Values Based Leadership Working Group Session

Clemson at the Falls

June 11, 2013


Senior Executives Present:

Carol Burdette – United Way of Anderson County

Sharon Day – Sales Activation Group

Julie Ducworth – The Liberty Fellowship

Kevin Hammonds – Fluor

Lisa Ireland – ScanSource

Tim Justice – Rescom Construction

David Krysh – The Alternative Board Upstate - SC

Anna Locke – A. T. Locke

Evelyn Lugo – SC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Jeff Quinley – Charter Business

Wendy Walden – Greenville Technical College

Mark Williams – Michelin NA


Meeting Objectives

·       Discussion of “soft skills” and what factors might make up an ethically sustainable organization.

·       Using the survey data from 17 respondents, created flip charts of the answers for three of the questions. Asked participants to come prepared to select their top five from each category. After that was done, created three working groups of four each to take one question and select the top categories that can help identify the most meaningful factors to business. Each group then reported back to the larger group and a discussion followed.


Group Activity

Question/Group #1 EXPECTATIONS

What are the “soft skills” that you expect from new employees?


The working group selected six:

·       Positive attitude

·       Integrity

·       Initiative

·       Ability to Collaborate

·       Professionalism

·       Strong Work Ethic


Stated that if they had combined Integrity with Honesty it would have been the top expected skill.


Talked about professionalism and strong work ethic. Stated that you can have a strong work ethic without being professional. But you can’t be professional without a strong work ethic. Professionalism goes beyond a strong work ethic. That’s why they chose both on their list.


Question/Group #2 MOST PLEASED

What have you been most pleased to see in new employees?


This group selected four, combining two to make the top two selections:

·       Self motivated, driven and having initiative

·       Positive attitude & Enthusiasm

·       Active learning

·       Strong work ethic


They felt that on the whole, employees are going to be ethical.

·       The question was raised: Not can they be, but will they choose to be?


Question/Group #3 LACKING

What have you been most disappointed to see lacking?


This group selected three, combining two to create the second one:

·       Strong work ethic (including basic professional skills)

·       Sorry to see “me first” entitlement attitude vs. earned reward

·       Patience to gain experience and move up


Group discussion: Connection Between “Soft Skills” and Ethically Sustainable Organizations

·       In what areas do your expectations for new employee “soft skills” most differ from reality?

o   The younger generation has more of a life balance with a blurring of work and life expectations.

o   Our parents (and some of us) are more workaholics and don’t have as much flexibility.

o   How do you gauge when you can give flexibility?

§  It is easier to be flexible with smaller teams

§  On larger projects there is not the ability to be flexible


·       How might any gaps be bridged? Can they be taught or must they be gained through experience?

o   What are some things that could help young people transition into the world of work?

§  Co-oping

§  Interning

§  Mentorship

o   Some skills are best taught and others are best gained through experience. There are places for both to be of good use.


·       Do you see more formal onboarding/training as part of the solution?

o   On the question of onboarding in the survey, nearly 90% indicated they had a process. Yet, less than 50% said they had mission, vision and values statements.

§  There was general agreement that if more companies have such statements, it could help with the onboarding process.

§  The group stated that the lack of basic skills was more a training issue. Within six months on the job most pick them up.


·       How are ethics and integrity folded into day-to-day operations? Can they help bridge “soft skills” gaps?

o   There was widespread agreement that getting together to share ideas and best practices was a worthwhile use of time periodically.

o   It was stated by Evelyn Lugo of the SC Hispanic Chamber of Commerce that their business area needs more such engagement. It is an excellent way for them to hear what they should be doing.

o   Someone asked Dr. Wueste how to get this information into the curriculum so students understand what is needed and wanted in business.

§  His response was that when students hear from business people it has more of an impact.

§  He mentioned the possibility that materials or talks could be prepared and delivered to students.

o   There was a consensus that free enterprise doesn’t work in a non-ethical society.

§  By and large most people are ethical. Again, it is typically a few that choose not to make ethical choices.

o   It was mentioned that the Greenville Chamber has a group for 22-39 year old professionals that was started as a networking group to help keep young professionals in Greenville. There are over 1000 members in it.

§  It was agreed that many of these are the future leaders.

§  It was considered a challenge to solve to get some of them to speak to those who are/will be in non-leadership positions to pass along some wisdom to that similar age group (who are perhaps in community college or working and not in college)


Next Steps

·       It was agreed that periodic senior executive sessions are valuable.

·       The meeting concluded with a question: What areas would you like to see this working group engaged in going forward?