Tag Archives: Leadership

Trillion Dollar Coach: The Leadership Playbook of Silicon Valley’s Bill Campbell by Eric Schmidt, Alan Eagle, Jonathan Rosenberg

Summary

  1. This is a “help-others” rather than a self-help book. It will teach you how to better help and coach others so that they can flourish

Key Takeaways

  1. Bill Campbell
    1. Bill began every relationship with a foundation of trust. This was essential to him and everybody he worked with felt it. He showed, from the beginning, and regardless of who the person was, that he cared
    2. He always preferred to be behind the scenes but is given credit for helping Apple, Google, and various other companies reach their full potential – totaling over $2T in market cap! Bill was always looking to help others with great compassion and empathy. He helped make sure the problems, ideas, and frustrations were flushed out rather than swept under the rug, making sure everyone was on the same page whether they all agreed with the decision or not
    3. Bill played football at Columbia but was severely undersized, yet led the team due to his effort and attitude. He later coached Columbia but failed and moved into the business world at 39. After only 5 years, he rose up the ranks as a senior executive, first at Kodak, then Pepsi and Apple, later as CEO of Intuit
    4. Bill was always happy and nice to everyone – he showed everyone, regardless of who they, were dignity and respect
    5. Bill was never afraid of crossing divisions within a company he was a sales and marketing guy to start out with but would go talk to the engineers directly and get their point of view, understand them, and help everyone work together
    6. Bill always advocated for more generosity rather than less – he thought that this was an easy and important thing to do for good people
    7. One of Bill‘s main roles was to shine the light on the elephant in the room. He would bring it front and center, expose it, and have people talk about it openly and honestly.
    8. Bill worked from first principles and invariant strategies. It didn’t matter if he was dealing with Steve Jobs and Apple or the flag football team he coached at Sacred Heart. He would treat everyone the same, be present, and follow his same game plan
    9. Bill saw all the chess pieces all the time because he wasn’t on the board! Can often be more effective when you’re not part of the system. Bill did this by not sitting on many boards and by also not taking any cash, or equity. “I don’t take cash, I don’t take equity, I don’t take shit.”
    10. Bill was huge on community and had many yearly trips with different groups – a Super Bowl trip, boys trip, family trip, and he always paid for everything. Even when he died, he set up an endowment to make sure that the tradition continued. He really understood the power of moments and ritual. Bill was heavily focused on building community always connecting people and building deep emotional ties 
  2. Was all about the people and wrote his “It’s the People” Manifesto to capture this idea
    1. “People are the foundation of any company’s success. The primary job of each manager is to help people be more effective in their job and to grow and develop. We have great people who want to do well, are capable of doing great things, and come to work fired up to do them. Great people flourish in an environment that liberates and amplifies that energy. Managers create this environment through support, respect, and trust. Support means giving people the tools, information, training, and coaching they need to succeed. It means continuous effort to develop people’s skills. Great managers help people excel and grow. Respect means understanding people’s unique career goals and being sensitive to their life choices. It means helping people achieve these career goals in a way that’s consistent with the needs of the company. Trust means freeing people to do their jobs and to make decisions. It means knowing people want to do well and believing that they will.”
    2. A manager’s job is to help their people become as effective as possible, to ensure their well-being and success 
    3. Develop a relationship with everyone – don’t be dictatorial, establish credibility, show you really care and love them
    4. Your title makes you a manager, your people make you a leader
    5. People will crown you as a good leader, a good manager – this never comes from yourself.
    6. A manager‘s role is firstly to help his people grow and fulfill their potential but also to help facilitate decisions and remove roadblocks from their people‘s paths. However he hated consensus as he believed this led to group-think. He wanted to air out all the ideas and give everyone a chance to voice their opinion‘s but ultimately the decision is the leader’s. 
  3. Teams > Individuals, Teams > Problems
    1. Bill coached teams and not individuals. When he met with Larry and Sergei of Google, he met with their whole staff not just the founders. He coached them on how to be better managers and leaders of their teams and also how to be better people overall
    2. Always focus on the team rather than the problem
    3. Begin every meeting with some social talk – asking about trips, weekends, plans, anything outside of work that people are passionate about. Deep relationships and clear communication are absolutely vital. Use meetings to get everyone together, build relationships, see each other’s strengths, get everyone on the same page, and make decisions
    4. Bill started meetings by writing five words on the whiteboard that he wanted to cover. He would sometimes ask the person he was coaching to write his top 5 – 9 words. This would help prioritize and show what each thought were the most important topics
    5. The leader should speak last and let everyone voice their opinion‘s. Getting the right answer is important but how you get there is just as important. Sometimes you have to make a hard and unpopular decision but it is the right thing to do – at this point the team has to “disagree and commit”
    6. Winning is important but winning right, winning as a team, is more important
    7. Leaders communicate effectively and clearly. When they see fissures developing, they stop them in their tracks. They fill in the gaps and make sure everyone is on the same page
  4. Other
    1. While a genius can help you in many ways, if they’re sucking up too much management time and aren’t able to work well with others, they shouldn’t be around
    2. An important lesson to learn is that you should only coach the coachable. Those who are coachable are honest and humble, persevere and work hard, and are open to hearing negative feedback.
    3. He always asked a ton of questions – “I would never tell anyone what to do, but I would help people get to the root of the problem or help them get to the key question themselves.” Because everyone knew Bill cared and that he was coming from a place of trust and love, he could be extremely candid and blunt in his feedback. He was constantly giving feedback but, if it was critical, he would do it in private
    4. Listening and making sure whoever you’re with is being heard is vital – be present don’t be distracted. Truly listen to people
    5. Don’t tell people what to do. Instead, tell them stories about where you want to end up and let them figure out how to get there
    6. As a leader, you must be an “evangelist for courage” – giving people a greater ability to push past the fear and go for big, bold outcomes. When you set the bar higher for people than they otherwise would, you can get greater results than they thought imaginable
    7. Have the courage to be your authentic, full self. Do not water it down or hide it – this will help you gain people’s trust
    8. Seek people who have “smarts and hearts,”, integrity, work ethic, and are team players
    9. Solve the biggest problems and solve them first
    10. When things aren’t looking good, when you’re losing, recommit! Be positive, be decisive, infect others with this determination and positivity 

What I got out of it

  1. A really inspiring man who dedicated his life to giving back and helping others flourish – focus on the team rather than the problem or any specific individual, establish trust in every relationship, air out any problems even though it may be uncomfortable

The Captain Class: The Driving Force Behind the World’s Greatest Teams by Sam Walker

Summary 

  1. Sam Walker does an in depth analysis of the best sports teams in history and comes to the somewhat surprising conclusion that the overriding factor in each team’s sustained dominance was their captain. 

Key Takeaways 

  1. In a great team, the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. The teams can go “all-in” and trust each other which lead to non-linear outcomes
  2. The captains serve as glue, uniting the team to reach greater heights than they otherwise would. A competent leader is one of the rarest commodities on earth and we are hard wired to seek it out and follow it 
  3. Individual commitment for group success 
  4. The teams studied:
    1. The Collingwood Magpies (Australian rules football)
    2. The New York Yankees (MLB)
    3. Hungary’s International Men’s Soccer Team
    4. The Montreal Canadiens (NHL)
    5. The Boston Celtics (NBA)
    6. Brazil’s International Men’s Soccer Team
    7. The Pittsburgh Steelers (NFL)
    8. The Soviet Union’s International Men’s Hockey Team
    9. The New Zealand All Blacks (Rugby, 1986-1990)
    10. Cuba’s International Women’s Volleyball Team
    11. Australia’s International Women’s Field Hockey Team
    12. The United States’ International Women’s Soccer Team
    13. The San Antonio Spurs (NBA)
    14. The New England Patriots (NFL)
    15. Barcelona’s Professional Men’s Soccer Team
    16. France’s International Men’s Handball Team
    17. The New Zealand All Blacks (Rugby, 2011-2015)
  5. The captains exhibited qualities one would not typically associate with the stereotypical “captain”
    1. They lack superstar talent. In fact, clusters of talent did not correlate to better teams. The superstars knew they wouldn’t be captains and the captains knew they wouldn’t be superstars 
    2. Weren’t fond of the spotlight 
    3. They didn’t lead in the traditional sense – they were subservient to superstars and often didn’t take the “big shot”
    4. They were not angels – they played to the edge of the rules, sometimes berating opponents and even teammates in order to win
    5. They did potentially divisive things 
    6. They weren’t the usual suspects (Jordan, Jeter, etc.). They preferred to lead from the shadows 
  6. Barcelona is an outlier in spending as most of the Tier 1 teams were most dominant when they were relatively poor. Lavish spending gets you more wins but not necessarily more titles 
  7. Management and ownership is important but also not purely correlated to the greatest teams in history 
  8. Despite the three national championships and the endless accolades he received as one of the leagues best defensive ends, Willie Davis always played as if he was just above the cut line. The Green Bay packers always played as if they were clamoring for recognition 
  9. Coaching was not responsible for this success either. There was no correlation between the coach, their strategy, tactics, temperament, or anything else 
  10. It was a secret for nearly 40 years why Bill Russell never accepted his hall of fame stature but recently he revealed why. He thought of the award as an individual achievement when he wanted his career remembered as a symbol of team play. He was solely focused on internal culture and how many titles they won. He needed no recognition and in fact actively dismissed it. His atypical leadership style was not often connected to the atypical success the team had. All great captains shared this. Their seemingly erratic behavior brought their teams closer together and got them to play better 
  11. 7 traits of elite captains 
    1. Extreme doggedness and focus in the heat of competition 
    2. Aggressive play which tests the limits of the rules 
    3. A willingness to do thankless jobs in the shadows 
    4. Motivates others with passionate nonverbal displays 
    5. Ironclad emotional control 
    6. A low key, practical, and democratic communication style
    7. Strong convictions and the courage to stand apart 
  12. Tim Duncan is another elite example and his humility and how low key he was was a big part of his success. By lowering himself, he was able to coax the most out of his teammates. He was a “functional leader”, willing to do whatever was needed in order to win, even carrying water 
  13. The easiest way to lead is to serve 
  14. The best teams communicate enthusiastically outside of formal and competitive environments and talking time is doled out evenly. Most captains communicate little with the public but talk a lot with their team and foster constant communication. 
  15. These leaders are charismatic connectors – having energized and focused conversations, listening more than they talk, talking to everyone, and communicate well (and constantly) with words but even more so with their nonverbal cues. Styles differentiate but they’re all energetic, find styles that work for them and work on understanding their team and how to best approach each person
  16. Mirror neurons prove that mind and physical connections are contagious and the best leaders can infect their team with their enthusiasm, work ethic, confidence, etc 
  17. Some disagreement is good and the best captains protect their teammates and stand up to coaches and management when needed. Leaders must operate on the margin of what the team likes and wants rather than at the center of the collective consensus – often putting them in the middle of heated and difficult arguments. This type of positive dissent takes courage and was hugely important. Truth is more important than tranquility when told by a captain who protects his team and avoids personal attacks. It was never driven out of ego but for the desire to win 
  18. Emotional resilience and extreme emotional control is extremely important for overcoming adversity 
  19. We are programmed to respond to strong, steadfast, courageous and generous leaders 
  20. An Israeli study of decorated war vets lead to a leadership formula. Leadership = potential x motivation x development
  21. None of the great captains were named leaders early on. They were given a chance to study others and prove themselves 
  22. People actually get more power by slightly underplaying their skill – humility 
  23. Famous vs heroes – do something because others will approve vs doing something because it is the right thing to do
  24. Avoid a posture culture where people posture for the leadership position but rather one where the leader is chosen due to his ability to “carry water”, support others, have courage, and lead others, doing whatever it takes to get it right even if, especially if, it’s disapproved of by others 
  25. Great leaders do not need to be glamorous. They only need a solid idea of what success looks like and a road to get there. They do not need publicity and in fact often give the impression that they’re not worthy of leading at all 

What I got out of it

  1. “Extremes in outcome – both good and bad – often instruct best.” – Charlie Munger. Sam Walker appreciates this and his deep dive into the best teams brings about some fascinating insights on elite captain’s traits and some of their counterintuitive aspects 

The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done by Peter Drucker

Summary

  1. Most management books deal with how to manage others but this one deals with how to manage oneself; how to lead by example. Effectiveness is not natural and has to be learned and practiced deliberately. Being effective means doing the right things well

Key Takeaways

  1. Jim Collins did the foreword to this edition and highlights his 10 Key Lessons
    1. First, manage thyself 
    2. Do what you’re made for what you can be world class at. To work on exclusively what you’re bad at is foolish and irresponsible but you must address weaknesses which stand in the way of maximizing your strengths and achieving your full potential 
    3. Work how you work best and let others do the same
      1. You must focus on people’s strengths and build around that and not on their weaknesses. Find people who are better than you and who can deliver in specific areas bring them into your fold
    4. Count your time and make it count. This requires the discipline to schedule your time into blocks. The most effective people do one big thing at a time and don’t let distractions seep in. Create unbroken ‘think time’ blocks during your most lucid time of day and do them with regularity. Create chunks for people and random tasks which must get done. Attend only meetings that matter 
    5. Prepare better meetings by having clear reasons for the meeting and having disciplined follow ups. 
    6. Don’t make 100 decisions when one will do. Inactivity can be very intelligent behavior
    7. Determine what your distinctive impact can be in an organization – the one decision, behavior, or action that might not have happened if you were not there
    8. Stop what you would not start. Most people are too busy to work on truly important things so you must have a stop doing list and refine and rethink your daily tasks and objectives
    9. Run lean. An organization is like a biological organism in that the internal mass grows faster than what shows externally – the volume increases as a cube of the linear dimension but the surface area only as the square. You must fight and hold back internal growth which doesn’t help drive profits and goals.
    10. Be useful. Over success. Over wealth. Over fame. Be useful. 
  2. The best executives have personalities all over the map but Drucker found 9 shared traits
    1. They ask what needs to be done.
      1. You must prioritize this list every couple years. Once you tackle the biggest priority, you must redo the process. Can only focus on a maximum of two at any given time
    2. They ask what is right for the enterprise
    3. They make an action plan.
      1. This must include the name of the person who is accountable, the deadline, who this effects directly and must be made aware, who should be told even if they’re not effected 
    4. They take responsibility for the decisions
    5. They take responsibility for communicating the decisions
    6. They are focused on opportunities rather than problems
    7. They run effective and productive meetings
      1. End once the purpose has been accomplished. Announce the purpose of the meeting at the beginning. Sum up what happened, action items, who is accountable, deadlines, send to everyone involved
    8. They thought and said “we” rather than “I”
    9. Listen first, speak last
  3. The shift from manual labor and work to knowledge work is why the demands of executives today is so different than before
  4. Effectiveness is so important and must be learned. Especially in today’s knowledge-based economy. Knowledge work is not graded on costs or quantity but on results. Managers in the knowledge based field are those whose decisions have an outsized impact
  5. Hindrances towards effectiveness include being part of the system itself and not having enough perspective, not being willing to give up a lifetime of habits and work, not letting others step up, and not delegating enough.
  6. Events should not drive what an executive does. Rather, key criteria which help inform results and contributions should be his main focus. The truly important things are not the trends – they are what cause the trends and is why you should never focus on the events but on what lies behind them
  7. Effective executives have these skilsl
    1. They know where their time goes 
      1. Effective executives start with their time not with tasks because they know time is a limiting factor
      2. They record their time, they manage their time, and then they consolidate their time into long chunks.
      3. What can you do away with totally, what can you delegate?
      4. Don’t waste others’ time
      5. Reduce recurrent and predictable decisions
      6. Avoid overstaffing
      7. Reduce poor organization such as too many meetings
      8. Reduce poor information (wrong form or just wrong)
      9. Consolidated time is the key. Most executives don’t have more than 25% of their time at their disposal but if they come in chunks, it’s usually enough. Even if it was 75% but broken up, you’d never get anything done. 
      10. It is hard and rare to over-prune
    2. They focus on results rather than effort
      1. The focus on contribution over effort is the key to this whole book. This is what drives how you spend your time and the decisions you make. As a leader you must make a focus on contribution rather than effort the norm. This helps with communication, getting people to go all-in
    3. They understand what is expected of them and how they can get there
    4. They focus on and build on strengths not weaknesses – both theirs and others’
    5. They focus exclusively on areas where their focus will have outsized returns.
    6. They know that they have to do the most difficult and important things first and that there’s no time for the second things
    7. They make effective decisions and know that a few, big important decisions are the way to go. Many, rushed decisions lead to mistakes
  8. Although there are very many personalities, the one thing they had in common when making decisions was that they were slow and deliberate in personnel decisions
  9. Well managed business are boring and quiet. Crises have been anticipated and routinized. 
  10. Try to contribute in 3 areas: direct results, adding to culture and values, building the next generation 
  11. You must be able to see through the eyes of others and understand how they will use your output. This will help you use common language, put information in a usable form, etc. A generalist is simply a specialist who can translate their knowledge to a universal audience 
  12. You must always think and put tasks first and not personnel or else you will get politicking clash of personalities
  13. Jobs must be big and demanding for executives to see how they live up to it. You must judge the people you are considering by their strengths and what they would need to reasonably fulfill this job and you must have clear expectations and definitions of success
  14. With every strength comes a weakness so you must focus on and understand how does a person’s strength translate to a weakness 
  15. Staff for opportunities and not for problems
  16. You should remove incompetent men. Not only because of their lack of results, but because if they stayed on, it would hurt the rest of the culture. This is not a slight on the man but a slight on the leader who put him in the position to begin with
  17. George Marshall focused on strengths but also on weaknesses. He put Eisenhower in a position to learn about strategy and, even though he was never great, he was able to appreciate its importance later on
  18. Managing upwards is as important as managing downwards. You must make the strengths of your boss productive as their success and promotions will help you as well. Knowing yourself, and your strengths and weaknesses, and how to make your strengths productive is equally as important.  This is an attitude as much as a skill 
  19. The key skill is concentration on the first and most important things first and only doing one thing at a time. Effective executives also make sure that the organization as a whole focuses on one thing at a time. They review the past and anything which isn’t an emphatic yes, is curtailed or done away with completely, leaving time to focus on the most important things. Organizations need to stay lean and muscular just as biological organisms do
  20. Fresh eyes which give fresh perspective is vital 
  21. Setting priorities and posteriorities (a list of what not to do) is more about courage than knowing what to focus on. You must be future-focused – rather than looking at the past, you must look at opportunities rather than problems, you must be willing to set your own agenda and make your own decisions rather than relying on others, and aim high for things which will truly make a difference rather than playing it safe
  22. Effective executives ultimately make effective decisions. They take their time, know what’s truly important, focus on a few things at any one time, and know that quick decisions are sloppy and not impressive
  23. Effective decisions have these common traits
    1. Is this a generic or a specific situation and problem?
      1. As generic problems can have rules and principles to deal with where a specific problem must be dealt with individually.
      2. Executive executives don’t make many decisions because they don’t have to they figure out which problems are generic and through their rules and principles are able to adapt to situations quickly and effectively 
    2. They asked themselves if they would be able to live with the decision for a long time. If not, they keep on working on the solution
    3. They asked them selves, “what are the specifications of the problem they are trying to solve, what are the objectives, and how will they know if their decision has been a good one?” These are the boundary conditions – the minimum results necessary that must be achieved
    4. They ask what is right rather than what is acceptable
    5. They ask and figure out how to turn the solution and question into action. Asking who has to know is as important as understanding the capacity of the people involved in acting out the decision. You must build the execution of the decision into the decision itself which is very difficult
    6. There has to be a feedback loop. This has to be built into the decision to continuously test the assumptions and the actions as they face reality. You cannot get too removed from the process. You must touch the medium and see if yourself how the actions are being carried out and the reactions to it
  24. What is the criteria necessary to determine success and how do you measure that? The effective executive assumes that the traditional measure is wrong otherwise they probably wouldn’t be in this predicament. 
  25. The best executives consider alternatives and this causes dissension and disagreements which is very healthy and can lead to the better decisions and outcomes
  26. You must begin with trying to understand and only then trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong. Like a first-year lawyer is assigned to argue the other side’s case before they’re allowed to think about their own, we must truly understand all sides before making a decision
  27. The last question an effective decision maker asks is, “is the decision even necessary?” Better to not act at all if not needed. Act or don’t act. Don’t hedge or go halfway. Only act if your decisions and your actions are needed and important – if things will work out without your involvement, leave them be
  28. Above all, what is needed is courage. Courage to focus on what you think is right and ignore what you don’t believe will make a difference
  29. Don’t just say this was a great book figure out how it will change how you act and behave. That is the sign of a great book

What I got out of it

  1. Loved this book. So much to gain from reading and re-reading – focus on where your time goes, manage yourself first, know how you work best, focus on contributions rather than effort, know what your role is and how you can most impact the organization, few and deliberate decisions, have the courage to not follow the crowd, encourage dissension and sharing of opinions…

My Life and Work by Henry Ford

An incredibly simple and clear analysis of the successful business practices that propelled Ford to the top of the competitive auto industry.

Sam Walton: Made in America by Sam Walton and John Huey

Sam Walton recounts his background and Walmart’s path to retail dominance

Legacy by James Kerr

Summary
  1. The author describes some of the history of the New Zealand All Blacks and some of their habits, rituals and cultural traits that have lead to their incredible success
Key Takeaways
  1. The First 15: Lessons in Leadership
    1. Sweep the sheds – never be too big to do the small things
    2. Go for the gap – when you’re on top of your game, change your game
    3. Play with purpose – ask why, take nothing for granted and make no assumptions
    4. Pass the ball – leaders create leaders
    5. Create a learning environment – leaders are teachers
    6. No dickheads – follow the spearhead
    7. Embrace expectations – aim for the highest cloud
    8. Train to win – practice under pressure
    9. Keep a blue head – control your attention
    10. Know thyself – Only by knowing yourself can you become a great leader
    11. Sacrifice – find something you would die for and give your life to it
    12. Invent a language – the most cohesive teams have their own jargon
    13. Ritualize to actualize – rituals help reinforce and align key beliefs
    14. Be a good ancestor – plant trees you’ll never see, think longer-term than anybody else
    15. Write your legacy – this is your time
  2. When an opposing team faces the New Zealand All Blacks doing the haka, they know they are facing more than 15 individuals but a culture and identity and one of the most cohesive group working towards a collective purpose they have ever encountered
  3. The challenge is to always improve. Always get better. Even when you are the best. Especially when you are the best
  4. The team cleans up after themselves when they travel as it reinforces self discipline, humility and the fact that they take care of themselves, they don’t rely on anybody else.
  5. Character triumphs over talent. Winning takes talent. To repeat it takes character.
  6. Focus on getting the culture right and the results will take care of themselves
  7. A key competitive advantage of the All Blacks is to manage their culture by attaching the players’ meaning to a higher purpose
  8. Humility allows one to ask difficult questions such as “how can we do this better?” And reach results which might be uncomfortable
  9. Leaders create leaders by passing on ownership and responsibility
  10. Leaders must be prepared to change even when, and maybe especially when, they are at the pinnacle of their game. The goal of the leader is to know when one needs to reinvent oneself
  11. Leaders must enable mastery through the culture and environments they create
  12. The “non essential critical” are the dozens of small things which seem inconsequential but collectively can make all the difference
  13. True focus is saying no to everything except to what will help you achieve your main goal
  14. Leaders are teachers. Your legacy is what you teach others
  15. The first step in learning is silence. The second step is listening
  16. Constant repetition of affirmation is important to reach any goal. The story you tell yourself about your life eventually becomes your life
  17. If you expect the best, more often than not you seem to get it
  18. Train to win. Practice under pressure and practice more than you ever play. The competition should seem easy in some ways compared to how you practice. No matter what you do, it’s either reps or mileage. There are no shortcuts and nobody can ever do it for you
  19. Knowing how to act under pressure is key. It is the result of a long term mental training program. Many want to be successful but few are truly willing to put in the work
  20. Being aware of how you feel when you’re in flow and confident and when you’re tight and nervous can help you switch out of pressure and into flow
  21. Better people make better All Blacks – someone who is a genuinely good person has a better chance at becoming great than someone who isn’t
  22. Know thyself is wisdom as old as written human history. Development of authentic self is the essence of a great leader
  23. Champions do more than seems necessary to most people
  24. Language is an incredibly important part of a great culture as it helps to sufficiently and explicitly align people’s culture with that of the organization. Shrewd leaders create a unique language as cultural shorthand expressed via mottos, mantras, phrases and metaphors. Proper use of language becomes pure oxygen to a team and aids in communication of the vision and cultural norms
  25. The ability to draw a metaphor is a mark of genius as it exhibits an ability to draw connections that are often overlooked or ignored
  26. A society grows great when people plant trees whose shade they will never see. Be a great ancestor
  27. Leave the jersey (or company, team, organization) in a better place than when you arrived
  28. Service is the rent you pay while here on earth
  29. “Be more concerned with your character that your reputation for your character is who you truly are while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” –  John wooden
  30. The best example a great leader can set is the way he lives his own life
  31. Let someone else praise your virtues
  32. The ability of the person is reflected in the questions they ask
  33. Look for a leader who can bring people together
What I got out of it
  1. Some great, universal principles into how to achieve a great culture leading to sustainable and outsized performance

Flight of the Buffalo: Soaring to Excellence, Learning to Let Employees Lead by Ralph Stayer and James Belasco

Summary
  1. All leaders face a challenge of leadership. The old models and paradigms no longer work. How leaders develop, and live a new model of leadership, is and will be the critical success factor for most every business. What leaders really want in the organization is a group of responsible, interdependent workers, similar to a flock of geese. I could see the geese flying in their “V” formation, the leadership changing frequently, with different geese taking the lead. I saw every goose being responsible for getting itself to wherever the gaggle was going, changing roles whenever necessary, alternating as a leader, a follower, or a scout. And when the task changed, the geese would be responsible for changing the structure of the group to accommodate, similar to the geese that fly in a “V” but land in waves. I could see each goose being a leader. Crafted in the crucible of realtime leadership experience, that paradigm is built around the following leadership principles: • Leaders transfer ownership for work to those who execute the work. • Leaders create the environment for ownership where each gperson wants to be responsible. • Leaders coach the development of personal capabilities. • Leaders learn fast themselves and encourage others also to learn quickly.
  2. PS – a lot of kindle highlights here but there are a lot of gems. Worth reading the book in its entirety
Key Takeaways
  1. “They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care about them.”
  2. I learned that how you say things is often as important as what you say.
  3. Ken Blanchard, who taught me to concentrate on making the pie bigger not on how to get the biggest slice.
  4. I discovered that I as the leader had to change first, before I could get anyone else to change.
  5. Partnerships require advance thought about the impact of any action on the other person. That’s difficult, particularly if you guess wrong.
  6. I had to learn how to listen and really hear. I had to learn to work with others and trust them. I had to learn to appreciate their contributions as much as or more than my own. I had to learn the value of learning and how to systematically accomplish it.
  7. I know it is easy to talk about being different. It is a lot harder to be different.
  8. “In most situations I am the problem.” My mentalities, my pictures, my expectations, form the biggest obstacle to my company’s success. Understanding that I am the problem allowed me to learn how to become the solution.
  9. Again and again I came back to the following insights:
    1. In most instances “I am the problem.” My desire to be the head buffalo, my wanting to rescue people, my previous success, all got in the way of successfully handling the current situation. Nothing constructive happened until I recognized me as the obstacle and changed my behavior.
    2. The customer is the boss, not the internal organizational boss. For too long I insisted that the person in the corner office had to be served first, with data, with deference, with swift response to requests. We didn’t make the progress I knew we had to make until we started serving the customer first.
    3. Think strategically. I used to begin with what we could be and then manage forward. We struggled to make inches of progress and usually finished out of the money. It wasn’t until I began with what we must be for customers and managed backward from that, that we won gold medals.
    4. Practice the intellectual capitalism leadership style. Create the conditions where the intellectual capital holders assume responsibility for delighting their customers. Everyone must be a leader before there’s effective leadership in the new organization.
    5. Leading is learning. I languished until I realized that learning faster was the key to my survival. Maximizing everyone’s learning is the key to my organization’s success. My organization didn’t soar until everyone became an avid learner.
  10. What do I know that just isn’t so?
  11. The awful truth about leadership—each person must write his or her own personal cookbook.
  12. Management’s job was to establish the conditions under which performance served both the company’s and the individual’s best interests.
  13. This became a self-fulfilling prophecy—the less I expected of my people, the less they delivered.
  14. Now I know that I must empower people for the new level of performance—not order it. The best way to empower people is to ask: What am I doing or not doing, as a leader, that prevents them from assuming responsibility and performing at the new level?
  15. Don’t stop with vision. Vision alone is no solution. Everything is execution.
  16. I also came to realize that my first reaction is usually wrong.
  17. People Rise to the Challenge—When It Is Their Challenge
    1. NOTE: Must make your idea their idea
  18. Being a leader requires continual learning.
  19. See leadership as a personal, emotional journey. Understand it happens in your gut before it happens in your or anybody else’s head.
  20. Leaders Add Value by Helping People Feel Powerful Rather than Helpless The leader is powerful when he/she figures out how to achieve what needs to be done. People are very different in organizations led by leaders who feel they know how to do what needs to be done. They feel powerful in having the control and influence necessary to do whatever it takes to get the job done. They see themselves as the instruments of their own destiny. They are connected to the organization’s success and failures because they know they are responsible for it. They are all working to achieve a common vision.
  21. I learned to change from being a victim to being responsible by asking myself, “What am I doing or not doing that causes the situation I don’t like?” Restating the problem into factors that I control helps me feel, and be, powerful.
  22. It is easier to complain about what we don’t have than to give up what we do have.
  23. When I asked him why he hadn’t mentioned his need to me several years earlier, his answer was classic. “You never asked what we needed. You were so busy selling your solution that you didn’t hear what we wanted.”
  24. The principal tools of production today are not machinery and equipment. Neither is it solely the brainpower of the managerial leadership. Rather, the tools of production are the ideas and talents (the intellectual capital) of the scientist, the machinist, and the programmer. Therefore, the possessors of the intellectual tools of production, the people, will come to exercise effective power.
  25. We’ve all grown up learning to follow authority: first our parents, then our teachers, and then our bosses. The first and probably most often reinforced lesson we learn is “Do as you are told by the person in charge.” Now, however, the “person in charge” is the person who formally reports to you. In this topsy-turvy world, as a leader you actually work for the people who work for you. In the past, as leaders we planned products, budgets, facilities—the concrete financial aspects of the business. The assumption was that the people would go along with the plan. I learned the hard way that assumption was no longer safe. In addition, I must plan for the mind-sets and mentalities of the people, if I want the financial plan to work. Our leadership tools haven’t changed significantly, but the focus of their use has. The primary purpose of strategic planning is not to strategically plan for the future, although that’s an important purpose of the exercise. It is primarily to develop the strategic management mind-set in each and every individual in the organization. The purpose of the process is not only to produce a plan. It is to produce a plan that will be owned and understood by the people who have to execute it. I discovered that the leader has a new set of responsibilities. The leader, at every level in the organization, must strive to implement these four principles: 1. Transfer ownership for work to those who execute the work. 2. Create the environment for ownership where each person wants to be responsible for his/her own performance. a. Paint a clear picture of great performance for the organization and each person. b. Focus individuals on the few factors that create great performance. c. Develop the desire for each person to own—be responsible for—his/her own great performance. d. Align organization systems and structures that send a clear message as to what is necessary for great performance for the individual and the organization. e. Engage individuals—their hearts and minds, as well as their hands—in the business of the business. f. Energize individuals around the focus of the business. 3. Coach the development of individual capability and competence. 4. Learn faster. a. Learn themselves. b. Create the conditions under which every person in the organization is challenged to continually learn faster.
  26. I’ve learned that my job is to work hard to understand what it takes to (1) win today and (2) create the circumstances where I can win tomorrow.
  27. QUESTION: What do I have to learn to lead in this new age? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Learn the new paradigm today—and get ready to learn a new one tomorrow.
  28. Helping people regain their own authority and power to respond appropriately in work and life is a leadership skill of the highest order.
  29. The Person Doing the Work Must Own the Responsibility
  30. For people to want to own the responsibility, and stop being victims, I had to change my behavior. I loved rescuing people. I loved solving problems. The result? People were lined up waiting to be rescued. People kept bringing me problems to solve. My people did just what I wanted them to do. If I wanted to play head buffalo, they were more than willing to play buffalo herd member. When I realized that rescuing people and solving problems is a permanent job, I understood the error of my thinking. People would never learn to take care of themselves because I was always there to take care of them. People would never learn to solve their own problems because I was there to solve them for them. I’d take this job with me to the grave. Suddenly, the overwhelming task didn’t seem as attractive as it once had. As Rosa Parks was too tired to move to the back of the Birmingham bus and thus started a revolution, so did my weariness start a revolution in my company. If I was going to have a gaggle of geese, I realized, then I’d have to stop playing head buffalo.
  31. QUESTION: How can I get people to do it right the first time? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: The person who does the job must own the responsibility for doing it correctly.
  32. As the leader of my organization I am responsible for creating the environment that enables each person to assume responsibility for his or her own performance. The people own the responsibility for delivering great performance. I am responsible for creating the environment where this ownership takes place.
  33. If You Want Ownership Behavior, Pay for It
  34. All of my leadership efforts directed toward transferring the ownership paid off. Despite the external chaos, the people were able to keep focused on delivering great performance for their customers.
  35. QUESTION: Am I creating owners or dependents? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: If you want them to act like it’s their business, make it their business.
  36. I’ve learned that coaching is about providing support and guidance. Coaching is very person-centered. Great coaches know that teams with the best skills and competencies have the highest winning percentages. The primary purpose of coaching is to develop the individual’s skills and competencies. A coach helps you do what you know you must do!
  37. My football coach put it best. He told me, “You didn’t come to this university to learn how to play football. You came here to learn how to be a better person. So this season you’ll learn to be a better person by learning how to be a better football player.”
  38. I learned that great coaches did more than ask questions and not give answers. Great coaches had to provide guidance so people could find the “right” answer. So I sought to provide more guidance.
  39. One day it finally hit me: The real expert in great performance is the customer. Everything begins with delighting the customer. That’s why every one of our job descriptions begins with this statement: “The things I do to get and keep customers are …” Things really improved when I modified my focus to ask, “From the customer’s point of view, what is great performance?” The coachees finally had a way to get their questions answered from the true expert in what they had to do. They felt more focused and secure.
  40. In the best of all worlds, what is great performance for your customers?
  41. What do you want to achieve in the next two to three years?
  42. How will you measure your performance?
  43. Measurement is the motivator for improvement. Resist the temptation to define the measurements for the person. Make certain that he or she owns that responsibility. Wrestling with the “How will I know when I do it?” question helps the individual learn about what he or she really wants to accomplish. It is not uncommon to find that clarifying measurements often changes the objective. The expert in answering this question is often not the individual alone, but the individual in conjunction with his/her customer. Again, this drives the individual back to discussions with the customer.
  44. What things do you need to learn in order to reach your goals?
  45. What work experiences do you need to help you learn what you need to achieve your goals?
  46. Learning is something you do, not something you are told. People don’t learn chess by watching. They need to begin playing in order to learn the game. As a coach you need to be able to see all the decisions, problems, and actions that need to be done as opportunities for yourself and others to learn and grow.
  47. QUESTION: Is the person becoming more capable? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Focus on developing the person, not the scoreboard.
  48. I learned the hard way that leaders learn fast—or they don’t complete the journey. Leaders need to keep on learning. The world changes so fast that we need to keep learning new things so we can cope. The rapid pace of change drives the need for continual learning.
  49. Speed is essential. The gold medal goes to the swiftest. Rapid change requires rapid learning. Success has always depended upon learning, but in the past the change was slower, so we could take longer to learn. As the pace of change quickens, the race belongs to the swiftest learner.
  50. Success is a valuable teacher, providing you don’t get lulled into complacency by her succulent fruits. I’ve learned that what got me to where I am will not get me to where I need to go.
  51. QUESTION: Am I learning fast enough? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: It’s never fast enough.
  52. The Leading the Journey model is based on four leadership activities: 1. Determining focus and direction 2. Removing the obstacles 3. Developing ownership 4. Stimulating self-directed action
  53. There are two kinds of obstacles: those that are found in the systems, structures, and practices, and those that are found in the mind-sets of the people.
  54. I learned that system/structure factors produced these troubling mind-sets. I learned to focus my efforts on the context obstacles, so I can affect the powerful determinants of behavior.
  55. Newton discovered the law of gravity. He was correct, except in one situation. Everything does flow downhill. Except in an organization, where ownership flows uphill. We call it upward delegation. The result? Managers own all the wrong problems.
    1. NOTE: except if you invert the hierarchy pyramid as it should be with the leadership on the bottom acting as servants
  56. Vision is the beginning point for leading the journey. Vision focuses. Vision inspires. Without a vision, the people perish. Vision is our alarm clock in the morning, our caffeine in the evening. Vision touches the heart. It becomes the criterion against which all behavior is measured. Vision becomes the glasses that tightly focus all of our sights and actions on that which we want to be tomorrow—not
  57. Vision is the most sought-after executive characteristic.
  58. More important, vision paints a picture of what your organization must be if it is to survive. The essence of executive vision is saying, “Here’s where we have to go, and here’s a general road map for how we will get there.”
  59. We must manage backward from the future, rather than forward from the present.
  60. Vision flows from extensive contact with customers and suppliers. It does not flow from some mystical insight into the future gained by consulting one’s gut (no matter how golden) or one’s astrologer. There’s no substitute for direct feedback from the people who make the marketplace.
  61. “In the best of all worlds, from the customer’s perspective, what is great performance?”
  62. “Wealth, like happiness, is never attained when sought after directly. It always comes as a by-product of providing a useful service.”
  63. Clarity is power. Clarity motivates people to use the vision as a criterion to evaluate their actions. People ask, “Does my action support the vision?” The answer must be clear. Vision provides the tight focus on thinking strategically. It insists that everyone direct his or her energies toward creating the tomorrow we want. Brevity helps. Use a short, simple, easy-to-understand statement of your vision to gain clarity and empower its use as a decisional criterion.
  64. People need to see the personal benefit from their vision of great performance.
  65. Actions must reflect the vision. I learned that the leader must live the vision, or no one else will. People watch what we do as leaders and follow. They notice most what we do, not what we say. They follow most what we do, not what we say.
  66. of our definitions of leadership is to “get people to do the right things.” The right things are everything that must be done to deliver great performance from the customer’s point of view.
  67. Focus everyone in your company on owning the responsibility to find out what his or her customers want and then on consistently delivering that great performance.
  68. The question asks about the product from the supplier’s point of view. What a waste! It doesn’t matter what the supplier thinks he’s selling. It only matters what the customer believes he’s buying.
  69. In Leading the Journey we need a destination, and there’s no better destination than the customer’s location.
  70. Location is more than just a geographic spot. I learned the hard way that it is also a state of mind.
  71. The easiest and most direct way to find out where the customers’ heads are is to find out from the customers themselves.
  72. Leaders Design Systems and Structures That Help Keep the Focus on the Location
  73. Notice the partnership approach. Notice the shift in emphasis from what I have in my bag (or can get from my factory) to what the customer needs. My job now is not to sell my products. It’s to help the customer achieve his/her goals.
  74. What happens before a customer call will often determine what happens during the call and after that call. We’ve learned to prepare the ground before we attempt to plant the seed. We take three significant preparation steps before every partnership interview. First, we search the data bank of the information service to which we subscribe for significant trends, developments, and issues in the industry and the company. We identify a few significant issues to serve as a launching pad for discussion and the tangible demonstration of our interest in and knowledge about their business. We know we’ve succeeded when we hear such statements as “We didn’t know that.” Or “How did you find that out?” We intend to bring substantive and, we hope, new information to the interview. Second, we plumb our own internal data base to identify the personal interests and issues of the people with whom we’ll be talking. We gather and track personal information about all customers. Our data base contains such important data as birthdays, anniversaries, names of family members, favorite sports, colors, vacation spots, and other personal information. We shape what we present and how we present it to meet the personal preferences of the listener. Third, we call in advance to review the purpose and agenda for the meeting. We ask customers what they want to accomplish in the meeting and how they will know when they’ve achieved it. We inquire about their preparation and what preparation they expect from us. We clarify expectations and get on the same wavelength. No surprises or blindsides.
  75. We begin by working to understand the customer’s business. We pose a version of the following general directive: • Tell me about your activity. We follow up with these more specific questions: • What are the few keys to success in your unit? • What is your unit’s advantage in the marketplace (why do customers buy from you?), and how do you contribute to that advantage? • What is great ICBIH (I can’t believe it’s happening) performance for your unit, and for yourself, for the coming year?
  76. What current/future developments will change the way you and your unit do business? We follow with a subset of more specific questions, such as: • What developments are impacting both your department’s activities and the company’s? • What do you see coming in the future that will change the way you and your company do business? • What do you and your unit plan to do to prepare for these coming events so you are ready before they occur?
  77. What are the biggest problems you face? We follow with a specific question: • What prevents you from being a great performer?
  78. How can we help you? We follow up with the more specific questions: • How can we help you be a great performer today? • How can we help you remove the obstacles that prevent you from being a great performer today? • How can we help you prepare to be a great performer in the future?
  79. Based on the above, how would you define great performance for me in the coming year that will best contribute to your great performance?
  80. What would I have to do this week to earn a rating from you of 10 out of 10 for perfect contribution to your great performance?
  81. QUESTION: Are you a supplier or a partner? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Sit with the customer, or don’t get in the door.
  82. Anticipate Problems Rather than Solve Them
  83. What will it take to have a profitable textile business? 2. What will it take to never be surprised again?
  84. most new developments occur from outside an industry.
  85. I need to help people look for developments outside our current fields, in parallel fields that pose both threats and opportunities to the areas in which we currently function.
  86. I established a system called scan, clip, and review. We borrowed it from John Naisbitt and from the CIA. In academic circles it’s called content analysis. It’s simple and works like this: Everyone in the company scans ten periodicals he or she does not normally read each month. These range from highly technical journals to such popular periodicals as Prevention, Rolling Stone, andMother Jones Good Earth Journal. Each person clips all articles he or she thinks are interesting regarding future trends and puts them in a file folder. People clip advertisements, articles, opinion letters, anything they think will have any potential impact on the business in the future, no matter how farfetched it may seem at the time. The entire company is divided into seven-person interdisciplinary, interdepartmental “review cells.” Monthly, people circulate their file folders of clipped articles to the other members of their review cell, so that everyone reviews the clippings in all seven file folders. Quarterly, the seven members of the review cell meet and discuss the important trends they noticed in the clipped material they reviewed. The discussion is built around three questions: 1. What is the future event that will have the greatest impact on our business? 2. What will happen when that event happens? 3. What can we do now to prepare for that event? We use a process called a future wheel, which is shared throughout the company. Every six months, the trends are reviewed and appropriate changes in strategy are made.
  87. We get lots of ideas. Imagine having seven hundred people all scanning, clipping, and reviewing! We don’t get blindsided anymore. We hear the footsteps. Our customers come to us to find out what’s coming. We get lots of discussion about appropriate actions. And we get lots of commitment to a future course of action once the discussions are done.
  88. I learned that successful leaders ask the following thinking-strategically questions: • What do we really want to create for our customers? • What will it take to create what we want?
  89. Thinking incrementally is an American disease. We learned it early in life. Our parents were always admonishing us, “Try a little harder. You’re almost there. Just a little bit more.” The mentality was reinforced in the classroom: “Eighty-eight percent is almost an A. Study just a little bit more and I’m certain that you can get it.”
  90. It’s not that thinking incrementally is bad. It’s just that in that thought process you begin from where you are now and add a little more to it. The view from your current position includes the limitations of all of your current assumptions, your current paradigms, your current prejudices. All of that baggage clouds your vision of what’s possible in the future.
  91. Thinking Strategically Manages Backward from the Future
  92. Leaders who engage in thinking strategically begin with where they want to go. Then they look backward from the future and ask, “What will it take to create that new tomorrow?” It’s the looking back from tomorrow that gives thinking strategically its power, because that perspective helps you escape the limitations of today’s situation.
  93. Begin with the End in Mind—the Federal Express Example Federal Express knows the importance of thinking strategically. They begin from the end state they want to create: “Absolutely, positively, it has to be there on time.” With that end state firmly in mind they ask the strategic-thinking question “What will it take to get it absolutely, positively there on time?”
  94. QUESTION: What will it take to create what I really want? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Ask for enough or you will get less than you need.
  95. I have found that too many people “settle” instead of reach. I’ve learned how expensive that can be. I also learned that my task in Leading the Journey is to help people focus high enough. I need to encourage individuals to “reach” for great performance for their customers, rather than “settle” for acceptable performance. Part of providing focus and direction to my organizations is to keep all the noses pointed straight up.
  96. Leaders must keep helping people prepare for the next match, rather than savoring the win from the last match.
  97. Dealing with customers provides a bear hug on reality.
  98. Getting better at delivering great performance for your customers is the only answer to the “How high is up?” question.
  99. Here are a few measures I’ve discovered are essential to any business. Without drowning in accounting details, get the following figures. Monitor them as vital signs of your organization’s financial health: 1. Track on a frequent (weekly and monthly) basis: • Cash on Hand and Projected Cash Flow. There are three essentials in any business: cash, cash, cash. All businesses are cash businesses. There are two ways to track cash. The first is using a funds flow analysis. There are many good ones available.
  100. ExpensesOrders. Increasing expenses often go hand in hand with increasing orders. But often, expenses continue to increase after sales level out. Monitoring this ratio of current expenses to current orders (which will be future sales) will ring an early-warning bell and help you prevent expense inflation and profit deterioration. The ratio also tells you when you can expect future cash problems.
  101. Receivables. Nothing is more insidious than not collecting the cash that customers owe you.
  102. Sales ÷ Working Capital. This critical ratio shows the stretch in your working capital. (Working capital is current assets—cash and accounts receivable—minus current liabilities.) Working capital supports sales. With too little working capital, you grow yourself to bankruptcy. Typically, each dollar in working capital supports eight dollars in sales. When your ratio is below 5:1, you are likely not using your cash well and are not earning good enough margins. When your ratio exceeds 15:1, you may be technically bankrupt.
  103. Track on a less frequent (semiannual/annual) basis (primarily for the banker): • Current Ratio (Current assets ÷ current liabilities). This short-term solvency ratio tells you (and your banker) whether you have the short-term funds to pay your short-term liabilities. Ratios of 2:1 are considered good. That means there are two dollars in current assets for every one dollar of current liabilities. When the ratio falls below 1.5:1, the bankers get nervous. When it falls below 1:1, they start looking at pulling the line.
  104. You need to really know your costs. How? Use a real-time direct costing system. Assign every penny you spend to a product, a customer, a function.
  105. One of the biggest fallacies going around is that customer service doesn’t cost, it pays. The cost of serving some customers can pay you right to the bankruptcy court.
  106. The key to financial health is getting everyone to make financial decisions as if they were spending their own money out of their own checkbook. Too many people spend a “budget” of someone else’s money. Witness the spending sprees at the end of each year.
  107. Love your enemy as your best friend. Enemies are very valuable. They help you organize and focus on what must be done. Part of the leader’s job is to use competitors’ actions as a way to focus individuals on great performance for their customers.
  108. Competitors easily become the greater enemy against which we can all rally. Why fight with the person in the next office when there’s someone outside the gates looking to destroy us all? In most organizations, the people may not agree on much among themselves except that they all dislike the competitor. I learned to use my competitors as a weapon to keep everyone in my organization, including myself, from getting complacent. I learned to use the competitor as a rallying point to focus everyone on great performance, and continuously raise the standards. One of the leader’s best friends, therefore, is the competitor who’s planning to steal your lunch.
  109. You can find out about your competitors without resorting to unethical or illegal means. Competitors will tell you if you just ask. Competitors’ salespeople love to brag about “conquests.” Let them, and pay attention when they do. Clipping services can collect trade and other news. Often research and technical journals tip off a competitor’s plans long before any specific product announcement. Many companies “test” customer response to proposed products. Often your current customers, who are their potential customers, are included. Stay in touch with them to find out what competitors are planning.
  110. As the leader I work to keep the competitor clearly in the forefront of everyone’s thinking.
  111. Watch Your Neighbors. Customers and Suppliers Can Become Competitors. Beware of Left Field
  112. Analyze your position vis-á-vis your competitors. Every marketplace player—you and your competitors—has strengths and weaknesses. Identify your strengths and weaknesses compared with your competitors. Understand your current market situation, and you improve the chances of your success.
  113. Examine your principal competitors and their current strategies. Identify your standing vis-à-vis those competitors from your customers’ perspective in terms of: 1. Cost structure: Do you have higher or lower costs than your competitors? Check out such things as comparable salaries, locations, cars, number of employees, competing bids. 2. Differentiated value of the product/service you provide: How do your customers see the value of the product/service you provide in comparison with your competitors? How would your competitors’ customers answer this question? 3. Price: How do you compare with your competition on price? Are you lower priced, about the same, or higher priced than your competition? 4. Delivery: Do you deliver on time more or less frequently than your competitors do? What would your customers answer? What would your competitors’ customers answer? 5. Quality: How does your quality compare with your competitors’? How would your customers answer this question? How would your competitors’ customers answer this question? 6. After-sales support: How good are you at being there to solve customer problems after you’ve made the sale? How would your customers answer this question? How would your competitors’ customers answer this question about them?
  114. Most firms practice the cruelest form of deception—self-delusion. They continue to tell themselves that everything is all right, right up the steps of the bankruptcy court. The inward focus is responsible for more business failures than anything else. Above all, this is a leadership failure.
  115. See it from the customer’s point of view. Great products are great only when customers buy them.
  116. The report would be shared with everyone, answering four questions: 1. What are we doing right that we should continue? 2. What are we doing wrong that we should either stop or improve? 3. Who is our chief competitor for that customer’s business? 4. What do we have to do to win the customer’s business?
  117. I learned that building close relationships with customers is a tonic for arrogance.
  118. We won in the marketplace because we were willing to go the extra mile for our customers (witness the survey), and we had the guarantee.
  119. “How can I maximize both value for my customers and profit for myself?” The answer? Create value. Customers don’t buy price; they buy value. What is value? Like beauty, it is in the eye of the beholder. So I learned to ask my customers to tell me what value was for them. And guess what? They told me with clarity.
  120. “You never asked,” he said. “Your people were so busy selling me that they had no time left over to listen.” So much for being smarter than the customer. Without knowing what value is for customers, it’s impossible to deliver it consistently.
  121. Value Is Solving the Customer’s Problems
  122. Value Is Doing It Better than Anybody Else
  123. Choose the right customer problem on which to focus. What is the right problem? The right one is the one that drives the customer’s buying decision. Inevitably, there’s one overriding problem, the solution to which will encourage your customer to buy from you and not your competitor.
  124. QUESTION: Do our products and services stand out head and shoulders above our competition? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Stay tuned in to customers and do whatever it takes to create value for them.
  125. One of the most powerful value-added strategies I’ve discovered is to identify the most profitable niche we can successfully serve, and then dominate that niche.
  126. Find Niche Applications for Commodity Products Find the crack—the crevice—that piece of unfulfilled demand. That’s what successful niche players do.
  127. Using locals, who understand and can relate to the customers, is one way to ensure the customer focus to identify value-added strategies.
  128. Minimize Your Dependence on Any One Customer or Product
  129. I learned that niche players usually survive by following the “avoid the big guys” strategy.
  130. How do we do that in the face of such awesome foreign competition? It’s obvious! Pick a niche in which low-cost labor doesn’t count and where we can move faster than our competition.
  131. a niche player in a tough industry, we survive by avoiding competition. That’s good advice in any industry.
  132. customers once lost are hard to get back.
  133. The basic niche player’s strategies: • Avoid the big boys. • Be flexible. • Find upscale applications for commodity products. • Stay close to your customer. • Avoid dependence upon a few products and/or customers. Focus your people on these value-added strategies. That’s the way you Lead the Journey using the intellectual capitalism paradigm. QUESTION: What do my customers want that they are not now getting? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Niches are gold mines. Find them and start digging.
  134. Price competition almost always means that customers don’t see enough differentiation among products, so price is the only way to distinguish.
  135. Pictures Create Feelings—and That’s What Customers Really Buy
  136. The Product Name Must Paint the Picture
  137. Everything must contribute to creating the picture. Everything. The operant question must be “How does this activity or action contribute to the picture we want customers to have of our organization?” Each person needs to think strategically and then own the responsibility to do whatever it takes to please customers.
  138. If You Don’t Lose 20 Percent of Your Business on Price, Your Prices Aren’t High Enough
  139. He told me, “I learned years ago that the secret to success in my business was not winning most of the bids, but losing the ‘right ones. I only want to win the ones that I know I will do well on. I’m willing to walk away from business that is marginally profitable. I don’t need marginal business. I need the profit. I’ve learned that being the high bidder is the way to succeed.”
  140. Successful companies differentiate themselves by adding real value for their customers. Helping customers see the real value you bring marks the difference between high and low profits. The question is “What is real value from the customer’s perspective?”
  141. Our measurement of great performance was to have the highest selling price and the highest market share.
  142. The professor used the case to illustrate his point that price was an important determiner of value. Selling a Cadillac at Chevrolet prices would probably sell fewer Cadillacs, he said.
  143. QUESTION: Do your prices reflect your great performance? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: What your customers are willing to pay tells you what they—and you—think about your products.
  144. The new way to add value is through business partnerships.
  145. The New World Order: Partnership, Not Domination The giants have learned that it takes both size and flexibility to meet rapidly changing customer demands. Healthy smaller firms, surrounding the giant, provide the flexibility to focus and capitalize on the giant’s size.
  146. learned that unless both parties work as hard for the partner as they work for themselves, they are both doomed to fail.
  147. The win/win game not only involves finding partners “out there.” It also involves building win/win partnerships within the organization.
  148. Focus and direction allow your people to deliver great performance for your customers. Knowing the “right” direction is the first step. The second step is to identify and remove the obstacles that prevent you from achieving great performance.
  149. Focus on Those Obstacles You Control or Directly Influence
  150. Obstacles Come in Two Areas: Systems and Mind-sets While most of us are drawn to the mind-set obstacles of motivation, communication, and teamwork issues, the biggest obstacles are organizational obstacles, like the systems and structures. I’ve found that the systems and structures dramatically affect the mind-sets of everyone else.
  151. QUESTION: How can I identify and remove those obstacles that prevent great performance? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Ask your people what prevents their great performance. Get to work on those obstacles.
  152. Systems are the most powerful drivers of performance.
  153. Attitudes are shaped by the environment within which people function. The environment is made up of the systems and structures in the organization. Although I could not change attitudes directly, I could change them by changing the environment. I learned that incorrect attitudes are a symptom of incorrect systems, structures, and practices.
  154. Performance Management System How are the standards of performance determined in your organization? How does your current system compare to the following model? 1.Manager determines the overall parameters/objectives. Define the playing field.
  155. You as the leader establish the parameters, the overall objective, the vision. You need to articulate great performance standards for the overall organization. You need to be certain that everyone’s nose is pointed in the same direction. 2.Set standards between performers and customers. We need to ensure that standards are set between performers and their customers. Each performer must meet frequently (weekly) with his or her customers to agree on standards of great performance. Then the performer must meet with other performers to coordinate activities with them. The leadership job is to make certain that this standard setting and coordination take place on a regular basis. 3.Reduce the expectation to a specific, measurable number. What gets measured gets produced. For a long while I measured sales and wondered why there was so little profit. Everyone’s attention was focused on getting that order. Delivering it profitably, or selling it at a price that would make money, was always an afterthought. People love to be measured. But measure the “right” stuff. The right stuff is that which creates great performance for customers. The right stuff is what helps you keep learning. The right stuff is what helps you continuously improve. Do you have a performance management system where performers define, with customers, specific numeric standards of performance? Every machine operator, every janitor, every secretary, must know exactly what great performance is for their jobs. If your current system does not do that, you have a serious obstacle.
  156. Information System Does every person in your unit know how he or she is performing? At the end of every day? Every week? If people don’t know how well they are doing relative to some target, you can’t ever expect them to do it well. To back up your performance management system, you need an information system that tells every performer frequently how well he or she is doing in creating great performance for his/her customers.
  157. Makes performance visible to every…
  158. Real data in real time. The data must be real data. Not sanitized accounting/financial data. And it needs to be in real time. Real time means “Now!” We need an information system similar to that in the game of golf. How long…
  159. Based on continuing conversations between performers and customers. Customers are the best source of feedback on performance. The best information system structures-in continuing conversations between performers and customers. These two systems form a loop—the performance management system and the information system. Both rely upon a stream of performance-based conversations between…
  160. Reward System Unfortunately, I succumbed to the folly of rewarding “A” while hoping for “B.” In the past, my reward system focused on attendance. I paid people to show up and then worried why they didn’t perform. I learned that if I wanted quality, I had to reward quality. If I wanted service, I had to reward service. The performer is the best person to determine what needs to be rewarded, and what is an effective reward. Begin with the performer-customer established standards of great performance, the performer-customer established feedback mechanisms, and…
  161. Assure the consequences of behavior. Performance must have consequences. Performance must matter. It must be clear that “them that does it, get it, and them that don’t do it, don’t get it” or get a…
  162. Pay for results, not…
  163. Too many people are rewarded for working hard, rather then getting the “…
  164. Blend monetary rewards (such as gain sharing, profit sharing, onetime bonuses, merit increases) and nonmonetary rewards (such as recognition, promotion, job assignments, autonomy). We can find as many ways to reward people as there are people. We don’t suffer from a lack of ways to reward. We suffer from a lack of imagination in identifying what turns people on, and in ways to distribute rewards fairly and equitably. Many leaders wrestle with “equity” issues: “Is this reward system fair?” They also struggle with “motivation” concerns: “Will these rewards motivate the behavior we need?” Both of these concerns can be dealt with by involving performers in designing the reward systems. As long as leaders own the responsibility for designing reward systems, they will also own the responsibility for making them “fair” and “…
  165. Once a month money will be paid out to all that have achieved their Great Performance weekly goals.
    1. NOTE: goal gradient effect respected
  166. If you don’t expect, measure, and reward great performance, you’ll never get great performance. In short: • Does every person know at the start of every day what great performance is for him/her? • Does every person know at the end of every day if he/she has been a great performer? • During the day is everyone motivated to do whatever it takes to be a great performer because he/she knows that he/she will be rewarded on the basis of performance?
  167. Systems are powerful message carriers that too often prevent the achievement you want. Structures do also.
  168. Does your organization structure meet the following model? If not, you have structural obstacles that prevent your achieving great performance. 1. Decentralize decision making to the point of customer contact. Those closest to the customer should make the decisions about servicing that customer. When that isn’t the case, you get organizational “handoffs,” a major obstacle.
  169. Multidiscipline teams where everyone is present. Parkinson’s law was written based upon the absence of teams.
  170. Simplification of processes and procedures. The only things that grow automatically seem to be weeds—and administrative procedures. Stem administrative procedure growth by emphasizing continual simplification of processes and procedures. One organization eliminates every policy and procedure every year. Anyone wishing to continue a policy or procedure must reapply for it de nouveau. They call it zero-based administration. 4. Focus on one customer, one product, one product/market combination. Structure focuses people on serving a homogeneous collection of customers. This focus develops expertise in what customers want/need and facilitates a customer focus throughout the organization.
  171. Does your structure encourage the decentralization of decision making to the level of direct customer contact? Does it facilitate the use of multidiscipline teams to solve customer problems? Does it force continual simplification and focus?
  172. Measurement becomes one more way in which leaders focus the organization in the “right” direction, consistently providing great performance for customers. Measurement is a powerful leadership tool when the performers and customers establish the measures.
  173. People Who Know How Well They Are Doing Will Do Well People need measurements to excel.
  174. People want so much to measure their performance that if they aren’t given a way to do that, they will develop their own.
  175. Your operators must be the experts on your process, because they are the only ones who can control it.
  176. The only people who could ever produce great products were those who actually made them.
    1. NOTE: touching the medium
  177. Here is the plan they developed: The people write down every customer-driven change they make. They count the aggregate number and then categorize them to spot trends. When they see trends, they review the internal systems and structure to see if they are aligned with where the market is going. They discuss among themselves what it will take to do better. They measure how long it takes to make the improvements and spot the trends. They track it against past performance. Their plan works. We seem to be one or two jumps ahead of our competitors. Sure it’s difficult. But isn’t it worth it? What’s the alternative?
  178. GREAT PERFORMANCE FOR THE PRESIDENT 1. Coach of strategic thinking Measure: Number of helpful contributions I make to the strategic thinking of others. Indicated by member/customer evaluations of the president in the monthly surveys. A rating of 10 is expected. 2. Learning and growth Measure: Attainment of 100 percent of the president’s educational goals. 3. 100 percent of the people believe they own the right problem and are capable of handling it. Measure: As indicated by ownership comments on the weekly reports. 4. Coach of personal development. Facilitator of learning for everyone in the company. Measure: 100 percent of direct reports attain 100 percent of their educational goals and report complete satisfaction with their development. 100 percent of all employee-partners attain 100 percent of their educational goals and report complete satisfaction with their development. 5. Ensure that all transactions are characterized by caring and integrity. Measure: Measured by employee responses of being important, respected, valued, and cared about personally on the quarterly all-employee survey. Other indicators are number of personal messages exchanged, number of personal celebrations acknowledged.
  179. I discovered that when people perform better, they are happier. My experience is that everyone wants to excel. Everyone enjoys winning. Everyone loves being part of a winning team. Winning reinforces itself. Everyone takes pride in his/her accomplishments. That is why most everyone loves sports. Sports give instant feedback on performance. We all share a deep desire for feedback on our performance.
  180. QUESTION: Do all the people in your company know how well they’ve done before they go home every night? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: People perform what they measure—help the performers to measure the “right” stuff.
  181. It sounds so simple. Get the information to the people who use it. It’s common sense. Unfortunately, it’s not common practice.
    1. NOTE: touching the medium
  182. One of my biggest leadership tasks is to remove the obstacles to great performance. One of the biggest obstacles I encountered was this misdirection of information. The company dramatically improved when I clarified who needed what information.
  183. The past can’t be managed. It is already gone. I saw that I needed to help people manage the work they did today, not yesterday.
  184. the leader’s job isn’t to develop the information. Rather, the leader’s task is to focus the people who use the information, and help them develop the system to get them the information they need.
  185. Leading the Journey requires that I remove the obstacle of the misdirection of information. Inevitably, that means that the performers get more of the information they need to control and direct the organization in both the present and the future.
  186. QUESTION: Are you managing the past, the present, or the future? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Help the right people get the right information and they will do the right things.
  187. People obstacles are most often symptoms, not causes. Like Odysseus, we are pulled right to the rocks as we struggle to answer the siren song of people issues.
  188. The Best Way to Get Teamwork Is to Give the Team Work
  189. If I’ve learned anything in the last twelve years, it is that “I” can’t fix “them” until “I” fix “me” first. Then I must change the systems and structures to require teamwork. The obstacle isn’t simply a lack of teamwork. The obstacle is my leadership mentality, the actions that flow from it, and the systems and structures that prevent the teamwork.
  190. The president immediately got his executives together and they designed the “Improvement Audit” program. Three years later the program is going strong. Every division is visited twice a year by teams drawn from the other divisions. There’s been a direct savings of more than 21 percent, and the president told me, “I’ve never seen such teamwork.” Changing the audit and reward systems changed the mindsets, which changed the behavior.
  191. QUESTION: What systems are causing my people problems? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Change the systems to change the people.
  192. Until great performance is everyone’s responsibility, it will be no one’s.
  193. In today’s intellectual capitalism world, the performers must be responsible for their own performance. The success or failure of the business must rest with the individuals who possess the critical capital. The leader’s job is to determine the direction, remove the obstacles that prevent focus, and then get the intellectual capital holders to develop ownership for moving in that direction. From firsthand experience, I know how tough it is to achieve this mentality. I also know how necessary it is.
  194. QUESTION: Who’s in the best position to be responsible? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Get the right people to own the right responsibility.
  195. Again I found that the more I solved other people’s problems, the more problems they’d bring to me. I had worked myself into a fulltime “solve other people’s problems” job.
  196. My experience has taught me that the key to organizational success today is in getting the people to want to own the responsibility for their own performance.
  197. What is the problem? I ask because how you define the problem will largely determine how you go about solving it.
  198. Keep the two levels of ownership separate. Keep the responsibility for performance with the performer, and the responsibility for empowering with the leader.
  199. Empowerers proactively empower: asking questions, organizing data to confront people with reality, bringing customers and performers together to discuss standards of great performance and feedback on actual performance against those standards.
  200. Being the cold shower of reality, drawing the line in the sand that I did by calling the emergency meeting, is not enough. Nor is insisting upon tough standards, which I did in reminding everyone of our responsibilities for all those lives. In addition to those actions, and asking questions as I did at the beginning of the meeting, a leader’s proactive empowering responsibilities go beyond all of those. Freddie helped me learn that leaders also have to support the people in their needs and be ready to coach them, to help them, when they are ready to accept and execute their responsibilities.
  201. Leaders continue to coach and support because they are genuinely interested in that individual’s success.
  202. Freddie also helped me learn that ownership and responsibility are not zero sum games. I can transfer ownership and get other people to assume responsibility without diminishing my own ownership and responsibility in the situation.
  203. Ownership is not a fixed pie. In fact, it is an expanding pie. The more I transfer ownership to others, the more ownership I possess myself.
  204. Conversations are the vehicles leaders use to develop ownership. Use all instances, even seemingly insignificant cases, to precipitate discussion and learning about great performance.
  205. The leader’s main task concerning this ownership issue can be summarized in four letters, FCLP. F is for focus. C is for conversation. L is for learning. P is for performance.
  206. In every possible situation, Focus Conversations on Learning about Performance.
  207. When the leaders stop conferring benefits, people assume responsibility for delivering great performance for their customers.
  208. QUESTION: Do your people want to own the right responsibility and be great performers? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: The desire for owning the responsibility for great performance comes from within.
  209. Leadership isn’t processing papers. It’s about making things happen.
  210. Great Leaders Prevent Problems, Not Solve Them
  211. Stop rewarding people for bringing me problems and start rewarding them for solving their own problems. To accomplish that, I changed a number of systems and structures. Saying what needs to be done is simple. Doing it is anything but simple.
  212. We need substantially different actions to get us substantially different results.
  213. The “right” actions are those that meet the following criteria: 1. Deliverable: some specific, concrete, and tangible action. A meeting. A plan. A program. Answers the question ‘What will be done?” 2. Measurement: an indicator that helps you know when you have accomplished what you set out to do. Answers the question “How will we know when we have done it?” 3. Date: It must have a date by when it will be done. Answers the question “By when will it be done?” 4. Person responsible: Names the person who is going to be responsible for getting it done. Answers the question “Who will do it?”
  214. Your continuing leadership task: Help everyone in your organization identify what’s crucial and not crucial, and be dispassionate in dumping the noncontributors. Eliminate the “fat.”
  215. Another way to eliminate nonessentials is to think about your business as a raider would. Challenge yourself and your people: “Does this activity contribute at least 20 percent to the bottom line—or growing fast enough that it will in a few years?” If the answer is no, then get rid of it.
  216. Simplifying operations is another way to save costs. In an effort to solve problems, it’s easy to get caught up in drafting procedures. The procedure lasts long after the problem has been solved, outlives its usefulness, and becomes part of a growing bureaucracy. I empower my people regularly to attack their own procedures. They do this in two structured ways. First, we declare all systems null and void every year.
  217. Second, every week everyone writes a “5/15” report, no longer than one page, which takes fifteen minutes to write and five minutes to read. That report answers three questions: “What did I accomplish this week?” “What remains to be done next week?” “What needs to be fixed/changed/eliminated?” Anything that needs fixing/changing/ eliminating must be handled before the end of the next week.
  218. The people track the following data every month. Use these figures, or others of your own choosing, regularly, and you will run your business rather than your business running you. • Cash on hand and projected cash • Sales calls made to targeted customers • Customer moves through the sales cycle • Customer service rating for each person • Sales/orders • Quality levels • Weekly goal accomplishments
  219. The standard of performance is set by the poorest performer, not the best. People look to the leader for clues and a model of great performance. The leader sets the standard for performance by what he/she will and won’t accept.
  220. I learned that others would do much more if I expected more and accepted less.
  221. QUESTION: Do you like what you see in the mirror? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Your organization is a reflection of what you accept.
  222. Why don’t people “just do it”? Because the systems and structures usually prevent them by building in long approval cycles and multiple approvals. If it takes several months of meeting and nine different signatures to get anything done, it’s much easier to decide not to do anything.
  223. In my organization I make certain that risk-taking is part of the standards of great performance for each individual and that taking risks is rewarded, even the risks that don’t succeed. Ensure that systems empower the “just do it” mentality.
  224. Speed gave them focus. Henry learned in this hare and tortoise race, it is speed on the track that wins.
  225. Do What You Do Best-Give Away the Rest to Someone Else
  226. The old story is forever new in its relevance and unfolds in varying experiences. Challenges lead to actions, which lead to learning, which uncovers more challenges. What is new becomes old. What we thought was the same has changed and is different. These endless challenges and changes make getting up in the morning worthwhile.
  227. Begin by Asking the Thinking-Strategically Questions • What skills, attitudes, and behaviors of people are required to deliver great performance? • What positions give me the maximum leverage to infuse these skills, attitudes, and behaviors throughout the organization?
  228. Choose carefully. Don’t compromise. Here are some techniques I’ve found that work for me: 1. Preparation is vital. Review your profile before you talk to anyone. 2. Ask open-ended questions, such as: • What would you redesign about your last job, and why? • How would your references answer the following question … ? 3. Take good notes. You’ll likely forget otherwise—count on it. 4. Ask tough questions like: • What are your weaknesses and how do they show up in performance? • What would you do differently now, in light of what you’ve learned? 5. Hold multiple interviews and get independent judgments from each interviewer. 6. Involve everyone who’s going to be involved with that person: customers, suppliers, peers, employees.
  229. Organization structure eliminates people’s weaknesses. So organize around people’s weaknesses. As people grow and develop new strengths, and weaknesses emerge, reshuffle the boxes. That’s why organizing is really a process of constantly reorganizing.
  230. I Never Heard of Anyone Lying on His Deathbed Who Said, “I Fired That Person Too Soon”
  231. The premium is on learning fast enough to cope and to stay ahead of the pack. Learning is the key. Faster is the pace.
  232. I became a student of everyone and a follower of no one.
  233. Most of us overestimate the value of what we currently have, and have to give up, and underestimate the value of what we may gain.
  234. Learning New Leadership Patterns Isn’t What You Know, It’s What You Do
  235. Mostly, I learned that I learned a lot more by doing than I did by reading or listening to lectures. Doing presents me with the opportunity to learn. Get on with the doing. The more you do, the more you have the opportunity to learn. Widen the scope of doing. Go up in hot-air balloons. Go down in submarines. Take the risk to speak up and stand out.
  236. The worst mistake may be the best learning opportunity.
  237. Knowledge is nothing without action. Nothing changes until you do something. What you do will directly determine what you learn.
  238. Anything Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Poorly—At Least in the Beginning
  239. Doing it just right is not what’s important. Starting is. You can’t start getting better until you start.
  240. Since the greater risk is in doing nothing, you can minimize the risk by starting.
  241. Mistakes tell us that whatever we’re doing is not working. They tell us something is wrong. Most of the time we look for “something” other than ourselves. The lengths to which I’ve gone to avoid making a mistake or own up to one I made illustrate my propensity to avoid feedback.
  242. I learned two important leadership lessons from this mistake. First, focus on the skills required to do the job that needs to be done. Background is secondary and relevant only as it supports performance in this job.
  243. Even though fear and excitement trigger very similar physiological phenomena, we perceive fear negatively and excitement positively. When we permit the negative emotional feelings of fear to overcome us, we miss out on great learning opportunities which excitement presents us.
  244. What’s the Worst Thing That Could Happen to Me-and What Can I Do About It if It Does?
    1. NOTE: fear setting
  245. I most often discover that the worst that can happen isn’t nearly as terrible as I initially feared, and I can do much to cope successfully with it if it does.
  246. Examining the worst possible scenario and seeing that there are creative ways to deal with it successfully helps to reduce the fear of the new and the different.
  247. Sharing my fear helped to both disarm any opposition and to avoid cover-up behavior.
  248. Use Fear to Increase Performance Fear is a wonderful stimulant. It quickens the mind, sharpens the senses, heightens performance. I’ve learned to focus the stimulant on doing better, rather than worrying about doing worse.
  249. When fear runs through my system, I ask myself, “What can I do to remove the potential causes of failure?” “What can I do to ensure* success?” I’ve evolved rituals to answer these questions constructively.
  250. QUESTION: What’s the worst thing that can happen and how can I handle it? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Use your fear to mobilize your resources and stimulate your performance.
  251. Why do I get angry with that person, that topic, that situation? The answer to those questions tells me about myself, my best contributions to my organizations, and what I need to learn to Lead the Journey. One of my greatest teachers is my own anger, because it helps me learn more about myself as a leader. What I get angry about is what I need to learn more about. As tough as that insight is to swallow and digest, it is very valuable to my learning.
  252. What About You Reminds Me of What I Don’t Like About Me?
  253. In an effort to kill two birds with one stone, or more precisely, tone down two loud braggarts at the same time, I enlisted Ben to help me accomplish my changes. I asked him to watch me for loud bragging and self-centered kinds of behaviors. I arranged a signal for him to tip me off when I was slipping into the unwanted behaviors.
  254. Elicit the Right Help in Changing— Some Help Is No Help at All
  255. Focus on Performance to Overcome Anger
  256. Most of the time I discovered that open confrontation and discussion of the issues resulted in swift improvement.
  257. Anger tells a leader that he/she is shirking responsibilities. He/she is avoiding facing up to key performance issues. Anger is the red warning light that says, “Engine needs service.”
  258. “What is causing my anger in this situation?” I think it’s my impatience. I see, or I think I see, what needs to be done and I want to move on to the action phase. While others seem not to be ready yet, I sit and stew, and stew, and stew in frustration.
    1. NOTE: reminds me of me
  259. At its root, I discovered, anger is fear in another disguise. Why was I angry at Ben? I was afraid that he would ruin my business. Why was I angry during the selection process? I was afraid that I would waste too much time and not get to the “important” items I felt I had to do. I was also afraid that without me the best person wouldn’t get chosen. The fear, a.k.a. anger, showed me my lack of faith in both the process and the people. Anger was revealing my fears and raising them to an action level.
  260. QUESTION: What is my anger telling me that I need to learn about myself and what I’m doing? LEADERSHIP SOLUTION: Listen to your anger and learn from it.
  261. Stubbornness often signals to me that I may be disguising my real concerns.
  262. There’s another cause that’s worthy of a leader’s stubbornness: great performance. In too many instances, people are willing to “settle” for average, okay, or good performance. They want to avoid the stress and strain and unknown of “great” performance.
  263. The first step in handling a divorce is to gather up the courage to act. In AA terms, this is called “hitting bottom.” I’ve learned some ways to “raise the bottom” so the fall isn’t quite so far.
  264. Keep the responsibility for performance with the performer.
  265. Getting customers to say, “I want this. I don’t accept that,” is an excellent way to introduce reality and authority into performance discussions.
  266. the stream of continuing conversations about great performance serves as an early-warning signal to potential causes of divorce.
  267. I learned in the customer case discussed just above that how you handle the divorce is as important as the completion itself.
  268. Business reflects, and is a reflection of, life. How we handle business is how we handle life. Business is life.
  269. I had learned from business that you can’t “give” people things and have them value the things they get. They only value the things they earn.
  270. The great teachers in this classroom of business are mistakes, divorce, fear, anger, and stubbornness. In every business setting, these great teachers are present and ready to teach me. Sometimes I am not ready to learn.
  271. The dominant theme in my life now is learning. Learning more and faster is the only true competitive advantage. I work to instill that love of learning throughout my organization, and my life.
  272. We have several systems that foster that love of learning. We set aside a sum of money for each person to spend any way they wish on their learning. We pay for scuba diving lessons as well as calculus instruction. Learning is learning. Learning the discipline to master scuba diving carries over into mastering the discipline of making better sausage and writing better computer code.
  273. People in organizations obsessed with learning will succeed.
  274. As a thirsty person seeks out a water fountain, I’ve learned to seek out experiences. I deliberately put myself in new situations.
  275. Tomorrow Belongs to Those Who Prepare for It Today
  276. While action matters, it’s the right action that matters most.
  277. There are always a thousand reasons not to do what ought to be done. There is only one reason to do it: because it is the right thing to do. The right thing to do always means choosing the morally correct alternative. Ask yourself, “Could I explain my actions on 60 Minutes and be believed?” Only take those actions that could be defended and believed under harsh public scrutiny. The success of any organization depends upon what its people are willing to do. Mobilize this incredible people power by doing what’s morally right.
  278. Don’t confuse the risk of failure with the fear of failure. Fear is a great teacher. Use that teacher to learn what you must learn. Do not be like Hamlet, who was immobilized by his fears. Learn to go through your fears as a runner goes through the wall of pain.
  279. Effective leaders let their actions speak so clearly that you don’t have to hear their words.
  280. Reflect on the content of this book. It defines my morality. It is about learning, focus, and customers. It’s about accepting responsibility. And it is especially about great performance. I believe that we all have a moral imperative to strive to become as great a performer as we can possibly be.
What I got out of it
  1. A great business and management book. Your people have to know you care, give away ownership and responsibility, push down decision making as far as possible to those who know it best, create win/win scenarios, establish a culture of trust

The Carolina Way: Leadership Lessons From a Life in Coaching by Dean Smith

Summary
  1. A detailed overview of University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith’s philosophy. One of the best books on leadership I’ve yet come across
Key Takeaways
  1. Smith gave his players the same 3 goals each year – play hard, play together, play smart as these were the only things each player had in their own control
    1. Play hard – Insist on consistent effort. Focus on the effort and the end will take care of itself. The final result, especially in a competitive situation, is often outside your control, but the quality of your team’s effort is not. Create a system that demands effort, rewards it, and punishes its absence
    2. Play together – Play unselfishly. Don’t focus on individual statistics. Recruit unselfish players, reward unselfish play and punish selfish play and showboating
    3. Play smart – Execute properly. Understand and consistently execute the fundamentals. Drill the fundamentals, reward their execution and punish their absence
  2. Making winning the goal can actually get in the way of winning. Rather, winning should be the byproduct of success
  3. Honesty was the basic foundation for everything Coach Smith did
  4. Coaches are part benevolent (open-minded) dictator and part servant to the player. Honest and fair and plays no favorites. Pushes but understands different situations. Disciplinarian but understands that all individuals are not the same. Requires people to look at team goals but he understands that individuals have their own goals and needs too. Listens to players in one-on-one meetings and hears suggestions but when it comes time to approve the overall picture, he must be a firm leader with a clear vision and strong convictions
  5. His players worked so hard because they saw that he worked harder than any of them did. Coach Smith made players feel good about sacrificing for the greater good – power of incentives and rewards
  6. His philosophy didn’t allow for a star system. It was all about the team
  7. Great leaders take the blame for losses and dole out credit for victories
    1. Blaming others for mistakes not only doesn’t correct it, but compounds it
  8. Believed in following a process rather than dwelling on winning or worrying about consequences
  9. Genuinely cared about his players – Honesty, integrity, discipline administered fairly, not playing favorites, recruiting the right people, effective practice and training, and caring are foundations that any organization would be wise to have in place. The most important thing in good leadership is truly caring
  10. The most effective leaders have the talent to create a sound strategy for their teams or business; knowledge of the importance of recruiting good people who wish to improve their personal skills and believe in the companies’ or teams’ philosophy; understand that whether they like it or not, they lead by example; belief in the importance of being light enough on their feet to adapt to changing conditions; and the ability to honor their commitments, admit their mistakes and take responsibility for their failures
  11. Rituals help greatly in team building
  12. Constant iteration and experimentation at Air Force Academy was a great learning experience for Smith. This type of risk appetite was natural to Smith at this time because he was new, young and had nothing to lose. Not falling into the trap of complacency as one gets older and more successful is vital
  13. Tore down freshmen to break habits and then built them back up as team leaders
  14. Never had the same team two years in a row but was still so consistently successful! Disguise weaknesses and accentuate strengths and always adapt based on personnel. Didn’t fear change even in the middle of the season
    1. His coaching system was that he had no system because each team was different
  15. Aimed for players to be quietly confident, it must be earned
  16. Getting to the top is very difficult, staying there is even harder. You prepare for that pressure through deliberate practice
  17. Never allowed anyone but players and the coaching staff into the locker room. This created a space of total trust and love where everyone could be open and honest with each other in the midst of competition
  18. Map is not the terrain. They had their own statistics that they followed and praised
  19. Basketball is simply an extension of Smith’s philosophy of life
  20. Keep poise and have options when things go poorly
  21. Mistakes – recognize it, admit it, learn from it, forget it
  22. Fundamentals of basketball are the fundamentals of good character, of life. Many of the same skills are necessary for success regardless of the endeavor you choose
  23. Best leaders are absolutely devoted to their people
  24. Winning should simply be thought of as a byproduct of the process. This is the best way to win as it gets you in a healthy frame of mind
  25. Nation’s leading scorer rarely plays for a ranked team and never for a championship team
  26. Good businesses tend to die because senior leaders lose touch with the outside world, the important stakeholders. Executives spend too much time working and not enough time thinking. They should delegate more to create more. Work on the important things first; your people and their skills are the important things
  27. Don’t let winning get you to overlook mistakes – process over outcome
  28. Sole focus on winning (profits) actually leads to lower chance of winning
  29. Crises bring each of us face to face with our inadequacies
  30. Skill of being a gracious loser is vital for leaders. Must see an opportunity in every loss
  31. Part method teaching – can better understand whole if it is broken down into smaller, manageable parts
  32. Hiring well makes managing easy
  33. If treated correctly and this advice followed, players become the best recruiters
  34. People will only change when they see it will benefit them
  35. If the hard work is also fun, performance will be enhanced greatly
  36. Must first provide first rate employee experience before can get first rate customer experience
  37. There is a real strength derived from depending on one another
  38. Avoid the formation of cliques at all costs
  39. High performing teams – individual peak performance, selflessness, high morale, no fear of failure, mutual care and support
  40. Specific coaching and understanding of role is vital – also what one’s role is not
  41. Never substitute because of a player’s mistakes – would lead to scared playing and public embarrassment
  42. Teamwork hard to build because of society’s fascination with individual success and the emphasis it places on winning no matter how it is achieved
  43. Smith was a master at tailoring his teaching method to each individual
  44. Never underestimate the power of appreciation
  45. Smith institute the tired signal with his players – this made them play all out until they needed a quick break. To overwork is to underperform
  46. Everyone is important
  47. Take care of the small things without getting bogged down by minutiae – punctuality, no swearing, clean and matching uniforms, no scoreboard gazing (worry about the process and not the outcome and stay in the present), hyper focused on end of game situations, set the pace by being the aggressor, not the reactor,
    1. Great leaders are adept at identifying and tending to the crucial details. The smartest use of their time, effort and money is to spend far more of them in the planning stages than one thinks necessary
  48. One-on-one meetings very important as it opens up the lines of communication, builds trust and shows you care
  49. One of the best ways to teach is for all leaders and workers to mentor younger associates. Solve for problem of not getting to it after retiring or because too busy by doing your teaching on the job
  50. Success is the byproduct of intelligent, sustained effort
  51. People accept punishment if it is fair and consistent
  52. On confidence
    1. Think through what the worst possible outcome could be concerning the project being worked on
    2. Predict the probability of that worst-case scenario’s happening
    3. Develop a plan to implement if the worst does occur
    4. If the worst outcome becomes reality, assess whether it can be survived
    5. Once the task begins, give the best possible performance. Since that’s all anyone can do, enjoy the challenge
    6. If failure results, learn from it, forgive yourself and move on to the next task
  53. On continuous learning
    1. Most people say best learning experiences come from mistakes by why wait? A smarter strategy is to learn on a continuous basis from daily events. Each lesson might be a small one, but soon the lessons will accumulate to become something meaningful and important in your life
    2. Achiever’s Brain Book – an accessible notebook to write in throughout the day. In spare minutes write down key things you’ve learned and at the end of the day add the three major experiences of the day (decisions, projects worked on, meetings attended, interactions) Analyze what was done in those three instances and what the impacts or consequences were. Then establish actions based on what you’ve learned that will positively affect your future behavior
    3. The key to continuous learning is to articulate one’s inarticulate knowledge. Do it continuously, draw lessons from daily experiences. Lessons don’t arrive on command, but you can budget a little time in your life to step back and get the perspective that leads to insight
  54. Don’t waste time looking back. Learn from mistakes/regrets, make sure they never happen again and spend time planning what’s next
  55. Importance of change – Smith’s success came partly from his ability to adapt and change better than anyone else. He knew where to place his players on the court to get the most of each man’s ability. Leaders should select for their team’s individuals who have proved capacity to change (curiosity, listen well to ideas different from their own, humble, resilient, test new ideas, willing to admit they’re wrong?)
  56. The importance of the bottom half of the roster – often one of the hardest things is finding the right kind of leader to be the 11th and 12th men on the team. In the best of worlds, these two would know in advance that they wouldn’t play much but would work hard in practice and meetings to make the team better
What I got out of it
  1. Focus obsessively on process and things you can control, the most important thing in high performing teams is genuine caring, constant iteration, adaptation and non-dogmatic ideals are needed when you have a different team every year!, Achiever’s Brain Book

Shoe Dog: A Memoir of the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

Summary
  1. Phil Knight recounts the formation, history, culture and vision of one of the most widely recognized brands in the world

If you’d prefer to listen to this article, use the player below.

You can also find more of my articles in audio version at Listle

Key Takeaways

  1. Knight ran track at Oregon and says that runners truly run because what happens when they stop scares them. Knight decided early on that he would never stop, no matter what
  2. Nike started off with running shoes and the thesis originally came to Knight while he was st Stanford business school. Japanese cameras had undercut German ones and he argued that the same may happen with American running shoes. Wanted to travel the world before chasing this business dream and had to convince his dad. His father valued being respected more than anything and thought this was the case because of his inner chaos, which came through via alcohol. Phil hated to sell and was worried about trying to convince his dad but eventually he succeeded. Knight spent months planning his world travels and invited his best friend, Carter. The plan went off the rails quickly as they decided to stay in Hawaii for several months. Carter found a girlfriend and Knight decided to later move onto his world travel plans. He headed to Japan and was heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism and focused on forgetting the self, non-linear thinking, simplicity, minimalism and being fully present
  3. Knight met with a Japanese shoe manufacturer and won their business, representing them in the Western US. He described the tension between himself and the Japanese due to remnants from WWII
  4. Our work is the holiest part of us
  5. Greece was the highlight of the trip and the image of The Temple of Nike, the goddess of victory always stood out to Knight
  6. The track coach at Oregon, Coach Bowerman, was a huge inspiration for Knight and was obsessed with shoes and continuously tried modifying, iterating and innovating them. His father and his coach were extremely stingy with praise and Knight sought their approval more than anything. Bowerman and Knight became partners in Knight’s new venture which he named Blue Ribbon. Phil got success rather quickly and though he was terrible at selling, he didn’t feel he was selling the shoes because he truly believed in them and in the good running can have on people
  7. His mother was very athletic, a trackophile, quiet but very tough and very supportive of Phil. How he describes the quiet support from his mother is beautiful and inspiring
  8. The art of competing is the art of forgetting, forgetting the pain, the competitor, the strategy, the self
  9. Bowerman was an innovator. He focused as much on rest as training, he experimented with nutrition and electrolytes (predecessor to Gatorade), tore apart shoes, tried new materials (early polyurethane) and believed everyone with a body is an athlete
  10. Was fascinated by shoguns, samurai, tycoons. Churchill, Kennedy and Tolstoy specifically
  11. Knight took a job at PwC in case Blue Ribbon didn’t work out. “My life was totally out of balance but I didn’t care. I loved it. I wanted more imbalance. Or at least a different kind. I wanted to spend every minute working at Blue Ribbon…I wanted work to be play and I wanted what everyone wants, to be me full time.”
  12. His first employee, Jeff Johnson, was selling prodigious amounts of shoes and created an office which aimed to be a runners paradise with books, comfortable seating, and inspiring images
  13. The key to negotiations is to know what you want, what you need to leave feeling whole
  14. Hired a lot of ex-runners, fanatics, whom were paid on commission. They worked like crazy because they believed in the vision
  15. Phil spends a lot of time lost in his thoughts, going down mental wormholes, trying to figure out problems, was messy, spacey, competitive, laissez fair management to the point he was unresponsive
  16. Once the business took off, Knight’s father was no longer so skeptical and in fact used him as a sounding board to hash through problems
  17. Woodell’s parents loaned $8,000, their life’s savings, to Phil when the company had liquidity problems
  18. The Japanese shoe manufacturer, Onitsuka, attempted a hostile takeover in 1971. Phil started looking for alternative manufacturers and found one in Mexico called Canada. The first shoes out of this factory were soccer cleats disguised as football cleats and was worn by Notre Dame’s QB
  19. A shoe dog is somebody who is wholly devoted to the designing, buying, making, selling of shoes
  20. Knight describes Bowerman as the Edison for shoes and athletics. There had been no true innovation in outer souls since the Great Depression but Bowerman soon came upon a rubberized and waffle-like sole which changed the industry forever
  21. Blue Ribbon had always dealt honestly with their customers and salesman to the point that when they introduced the first Nike shoe, although the quality was suspect, the salesman believed Blue Ribbon when they said it was worth trying and that they’d improve over time. They got great sales right away and shows the power of dealing honestly with stakeholders
  22. No matter the sport, no matter the endeavor, all out effort toils at people’s hearts. Was referring to Prefontaine in the American championships. The energy for ovation, passion and so forth from the crowd in this race exemplified exactly what Knight stood for and wanted his company to become. “Sports allow others to take part in and feel like they have lived at least a little in the life of others. Sports at its best allow the spirit of the fan to merge with the spirit of the athlete and this is the oneness that all great mystics discuss.”
  23. It became apparent early on that to beat our competitors it was necessary to have the best athletes wearing the Nike swoosh. They got several Blazer basketball players early on as well as college and Olympic athletes. This soon evolved and they got world famous athletes such as Steve Prefontaine and Ilie Nastase and others. It is obvious how much pride Knight takes in his products to the point that he feels like he is living vicariously through his athletes and everyone of their victories is a little bit of a Nike victory as well
  24. Nike was highly levered and had supplier issues for a long time and they soon decided that the best way to solve this issue was to work with the retailers and get a six-month commitment. This would help improve lead time and funding for operations, lowering their liquidity issues
  25. Fear of failure would never be the reason the company went under. They had every expectation to fail but this would not hamper them from acting, deciding, telling the truth or doing whatever was necessary to make Nike as successful as possible
  26. Blue Ribbon really took off once the waffle trainer was made. Another step change came when they introduced new colors and people  began seeing it as not only an exercise shoe but as an everyday shoe as well. Soon after, Blue Ribbon re-incorporated under the Nike name
  27. Everyone on the management team was a reject, a disappointment in some way and they were all trying to solve for it
  28. Rob Strasser was one of the best negotiators because he didn’t care what he said or how he said it, he was totally honest. His negotiation skills were well used when dealing with the professors who came up with the shoe air injection process
  29. They ran into issues with some of their shoe designs but customers forgave them because nobody else was trying anything new and Nike always apologized and did the right thing. Nike soon became a statement more than just a brand
  30. For a long time Knight didn’t believe in advertising as he thought a great product would speak for itself
  31. Knight and the exec team were very reluctant to go public but it soon became inevitable in order to fix their cash flow and leverage issues
  32. When all you see is problems, you’re not seeing clearly
  33. Adidas had the edge for a long time because their size allowed them to offer better deals to their professional athletes. Today, however, the tables have completely turned
  34. Amazing to hear that more than a decade after Nike was started they were one of the most successful and fastest growing sports companies but were close to bankruptcy and had a burnt out and depressed management team
  35. Nike became the first American company to do business with China in the early 1980s and ended up sponsoring the Chinese Olympic team
  36. Phil spends a lot of time talking about his family, Penny and their two sons Matthew and Travis. Matthew died young in a scuba diving accident and Phil recounts his regret of not being a better and more present father
  37. The sweat shop scandal was unjust but Nike used it as impetus to improve their factories and processes. They removed 97% of carcinogens by adapting a water based binding agent and gave it away to their competitors, eventually becoming the gold standard for factories. They also established The Girl Effect to help young women get out of poverty

  What I got out of it

  1. Prime example of how a business should be thought about – it was Knight’s calling. He wanted to be a source of good, help third world countries modernize and make athletes even greater. One of the better business books and biographies I’ve read in some time

Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow by Chip Conley

Summary
  1. Chip Conley, founder of a boutique hotel chain called Joie de Vivre, describes his business principles and how they can help you reach your full potential and self-actualize
Key Takeaways
  1. Peak companies create the most loyal relationship with consumers, employees, shareholders and other key stakeholders
  2. By properly applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you and your company can reach its full potential
  3. Most companies are organized based on a certain premise of human nature but most companies aren’t even aware of this
  4. Companies have a habitual tendency to focus on the tangible and focus on financial results over relationships but more companies are starting to focus on the more intangible
  5. Karmic Capitalism – Good businesses create good karma because they properly deal with key stakeholders, act in good faith and think about second and third order consequences
  6. Must see all relationships as a type of account where you deposit and withdraw favors, goodwill, trust, emotions and more
  7. Both profits and highest personal development are best reached when not aiming directly for them. Rather, they come as a result of a collection of other activities which you can guide and inspire but not control
  8. Relationships truly do create the greatest wealth in life. Today, the only sustainable competitive advantage in the new age economy is loyalty from customers, employees, investors and all other stakeholders
  9. Employee pyramid – Companies often don’t understand what motivates their employees. Money is the base motivation but recognition and finding meaning in one’s work are the higher and more sustainable motivators
  10. Customer pyramid – customer satisfaction is at the base of the pyramid but by tapping into customer’s desires and unknown desires companies can engender great loyalty and trust
  11. Investor pyramid – A strong rate of return is the base of the pyramid but above that are aligned relationships and at the top collaborative ones. The relationship is the core of interactions rather than solely making money
  12. Conley survived a very difficult period after the bursting of the tech bubble and 9/11. To make it through this difficult time, he took a different approach and cut his salary to zero, got top management to agree to a two-year 10% decrease in salary and all salaried employees agreed to a two-year pay freeze. Unusual in business but makes a lot of sense if you think about it – in the hotel industry, bellmen and other salaried employees often have the most direct contact to customers but are almost always are the least motivated and secure in their jobs. They often aren’t as friendly to guests as they can be since they are worried about paying bills or being fired
  13. One of the largest differentiators between a good company and a great company is the motivation of the employees
  14. One of the important and impactful perks Conley gives his employees is a one month paid sabbatical for every three years of service. The employees love this because they get to travel and learn and come back refreshed, renewed, with extra motivation and are more loyal to the company than ever. They also offer a $200 per month subsidy for fitness classes such as yoga or a gym memberships or for any other hobbies that the employees want to do
  15. Customizable employee benefits and perks are increasingly important and can go along way in making employees feel valued and recognized
  16. Employee turnover and satisfaction is correlated more highly than nearly anything else to their relationship with their direct supervisor
  17. Great institutions set up rewards programs and incentives to help them achieve their goals and objectives. You get what you reward for
  18. Employee recognition should be given in person and feedback should be direct and immediate. Praise should be given in front of others, in person and should be immediately available so that there is instant gratification
  19. Creating non-monetary, fun incentives to reach a goal, such as the CEO shaving his head in front of everyone, is a great way to reward and motivate people. This is especially true during difficult times
  20. Moving from a one-size-fits-all culture to a one-size-fits-one
  21. Can best understand a customer’s desires from memory, editorial inferences based on memory and customer’s behavior and patterns and comparison with other customers (like Netflix and Amazon)
  22. Help customers meet their highest goals, give customers the ability to truly express themselves, make customers feel like they’re part of a bigger cause, offer customers something of real value they hadn’t even imagined
What I got out of it
  1. I really like Conley’s focus on some more intangible factors like goodwill, trust, employee motivation and meaning rather than solely profits
Visual image of Chip’s 3 pyramids and heart