New Perspectives
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Your Strategy is Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link

Ask any leader what the key to a high performing organization is, and
they’ll typically say “execution” which boils down to high performing
people.  But what do you do when you have someone on your senior
team who is not performing – and continues to underperform despite
your investment in performance reviews, coaching and mentoring?
The answer is simple, but often not easy.

Recently, we were working with a leadership team who faced just this
sort of dilemma.  Although the VP of Marketing in question had many
years of experience with the firm (regarded as one of the original
pioneers of the business), was generally well-liked, and had been
instrumental in the company’s early years of growth in developing
some of their critical legacy products – there was sustained
underperformance by the Executive and the choice was clear, the
negative impact of not acting was weighing on them individually and
collectively,  yet the decision was getting consistently deferred.  Why?

Complacency?  Reliance on the devil you know versus the one you
don’t?  A psychological predisposition that creates resistance to conflict,
resistance to change?  The stories we tell ourselves about all the
disastrous impacts to the organization – hurt morale, inability to
appropriately transfer knowledge, etc.?

After a period of personal growth and working through resistance to
conflict and change, our CEO set the VP free – to find an organization
more fitting to her core values and ways of being.  And afterward, the
entire leadership team was set free – feeling a tremendous decompression
– a lightness, an ease, that wasn’t previously there.  They also got
the gift of being able to perform at a higher level.

I invite you to consider:  when was the last time you did a talent
assessment of your primary team?  Have you fallen into any complacency?
How many of your direct reports are at least an 8 out of 10?  And if
you have those below an 8, what are you doing to help them improve?

While our experience has shown us difficult conversations often
get procrastinated – when they’re embraced – they enable a new day
– a resurrection if you will – of the best the team has to offer.


Interested in learning about the evolution of a new paradigm in business?

Check out our white paper, Strategy + Leadership 2.0, to learn how Stakeholder Strategy and Purposeful Leadership are shaping the era of Capitalism 2.0

Three fantastic articles with valuable insights for every leader:
1.  What Could Have Saved Nokia? – INSEAD Knowledge
2.  Bad to Great: The Path to Scaling Up Excellence – McKinsey
3.  Developing Mindful Leaders for the C-Suite – HBR
A brilliant TED Talk:
4.  Seth Godin – How to Get Your Ideas to Spread

Two intriguing articles:
5.  Can Management Get Us Out of this Economic Mess it has Created? – Forbes
6.  The Irresistible Power of Storytelling as a Strategic Business Tool – HBR
April’s recommended reading:
7.  Firms of Endearment

     INSEAD Knowledge – Mar 2014
This article and the accompanying video interview with Nokia’s former CEO offer a profound example of what can happen to an organization with a crystal clear strategy that is executed on poorly.
Nokia lost the smartphone battle despite having half of the global market share in 2007.  The authors argue collective emotions within the company were a big part of the story.
The authors state, “It is often said that strategy is 5 percent thinking, 95 percent execution. We extend this by suggesting that strategy execution is 5 percent technical, and 95 percent people-related.”
     McKinsey – Feb 2014
Scaling an organization’s performance can be one of the most challenging tasks leaders face.
“What drives leaders, keeps them up at night, and devours their workdays is the difficulty of spreading excellence to more people and more places.”
Leaders aiming to boost performance should start by eliminating negative behaviours – selfishness, nastiness, fear, laziness, dishonesty – before attempting to develop best practices.
“Leaders and employees do the right thing when they focus, not on their own needs and wants, but on the people affected by their actions.”
     Bill George in HBR – Mar 2014
The use of mindful practices like meditation, introspection, and journaling in the C-Suite are taking hold at such successful enterprises as Google, Apple, and General Mills while contributing to the success of their success.
Executives in these organizations have recognized the power of taking time out to reflect on what’s most important in order to create ways to overcome difficult challenges.
As Bill George puts it, “It’s especially important that leaders with great responsibilities gain focus and clarity in making their most important decisions, creativity in transforming their enterprises, compassion for their customers and employees, and the courage to go their own way.”
     Seth Godin’s TED Talk – Feb 2003
In a world of too many options and too little time, the obvious choice is to just ignore the ordinary stuff.
“For the first 15 years after sliced bread was available no one bought it, no one knew about it – it was a complete and total failure.  And the reason – until Wonder came along and figured out how to SPREAD THE IDEA of sliced bread, no one wanted it.”
In this remarkable TED Talk marketing guru Seth Godin spells out why, when it comes to getting people’s attention, bad or bizarre ideas are more successful than boring ones.
     Steve Denning in Forbes – Mar 2014
“Can the leaders of the world’s most important organizations transform their management practices so that their organizations get on a path to growth and prosperity, instead of steady economic decline?”
In this powerful leadup article to the 2014 Drucker Forum Denning explores this pressing leadership challenge along with the shifting tides in business consciousness as explored in his conference prelogue – The Great Transformation: Managing Our Way to Prosperity
“Either the world will embark on a route towards long-term growth and prosperity, or we will manage our way to economic decline…the very coherence of our societies is at stake. Incremental changes won’t suffice.  What does it take to reshape management as an effective social technology…for transforming our institutions and organizations?”
     Harrison Monarth in HBR – Mar 2014     Back to top
In this short yet intriguing blog post the author provides insights on the use of strategic storytelling as a means of connecting, directing, and building powerful relationships with followers.
An oldy and a goody, Freytag’s Pyramid of storytelling structure is noted as having worked for thousands of years and having incredible relevance still today.
“A story can go where quantitative analysis is denied admission: our hearts.  Data can persuade people, but it doesn’t inspire them to act; to do that, you need to wrap your vision in a story that fires the imagination and stirs the soul.”
     By Rajendra Sisodia, Jag Sheth, David Wolfe     Back to top
Firms of Endearment is a book about the new rules of business which are transforming organizations from the inside out.  Today’s greatest companies are fueled by passion and purpose, not cash.
They earn large profits by helping all thier stakeholders thrive: customers, investors, employees, partners, communities, and society.
These rare, authentic firms of endearment act in powerfully positive ways that stakeholders recognize, value, admire, and even love.
They make the world better by the way they do business-and the world responds.

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Strateco is a new breed of consulting firm that seamlessly integrates Strategy with Leadership.   We help organizations create, integrate, and execute winning strategies, while developing higher functioning leaders.   To get a sense of our philosophy download your PDF copy of our newly released white paper:  Strategy + Leadership 2.0

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