This essay is not about an individual no matter the degree of semblance in descriptions and characteristics. It is about a people, ageless, agile, youth at heart, across gender and generations. A carved-out generation, sculptured to make big things happen. It is all about reinventing self, staying fresh and vital, and about the thriving habit of ‘disruptive innovation’ – ‘if-ain’t-broken-break-it!’ kind of lifestyle and mindset. It is inspired by the 2019 Bob Fisch’s ‘Fisch Tales: The Making of a Millennial Baby Boomer’. Incidentally, there is another familiar MBB acronym used often by my missionary friend and pastor, Bitrus Botshut in his mission works to depict Muslim-background believers which I am one. I’ll be using the MBB acronym as I navigate through this piece.
As I wrote in chapter one of my book, Growing People, the generation tagged Baby Boomers got its name by the reason of data revealing that about 76 million babies were born in the United States alone in the years following the second world war, between 1946 and 1964 to be precise. The generation before them are called the Veterans or the Traditionalists or the Silent Generation. Generations after the Baby Boomers are Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z. Though these delineations originated from the United States, they are now being productively used all over the world. The world is now a ‘global capsule’. Already, another generation is incubating as we speak, Generation Alpha. You may also read it elsewhere that Generation G.I. came before the Veterans. There are about five of these generations currently active in the workplace. Whichever generation you belong, what matters is how we harness the energy in the room, how we get along, so we can stay strongest together and thrive.
As author Bob Fisch puts it, “an MBB is a bit of a chameleon, someone with a survival instinct whose change-adaptability quotient is top notch.” We are all humans, a project work-in-progress kind of because the day you stop growing, you start to decay. A part of being a Millennial Baby Boomer is about shared values. Values that can and should serve as glue that would bind generations more closely and more productively. For instance, when a generation learns to openly empathise and affirm other generations, their values would benefit everyone. In doing this, vision is vital. By the way, vision is the V in ‘VUCA plus’. When you have a dream of making something big happen, you may not be able to go far until you can get people to go along to see and execute with you. Years ago, courtesy of a project with the Nigerian Breweries’ HR under the leadership of the indefatigable Victor Famuyibo, I read David Novak’s “Taking People with You – the only way to make big things happen.” An experiential practical beautifully written book. It was the curriculum for the training and an eye-opener on people power and teamwork. David argues that you cannot lead a great organisation of any size without getting your people aligned, enthusiastic and focused relentlessly on the mission. People want to feel they belong, please carry them along once you are sure they should be in the bus.
Whether hiring or aligning, author Fisch argues, we value authenticity, dedication, curiosity, and ‘tribal knowledge’ in people. Tribal knowledge is based on authentic wisdom that accumulates over time, from experience. It requires a strong work ethic, feeding on reliable information and intangibles. A strong work ethic is more than just working hard and spending long hours. It shows up in fulfilling obligations, doing your job, and doing it well and qualitatively. It is exhibiting professionalism, trust, and integrity, demonstrating initiative, driven to succeed. It is being a team player and aiming at exceeding expectations always. That is why we strive always at BezaleelConsulting to exceed expectations at all times.
MBBs are not afflicted with the know-it-all arrogant stance of ‘who-needs-a-mentor’. MBBs, no matter their generations seek the guidance of mentors to achieve their goals. Just as I have so many mentors, too many to mention here, growing in my career and running a thriving business, so I have been a mentor to many. Learning the ropes from the right persons is a proven way to increase your net worth and increase your value. Even when you already see yourself a guru, be humble, there is always something to learn from seasoned people willing to share their professional knowledge and street smarts. Get a mentor. If you are not intentional about it, the alternative is to hope that maybe someone would take you under her wing. Hmmm… I know about the scripture that says, “hope makes not ashamed because the love of God is shed abroad in our heart…” (Romans 5:5). However, in the context of mentoring, grooming, and excelling, just hoping gets you nowhere fast. ‘Maybe’ does not cut it. Do not hesitate to seek help from those ahead of you in the journey.
Mentoring! I can’t just write enough on this crucial ability for giving back to the society, and for grooming the next generation of leaders. As I wrote in chapter eight of Growing People, its origin seems rooted in the Greek mythology. In Homer’s Odyssey, Mentor was a friend of Odysseus and when the latter left for the Trojan war, he placed his friend, Mentor in charge of his son, Telemachus. A mentor guides, lives the values espoused, ‘holds’ the mentee’s hands and leads the way with experience, and a certain degree of know-how. Mentoring is as old as civilisation itself. I’m particularly fascinated any day with Apostle Paul’s mentorship instruction to the young Timothy who went on to become a great Bishop. Paul admonished his mentee, “you have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.” Ripples of effective mentoring span generations. The influence has at least a five-level multiplication effect. From Paul to ‘many reliable witnesses’ (MRW), to Timothy, also to ‘other trustworthy people’ (OTP), and then to others. Coming back home, people in my generation are privileged to have seen the way the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo mentored and groomed his protégés who went on to become successful managers of resources thereby continuing his legacy of good governance and extra-ordinary achievements.
An MBB values a corporate culture that stimulates progress, surging ahead while living and preserving the core. Culture describes how a company’s or people’s attitude, and behaviour are demonstrated in day-to-day business dealings. Relationships are a vital part of culture. How related are you to the people you lead? How is the work or home environment where you are? How happy is your team? How is your communication getting across? Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “what you are shouts so loudly in my ears I can’t hear what you say.” A young mentee once sent me a write up to edit. Somewhere in the introduction, he proudly scribbled, “Effective Leading: step aside skills and competencies. Take centre stage values of integrity, teamwork and trust.” I called him up and pleaded that he should not succumb to what Jim Collins and Jerry Porras described as the ‘Tyranny of Or’ in their 1994 book, Built to Last. Why not enjoy the best of the two or more great worlds? Somehow, I found myself having to repeat this counsel in a chat recently to a colleague during a professionals’ political debate. You cannot sacrifice empathy and relationships for instance, on the altar of rapid change, technology, or disruptive innovation. As Collins and Porras noted, “great companies (and I dare say great leaders) can hold paradoxical and contradictory ideas. For instance, we can be conservative at preserving the core yet progressive in our actions; we can invest for the long term and still expect short-term results; we can have high quality at low cost; we can plan seriously yet move fast when opportunities arise. In short, we must not be tyrannised by either/or thinking. For us, it is not A or B; it is A and B.” That is the MBB thinking!
Still on culture and values in action, caring about people, respect for people, etc are desirable core values. However, this is just one leg of the equation. We need to show it ‘in deed and indeed’. How do we communicate that we care? Are we in touch? When we show that we care, show up, and listen empathetically, it is therapeutic. Show your boss that you care more than just showing up for the pay cheque, make him shine, help her to manage her crowded schedule, when you spot a problem, suggest three solutions, and follow through on execution. Let your actions show your intrapreneuring spirit and genuineness. The simple act of offering assistance and asking what next sets you apart. Dear leader, praise people who deserve it, walk around to catch people doing good, and doing things worthy of praise. A behaviour rewarded gets repeated. A leader is the one who helps someone to accomplish her goals. Let your people know that they are critical to making the organisation successful. Stop the harassment. Kill the temptation to use the phrase, “it is an appraisal issue” at every twist and turn.
As I wrap this up this week, author Fisch recommends an MBB thinking-ability: Think Like a Bezos. Jeff Bezos is the founder of the e-commerce giant, Amazon. Whatever role you find yourself, remember, there is no secret sauce for success! People at the top of their game, such as Jeff Bezos tell us, “It is not genius that creates game-changing projects, products and business models. It is good, old-fashioned sweat and the iron will to do whatever it takes to put your vision into action.” It was the foremost inventor, Thomas Edison who said, “success is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.” Legend has it and we can see it that Bezos invested countless hours in years of relentless experimentation and unbridled imagination to create Amazon and turned it into a behemoth we see today. This company continues to take risks in pursuit of profitable new ideas because he knows that as hard as it is to get to the top, it is even harder to stay up there. As Bezos himself puts it, “if you only do things where you know the answer in advance, your company goes away. It is the lessons you learned along the way”. That’s the MBB thinking.
Till next week…keep winning.
*Segun Mojeed, an alumnus of the prestigious Yale School of Management is the President and Chairman of Governing Council, Chartered Institute of Personnel Management of Nigeria (CIPM). A Fellow of CIPM, and the Institute of Training & Development respectively, he is a certified World Kirkpatrick Learning Effectiveness Evaluator, and an accredited Kolbe, MBTI, and Assessment Centre consultant. He is also an accredited Centre for Management Development (CMD) consultant. Segun is an author. His latest book: Growing People is on Amazon Kindle. He is the Executive Consultant/Group Head of Practice at BezaleelConsulting, the HR Company.
Acknowledgement/Sources of Resources for this article:
- Olusegun Mojeed: Growing People – Experiential Essays… Digitech Creative Publishers, 2019
- Bob Fisch: Fisch Tales – The Making of a Millennial Baby Boomer. Bob Fisch, 2019
- James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras: Built to Last – Successful habits of Visionary Companies. HarperBusiness, 1994
- People Matters: A compendium of Talent Management & People Skills Essays by Olusegun Mojeed. BezaleelConsulting Group’s Library bezaleelconsultingrw.com