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Challenging the Status Quo: Millennials in Senior Management

Posted on March 16, 2016 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (8)


"That doesn't make any sense..."

 

I can often be quoted saying these very words, brows furrowed, and eyes to the sky.

 

As a 30-something young woman thrust quite suddenly into Senior Executive Level Management, I have found myself more often than not at-odds with the status quo.

 

Just because something has "always been done this way" ... am I required to continue the tradition? Must I march on like a good soldier, even when every fiber of my being is resisting with absolute urgency?

 

One of my favorite quotes, from Apple Inc's 1997 "Think Different" campaign, reads as follows:

 

"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers.The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things..."

 

Thought Leader, Change Agent, Social Activist... All terms which have been used by others to describe me at one point or another in my career. And I add this not as a well-placed display of narcissism, but to highlight how misaligned my personality is with the very idea of a "status quo."

 

By design, I like to be different. At my very core, I need to be.

 

But how does this translate to the board room? As I sit amongst my peers--many of whom are 20+ years my senior--how do I navigate the waters effectively?

 

Following are some tips that I've picked up thus far... (Let's consider this a working list though, as I learn something new and seem to break another rule with each passing day.)

 

1. A strong wrong is better than a soft right. What does this mean? Well, when re-writing the rules, confidence is absolutely key. Having a great idea won't matter if you can't execute it with confidence and excellence. People won't buy into your ideas if they're not convinced that you believe in them yourself.

 

2. Everyone thinks you're crazy until they realize you're not. All of the best, most innovative and successful ideas and creations sounded crazy before they were actually implemented. The idea of a 4 oz machine which would serve as a computer, telephone, camera, television, and mode of artificial intelligence--(smartphone)--was unheard of just 10 years ago. You may be crazy now, but every Agent of Change starts out that way. So don't worry, you're in great company.

 

3. Run until apprehended. Don't let the fear of being criticized or shut down stop you from presenting your ideas. As the saying goes: "In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take."

 


I look forward to continuing to share my experiences as a Millennial and Thought Leader in the field of Corporate Strategy.

Please feel free to share your feedback by adding a comment.

 


Rayna Moore is a Chief Consultant, Non-Profit Administrator and Corporate Strategist. She currently resides in Chicago Illinois. www.raynamoore.com

The Day I Decided to Stop Being Myself

Posted on March 16, 2016 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)


Child-like optimism. Bright-eyed zeal. Disarming wit. Sarcastic sense of humor. None of these things appear on my resume, and yet, each has played a significant role in my ability to achieve career success. These non-academic, non career-specific qualities--though critical--are often the least credited when it comes to professional accomplishment.

 

But why?

 

Why are many professionals more likely to play-up attendance, writing skills and degrees, than niceness, humor, or overall likeability?

 

To answer this question, I looked within. What I found was that the decision to stop being myself was not a conscious one. I--like so many other professionals both entry level and experienced--succumbed. When immersed day-after-day in a culture counter to my own, I succumbed.

 

But why?

 

The following, excerpted from Dr. Duff Watkins' article on why top performers get axed, may help to explain.

 

According to Dr. Watkins, "anything that distances you from your peers can negate you." He also states that one must "get on the bus or get thrown under it." In my experience, it is the overwhelming belief in the validity of these and similar corporate culture norms which causes many professionals to conform.

 

And while Dr. Watkins' article does a good job of outlining the corporate bottom line, and the importance of aligning oneself with organizational mission, it is also problematic in its oversimplification. There is more to achieving career success than simply becoming a carbon copy of your management and peers.

 

In challenging myself to explore my decision--however unconscious--to fit in, I've developed the following list of tips:

 

1. If you don't want to get on the bus, you must learn to drive it. Equip yourself with the tools necessary to inform public opinion within your organization. If you don't like what's being said, you must position yourself to gain enough influence to change the conversation.

 

2. If you can't beat 'em, and you won't join 'em, make them want to join you. Distance yourself from your peers in the most fantastic way possible. Everyone wants to play for the winning team. Set the golden standard, and your peers will follow.

 

3. Your organization may own your position, but you own your career. The way you brand yourself at every stage will impact your capacity to excel. So unless you plan to spend your career being someone else, I'd recommend embracing those quirks--sarcastic sense of humor and all.

 


I look forward to continuing to share my experiences as a Millennial and Thought Leader in the field of Corporate Strategy.

Please feel free to share your feedback by adding a comment.


Rayna Moore is a Chief Consultant, Non-Profit Administrator and Corporate Strategist. She currently resides in Chicago Illinois. www.raynamoore.com


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