Sunday, March 14, 2010

Employee or Crusader?

It is unfortunate that today's economy is preventing so many good people from enjoying employment in a traditional sense (i.e. they have a job for which they are compensated). Even more unfortunate are the individuals who are compensated for their time, yet feel no passion for what it is they do and make little effort to improve upon the status quo. Such people are in every work center and there are but three courses of action for helping them.

1) Push them to the side and minimize their ability to do damage (i.e. allow them to encourage others to embrace similar complacency)
2) Let them flourish in their "cylinder of excellence" (i.e. acknowledge they are not interested in professional growth but appreciate the fact that they are good assembly line workers)
3) Give them reason to become Crusaders

I can honestly tell you that though it does not make me proud, I have done all three over the course of my career. I usually start with #3 and work backward, if I land on #1, the thrust becomes to enable the individual's exit strategy (which is sometimes overly difficult in the public sector). As a point of clarification, when I use the term "Crusader", I mean for it to depict one who "exerts oneself continuously, vigorously, or obtrusively to gain an end for a certain cause or person."

Fortunately, I find myself surrounded by many Crusaders (likely because we tend to seek each other out). Unfortunately, many of these Crusaders find themselves working for careerists who define success as not breaking anything...frustration turns into complacency followed by an external job search (or worse yet, the adoption of a careerist mentality). In essence, Careerists are beating the passion and entrepreneurial spirit out of the very team mates we should instead be enabling to contribute on an even grander scale. As a military, we need to understand that Generation Y and Millennials are motivated differently than Generation X and senior. Generally speaking, they want to collaboratively change the world, contribute upon arrival and work in a meritocracy. They are not overly interested in hierarchy, waiting to be anointed nor promotion to a certain rank. Clearly, the latter is contrary to traditional military structure/culture, but the former is why they choose to wear the nation's cloth...it is incumbent upon us to give them reason to stay in uniform.

So, Crusaders, let's continue to help others realize there are no stupid questions, it's competence and not collar device that truly matters and that we have a responsibility to challenge even the most established assumptions. Those with status quo bias, please continue to flourish in your "cylinder of excellence" and refrain from discouraging Crusaders to do their thing. Though outside the comfort zone of many, Crusaders will continue to both break things and fail at times, but their passion, innovation and desire for continual improvement is critical to our future.

As the first video on MTV alluded, it's time to embrace the relevant medium and the entrepreneurial mindset that underpins any meaningful, "game-changing" development. The days of the radio star are far behind...

"Video killed the radio star.
In my mind and in my car, we can't rewind we've gone too far"

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