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Beyond Booksmart

As we enter the work-world as young professionals – bright eyed and eager to make our mark we are faced with a shared reality – We don’t know what we don’t know! 

As a 1st generation college student I was told to go to school, get good grades, graduate and get a good job. But there stood a gap – no one told me what to do once I got the job. My upbringing and environment had not exposed me to many of the challenges young professionals, particularly those of color, face everyday like:

  • how to cope in environments where you’re the only person of color 
  • how to active your emotional intelligence and navigate workplace politics
  • how to build winning relationships and social capital
  • how to communicate in ways that advance your career
  • how to lead authentically…

While I was focused on doing my job, and doing it well – I lacked these tools necessary to gain the competitive edge I needed to reach my full potential.

As a result, I struggled for many years learning the hard way that – emerging leaders need far beyond booksmarts to navigate and thrive in the workplace. My job performance and decisions suffered. I became disengaged and discouraged as I watched peers excel while I felt left behind.

According to Harvard Business Review, 74% of recent college grads say they entered the workforce feeling unprepared for the professional “Real” world. 80% want to change careers in the first year, hop from job to job in search of fulfillment or hit a wall down the line.

Does this sound familiar?

Today’s Millennial & Gen Z talent face a similar story of challenges stifling potential. The results on individual and organizational engagement, performance and retention are staggering. Gallup reports that an alarming 70% of employees are not reaching their full potential and disengaged employees cost companies $450-to-$550 billion in lost productivity each year as a result of poor performance. On the contrary, companies that invest in the development of early career talent see a positive direct impact to the bottom-line of their organization. 

There is a winner in all of us. We just need the right skills for the game!

On-boarding Millennial & Gen Z talent in ways that support their critical need and desire for real-world soft-skills, development, and fulfillment will generate individual and organizational effectiveness to elevate outcomes.

Sometimes it takes us longer than we’d hope to learn and apply skills to successfully navigate and excel in our careers. It was many years before I learned critical skills and know-how for success in the real-world. Once I began to intentionally invest in myself, my career trajectory soared producing significant personal and professional success.

When you think back, are there things you wish someone would have told you before you entered the real-world? Things you believe would’ve helped you hit the ground running and accelerate your success.

Emerging leaders are our leaders of today and tomorrow. It’s their curiosity, grit and knowledge that will shape our collective future. We are all leaders in our own right – in our homes, in business, over our teams, across our communities. After we’ve learned the hard way, it is not only our responsibility but rather a privilege to be in a position to demystify the workplace; shortening the learning curve of emerging leaders so they can navigate and thrive smarter, farther and faster.

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