…it always has two sides.”
By the end of 2017, I will have given multiple versions of our popular “Generational Diversity in the Workplace” presentation to over a dozen different audiences. While each audience is unique, a common question usually arises along the lines of, “I fit the generational demographics, but I don’t think like my generation.” Each time, this question, and subsequent conversation, brings me back to the wisdom from my Aunt in the title as it frames for me the value of understanding psycho-graphics to be an effective leader in the today’s dynamic business environment.
Psycho-graphics are quantitative methodologies based on people’s attitudes and values. Most of us are used to demographics that are the tried and true “labels” to help us organize what is going on around us. If all we focused on was demographics, the best we could hope to gain would be effective management. However, we don’t lead demographics, we lead people who are more truly defined at their core by their attitudes and values. Everyone’s behavior is ultimately defined by their attitudes and values so it is crucial that leaders understand how to leverage them to achieve sustainable success. Two specific applications of this idea are discussed below to help leaders achieve this sustainable success.
- It’s about Cognitive Diversity – It is widely known the importance of diversity to the growth of an organization. Unfortunately, most efforts to create or achieve diversity are based on the use of demographics, mostly because it’s easier to track and manage. But just because people have cultural, gender or age differences does not automatically mean diversity of thought! Our behavior is a function of our attitudes which are habits of thought. If we want different results, leaders must inspire different behavior. Different sustainable behavior means team members are ultimately thinking different, the product of cognitive diversity. Demographics are easier to manage because they are tangible whereas psycho-graphics are more intangible. Therefore, leaders who can define and inspire an attitude of adaptability are the ones who will be most effective and successful!
- Innovation begins with Creativity – Directly related to leading a cognitively diverse team is the need to continuously adapt to the constant pressures of change. These pressures come from the external environment outside the organization (globalization, technology, political and legal, etc.) as well as within the organization itself (integration, growth, identity, etc.). Innovation, by definition, is doing things differently. However, effective leaders know that to do different, they and their team members must think different. Innovation begins with the creativity that comes from those who think different and sustainable success comes from leaders who insist that it happen as part of their culture!
What we believe, we think and what we think, we do. If leaders want different behaviors, they must have a team that thinks differently. I have enjoyed much success in my military and corporate careers by asking variations of “What if…?” and “Why not…?” Ultimately, I was asking what was on the other side of the pancake!
What new behavioral action is your leadership thinking enabling?