With so many generations in the workplace, how do you find common ground to work optimally together?
Currently there are four generations in the workplace. They are:
Research has shown that each generation views work and careers differently though many experts disagree on the degree to which their perspective vary. Furthermore, it is necessary to realize that this is at best imprecise, and those born on or around a so-called boundary years (i.e. 1963 between Boomers and Xers) might very well be inclined to be with one generation or the other.
I believe it is still important for effective leaders to be aware of these potential differences in perspective if they are going to maximize performance and fully understand how different members of the team may approach a problem or work/life balance. This is also not an “airy fairy” effort to achieve an artificial diversity goal but can be of value to any team for a number of reasons.
Research has shown that perhaps the biggest factor in working across the “divide” is establishing trust with each other across generational lines. This may often times require a good deal of listening by the leader to determine why and how alternative approaches are proposed. For example, in general, Boomers tend to value competence. Xers value relationship/communication and seem to have a greater need for open discussion.
Probably the best place for the leader to start is to get the team to focus on what they agree on. It is also important to keep in mind that other factors affect how individuals confront problems and work effectively on teams. It should not be surprising to learn that generally men and women often have different perspectives of what leaders do and how they do it. The literature further suggests culture also influences individual perceptions, roles and identities. Surveys of cross-generational teams also indicates that in addition to culture, gender, age, and education are important, and these factors influence each other. If you only look at one factor, it may lead you to mistaken conclusions.
It is critical to keep in remember that not every member of generation is “that way”. Failing to keep this in mind can potentially create biases in dealing with other generations. Finally, it is useful to keep in mind the words of Winnie the Pooh! What makes me different…is what makes me….Me!
-Dr. Jeff McCausland
Great Organizations Do Small Things Well — Find the Long Snapper
I have been thinking about what do great organizations do that differentiate them from good organizations, and there are a number of things. But one that sticks out to me is that great organizations do small things very well. Let me give you an example that I observed while watching the end of the 2016 college football season.
By any measure you would have to accept that the University of Alabama football team is successful at what they do despite losing in the NCAA football championships to Clemson University earlier this year. The Crimson Tide have won 16 national championships including four in the last eight years. They have made more bowl appearances (64) than any other team in NCAA history. Alabama has won 30 conference titles and had 11 undefeated seasons. Currently, there are 24 committed recruits to the Alabama football program in 2017. Five are ranked number one in the nation at their position, including Thomas Fletcher from Washington State. Thomas graduated from the prestigious IMG Academy and is a long snapper. 
Now for those of you who may not be football aficionados, a long snapper is a center who only snaps the ball on punts. This means he will likely only be on the field for seven or eight plays per game. But those plays are often crucial. Place kickers have gotten better and now may attempt field goals from well over forty yards. Consequently, punts normally occur when a team remains in their own territory. A badly handled snap can result in disaster. The long snapper must snap the ball between his legs and send it approximately fifteen yards in 0.75 seconds. He must do this accurately and repeatedly during some of the most pressure packed moments of a football game. Furthermore, he knows that as soon as he snaps the ball he is going to be hit by at least one (if not more) 300 pound defensive lineman.
After years of success, clearly Alabama’s head football coach is leaving little to chance and will consistently bring in the best players he can. But many Division 1 teams still rely on a walk-on or fourth string player who is still learning to become their long snapper. But Saban wants to insure that his organization has every advantage as they confront their competition — and all leaders can take a lesson from this. This is not encouragement to micro-manage but rather the need for successful leaders to try and “see around corners,” think a little out of the box, and encourage their team members by their actions to be thorough and relentless in the pursuit of perfection in what each does for the overall success of the team. If the leader stresses the need to “find the long snapper” then the entire team will focus on what are the small things that can potentially make a difference.
If you still find this unconvincing, consider the following: Where did Nick Saban acquire his relentless focus on insuring his team did small things well? He was mentored by a master, Bill Belichick, head coach of the New England Patriots. Saban worked under Belichick from 1991 to 1994. Last year Belichick stunned many in the NFL when the Patriots selected a long snapper in the fifth round of the NFL draft.
But if you’re still not buying this idea, I suggest you simply call the Atlanta Falcons and ask them their opinion.
-Dr. Jeff McCausland
 Sam Borden, “An Upside-Down Priority”, New York Times, December 26, 2016, p. D1.
In January, Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy CEO Jeff McCausland traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii, with a group of college students. Their trip came only a month after the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and they planned to use the attack as a case study from which they could draw important leadership lessons.
Below is a brief interview that was conducted with Jeff during the workshop that gives an overview of how he conducted this seminar, which gives some insight to the many other workshops D6 teaches as well.
Tell us about your approach.
Jeff: Over my time teaching, I’ve used historical case studies to examine enduring concepts of leadership and organizational theory, whether that’s thinking about strategy or emotional intelligence. I firmly believe these are very effective case studies because people find them interesting and you can use the history then to see where those particular principals and concepts are illustrated positively and negatively.
Many I’ve used have a military context because I’m retired military. I’ve used the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania, Yorktown in Virginia, the Nixon Library in Los Angeles, the Alamo in San Antonio and over the past few years I’ve used Pearl Harbor.
Are there specific leadership ideas that you’re teaching here at Pearl Harbor?
We’ll talk about organizational culture, organizational change, innovation, strategic vision, team building, effective communications, and those are just the emotional intelligence portion. We’ll talk about all of those concepts and use events and anecdotes from the actual attack on Dec. 7, 1941 on Pearl Harbor to illustrate that within a historical case study. And we’ll look at the good and the bad.
I like to emphasize that this is an iconic moment to come here because we just passed the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
What’s an important lesson learned at Pearl Harbor?
When you see the world changing, good leaders have to examine, as part of an organization – whether it’s the United States military at Pearl Harbor or Microsoft or AT&T – the following question: what are the implicit and explicit assumptions that are guiding our investments and our strategy for the future? Where do we want to go? Where is the world going? Where should we be investing people, money and time? In the 1930s people said we’re going to invest in building big coastal artillery defenses and put lots of guns out there. In 1941, that became pretty irrelevant.
This interview was conducted by Chaminade University of Honolulu Senior Communications Writer Kapono Ryan in Honolulu, Hawaii. It has been condensed and edited by Diamond6.
It seems like we are surrounded by crises. Sometimes they are private troubles and other times we worry about a problem we aren’t directly connected to. In mental health terms, a crisis refers not necessarily to a traumatic situation or event, but to a person’s reaction to an event. One person might be deeply affected by an event, while another individual suffers little or no ill effects. As we consider crises it may be useful to remember that the Chinese word for crisis summarizes its components. The word crisis in Chinese is formed with the combination of two characters — danger and opportunity. A crisis presents an obstacle, trauma, or threat, but it also presents leaders an opportunity for either growth or decline.
We often think of a crisis as a sudden unexpected disaster, such as a car accident, natural disaster, or other cataclysmic event. However, crises can range substantially in type and severity. Sometimes a crisis is a predictable part of the life cycle. Situational crises are sudden and unexpected, such as accidents and natural disasters. Existential crises are inner conflicts related to things such as life purpose, direction, and spirituality.
All leaders know that their organization will undergo crises. They must prepare plans and processes that “inoculate” as much as possible their organization from its worst effects. This includes plans for immediate crisis action, leader succession, communications, etc. Next, good leaders must realize that all members of the organization will look to them for both direction and encouragement. Finally, leaders must realize that their organization will not be the same after the crisis. They must demonstrate caring and set a new course for the future. A critical part of this is to take the time to confront a difficult question: “What can we learn from this experience no matter how difficult that will make us a better organization in future?”
Finally, it may be helpful to consider an old phrase from World War II — “Keep calm and carry on”. This was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 during the beginning of the Second World War. It was intended to raise the morale of the British public in the aftermath of widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities. Oddly, the poster had only limited distribution with no public display, and thus was little known. The poster was rediscovered in 2000, and since then has been widely used throughout the United Kingdom. During the preparation for the Olympic Games it was reissued — “Keep calm and carry on…it’s only the Olympics!
Dr. Jeff McCausland is Founder and CEO of Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC. His most challenging and unique leadership experience was leading and commanding 750 troops into the first Gulf War. He is proud to say that everyone came home healthy and safe.
“Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
-President Franklin Roosevelt in his speech to Congress.
“I am afraid we have awakened a sleeping giant.”
-Admiral Yamamoto, Commander of the Japanese attack force
Every American, no matter their age, conjures up a mental image of the attack on Pearl Harbor when they hear the date December 7. Today, we commemorate the 75th anniversary. This attack was a turning point in the history of our nation and the world. The war that followed lasted nearly four years, and the entire nation mobilized to meet this challenge. But ultimately it was leadership at all levels, exhibited initially on this Sunday morning in Hawaii that allowed America to be successful.
The actions of leaders on both sides of this historic battle made the difference in the events on that day — for better or for worse — and arguably set the conditions that determined the course of World War II. It is no overstatement to say that Pearl Harbor on the beautiful island of Hawaii proved to be one of the most important and intense “leadership laboratories” in the history of modern warfare.
As we reflect on the courage and sacrifice of the brave servicemen on that day, what can we discern about the actions of their leaders? And what can we learn about leadership in a complex, rapidly evolving, high-pressure environment like the one we are living and working in today? While there are innumerable leadership lessons that can be drawn from this event let me use three examples.
Leaders must act in a crisis and feel empowered to act. The battle actually began at 0342 that morning. The minesweeper USS Condor detected a periscope at the entrance to Pearl Harbor. The captain of the Condor sent a message to the USS Ward, a destroyer on patrol in the harbor. Sighted submerged submarine on westerly course, speed 9 knots.
The Ward was commanded by Lieutenant William Outerbridge. He had assumed command on December 5, but still immediately ordered his ship to engage what turned out to be a Japanese mini-submarine that was attempting to enter the harbor.
All leaders will face a “crisis” at one point or another and several factors are important. First, crises demand that organizations have developed solid leadership and organizational preparation. Second, leading in a crisis takes more than just common sense. Leaders must establish a climate that allows those they lead to make decisions, fail, and grow. Third, it is critical that everyone in the organization even the newest person feels empowered to act.
Lieutenant Outerbridge’s quick actions are consistent with each of these.
Leaders must challenge assumptions particularly during changing times. The Army-Navy game in 1941 was played on November 29 in Philadelphia Municipal Stadium. Navy would defeat Army 14-6. The program for the game contained a full-page picture of a battleship and noted that it had “never been successfully attacked from the air.” The Pearl Harbor attack began at 0755 eight days later. Within 10 minutes half the battleships were badly damaged. The battleship was no longer the centerpiece of what 20th-century navies were all about.
Leaders must promote organizational resilience. The United States suffered 2,335 dead and 1,178 wounded on December 7. Over 180 aircraft were destroyed and 18 ships badly damaged or sunk. This included eight battleships, three cruisers, and four other vessels. It was perhaps the worst military defeat in American history. But all the American aircraft carriers were at sea.
America recovered quickly. Four months after the attack (18 April 1942) sixteen B25 bombers took off from the USS Hornet and conducted a bombing raid on Tokyo. On June 4, 1942 the American and Japanese fleets fought perhaps the most important battle of the war in the Pacific near Midway Island. Japanese Admiral Yamamoto sent four of his carriers to draw out the American fleet and hopefully destroy the carriers. But in the ensuing battle, the Japanese lost all four of their carriers while the US Navy lost won.
This can also be illustrated in the American industry’s reaction to Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941 the US Navy had eight aircraft carriers and 112 submarines. At the end of the war the Navy would have 140 carriers and 214 submarines.
Scientist Brian Walker and David Salt in their book, Resilience defined it as: “the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and still retain its basic function and structure.” Bad things will happen, and effective leaders must insure their organizations can “bounce back.” Every ship that was part of the Japanese task force that attacked Pearl Harbor was sunk by September 1945.
As we reflect on the sacrifices of those Americans who lost their lives on December 7, 1941 let us further consider what we can learn from this iconic event that will make each of us a better leader.
Perhaps the words of former Secretary of State Colin Powell are appropriate. Leadership is the art of getting your people to accomplish more than they may think is possible.
Dr. Jeff McCausland, Founder and CEO, Diamond6 Leadership and Strategy, LLC
A distant snow-capped mountain peak beckoning through the clouds can effectively serve as a metaphor for an organization’s vision and top-level goals. Visualizing standing on the summit, with its promise of uncharted horizons beyond, stirs the heart and inspires people to reach as high as they can. Inspiration alone, however, will not produce sustained or tangible change in an enterprise. With a clear vision, a sense of purpose, a committed team, and a path to the summit identified, what happens next in both mountaineering and in organizations is largely dependent on leadership.
This explains why mountaineers and world-class guides are so often asked by company leaders to talk about how the challenges they have confronted relate to those of organizations facing their own rapidly changing business landscapes. My new book, Lead Like a Guide: How World-Class Mountain Guides Inspire Us to Be Better Leaders, (Praeger, 2016) includes lessons I learned from expert guides as I organized over twenty mountain climbing and trekking expeditions in countries ranging from Patagonia to Iceland to Nepal. My research describes six key leadership strengths of guides and explains how these strengths help their clients achieve new heights – and how these same strengths can be successfully applied in business and nonprofit organizations.
THE SIX LEADERSHIP STRENGTHS OF WORLD-CLASS MOUNTAIN GUIDES
To purchase a copy of Lead Like a Guide: How World-Class Mountain Guides Inspire Us to Be Better Leaders, click here.
Chris Maxwell is a Senior Fellow, Center for Leadership and Change Management, at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Chris previously taught “Leadership and Communication in Groups” at the Wharton School and directed a wide variety of domestic and international leadership development programs in remote areas of North America, Mexico, Patagonia, Peru, Quebec, and Iceland.
When Brigadier General (ret) Dana Born was coming up through the ranks as an Air Force officer, she often sensed that her male colleagues expected her leadership style to be just like theirs: directive, commanding, and hierarchical. But General Born’s natural leadership style—like that of many women—was more collaborative, democratic, and inclusive. Although her unique leadership style was inarguably effective, she often felt that her male superiors evaluated her style as too relational and collegial for a senior officer.
It turns out that General Born’s experience is not uncommon. Decades of research on gender and leadership reveals that women find themselves between a rock and a hard place when it comes to leadership. On one hand, the women are wonderful stereotype suggests that most of us see women as understanding, kind, nurturing, and caring. Sounds good right? Not when it comes to leadership. Research shows that men and women see “real leaders” as action-oriented, dominant, competitive, self-sufficient, and willing to impose (his) will on others; characteristics we tend to associate with men. Of course, we all know men whose leadership style is more transformational. But men get a free pass when it comes to having a more flexible leadership style since their competence is assumed or based on potential compared to women who must prove themselves as a leader. So what’s a female leader to do? Enter the leadership double-bind faced by most women in western societies: She can be warm, friendly, and “nice” (embodying classically feminine traits we all expect from women at work) or she can be commanding, take charge, and kick ass, endeavoring to behave the way most of us expect leaders to act. If she chooses the former, she may be dismissed as unqualified to lead, but if she chooses the latter, she can risk the negative backlash and rejection experienced by many assertive women (yes, the iron bitch stereotype is alive and well).
Here is the problem: Businesses and organizations around the globe are engaged in a fierce battle for talent. Specifically, organizations are hungry for transformational leaders who score high on indices of social and emotional intelligence, value collaboration, and stimulate creativity through inspiration. In other words, institutions and companies are increasingly looking for leadership soft skills (e.g., empathy, approachability, and listening skills), the very behaviors that often come quite naturally to women. It should therefore come as no surprise to learn that organizations with women in crucial leadership positions perform better on key success markers than organizations with primarily male leadership.
How can organizations ensure that more women ascend to the upper echelons of leadership? Mentoring is one of the key ingredients. And quite often, key mentorships for a promising junior woman will be with male mentors. In many organizations, there are simply too few women in senior leadership positions to mentor rising female stars. And sometimes, women avoid mentoring junior women if the competition for the few jobs open to women is fierce.
Can men mentor women effectively? In our new book, Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women, we show that the answer to that question is an unequivocal yes. Men have to mentor women deliberately and thoughtfully for organizations to thrive. So gentlemen, if you are committed to mentoring a rising Athena—a junior woman with terrific promise—here are some key strategies.
First, honor her authentic approach to leadership. Help her sharpen and refine it but don’t try to change it. Hundreds of studies on gender and leadership show that women tend to adopt a leadership style described as transformational and participative. In their relationships with team members, women leaders tend to be more empathic, patient, and inclined to put others first. When it comes to decision-making, women tend to be more inclusive and thoughtful about the impact of their decisions on others. Moreover, women are more inclined to use praise and to define winning in the plural; teams are credited with success, not individuals. Guys have got to champion these leadership strategies, not undermine them.
Second, never make her choose between being liked and respected in her role as leader. Obviously, this is a choice men rarely have to make. Remind her that she can be an excellent leader and be herself when compassion, caring, and collaboration are key elements of her style at work.
Finally guys, watch, listen and learn! If her leadership approach is working for her, get busy championing her, squash efforts by others to undermine her, and watch closely, there’s a good chance you’ll learn a thing or two about terrific leadership!
Brad Johnson and David Smith are professors in the department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law at the United States Naval Academy and authors of Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women (2016: Bibliomotion). Click here to purchase a copy.
Colonel Tom Vossler has long been the lead historian of Diamond6 Leadership. He has taken many of our groups through various Civil War battlefields, providing a historical playing field in which to discuss important leadership lessons.
In the past he has teamed up with Carol Reardon, the George Winfree Professor of American History at Pennsylvania State University, to write a history of the Battle of Gettysburg—A Field Guide to Gettysburg: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People. They have come together once again to write A Field Guide to Antietam: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People.
Diamond6 sat down with Col. Vossler to discuss Antietam, its place in Civil War history, and its leadership lessons. September 17 will be the battle’s 154th anniversary.
Why is Antietam important in the context of the Civil War?
This campaign, this battle, is part of a larger picture called the Maryland Campaign of 1862. There has been a string of Confederate victories as they cross the Potomac to begin this new campaign. What is also important to note is that while the Maryland Campaign is being fought, out west there’s a Confederate campaign for the invasion of Kentucky.
These are two simultaneous Confederate advances into two border states, Kentucky and Maryland. From a political and military strategic standpoint, we must remember that President Lincoln said he must have Kentucky or else he would lose its support.
This battle forces the Confederacy back, which is why this battle is so important. The incursion into the border states is turned back by Union forces.
What are four key moments that turn the tide in this battle?
First, this battle takes place on September 17, following the South Mountain battles, which really disrupted Lee’s plans to invade Pennsylvania. He doesn’t make it that far. Meanwhile, General McClellan, the Union commander, could’ve attacked on September 16, but delayed one full day to get his forces ready. But if you flip that coin, that affords Lee another 24 hours in which to get his forces to the battlefield.
The second moment also has to do with McClellan. During the battle, there is an opportunity for him to commit his reserves to a weak point in the Confederate line, but he hesitates and then doesn’t follow through. He fears if he commits his reserve forces, he won’t have any later. That could have split the Confederate defense. Instead it stays in place and frustrates his movements.
The third key moment is the failure of General Ambrose Burnside to make his attack across the lower bridge. There are three bridges—the upper, the middle, the lower—and his forces were at the lower bridge. He had repeated orders to get across the Antietam to attack the Confederate force on the other side of the creek. He delays, and his delay eats up several hours in the battle. This then ties into that fourth moment.
Number four is the timely arrival of an entire Confederate division commanded by General A.P. Hill. They have forced march from Harper’s Ferry, which the Confederates had captured earlier, and arrived on the battlefield just in time to turn back the advance of the Burnside’s 9th Corps.
There is no clear victor in this. From a larger overview, a strategic and operational overview, what is gained is that Lee’s army is forced out of Maryland and the Potomac River Line is restored.
After the battle, what changes do we see in the Union and Confederate leadership?
In the days and weeks after the battle, President Lincoln goes to Antietam to inquire of General McClellan why he has not followed Lee across the river into Virginia. McClellan essentially sits there with his command. He does not go after Lee, and this frustrates President Lincoln. The end result of McClellan’s delay is Lincoln relieves him of command and appoints a new commander. This leads to a continual roll over of leadership. By the time we get to Gettysburg, none of the higher level Union leadership remains.
The same thing happens in the Confederate Army. They lose a number of key leaders when they reorganize the army. They reorganize in a positive way. The replacement of the leadership leads to a slew of powerful victories.
The leadership question is what fascinates me most about Antietam—figuring out where the leaders who were at Gettysburg were at Antietam.
How then does this battle relate to today’s leaders?
What we’re talking about is the growth of leaders and the sorting out of those less capable. They’re not rising to the top anymore. They’re staying in the same position or getting washed out of the organization. The leadership over time gets better. You can watch this happen from First Bull Run, the first major land battle of the Civil War, as they progress through the war.
For today’s leaders that translates into organizational effectiveness, whether we’re talking about a school district or a corporation. At Diamond6, we’re striving to make them effective organizations through the development of their leadership. These leaders in the army, like in any organization, wherever they are they’re being developed and creating a succession of command. Every organization must think about what they’re doing to allow their leadership to mature and grow. That concept is thoroughly explored at Antietam.
Click here to purchase A Field Guide to Antietam: Experiencing the Battlefield through Its History, Places, and People.
A new turn of phrase has infected the Diamond6 office: “Is the juice worth the squeeze?”
CEO and founder of D6 Dr. Jeff McCausland began asking the question during staff meetings, and it is something that all employees have started to consider. Essentially, it boils down to the following concept: is the end result or reward worth the time and energy required to accomplish a task? Is what we are doing consistent with our mission, vision, and values particularly if it is going to demand considerable effort and resources?
This is a fundamental question that a leader must ask him/herself every day.
When Dr. McCausland teaches his Gettysburg seminar that discusses the leadership principles learned on one of the largest battlefields of the Civil War, he focuses a fair amount on the idea of innovation. One of those innovations he focuses on is the development of “triage” by American surgeon Dr. Jonathan Letterman.
This 19th century doctor organized injuries into different categories depending on the severity of their injuries: those who couldn’t be helped, those in immediate need of care, and those whose wounds did not put them in immediate danger. Triage is still used to this day during events that involve mass casualty. Emergency medical personnel would have used triage in dealing with casualties at the Boston Marathon bombing or the shooting in Orlando.
Most modern leaders rarely face life-or-death situations, but they must organize their teams to confront organizational problems similarly. At times, we are faced with issues that we can invest all of our time, energy, and resources to, but in the end we are just treading water.
It is at these moments that leaders know to focus on difficulties or complexities that they can resolve, begin to undertake, or are fundamental to what their organization is about. Meanwhile, they must rid themselves of the unsolvable and either relegate the minor problems to a subordinate or push it to a later date when they have time to address it.
Time management is a key characteristic of a good leader.
So the next time you look to conquer your own personal battlefield, take a moment and ask yourself: “Is the juice worth the squeeze?” You may quickly realize that the task you have dedicated yourself to wasn’t worth the few drops of liquid swimming around the bottom of your glass.