolina.

She is also the parent of three Generation Y young adults. So from a professional side, and then we will talk to Bea also about the personal side in leading these Gen Y folks.

Bea, welcome to the call.

Bea Fields: Thank you. It’s great to be here with both of you.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Bea has been working with emerging leaders, those men and women who are transitioning from being a great manager or business owner, into being a very significant leader in their organization and community. This transition comes with many challenges and a brand new approach to leadership coaching, one that includes a focus on rapid knowledge acquisition, the ability to handle chaos and change, innovation technology, engaging in a variety of cultures, and how to make quick decision making and sharp execution.

Bea created The Five Star Emerging Leaders Coaching Program which we will ask her about, to support both young, but also more seasoned leaders to make a shift from resistance to risk and change and to embracing risk and change by making quick, smart decisions and learning from the feedback.

Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be interested in leadership development, and then especially working with Millenials.

Bea Fields: As both of you mentioned, working with leaders is really about providing them the tools to be the best they can be and to build effective teams and to make organizations run more smoothly. In this day and age, that comes with a huge laundry list of things that need to be addressed.

About 2 ½ years ago, something came across my radar on the topic of Generation Y, known as the Millennials, and you would think as a parent of 3 Gen Y’s, that I would know everything there is to know about his generation, but to be honest with you, I was befuddled. I did not understand my children and did not know what or understand why they were on text message most of the day and even in the middle of the night, Facebook, multi-tasking, waiting until the last minute to do the research paper, and so forth. It just didn’t seem like it was a very healthy approach to living life.

At about the same time, I was at a conference on the West Coast and a gentleman heard me speak about the emerging trends in leadership. He pulled me to the side at the break and began to speak to me about some of the dress code issues he was having in his organization. He was a CEO. We had a pretty long conversation about this topic and he was asking me about possible coming into his company to do a little bit of image consulting.

I said, you know, really don’t do that. I can probably find you someone who can do that. But, let me ask you a little bit more about the ages of people at play here. That conversation really stuck with me to the point that I came back and to talk to an executive coach that lives in the middle part of the country about the conversation I had.

I said, I’m not really sure that the coaching industry is yet addressing this young generation and I believe that we need to at least become curious about what they are doing. So he and I began to do some research and we began interviewing some up and coming leaders of that demographic, and the next thing you know this became a full-blown project which is still ongoing, known as the GenY Project, which really focuses on the trends of these emerging leader and how we can best communicate with them. How we can attract them, how we can retain them, how we can lead them, how we can leverage their knowledge and a lot of different issues.

I’ll just say along with that, that we went into the project with some pretty negative assumptions. We had heard what the media was saying about GenY, and because we both had kids of that age we went into the project with the typical negative stereotypes that you hear with all generations, that there is always this list of negative stereotypes. To be honest, we got about halfway through our projects and said, boy, were we wrong.

Some of the assumptions are just not on target and we just saw a completely different side of GenY that you hear about in the public. So we then set out on a mission to educate the public and corporate leaders about the true essence of this generation and how that generation is actually going to help change the way we work and live in a positive way.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Well it sounds like we are going to have a very intriguing conversation today, because one of the things that I have been focusing on in the past few years is just this issue being, at one point I managed 859 people on three continents for a very large consulting company and we had huge issues around just the things you are talking about. Before we go there, let me ask you a personal question if I can. Who are some of your greatest leadership role models and people who influenced and shaped your thinking so that you could see that something like this profound project GenY, that you are doing, was important for us to learn about?

Bea Fields: Well, from history, I would have to say that Benjamin Franklin is probably one of my favorite leadership role models. Even though I never knew Benjamin Franklin, I have read a lot of his work and I’ve studied his process. As you probably know, Benjamin Franklin was one of the first, true mastermind gurus. He had a group known as the Junto. With that group brought together some of the most inspiring minds of his time to take a subject and begin discussing it and actually having an innovative process come out of that conversation.

I do use his process quite a bit. I always want to start with a question and an assumption, and then I begin to gather people together to have that really rich discussion to see where this is going to go and really allowing it to organically develop out on its own with the help of a lot of people.

I’m also a really big fan of following the work of Queen Elizabeth because she led at a time when it was really a man’s world and she learned how to navigate the political aspects of being a woman leader in a man’s world. I do believe political savvy is very important. So I admire the work that of course she did and the mark that she left on the world.

In the modern day, my father is a really big role model for me. He’s a man of integrity, he was an architect, so I was a very big fan of his work. He was also an artist and a leader in our community. His ability to manage both the left and right side of the brain, I was very impressed with and it always brought a smile to my face.

My husband Mike, is an inspiration to me. He is a political leader in North Carolina and I have been impressed at watching how he navigates that, and actually at a very young age was able to do that.

My children are a really big inspiration to me. All three have a lot of guts and courage and strength and stamina.

Right now there are two Generation Y leaders that I call constantly for leadership advice. Scott Bradley and Ryan Coleman, they really have their finger on the pulse of what is going on with Web 2.0 technology, and that’s an area where I still am really in need of some growth. So I am really following their lead on that and I’m talking to them today at 4:00 pm.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: Maybe you can just take a second and tell us who these individuals are so that our listeners are, so that our listeners know.

Bea Fields: Well we are talking about, if you speak demographers who usually define Generation Y or Millennials as the men and women born between 1977 and 1990, but more important is that we need to be looking at the world events that have helped shape the mindset of the world view of this generation.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: How about who the other gentlemen are; Scott Bradley and Ryan Coleman.

Bea Fields: Scott Bradley and Ryan Coleman are both Generation Y business leaders who are 25 and 27, and they are both independent business owners and they also work for companies, which is a really big trend for GenY to have your own business and also to work for a company.

Dr. Cathy Greenberg: I also want to make sure, we also heard you say that Ben Franklin used to create a type of facilitated forum, you referenced?

Bea Fields: Junto.

Dr. Relly Nadler: Well that’s good. Ben Franklin, I know, had a bunch of characteristics that today we are talking about some competencies. Early on didn’t he have a couple of these competencies that he felt were really important?

Bea Fields: Well, he did. He was big on collaboration and big on, of course, innovation, and big on pushing the envelope and really standing up for what you believe in. He was somewhat of a radical.

Dr. Relly Nadler: One of the things that are in one of the chapters says, Millennials are the highest maintenance workforce in history. Could you continue to describe who these Millennials are, for our listeners, and then some of the world events that have affected them, but maybe you could continue with that and maybe why they are seen as high maintenance in the workforce.

Bea Fields: I think you do have to look honestly at the world events that occurred really between those birthdates, 1977 – 1990, because those world events really helped shape this so-called challenge that leaders are facing with some of their GenY’s.

GenY’s were born and raised during the self-esteem movement, and they were told that they could have it all and be it all from both parents and educators. They were born and raised during the digital movement, so most had a laptop and a cell phone by the time they were 8 or 9. I think the last data I saw was about 98% had come sort of digital equipment by that age.

They unfortunately had to go through the events of September 11th and Columbine, watching wars live on television, reality television. All of that comes into play when you ask this question about them being one of the highest maintenance generations, because they are coming into the workforce right now saying, I really want to have it all and be it all, I want a six figure salary, I want that corner office, and if I can’t have it I’ll just go back and live with mom and dad.

They are also becoming well known for job hopping. The average length of stay at a job is about 2 years. The third thing is the constant need for ongoing feedback; am I doing well, how am I doing, can you give me feedback? This is causing frustration for managers. All I have to say is that GenY did not develop that mindset on their own, they got where they are by parents, educators and the media, and this all has come together to create some of these high-maintenance issues that we are hearing about.

We’re just getting started! Be sure to listen to the complete interview, above!


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