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New tool grooms millennials to be leaders

Coaching consultant turns her experience toward working with younger generations.

September 4, 2015
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Barbara Rapaport Real-Time Perspectives
Barbara Rapaport is turning her coaching and leadership consulting toward helping millennials succeed. Courtesy Real-Time Perspectives

A new online tool targeting millennial leaders has been developed in Grand Rapids.

Barbara Rapaport, founder and president of Real-Time Perspectives Inc., is launching a new consulting and coaching program tailored for the millennial generation during an event celebrating her business’s 10th anniversary. The event will take place from 5:30-7:30 p.m., Sept. 17, at 83 Monroe Center NW, in CityFlats Hotel’s new event space.

Since beginning her executive coaching and organizational development consulting business in 2005 with one client, Rapaport has worked with more than 85 companies in 16 countries and provided coaching to nearly 300 business leaders.

The anniversary event will celebrate a decade of providing real-time leadership development and also will announce the launch of Next-Gen Leadership Coaching.

“It is a celebration of those 10 years of success and actually as a thank you to many of the people who have helped create that success. We are inviting former clients, current clients and people in their organization to join in the celebration,” said Rapaport. “I wanted to extend what I was doing to include (millennials) in a very intentional way, so we are going to launch and announce this opportunity.”

Featuring complimentary beverages and light snacks, the anniversary event will begin with networking, followed by a short program at 6 p.m. Former and current clients and their employees are encouraged to invite millennials who they believe may benefit from learning about the program, according to Rapaport.

The event is free for guests, and registration is provided online by Blackbird RSVP.

Next-Gen Leadership Coaching is a four-week online coaching tool for the millennial generation that allows individuals to learn at their own pace while applying new skills in real-time in their workplace as they move through the program.

The comprehensive multi-workbook program is aimed at helping millennials establish meaningful goals, uncover underlying beliefs holding them back, identify new skills to practice, develop coping skills for evaluating feedback and making tough decisions, and explore the balance between independence and collaboration and between work and life.

Each of the four online workbooks have a focal point: understanding one’s authentic self, finding ways to effectively collaborate, branding oneself as a leader in an organization, and effective coaching at all levels.

“The first workbook starts to uncover what is your leadership purpose and how can you do that in a way that is authentic to you,” said Rapaport.

“Workbook two is really about taking down authentic self and finding different ways to collaborate effectively — because, at the end of the day, millennials are very interested in collaboration, and most of the organizations … I have been working with set that as a value.”

The emphasis in the second workbook is on limiting assumptions, or how the way an individual thinks may hinder their ability to develop empathy and effective collaboration.

The third workbook builds on the first two by coaching young professionals, who may not yet have a formal leadership role, how to brand themselves to show their potential.

“Branding is really the key topic and how to do that in a way that allows you to be an integrated human being with your leadership purpose, and again, in a way that doesn’t have limiting behaviors or limiting assumptions associated with those behaviors,” said Rapaport.

“Workbook four pulls it all together with the most fundamental skill I had feedback from millennials on, which is effective coaching at all levels.”

The Next-Gen Leadership Coaching online program costs roughly $275.

“We think it is really affordable because that is pretty close to what a single coaching session would be face-to-face, and here you are getting multiple coaching sessions over the span of the four workbooks,” said Rapaport.

The coaching tool also will be available to organizations, which requires a negotiated licensing fee, according to Rapaport.

Based on the feedback from those who have participated in the program, Rapaport said there may be an opportunity to add single workbooks on topics that have been indicated as important to millennials.

“We want to let the people into it, get some interaction going in terms of opportunity for people to give feedback and tell me what they are learning,” said Rapaport. “I will have a blog on my website, which will allow people to interact with me, and we’ll get some momentum going.”

Rapaport decided to expand her consulting practice to include a program for millennials after providing coaching services to organizations and teams and participating in workshops over the past decade.

“It struck me early on in my practice, and then it was reinforced over time, that this is a generation being thrust into leadership positions due to demographic changes with baby boomers in the workforce, and to some degree they are in over their heads. They haven’t had the chance to build their repertoire of skills before they have been put into some high-level management or leadership positions,” she said.

“It is a labor of love. I care about the generation very much, partially because my two kids are in the generation and I have watched how they have grown, learned, and the struggles they have had,” said Rapaport. “Millennials want to be heard and they deserve to be heard, just like any generation. My real hope is they have a tool they can go to and not feel alone and isolated … and allow them to unleash their authentic leadership purpose.”

Prior to launching Real-Time Perspectives, Rapaport worked at Steelcase for 20 years and has experience working with a range of generations and in instructional design for sales training. She also did leadership development, global culture consulting, internal cultural consulting, executive coaching for the northern operations team, and grief management.

“I did a lot of coaching and change management for the organization, but the coaching at the executive level really gave me my passion for wanting to unleash potential in people,” said Rapaport. “My last stint happened post-9/11 where I also took on a role of what we unfortunately called ‘grief management’ because, at that time, we let go about 30 to 35 percent of our global workforce.”

After her involvement in the exit process for those who were leaving and management of the feelings of employees who remained, Rapaport wanted an opportunity to work with people in real-time as they faced daily challenges.

“I began this one-woman show, so-to-speak, 10 years ago and I haven’t looked back once, other than to be grateful for the amazing tool kit I took in from Steelcase. I have been very fortunate,” said Rapaport. “I have had a chance to work with people at all levels.”

Kim McLaughlin, vice president of member and community enrichment at the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, said Rapaport has helped participants in the chamber’s Community Leadership program discover who they are and aspire to be as leaders.

“She has the unique ability to help people discover what is holding them back from achieving their true leadership potential,” said McLaughlin.

Rapaport has an academic background in American studies from Douglass College in New Jersey, and a Master of Science in rehabilitation counseling from Boston University. She has been certified by The Leadership Circle to deliver leadership and organizational cultural assessments, by the Hay Group to administer the Emotional Competency Inventory, and is certified to teach the Immunity to Change coaching process.

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