Cultural Mindset: Bianca McCann and Mark McMillion

Hosted by Chris Dyer, the CEO of PeopleG2 – TalentTalk Radio features engaging conversation with CEOs, thought leaders and HR executives.  TalentTalk connects professionals who care about talent-related issues and having the cultural mindset to embrace the needed diversity of the workplace. 

Today’s guests are Bianca McCann, Global HR Leader of the HR Expert Network at SAP and Mark McMillion, Owner of McMillion Leadership Associates. To hear the entire show, click here.

Both of today’s guests highlight the successes that come from a cultural mindset that sets out to identify, cater to and even celebrate the differences that each employee brings to the company table.

BIANCA MCCANN cultural mindset

Bianca McCann is the Global HR Leader of the HR Expert Network at SAP, the leading enterprise software company worldwide. McCann “fell into HR” when, while bartending during college, Cornell University professors came in and encouraged her to pursue it as a career.

Productivity & Profitability

Within McCann’s cultural mindset, she believes each individual employee possesses some unique ability and brilliance that can be uncovered and nurtured. She believes people should spend time on the skills and efforts that strengthen them. “If we let our talent spend time on the things that strengthen them, we will get the best and brightest. We’re going to get their discretionary effort, their intrinsic love and effort into the work they’re doing,” says McCann. 

She points to researchers who say that when employees spend time doing things they’re good at but don’t actually like, those things can actually weaken them. That’s why McCann says, “My talent philosophy is helping people discover the things that strengthen them, help them diminish the amount of time spent on things that weaken them – even if they’re good at them. And that will create a happier workforce, productivity and profitability. If people can experience joy every day at work, it’s really going to drive performance.”

She adds: “It’s important to give employees autonomy to act and ensure they have support and space to make decisions. People want to feel they are making an impact at work and that makes them want to stick around.” Meanwhile, leaders need to be trustworthy and follow through on what they commit to; transparency is vital.

Leaders Who LEAP

McCann developed a program called L.E.A.P. (Leadership Excellence  Acceleration Program) — an accelerated development program focused on fostering female leaders at various levels of the SAP organization. The program revolves around what today’s emerging leaders need to  experience, learn and demonstrate in order to succeed. Now, L.E.A.P. has become a global program, developing 400 to 500 managers each year throughout the company.

But SAP is encouraging and developing employees at all levels as well. Because the belief at SAP is that employees should bring their ‘whole self’ to work, they encourage a type of personal branding within the organization. This type of cultural mindset and approach promotes transparency and openness by letting people be themselves at work and to bring their individual purpose and tendencies to their jobs.

“The result has been better decisions, better collaborations and high performing teams. Being who you are even at work really feeds into that. You can be recognized for who you are, you can be creative, you can carve your way and contribute,” shares McCann. 

What are You Reading?

McCann is reading, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Areby Brené Brown.

How Can People Connect with You? Via LinkedIn

MARK MCMILLION cultural mindset

Mark McMillion is Owner of McMillion Leadership Associates, a company he founded after serving in the Army for more than two decades. The company works with leaders at all levels from supervisors to the executive level. 

McMillion’s military experience extended beyond combat. He and others formed teams to build infrastructure such as roads and a sewage treatment plant, and also worked to build trust with the local people. During his service, he recalls hearing another officer tell a cadet: “‘You go out and do a great job whatever your position is.’” Building on that philosophy, McMillion discovered, “I’m living in an area where there is not a lot of opportunity for work and it’s been a struggle. I am blooming where I’m planted.”

The Benefits and Challenges of Veteran Status

His military service armed McMillion with valuable leadership lessons he has applied directly to his journey with McMillion Leadership Associates. One of those lessons is being accountable for everything he succeeds – or fails – to do. Another is the importance of planning balanced with the need to pivot. “Plans are useless but the planning process is indispensable. When the plan changes, everyone has a common basis from which to adjust.”

In teaching cadets an “Introduction to Psychology” course at West Point, he was able to perfect his presentation skills, skills which he uses every day in his work as an entrepreneur. 

That said, he certainly faced challenges common to entrepreneurs when first starting out, and even some unique to his veteran status. The latter included building his brand in a community where nobody knew him and identifying people’s positions outside of the military’s uniform and rank structure. 

The Leader Is Not the Center

Within McMillion’s company cultural mindset, he believes that leaders need to understand where employees are and what they are and are not capable of. “Leaders sometimes think they have to be at the center of everything. Sometimes a leader is not turning people loose. I’ve met leaders who did not trust their people, which created more problems,” recounts McMillion.

Diversity and Differences

Living overseas also taught McMillion much about diversity and cultural differences. He worked in a group that included a person from another country whose culture dictated that he not speak unless spoken to.  Once the group coaxed him to speak, this individual contributed in ways that made a tremendous difference to the team. McMillion views diversity as much more than gender and skin color; it must include people from other cultures and other ways of life. He shares, “You don’t know what you don’t know. You’ve got to be open to new people and be willing to engage.”

Who Influenced You?

When it comes to McMillion’s greatest leadership influences, he digs deep in his past to an assistant coach named Jack Cole of his 7th grade football team, who told him that a leader can’t lead from the back. “‘You have to be out front.’ I learned that the harder I worked, the more good things happened to me.”

What are You Reading?

McMillion is reading, The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World,” by Russell Gold.

How Can People Connect with You? Via

Tune into the show next week, and remember, do what you love….and show the world how talented you can be, today.

Date: March 3, 2015