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’s view: It seems Jack Welch should play more golf and resist the temptation of making speeches. On July 21 the Wall Street Journal reported he delivered what I’m sure he thought was “straight talk” like he thinks he did in his book, Straight from the Gut. He told a convention of HR executives women had to choose between raising a family and having the corner office. Which rock have you been hiding under Jack? Maybe he forgot that last year’s CEO of the year as elected by peer CEOs, was Anne Mulcahy, CEO of Xerox, and mother of two sons. And I supposed he also hasn’t noticed Mulcahy passed the reins to the first Afro-American woman to lead an S&P 100 company, Ursula Burns, and (Oh, gasp Jack!) also happens to have a daughter and stepson. When Jack Welch entered the workforce and even possibly when he led General Electric, this might have been a “norm”, possibly his own stereotype at work. This is no longer the case. Jack might also want to start reading the stats on graduating MBAs; women in 2009 will surpass men in all categories: associate, bachelor, graduate and professional. By the way, the gap between men and women has been widening since 1982, the last year men exceeded women in acquiring degrees, in college degrees and is projected to continue until 2017, which is only as far as the projection goes. So, where will the most talented, experienced, and well educated people in the company come from, the future CEOs? My money is on the next generation of women, who, by the way, believe the wisdom of his other book’s title “Control Your Own Destiny, or Someone Else Will.” Thanks for the advice, Jack, now go play golf.
Sara adds: Jack, in the words of James Copeland, former Chairman and CEO of Deloitte & Touche worldwide in True Leaders (Bette Price and George Ritchesche), “Don’t breath your own exhaust.” Your pronouncement in the Journal is contemptible (a carefully chosen word from Merriam Webster’s online dictionary… “contemptible may imply any quality provoking scorn or a low standing in any scale of value.” The italics are mine). I believe your comments to be contemptible; having a low standing in any scale of value on a couple of levels. First level, you single out women leaders. Besides being transparently biased your idea begs the question, why shouldn’t ALL leaders, men and women, have the opportunity to have a life as well as incredibly successful careers? Then there’s the next level. It’s about BUSINESS RESULTS, Jack, not about appearances or sacrifice. By even uttering that comment I wonder if you’ve lost focus on the prize here. Jack, you should read a new Harvard Business Review (HBR) article, Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership (Richard Boyatzis and Daniel Goleman). It stands your antiquated version of leadership on its ear. In the article you will read about the negative impact a leader’s stressed lifestyle has on the success of the company they lead. The authors also provide a pathway to leadership that is healthy, balanced and produces great (get that, Jack, GREAT) business results. I wonder what heights GE could have climbed if YOU had been a different kind of leader.