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I love the simplicity of this summary of the 5 critical team members for business success: the leader, the expert, the financial guru, the strategist, and  the executer.  The best leadership is always about simplifying!

According to this, most serial entrepreneurs display persuasion, leadership, personal accountability, goal orientation, and interpersonal skills.  But, there are four distinct skills lacking in most serial entrepreneurs: empathy, planning and organizing, self-management, and analytical problem solving.  Given they are critical to success of an organization, it seems advisable for investors to keep an eye open for these leadership deficiencies and have a plan for filling them.

Those in leadership know it’s tough. So tough that only 5 of the 30 CEOs Barrons picked in 2008 as the world’s best showed up on a similar list in 2012.  And as I have shared before, in 1997, average annual turnover for CEOs was 5% and the average CEO duration at  one company was 9 years. By 2009, average annual turnover for was 15% and the average CEO duration at  one company was less than 5 years.  Here’s a chance for you to fight back against this trend.   

Check this out in Inc. magazine: Three Types of Leaders Who Never Succeed.  There are more types in leadership who never succeed, but this is a good start.

Analysts Ivy Zelman and John Burns have been analyzing the U.S. single-family housing market for decades, and they are among the best.  Click here for some excellent insights from them about why the housing market is not overheating.  

I just finished a highly counter-intuitive, tremendously inspiring book by Will Thorndike, a private equity veteran with Housatonic Partners, entitled The Outsiders.  I am telling all my executive coaching clients to read it ASAP.  Thorndike introduces us to eight individualistic CEOs whose firms’ average returns outperformed the S&P 500 by a factor of twenty—in other words, an investment of $10,000 with each of these CEOs, on average, would have been worth over $1.5 million twenty-five years later. You may not know all their names, but you will recognize their companies: General Cinema, Ralston Purina, The Washington Post Company, Berkshire Hathaway, General Dynamics, Capital Cities Broadcasting, TCI, and Teledyne. In The Outsiders, you’ll learn the leadership traits and methods—striking for their consistency and relentless rationality—that helped these unique leaders achieve such exceptional performance.  Humble, unassuming, and often frugal, these “outsiders” shunned Wall Street and the press, and shied away from the hottest new management trends. Instead, they shared specific traits that put them and the companies they led on winning trajectories: a laser-sharp focus on per share value as opposed to earnings or sales growth; an exceptional talent for allocating capital and human resources; and the belief that cash flow, not reported earnings, determines a company’s long-term value.  Drawing on years of research and experience, Thorndike tells eye-opening stories, extracting lessons and revealing a compelling alternative model for anyone interested in leading a company or investing in one—and reaping extraordinary returns.

 

In executive leadership, our job is to produce financial results and, hopefully, results that exceed our peer group.  As humans, though (and, yes, leaders are human), we often struggle with our personal interest in doing something positive – beyond producing financial results – for our team members, customers, the environment, and humankind in general.  And most of the time, those altruistic objectives are crowded out by the  extreme pressures to make money and build value.  Personally, though, I am inspired by the very real possibility that the first objective can be better accomplished by attainment of the second.  Do right and do well.  In fact, the statistics show it’s more than a possibility; it’s a fact.  Check out this and Conscious Capitalism, the new book by John Mackey, Founder and Co-CEO of Whole Foods.

In the Tao Te Ching , the ancient Chinese mystic Lao Tzu said, “A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. Fail to honor people, they fail to honor you. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, “We did this ourselves.”"

Bruce W. Tuckman is a respected educational psychologist who, in a 1965 paper, first described the four stages of group development in 1965. While looking at the behavior of small groups in a variety of environments, he recognized the distinct phases they go through. He also suggested that they need to experience all four stages before they achieve maximum effectiveness. He refined and developed the model in 1977 with the addition of a fifth stage.  We have found this very insightful in our leadership and executive team building work.

His five stages are as follows:

Forming. Team members meet, get to know each other, learn about the opportunity and challenges, and then agree on goals and begin to tackle the tasks. They tend to behave quite independently. They may be motivated but are usually relatively uninformed of the issues and objectives of the team. Team members are usually on their best behavior but very focused on themselves. Mature team members begin to model appropriate behavior even at this early phase. Team leaders tend to need to be directive at this stage.

Storming. In this stage, different ideas compete for consideration. Team members address issues such as what problems they are really supposed to solve, how they will function independently and together, and what leadership model they will accept. They open up to each other and confront each other’s ideas and perspectives. In some cases, the team moves through this stage quickly. In others, the team never leaves this stage. The maturity of some team members usually determines whether the team will ever move out of this stage. Immature team members will begin acting out to demonstrate how much they know and convince others that their ideas are correct. Some team members will focus on minutiae to evade real issues. Team leaders are still somewhat directive, but tending toward supportive in this stage.

Norming. Team members adjust their behavior to each other as they develop work habits that make teamwork seem more natural and fluid. Team members often work through this stage by agreeing on rules, values, professional behavior, shared methods, working tools, and even taboos. During this phase, team members begin to trust each other. Motivation increases as the team gets more acquainted with the project. Teams in this phase may lose their creativity if the norming behaviors become too strong and begin to stifle healthy dissent and the team begins to exhibit “group think.” Team leaders tend to be participative.

Performing. Not all teams reach this stage, but when they do they are high performing, able to function as a unit as they find ways to get the job done smoothly and effectively without inappropriate conflict or the need for external supervision. Team members have become interdependent. By this time they are trusting of each other, motivated, and knowledgeable. The team members are now competent, autonomous, and able to handle the decision-making process without supervision. Dissent is expected and allowed as long as it is channeled through means acceptable to the team. Team leaders are almost always participative.

Adjourning. The team completes the task, or doesn’t, and breaks up or reforms.

For a PDF of Tuckman’s Paper: Developmental Sequence in Small Groups

Intention alone is usually benign. At best, it is a mere seed of possibility.  In 1937, Napoleon Hill published Think and Grow Rich. Hill was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie to interview the world’s most successful people in an attempt to learn the common ingredients of success. The most common ingredient, overwhelmingly so, was intention. But not just passive desire. Rather, ACTIVE intention… a practice of intention. It is what ripens the mere seed of possibility into the fruit of probability.  Everyone has intentions. But only a small minority truly believe they have the power to change the conditions in their life and the course of events. For instance, almost everyone I have met has a desire to something different in his or her life. A corporate executive wants to start a non-profit. A plumber wants to be a corporate executive. A short order cook wants to become a renowned chef. Etc. Etc. But they just sit there passively with this intention, wondering if it might become a reality someday. The small minority recognize that desire alone is not enough. It has to be ignited by an active practice. They wake up every morning and describe in writing and aloud, with great specificity, their intentions. They review their writings throughout the day and before they go to sleep at night. They meditate on it. They pray for it. These affirmations begin to cause an energetic shift in themselves and in their environments. They start to notice doors opening and they start exploring what lies beyond. Conditions start aligning with their intentions and their intentions start shaping reality. Their desires are fulfilled while the great minority quietly wish away in their minds.  More on this in Chapter 4 of my book, The Source of Leadership: Eight Drivers of the High-Impact Leader.


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