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Motivation of a millennial leader

Those who create the environment for people to feel safe to be themselves and become their best selves are the ones who will win – as companies and as people.

Situation

A team in a fast-growing start-up was facing increasing friction and low morale. One person in particular was a millennial in a leadership position. His boss perceived him as difficult to manage, causing conflict and frustration. Through our work with him, we discovered an inspiring story and a great example of an unrecognised strength poorly channelled could lead to misunderstandings and overlooked talents. Here’s the story of Mr X.

Insight

Growing up, Mr X had a condition that stopped him from attending school. Left to study independently and at his own pace, Mr X passed all his exams ahead of his peers.

When he faced a challenge, got stuck, or his will began to waiver, gentle words of encouragement from his mother strengthened his resolve. He didn’t have to be coaxed into studying, and he never had to be badgered by anyone or be told what he needed to do. He had the drive, determination and discipline to go it alone.

Somewhat ashamed of his condition and not wanting to be perceived as weak, he never shared this with anyone, including his bosses and colleagues at work.

Approach & outcome

Our approach made him feel safe enough to open up to share his story. It also enabled him to reflect and realise how his condition had shaped him, his outlook, decisions and actions, such as:

  • His innate hunger to learn and commitment to improving himself.
  • His ability to overcome his illness drove his inability to tolerate excuses from others.
  • Not having had teachers or adults tell him what to do made him impervious to bosses’ instructions.

He became aware that something he was embarrassed about could be his greatest strength – if channelled in the right way. With a refreshed view and understanding of himself, he felt confident to share more about himself and worked on stopping the cycle of frustration with himself and others.

Today he is the founder of his own startup.

His story has inspired many companies and individuals to be more aware of their ‘inner stories’ and find their hidden strengths.

Why it matters

Technology is becoming more pervasive in identifying and managing people. But how comfortable and safe do people feel to share who they are, their fears, and their aspirations with the people they work and interact with? And if ‘bosses’ don’t understand what makes their people tick, what do you think the likelihood is they’ll get the best out of them? Those who create the environment for people to feel safe to be themselves and become their best selves are the ones who will win – as companies and as people.

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