Leadership Partners Blog

Jack Welch Wrote

Dear Tory:

Thanks for sending along “The Brutus Dilemma.”  I get lots of books, but I can’t think of one in several years that I agree with as much as yours.

Congratulations on putting some real depth into the concepts of candor, courage, and trust.

With admiration,







Respect and Courage: Executive Development

Why are Respect and Courage the cornerstone of exceptional business practice?  You might assume that other values are more suited for successful business.  Things like drive, risk, motivation, imagination, honesty, planning, training, implementation, direction, expertise.  Here comes that word… BUT.  The list of attributes is desirable, even necessary, BUT they are not the core of exceptional business.  Exceptional leaders and organizations realize there must be a balance between Respect and Courage to maneuver all barriers to success and provide an extraordinary impact.

Respect refers to both a respect for the organization and the individual.  Balancing a respect for these two pieces will lean further one way than the other depending on the situation, but a balance is required.

Courage refers to both the courage to step out on the limb searching for those exceptional results and the courage to confront people when we might not want to… but with respect.  Often times we are quiet when we should speak, silence is interpreted as agreement or consent, depending on the situation.

Using the guidelines we lay out in Resolving the Brutus Dilemma individuals can raise their interactions with each other and impact the overall organization in an exceptional way… profitability, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, growth.

It leaves the questions, are you using courage and respect in your organization in the most effective way?  With executive development you can raise the bar, find the balance, be the role model others need to find the courage and respect within themselves.

Check out our white paper:  It Always Gets Back to Leadership

In Praise of the Introvert!

In Praise of the Introvert!  by Lucean Headen, U.K.

So often the social skills of the extrovert are considered the ‘ideal’ in western society that the value of the introverted contribution can get over-looked and introverted candidates can be under-estimated in the traditional interview. In many different fields studies have shown introverted traits to be advantageous, not the least that of student with the ability to tolerate periods of independent study and not be distracted by the need to socialize. In business and commerce we meet many executives who are quite reserved but who have developed the social skills to operate effectively. In some specialist medical occupations such as anesthetist successful performance has been associated with individuals who are detached, assertive, serious, self-critical and self-sufficient. These are also the traits that are unlikely to earn individuals high ratings in many interviews. The enthusiasm and spontaneity of the extrovert can be balanced by the thoughtful analysis of the introvert which ensures the rigor of a team’s thinking and prevents the premature launch of initiatives.

We should all sing with our own voice and recognize that while as individuals we cannot be perfect as a team we can be.

The Business of Dirty Dancing: Executive Leadership

What is the connection here?  Dirty Dancing is a movie about coming of age in the 1950′s and business is…. well business.  Swayze’s character in the movie suffers from the same problem that many employees face, an inability or unwillingness to tell the people who need to hear “it” what they need to hear.  Swayze couldn’t tell the boss that his idea for the final dance was less than good and we can’t tell our boss that her idea is less than good.  But why?  Fear.  Fear of what?  “I don’t want to lose my job.”  This is part of the Brutus Dilemma.

Each of us has been faced with a situation where the boss would benefit from something we could say, but we resist.  Have we seen the boss lash out at a co-worker or are we assuming this is what would happen?  Either way leads to keeping our mouth shut.  That snot nosed kid boss’ son in Dirty Dancing might have fired Swayze, but your boss?  Probably not.  If you have information that you resist sharing you are accepting the direction picked by the boss, you are quietly agreeing.

Our new book Resolving the Brutus Dilemma focuses on what leaders needs to understand in order to change.  The basis are having the courage to tell others what they need to hear and doing so with respect.  This also means having the courage to strive for excellence without sacrificing people en route.  Principles for executive leadership are really the same as the principles for greatness in Socrates’ time.  Just because an idea isn’t brand new doesn’t mean it isn’t valid.  Gravity is old, but the principles are still valid.  (Special thanks to a client for pointing that one out.)

Have questions?  Check our our services page or CALL US!  Talking with a person always provides more targeted answers.

Defining Company Culture: Unlock the Potential of Your Employees

Defining company culture is a notion that seems to intimidate some folks.  So how do you define company defining company cultureculture?  Simply put, culture is “the way we do things around here.”  Great, we defined it, now what?

Identify your workplace.  Is it comfortable, a place where you are encouraged to have an idea and opinions?  Is it tense, what the boss says is the only thing that matters?  Maybe it is somewhere in the middle.

Now, determine what you think would be an ideal, a place you would be most comfortable.  Imagine a workplace where regardless of your title, you felt no just free to but expected to speak up at meetings or in the halls.  A workplace where you are encouraged to make suggestions, point out barriers and participate in decisions.

This is what we believe holds the power to unlock an organization’s potential, the relationships between people.  You simply unlock the potential of your employees.

Need help with that?  Read our FREE white paper.

Team Building and Development: What is it?

When an individual is promoted they are expected to step into a team that has a history.  Whatever the history, good, bad or ugly, it is unavoidable.  If we have completed executive profiling and assessment on a number of candidates for the new team leader and have narrowed the choices, we will have insight into what to expect.  Maybe the team doesn’t agree with this promotion, a member feels it should have been them, a team member feels the new boss is an intruder, the team believes they are no given the respect they deserve.  All of this can lead to 3rd Party Critique.  Completing the team building and development exercises allows all members to have a say, voice their opinions, and, often, change their mind.  But, what is team building and development?

The term “team building” can mean any number of things.  If you search team building in on line engines the results are any number of types of team development, not the least of which is bonding exercises.  What we offer is at the opposite end of the spectrum, this is not another feel good initiative.  We offer two cornerstones; Courage and Respect.  These two principles are imperative for effective team work.  Without the courage to challenge, question, investigate, and develop teams are doomed to mediocrity.  Conversely, without respect for people, this courage becomes a single focus on financial benchmarks of success that alienate the people completing the work and often sabotage the process.  Our model for effective team building requires an equal balance of courage and respect.  The courage to reach for the best the team has to offer is countered by a respect for those people.  Respect allows individuals to develop the skills necessary to positively impact the organization, both financially and in employee satisfaction.

In team building and development, we ask the client to bring together the entire team.  The team completes a number of intellectual exercises that allows team members to consider the tools they believe to be most important in their organization.  Next, the team elaborates on the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How of these tools and develops a plan for continued growth.  The teams self monitor, self educate and they answer to each other.  This builds not only commitment to the decisions but also respect for one another.  As we mentioned above, respect and courage are a cornerstone of any relationship… be it work, education, personal or casual.  The levels of courage and respect define the productivity of the relationship.

Read our case study:

Leadership Impact Spotlight: Mike Archer

We talk about leadership and leadership styles and the impact of leadership.  What happens when everything goes well?  I will present you with Leadership Impact Spotlights every so often.  This is the first of those, straight from Bloomberg Businessweek:

Michael J. Archer, Mike has been President of Applebee’s

International Inc. and Applebee’s Services, Inc. which have been subsidiaries of DineEquity Inc. since May 27, 2008. Mr. Archer is primarily responsible for executing the vision and future brand evolution for the organization, driving excellence within all functional disciplines, leading an effective and aligned leadership team, forging strong franchise relationships and developing tactical and strategic plans to improve results in all areas of the business at Applebee’s International. In addition, Mr. Archer is responsible for the revitalization of the brand that includes the redesigning of restaurant interiors and exteriors, changing the music format, uniforms, menu layout and selections and a new training program that will strengthen and enhance the traditional high energy service style. Mr. Archer is based out of Applebee’s Restaurant Support Center in Lenexa, Kansas. Mr. Archer served as President and Chief Operating Officer of T.G.I. Friday’s U.S.A., (T.G.I. Friday’s Inc.) a subsidiary of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide Inc., where he was Accountable for T.G.I. Friday’s USA brand strategy including operations, marketing, research and development, strategic sourcing, franchise operations, public relations and human resources. During his tenure, Mr. Archer and his team lead the successful turnaround of the T.G.I. Friday’s brand, including reversing a five-year decline of comparable store sales and guest counts, improving restaurant operating profit, and improving the guest experience measure to an all-time high.

Previously, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill, where he repositioned the concept, developed new brand positioning, led new restaurant expansion, and established new service and operational standards, among other accomplishments. Prior to that, he served as chief operating officer of Sullivan’s and Del Frisco’s where he was responsible for developing the Sullivan’s Steakhouse concept for Lone Star Steakhouse and Saloon. He also served at Morton’s Restaurant Group, Inc. as president and chief operating officer of Morton’s of Chicago, Inc. where he led the growth of this premiere steakhouse concept. Throughout his thirteen-year career with Morton’s, he also served the position of Chief Financial Officer during which time he successfully negotiated two leveraged buyouts. Mr. Archer is known as one of the most effective operators and executives in the restaurant industry, reflected in the numerous awards and recognitions he has received throughout his twenty-five year restaurant career. Honors include being recognized as one of Restaurant Hospitality’s “Rising Stars”; being named as one of the “Power 50 The Next Generation” by Nation’s Restaurant News; and being awarded the “High Impact Restaurant Leadership Awards Upscale Dining” by Restaurant Business, among other accomplishments.

Dedicated to ensuring the development of others in the industry, he has been active with the MultiCultural Foodservice and Hospitality Alliance and the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) where he serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. His “High Impact Restaurant Leadership Awards ~ Upscale Dining”; he was a finalist at the American Business Awards in the “Best Business Turnaround” and “Best Executive” categories; T.G.I.Friday’s was chosen as one of the “Best Places to Work” by the Dallas Business Journal for two consecutive years; he was honored with the DiversityFIRST award at the Texas Diversity and Leadership Conference and Texas Monthly named T.G.I.Friday’s as one of the “Best Places to Work” in Texas. his accomplishments have also been recognized internally as he was honored as a finalist with the Carlson Fellow for Stewardship in 2007, the highest form of recognition with the Carlson enterprise. In addition, the Friday’s concept team, which he leads, received a Golden Rose in 2005 for team effectiveness. Mr. Archer holds a BBA in Accounting from St. Norbert College in DePere, Wisconsin.

Check out our case study on Leadership:  Chris Calos

Organization Culture Assessment and Solutions

Many leaders believe that the point of an Organization Culture Assessment is to find out how good they are.  We approach OCA as a way to find out where people want to be (their goal for the culture), and where they are (their assessment of the current culture).  We ask people first to identify where they want to be or would want their leaders to be and then where they are currently on 8 components that have been proven by years of research to be critical to organization and leadership success.

First, each participant identifies an ideal, what they strive for.  After that has been established, based on 8 important components, participants set out in groups to determine the best way to make this happen in their organization.  At completion, teams rejoin and discuss each plan, adding individual insights and thoughts to develop one overall plan that each person has contributed to, that each person will commit to.  These participants have completed both the analysis of the organization culture and developed actions for improvement, within a self convincing design.  In a self convincing design, the participants complete the culture assessment and action plan, rather than us, and are more committed and have a more clear understanding of the steps that need to be taken to move closer to excellence.

The above teamwork is one of the most dynamic and vital parts of our workshops, not only as it regards organizations and teams, but also as it regards people.  This process creates the opportunity to talk candidly about things that need to be improved.  This is made much easier by focusing first on the ideal or the soundest organization culture, where people want to be, and then talking about where they currently are.  This approach creates a background for candid discussions regarding critical issues among the people who can are responsible for making things happen.

If you need Organization Culture Solutions, call us.  This is what we do.  And, check out our white papers available under the resources tab.

IBM’s Gertsner on Leadership

As I have said before, we are writing a book.  In the process, I am doing an enormous amount of research.  Most people would not choose to spend hours pouring over websites, books, periodicals, etc… I love that stuff.  In searching for companies and individuals in leadership who are “doing it right” we stumbled upon some great information.  Louis Gertsner from IBM is one of those who did it right.  He has been quoted as saying, “Culture is everything.”  And we agree.

Check out this video interview with him then check out our case study.