The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University does engaging work to develop leaders and facilitate meaningful change within individuals and organizations. Change is always present, yet the pace of change seems to quicken each year.

Later this month, the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University will host its 10th forum – The Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum. Jim Blanchard served as Chairman of Synovus Financial Corporation and believes:

“The greatest gift I can offer to our country is an investment in leadership. I want to provide a forum where leaders can be exposed to the best and brightest minds in the world today.”

This is where Daniel Pink comes in. Daniel is one of the speakers at this year’s Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum. With gratitude to the team at the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, I had an opportunity to interview Daniel Pink, a leading voice in getting us to think and lead differently.

Daniel Pink

6 Questions with Daniel Pink

1 – Millennials receive a lot of attention, especially since they are the largest generation entering the workplace. Do you see a need for corporate cultures to change substantially sooner rather than later to embrace this new generation? What will be the key changes needed?

Daniel Pink:  I’m somewhat of skeptic when it comes to generational explanations for behavior.  Throughout history, incumbent generations have always believed that the generation rising behind had it easy, isn’t tough enough, hasn’t paid sufficient dues.  That said, when it comes to Millennials, two generational differences are significant.

First, this generation has lived its entire life — practically from birth — in a world awash in rich, regular, robust, meaningful feedback. However, when they get inside of organizations, they discover that the feedback mechanisms — annual performance reviews? — are archaic and irrelevant, which can lead to disengagement and job-hopping.

Second, this is an extremely purpose-driven generation, far more than their Boomer parents. So organizations that help employees make progress by providing swift, personalized feedback and that connect them to a larger purpose will be the employers of choice for this Millennials.

2 – Each generation has unique attributes based on their experiences using technology, surviving economic changes, and being a part of societal shifts. Even with these different generational attributes, what do you believe brings different generations together? Is there a motivating principle?

Daniel Pink:  I actually think the similarities outweigh the differences. Everybody — at every age — wants to be engaged on the job, not merely compliant. We want to have some control over what we do and how we do it. We want to learn, grow, and get better at what we do. We want colleagues we can trust and even admire. And we want to do something that matters.

3 – What one thing would nudge Millennials to engage with older generations more often and nudge older generations to engage with Millennials more often?

Daniel Pink:  There’s a great opportunity — in organizations large and small — in “dual mentoring.” That is, an older worker could mentor a younger one on topics like influencing without authority or making wise career choices or conducting one’s self in a meeting. Then they can switch roles — and, in exchange, the younger work can mentor the older on, say, using social media effectively or navigating the world of mobile.

4 – In a socially cluttered world, what coaching advice do you give Millennials in standing out and better positioning their talents?

Daniel Pink:  That depends a lot on the organization and the job someone’s in. But I’d recommend volunteering for “ugly” assignments — the kind others don’t want. Most of all, I’d recommend doing great work, being a excellent teammate, and making a contribution to the organization. Machiavellian tricks might work in the short term, but in the long run (not always, but usually) genuine excellence stands out.

5 – Did your career unfold as you expected it to? What helped you keep the right mix of pace and stride in achieving your career aspirations?

Daniel Pink:  Ha! I’ve never had a career plan — which should be obvious from the nonsensical and meandering path I’ve taken for 25 years! I agree with Steve Jobs that life is too unpredictable and that, as he said in his famous Stanford commencement speech, many of our decisions make sense only in retrospect. So I don’t think much about my “career.” That’s too way abstract for me. Instead, I focus on the next project — a book, a TV show, whatever — and then work my butt off to do something that I’m proud of and that makes a modest contribution to the world.

6 – Leadership is discussed often. What is the one thing Millennials should always remember when developing their own leadership skills and mindsets?

Daniel Pink:  It’s not about you. The very best leaders — especially those leading people doing challenging, complex work — tend to have vision that is bold but a style that is surprisingly humble. They’re servant leaders. They serve first and lead next.


Thank you, Daniel Pink, for your time and perspective! Your points are great reminders for all of us – no matter our generation – on how we can lead in an engaging, humble, and meaningful way.

The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University is doing impressive work, backed by a talented team. Follow their work and join in their leadership conference. An impressive group of leaders are gathering to exchange ideas and develop their capabilities. Congratulations to the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum for 10 years of engaging and growing leaders!

About the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University

The Leadership Institute at Columbus State University is a university-based consulting group that provides expertise and training in leadership development, team building, assessments, executive coaching and strategic planning. Founded in 2005, the Leadership Institute has worked with more than 150 organizations and helped develop thousands of leaders. For more information on how we can help your business or organization, visit

Like the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University on Facebook /CSULeadership and follow them on Twitter @CSULeadership.

About the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum

Founded in 2005, The Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, hosted by the Leadership Institute at Columbus State University, is the premier leadership event in the region and offers an intimate setting with some of the world’s foremost leaders. Held annually the last Monday and Tuesday in August, the event draws more than 1,200 attendees. The forum is named in honor of Jim Blanchard, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Synovus Financial Corp., which is headquartered in Columbus. For more information, visit

About Daniel H. Pink

Daniel H. Pink is the author of five provocative books — including three long-running New York Times bestsellers, A Whole New Mind, Drive, and To Sell is Human. Dan’s books have been translated into 34 languages and have sold more than 2 million copies worldwide.  He is also host and co-executive producer of “Crowd Control,” a new television series about human behavior on the National Geographic Channel. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife and their three children.

For more information, visit Follow him on Twitter @DanielPink.