In last week’s blog, I shared a podcast highlighting how CEOs can develop their leadership team members into A-Players by looking in the mirror at their own management style.
The book, 12: The Elements of Great Managing, by Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter, can help.
It highlights twelve key management practices that have the greatest impact on employee engagement as shown by increases in several tangible business performance metrics.
The book is based on two decades of Gallup surveys, interviews, focus groups and statistical analysis.
12 is a breath of fresh air for business owners, leaders and managers overwhelmed by the wide variety of management models and books they’ve come across. It helps by highlighting what makes the biggest difference.
The 12 elements, written from the perspective of the employee, are:
Note that 12 does not hone in on what specific management behaviors or organizational systems to change at a deeper level to strengthen those twelve elements. The twelve elements are those seen and experienced by employees. Less visible dynamics such as leadership team functioning, culture, authenticity and trust underlie them.
Yet, I have found 12 to be a helpful tool for leaders and managers I work with.
Many management frameworks can either be too high level to be actionable or lose leaders in the weeds with rheams of behaviours and tactics while forgetting the impact leaders need to have on their people in the first place.
12, on the other hand, provides leaders with a relatively small set of clear, tangible practices enabling their people to develop and be more engaged. From there, leaders can clearly identify what they are doing that is helping or getting in the way.
By strengthening these 12 practices in yourself, you can also inspire your leadership team members to strengthen how they manage their people, creating a positive impact on employee engagement, productivity and results throughout your company.
Book: 280 pages. Audio book: 4 hours 15 minutes. Soundview book summary: 8 pages, 20 minute audio.
How can you manage your leadership team members more effectively?
To find out how to manage your team members to grow more easily, quickly and profitability, AND enjoy the ride, try our complimentary Agile Growth Checklist. This self-service questionnaire takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. You'll receive the checklist with your responses immediately. Within 24 hours, you'll receive a compiled report highlighting areas to improve. Complete section 2 to check your people management processes. Or complete all 7 sections to find out how your company is doing in each of the 7 areas needed to produce more rapid, profitable and sustainable growth. This report is complementary and involves no obligation.
As a CEO, how can we “delegate and elevate"? One way is to ensure we have only A-players on our leadership team.
A great leadership team enables the CEO to entrust the team and its members with getting results consistently and leading change in the company. This frees up the CEO to spend more time leading and less time doing, which is essential for a company to grow and thrive.
And so, CEOs need to be skilled at hiring leadership team members. While HR can support the process, the CEO needs to stay highly involved.
Who: The A Method for Hiring captures the best method we Gravitas Impact coaches have seen for consistently hiring A players.
Unfortunately, most managers use what author Geoff Smart calls “voodoo hiring techniques.” While common, they get poor results.
Smart and his firm meticulously developed and tested the A Method over 23 years, simplifying it for mid-size companies from Geoff’s father Brad’s TopGrading system, which is more geared for larger corporate companies.
The A Method includes four parts:
Scorecard – describes exactly what the person will need to accomplish. While job descriptions tend to capture mere accountabilities and responsibilities, or worse yet, a list of duties, a job scorecard captures the specific results to be delivered.
Source – systematically sourcing before you have slots to fill so you have a large pool of high quality candidates when you need them. A small pool generated on short notice is one of the main reasons managers hire less-than-ideal candidates. Short-notice sourcing is often done through advertising or job postings, which will access job-seekers. And job-seekers are often not A players.
Select – a series of structured interviews that allow you to gather accurate facts about the person. It’s considered normal for candidates to hide their faults and flaws in a job interview. Getting a complete picture of the person is essential to determining if their weaknesses will be manageable.
Sell – ways to persuade the perfect candidate to join. A players are usually already employed or are being sought out by other employers. Selling the candidate increases the odds they’ll go
Most companies jump straight into sourcing and selecting without clarity on the results they want the person to accomplish. Or they’re starting from scratch with sourcing, leading to few great candidates.
Book: 189 pages. Audio book: 4h47m. Soundview summary: 8 pages, 20m audio. getAbstract summary: 5 pages, 10m audio.
How can you hire more A-players in your company?
To find out how to have stronger talent and leaders to grow more easily, quickly and profitability, AND enjoy the ride, try our complimentary Agile Growth Checklist. This self-service questionnaire takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. You'll receive the checklist with your responses immediately. Within 24 hours, you'll receive a compiled report highlighting areas to improve. Complete section 2 to check your A-player processes. Or complete all 7 sections to find out how your company is doing in each of the 7 areas needed to produce more rapid, profitable and sustainable growth. This report is complementary and involves no obligation.
I was looking for a reference guide of common KPIs to make it easier for the leadership team of one of the companies I work with to identify appropriate metrics to drive execution.
I reached out to my network of colleagues in Gravitas Impact Premium Coaches. They suggested Key Performance Indicators: The 75+ Measures Every Manager Needs to Know, by Bernard Marr.
The problem was there was no audio version and no text-to-speech feature. Listening to books while driving or walking my dog is my only option.
So I found this “for Dummies” version by the same author. It did the trick.
The gist of it
In Key Performance Indicators for Dummies, Marr provides, not only a list of common KPIs across the essential areas of financial, customer, internal efficiency and people, but also a comprehensive guidebook to developing and implementing KPIs.
While the book, in places, goes into more complexity than is needed for many mid-size companies, he does a nice job of explaining how KPIs connect with and support business strategy and execution disciplines.
Marr, an expert in KPIs and big data, emphasizes how KPIs, effectively developed, can support a learning culture of fact-based decision-making where leaders test business assumptions and strategies through metrics.
He also shares common pitfalls to avoid, such as tying compensation directly to KPIs, which unwittingly creates an incentive for employees at all levels to distort results.
The alternative, in my experience, when incentives are implemented to support an already developed performance culture, is to tie them to numbers that are regimented, centrally controlled and therefore not easily manipulated, such as financial results.
The irony of this book is that, while it’s designed as a go-to reference for picking KPIs, it recommends - and rightly so - to not just pick them from a list, but to do the harder thinking as a leadership team of what you’re aiming to achieve and what number you can track to tell you you’re making progress.
Length of book: 320 pages.
Bernard Marr is founder and CEO of the Advanced Performance Institute and author of 16 books on key performance indicators, metrics, big data, analytics and artificial intelligence.
How can you execute on KPIs more effectively in your company?
To find out how to have more efficient execution to grow more easily, quickly and profitability, AND enjoy the ride, try our complimentary Agile Growth Checklist. This self-service questionnaire takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. You'll receive the checklist with your responses immediately. Within 24 hours, you'll receive a compiled report highlighting areas to improve. Complete section 4 to check your execution processes. Or complete all 7 sections to find out how your company is doing in each of the 7 areas needed to produce more rapid, profitable and sustainable growth. This report is complementary and involves no obligation.
Patrick Lencioni is well-known for his business best-sellers: The Five Dysfuctions of a Team (which I introduced here last month), The Ideal Team Player, and Death by Meeting.
His last best-seller, The Advantage - Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business, is the culmination and integration of his previous works. It’s one of the most comprehensive and accessible books I’ve read on the key elements of an effective organization.
In fact, many of the tools and concepts in the Scaling Up system and 7 Attributes of Agile Growth framework we use with companies are found in The Advantage.
The Advantage is also one of the frameworks Patrick will be covering in his upcoming live virtual event.
In the book, Lencioni describes a healthy organization as one with minimal dysfunction, politics, and confusion. Instead, clarity and alignment reign, resulting in strong performance.
He argues that organizational health is the greatest advantage any business can have. And yet, it is largely ignored by business leaders.
Lencioni clearly and logically lays out the four disciplines to creating a healthy organization:
1) build a cohesive leadership team - essentially the five focus-areas described in the Five Dysfunctions of a team: trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results;
2) create clarity - of purpose, behaviours (ie. core values), offerings, competitive strategy, priorities, performance metrics and leadership team member roles;
3) overcommunicate clarity - repeated, aligned cascading communication from leadership team members to their direct reports and down the line;
4) reinforce clarity - through human systems - every process that involves people, from hiring and people management to training, compensation and termination.
Lencioni then slips in a 5th unofficial, yet critical, discipline titled “The Centrality of Meetings”, drawing from his Death by Meetings framework. In it, he underlines that no action, activity or process is more central to a healthy organization than effective meetings, from the daily check-in (huddle) through to the quarterly off-site.
A key point in The Advantage, which may be missed or forgotten, is that the single biggest factor determining whether an organization is going to get healthier, is the genuine commitment and active involvement of the top leader - the owner-operator, CEO or president.
Book length: 240 pages, 5 hour 25 minute audio. Soundview summary: 8 pages, 21 minute audio. GetAbstract summary: 5 pages, 10 minute audio.
How can you strengthen your organization?
To find out how you can make your organization healthier to grow more easily, quickly and profitability, try our complimentary Agile Growth Checklist*. This self-service questionnaire takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. You'll receive the checklist with your responses immediately. Within 24 hours, you'll receive a compiled report highlighting areas to improve. This report is complementary and involves no obligation.
*Many of Patrick Lencioni’s best practices are included in our Agile Growth Checklist, as well as many others developed by world-renowned business leaders, researchers and professionals.
I’m always delighted when I read a Patrick Lencioni book. I enjoy both his clear take on things and his user-friendly writing style. So reading his best-seller, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, was a no-brainer.
In the business fable style that Lencioni is famous for, he tells the story of the leadership team of a technology company. In it, he shows how leadership teams can use his simple model to deliberately improve their alignment, execution and results.
Lencioni covers the five critical dysfunctions of a team, which each build on the other. They include:
1) absence of trust - not feeling comfortable being open, vulnerable and real - which leads to
2) fear of conflict - leaving things unsaid and avoiding sharing differing opinions - and therefore
3) lack of commitment - team members don't feel decisions are appropriate or feasible - which results in
4) avoidance of accountability - hiding performance, blaming or making excuses - and therefore
5) inattention to (team) results - not focusing on true progress and organizational impact.
After the story, further details on the model follow with tips for working on each dysfunction.
Out of all the team effectiveness frameworks I’ve studied and used, this one is the simplest. Yet, it’s still completely relevant and applicable.
The Five Dysfunctions framework is also one of the tools in the Scaling Up system and the 7 Attributes of Agile Growth framework that we use with CEOs and leadership teams of mid-sized prairie-based companies.
Book: 229 pgs, 3h45m audio. Soundview Summary: 8 pgs, 19m audio. Get-Abstract summary: 5 pgs, 10m audio.
How can you strengthen your leadership team?
To find out what you can improve in your leadership team to grow more easily, quickly and profitability, try our complimentary Agile Growth Checklist*. This self-service questionnaire takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete. You'll receive the checklist with your responses immediately. Within 24 hours, you'll receive a compiled report highlighting areas to improve. This report is complementary and involves no obligation. Complete section 1 and 4 to check your leadership team* and accountability processes*. Or complete all 7 sections to find out how your company is doing in each of the 7 areas needed to produce more rapid, profitable and sustainable growth.
*All of Patrick Lencioni’s best practices are included in our Agile Growth Checklist, as well as many others developed by world-renowned business leaders, researchers and professionals.
With our live virtual event with Jim Collins coming up next week (Feb 17, 2021), I thought it fitting that February's Book of the Month be Jim's most renowned book: Good to Great.
For those new to this classic, here's an overview of one of THE best books on building a great company. And, for those who’ve read it, consider this a brief reminder of the insights from this in depth research.
Released in 2001, Good to Great studied what made 10 “great” companies great, compared to comparable companies Jim called "good". Greatness was defined by a minimum 20 years of growth and sustained financial success that far outpaced the market or industry average.
The book debunked a number of myths and identified 8 key factors to greatness:
1. Good is the enemy of great - the comfort of good enough gets in the way of putting in the effort to build a great company.
2. Level 5 leadership - in addition to ambition and determination, a level 5 leader is humble enough to exert their drive for the benefit of what they are creating, not for their own ego.
3. First who, then what - get the right people on the bus - on your team - before setting your strategy.
4. Confront the brutal facts (yet never lose faith) - believe you can prevail AND be realistic about what's happening and what's needed to get there.
5. Your hedgehog concept - compete successfully by playing only in the intersection of your three circles: what your passionate about, what you can be the best at and what drives your profit engine.
6. Culture of discipline - look hard at what to NOT be doing, including anything that strays from your hedgehog concept.
7. Technology accelerators - use technology not as a strategy in itself, but to enable and strengthen your competitive advantage.
8. The Flywheel - apply these concepts rigorously through small, consistent, aligned actions that reinforce each other and build momentum over time.
We are forever grateful to Jim Collins for these fantastic research-based insights, which still hold to this day, and which the leadership teams we work with benefit from greatly.
Book: 320 pages. Audio book: 6 hours. GetAbstract summary: 5 pages or 10m audio.
Are you ready to grow a great top team, company and life?
Try our Growth Readiness Self-Assessment to find out where you, your leadership team and company shine and where you could improve in order to grow, improve profitability, consistency and your quality of life.
As we headed into the holiday season, I encouraged the CEOs, presidents and owners I work and interact with to make time to rest and recharge.
2020 was a strange and especially stressful year for many of us. And I think we can all benefit from making self-care a higher priority as we start off the new year.
This will benefit us certainly, and also our leadership teams, companies and communities.
One excellent resource is a book I use with CEOs that represents, what I believe, is the missing link for CEOs of mid-sized growth companies.
Written by my colleague, senior Gravitas Impact coach, Kevin Lawrence in Vancouver BC, Your Oxygen Mask First is a breakthrough in the art of leadership, self-management AND self-care.
We can find dozens of fantastic books and tools to learn the nuts and bolts of growing a successful company. And there are a few methodologies, like our Scaling Up method and 7 Attributes of Agile Growth, that bring many of those essential tools together to make them more accessible for mid-size companies. However, the missing link is the CEO factor: the leader themselves and their skills for taking care of themselves first, so they can take better care of their people and their business.
Your Oxygen Mask First makes clear that it’s a myth that CEOs can build successful companies sustainably by putting everyone else first. In truth, this leads to burn-out and tragedy. It’s a dirty secret we need to talk about.
Kevin wrote Your Oxygen Mask First based on the experiences and tools he gained over 20 years as a coach and advisor.
The book covers the 17 habits Kevin has tried and tested for leaders to lead well AND take care of themselves, so they have a great company AND a great life. I highly recommend it to any CEO, president or executive leader.
Book: 231 pgs, 3h46m audio. Find the book, ebook and audible book here.
Are you ready to grow a great top team, company and life?
Try our complimentary Growth Fitness Self-Assessment to find out where you, your leadership team and company shine and where you could improve in order to grow, improve profitability, consistency and your quality of life.