By: Emily VanZoest, Client Relations and Product Development Lead, Paragon Leadership International (Gen Y)
Olivia Reckley, Marketing and Communications Intern, Paragon Leadership International (Gen Z)


 If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it; want to change the world… there’s nothing to it.”- Willie Wonka

Next generation leaders value having a purpose over a paycheck. They want to make a difference. They want on-demand and quick feedback. And they want to be engaged and grow within their organizations. One study showed that 91% of millennials aspire to reach leadership positions, but there is still dissatisfaction with how leadership skills are being developed internally.

We know the struggle. One of us will be entering the workforce soon and is learning what it means to be engaged, and the other is a millennial who has left 2 jobs in 2 and a half years.

We know what next generation leaders want and need to be successful, but how do we get there? What best practices should be followed to provide the most valuable professional development offerings?

Paragon Leadership International surveyed over 100 Gen Y (born 1981-1996), also known as millennials, and Gen-Z (born 1997-Present) young professionals, to determine what they value most from professional development opportunities, and what contributes the most to their learning.

They Want In-Person Learning

In our study, we asked millennials and Gen Z professionals to rank various terms and phrases in accordance to greatest impact on their learning, and 47% of respondents reported that in-person learning contributed the most to their learning. In-person interaction “is the best way to learn, communicate, and attain memories” and build substantive, long-lasting relationships. Paragon noted the shift away from virtual learning, contrary to theory that online learning has become a convenient and affordable way to expand skills for their job or career.

Paragon Chart

Paragon Next Generation Survey, 2018

They Want Just-In-Time (On-Demand) Feedback

The next generation of leaders thrive on frequent or constant, specific, and meaningful feedback that allows them to be a part of a continuing conversation. Of the 109 responses, 59 individuals ranked “Just-in-time Feedback” as one of the top three most beneficial contributors to their learning.

Olivia: “As a student-athlete at Wellesley College, a summer intern at Paragon, and a Gen Z, I truly value on-demand feedback in the workplace, school setting, and athletics. It forces me to stay on top of the task at hand. When I’m playing soccer, my coach tells me what I should and should not do; Getting the information quickly will help me improve my play and my teammates. At school and when I’m working, the quick feedback from professors and colleagues lets me accomplish multiple tasks at a faster rate. This makes me feel that I am contributing, rather than focusing too long on one specific subject.”

Olivia Soccer


They believe the most beneficial development opportunities for them, would provide the most ROI for their companies

When asked what kinds of development opportunities would benefit them as a next generation leader, 66 of 120 respondents said flexible, brief sessions that focus on micro-skill development would be most beneficial for them. These sessions would incorporate feedback, and recognition from peers and from their leaders. Participants also thought that internal project-based team development would be beneficial for their learning, if it is focused on a purpose or social cause.

This dedication to social and environmental challenges spans across generations in the workforce, as do many other long-term goals for individuals in the workplace, like working with diverse groups of people, making a positive impact in one’s organization, and working for a top company within one’s industry.



When we asked what would be most beneficial for their company to implement to develop next generation leaders, 71 of 120 respondents had similar sentiments to what would benefit them individually.

Next generation leaders want a purpose. They want quick, meaningful engagements. They want feedback on how they are improving.

That’s how next generation leaders will earn their golden ticket.


Paragon Leadership needs Millennial or Gen Z next generation leaders who want to make a difference in their companies. Get in touch with us by completing our contact form

 Look for Paragon’s new website coming in mid-August.




By: Janice Krupic, President & CEO
Paragon Leadership International


Would you be ready to lead others if opportunity came knocking?

People come and go in an organization, but when a CEO leaves, the loss of leadership leaves a vacuum that takes time to replenish. As people jockey for position, others are spun into temporary chaos. Morale can be affected. Is it your time to step up and lead?

Losing a CEO is becoming more commonplace: leaders are lured by other opportunities impacting wealth and power or are asked to leave a company that is faltering under their leadership.  Adient, Campbell Soup, Horizon Global, Intel, Michigan State University, Petrobras, and Thyssenkrupp have had their CEO’s exit recently.

Nina Zipkin, writer at Entrepreneur, shares lessons from CEOs who left positions in 2017.

The words of wisdom from Steve Ells, former CEO at Chipotle, “Understand when you are not the right person to solve your company’s current problem and empower the people who can to do so,” supports the belief that leaders within companies are waiting for the opportunity to rise to the top.

Someone needs to keep the ship on course; the business cannot afford to suffer from a decline in sales, lose market share or shareholder value. Reputation is everything and hard to rebuild. If you are one of the leaders left behind, and want to help the company to move forward, accept the challenge.

Your mindset of leader-ready behavior must be:

Be Disruptive . . . in a positive way
Now is not the time for negativity. View change as an opportunity to grow the business.

Lift Your Head
People are looking for someone with eyes on the prize, not an ostrich with its head in the sand.

Collaborate with Many
Workers want to be needed and share their expertise. Use them. Isolation is your enemy.

Be the Messenger of Hope and Reality
Be the beacon in the lighthouse: the rational thinker who will guide. Send the message Follow Me. Now is not the time for doom and gloom.

Make the Tough Calls
Leaders make informed decisions, confidently. Be that person.

Take Risks
Use your gathered knowledge to boldly go where the company may needs to go.

Be all in
Watching a major sporting event on a small television without surround sound is futile. Go for the gusto.  Make each moment in the present the best it can be. Perceptive workers will notice the lack of motivation of someone who may be the next to leave.

Focus on Thriving
Know that the company can move forward stronger while it evolves under your leadership. This opportunity is not one of survival but of moving ahead and transformation.

The antimetabole, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” reminds us that when a situation becomes difficult, leaders will become engaged and accept the challenges that lie ahead.

Be ready to extend your presence and be a positive force. Seize the opportunity.

Leap to leadership during your company’s time of need.


By: Janice Krupic, President & CEO
Paragon Leadership International


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Recently, my colleague shared that her daughter’s middle school was hosting a gender equality forum.  My first internal reaction was, “Really? How sad”. Sad not because they were having the forum, but sad because in the year 2018 there is such a need for the conversation. A need across all ages, ethnicities, and industries.

Seventeen years ago, when I founded Paragon Leadership International, a global executive coaching firm, one of the first service offerings we developed was an “Executive Women’s Leadership” series. It was shortly after the post-9/11 recession, and there were plenty of nay-sayers who knew for sure that there would not be the demand for such an offering and no one would sign up; But signed up they did. This program was so successful that other competitors used our model to launch similar series, and we ran our offering, along with a companion offering, for seven consecutive years.

But, nearly 8 years after launching the first offering, an interesting phenomenon became apparent. Women were no longer wanting to participate in a specifically women’s leadership offering but wanted to be integrated with non-gender specific development.  Organizations followed this request, and we began to see large corporations shy away from their women’s affinity groups, or women leadership networks. We were feeling hopeful because we began seeing an increase in women being promoted into senior level leadership roles, and even being appointed to board seats.



However, with a year of incomprehensible news of the treatment of women, I am beginning to question where the tide is shifting.

The first news that comes to mind is the ongoing investigation and fallout of the Larry Nassar scandal.  If what Mr. Nassar’s ‘many’ female victims had to endure wasn’t reprehensible enough, the list of MSU medical professionals and high-level administrators tied to the investigation seems to be never-ending. As proud as I would like to be of my alma matter, this ongoing revealing of the treatment of girls and women, and the covering up at many leadership levels, makes me want to temporarily put away my “green & white” flag.

Or, the big pressed stories that hit the entertainment industry, and the many women who fell victim to the outrageous abuse from men who appear to have never-ending egos or, on the other end, non-existent morals or scruples. These stories only recently came to light because of the highly-pushed and publicized “#metoo” and “Times Up” movements. These movements rely heavily on the courageous conversations these women in the entertainment industry are having, and how these women in positions of power use it.

Just last week, the CEO of Intel, Brian Krzanich, resigned after violating the company’s “non-fraternization policy” with a subordinate employee. His resignation adds to the growing number of executives leaving their positions, such as leaders from Nike, Lululemon Athletica, Guess, and many others.

Another questioning instance is the equally incomprehensible stories that did not hit the front page of the press, such as workplace violence against farmworker women. These women are fighting the same war as the women in the entertainment industry, if not a harsher and daily one. Among the factors that women farm workers face, 90% of them identified that sexual harassment is a major problem. Many of these workers (in the thousands for context) must engage in some form of a sexual act with their supervisor, forced by their supervisor, to keep their job, or they will put up with endless amounts of harassment, both sexual and non-sexual. To choose otherwise means they  face endless amounts of harassment, both sexual and non-sexual, or have to find work elsewhere, which given limited opportunities is often unrealistic.

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These sexual violence scandals make me wonder if there is a correlation between the fear factor of sexual harassment and a woman raising to an executive or board level. 60% of women in the workforce have received unwanted sexual attention, while 1 in 3 women have been sexually harassed at work. Contrary to this, only 1 in 10 men have been sexually harassed at work. Seeing as there are more men holding executive and board roles in the workforce supports this claim, however, this may just be a factor of gender bias.

Maybe we have not come as far as we think we have in gender equality.  In fact, I am disappointed to report that of Paragon’s current company client base, ranging from small-mid size private firms to Fortune 100 organizations, 26% of women are represented in senior executive roles – versus the 74% of men represented at the executive level – while only 5% of women are represented as a chief executive officer, and 22% are represented on public boards.

So, is the tide shifting? And if it is, is it shifting in the wrong direction?  Did we not make the impact and progress we thought we did? Or, is it a matter of women being more courageous in speaking the truth? Just within this year, I personally know of greater than fifteen women who fell victim to gender equality, or abuse from their male bosses and were either asked to leave their company or exited themselves as they decided they had had enough. Whatever the reason, whether we are female or male leaders in small or large organizations, we cannot sit back and let this type of treatment and inequality continue.

It seems that the tide is shifting back for women, and others, in the direction to speak up and engage in the courageous conversations, and I am glad, because it is needed!

 Paragon Leadership will be hosting a “coffee chat” on gender equality on Wednesday, August 8 from 7-8:30pm at The Red Dot Coffee Company (505 N. Center Street, Northville, MI. 48167). If you are so moved, please join us for a conversation on how to treat all genders fairly and respectively. RSVP at

Space is limited. Register early.

 Email us at with questions

Working Outside the Box

A corner office? An office with windows? How about sitting in a cube? Office space today is quickly changing. Open office spaces quickly gaining popularity in many major companies, such as Deloitte, Herman Miller, and Steelcase.  Many organizations are changing office layouts and the way their office space is utilized; efficiency is key. Advancements in technologies and increased real estate costs are the main drivers for this shift. Companies are creating unconventional ways of providing alternative office space settings, depending on the nature of the work while utilizing the same amount of space. Many companies are becoming more mobile, which is diminishing the need for each employee to have their own personal office. Steelcase is one of the organizations that is currently experiencing these new changes. Take a look at what they plan for the future:

Collaboration…Brainstorming…Teamwork… Newer office designs provide greater opportunity to engage more fully in these types of workplace activities.  Many companies start by taking down walls and removing cubicles to allow for more openness. By not having personal offices, workers interact with each other more often and shed their “behind closed doors” mentality. This open assignment approach allows for workers to network freely with each other; creating greater opportunities for new ideas to spring forth. However, there is some criticism that open office space is distracting and unproductive. Nevertheless, Herman Miller CEO, Brian Walker, believes sharing workspace beats owning a private office; He believes new and interesting ideas ultimately lead to greater organizational productivity.

In addition to open workspaces, technological advances are also changing office environments and the ways in which communication takes place.  According to Mark Gardner of Deloitte Consulting, equipping workspaces with projectors and screens allows the ease of video conferencing and virtual meetings. The open space is often large and can accommodate many people, thus opening the possibility for spontaneous meetings throughout the day.

Results show collaborative spaces are effective. Companies that have made changes in this direction have received positive feedback from employees, and they often realize the benefits with increased productivity. Funding that would have been used to create more traditional cubicles and offices, is now geared for technology, as well as equipment that facilitates greater spontaneity and innovative interaction. Today, it’s all about collaboration. Organizations need to keep pace with the changing times. Capitalize on the staff and the technology available, and shy away from the traditional office arrangements. Success lies in innovation and creativity, and creating space that fosters synergy is likely to help the organization become the leader of the future.

Look for our next blog, “Innovation – no longer a “nice to have” but now a “must have” for today’s leaders.

IMG_2204Written by:  McKenzie Borland, Intern at Paragon Leadership International.  Paragon Leadership International is a MI headquartered executive coaching and leadership development firm. 





Creativiity + Hollywood = ideas for innovation in business

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The word of the week after speaking with our clients is …..INNOVATION. This article is a great read on where innovation comes from and the difference between innovation and invention. get Inspired!  :