A big part of Vistage group meetings is working through a CEO’s challenges and helping them get clarity about how they can move forward with their business and their life.
We often find that the biggest obstacle to forward progress is not outside of us, but inside of us.
There are 4 fatal fears.
We also call these “Core Self-Limiting Beliefs”. They are learnt. We are not born with these fears. There are only 2 fear that we are born with: fear of falling and fear of loud noises. Every other fear has been learnt. (This does not make them less real or easier to deal with).
These 4 fears will drive a grasping towards something that will never fill me. If I am looking for completion outside of myself, I will never scratch my itch. I need to learn to be able to sit with my fear and anxiety and accept it and accept that I am human and imperfect.
Fear of Failure – “I Need Success”
Fear of Rejection – “I Need Acceptance”
Fear of Emotional Discomfort – “I Need Emotional Comfort”
Fear of Being Wrong – “I Need to Be Right”
Each of the fears can be accepted and allowed to exist within me. They will never go away. They will always be there, but I can accept them and not allow them to direct my actions and my words.
I have a lasting interest in how people make good decisions, especially when many people are involved, and many people are affected by the decisions.
Currently reading the book “Crucial Conversations“. Towards the end of the book, there is a section on moving from a dialogue towards concrete actions. The authors say that there are 4 methods of decision making.
The 4 methods of decision making:
Command – One person decides. It might be the main authority figure, or that individual might delegate the power to decide to another specific individual.
Consult – A person given the power to make a decision first consults widely before making a decision. Note: you can listen to someone’s opinion without taking on an obligation to use that opinion in your decision.
Vote – The group votes.
Consensus – we negotiate a position that everyone can agree to. This can take a long time, and can lead to many compromises on the decision being agreed.
When choosing which way to decide there are four questions to ask:
Who cares? – Don’t involve people who don’t care
Who knows? – Don’t involve people who cannot add value.
Who must agree? – Who could block the implementation later on if not part of the decision process today?
How many people must be involved? – The fewer the better.
If everybody is responsible, nobody is responsible. Great teams assign clear individual responsibilities and hold people to their commitments.
This list was put together by my father, Terry Neill, in the 1980’s as a reminder for himself and those around him about the nature of good leadership, and the easy pitfalls of Non-Leadership. He led businesses through good times and through tough times and I can see the positive impact he has had on many who worked with him.
He was recently cleaning out some papers in his office and found this and shared it with me and my siblings. I find it simple and clear. Leadership is not easy, but it is necessary in all areas of our lives.
You don’t need Power to lead
You do not need to wait for power, nor permission nor position to decide to act like a leader. You decide to take responsibility and begin. You realise that each of your actions make a difference. You are connected to many people and your actions have impact. You will affect more than 1,000 people over the course of your life. If you have a positive affect on them, they in turn are connected to more than 1,000 people and your leadership will ripple out and touch over 1,000,000 lives. These 1,000,000 lives are connected out to 1,000 in their turn… and your small daily actions of leading and taking responsibility to make things better will ripple out to a billion people. Your actions matter.
A coach appealing to the best in each person; open door; problem solver and advice giver; cheerleader
Invisible – gives orders to staff – expects them to be carried out
Thinks of ways to help people be more productive, more focused on practicval goals and how to reward them
Thinks of personal awards, status, and how he or she looks to outsiders
Comfortable with people in their workplaces
Uncomfortable with people
Wants anonymity for self, publicity for practice of others
Often takes the blame
Looks for a scapegoat
Gives credit to others
Takes credit. Complains about
lack of good people
Gives honest, frequent feedback
Info flows one way – into his or
Knows when and how to deal with non performers or unfair clients’ comments or pressures
Ducks unpleasant tasks
Goes where the trouble is – to help
Interrupts people in crisis and
calls them to meetings at his or her desk
Has respect for all people
Thinks operators, clerical staff
etc are lazy, incompetent ingrates
Knows the business, and the kind of people who make it tick
They’ve never met him or her
Honest under pressure
Looks for controls to abolish
Loves new controls
Prefers eyeball to eyeball instead of memos
Prefers memos… long reports
own mistakes. Comforts others when they admit them
Never makes mistakes. Blames
others. Starts witch hunts to identify culprits
paperwork in planning
Vast paperwork in planning
Arrives early. Stays late
In late. Usually leaves on time
Strained with shop or office
Simplistic on organisation values
Good at demonstrating his/her
command of all the complexities
Hard to reach from below
Fair to the top. Exploits the
Uses committees. Makes accountabilities opaque
Tough – confronts nasty problems
Elusive – “the artful dodger”
Only when his/her goodies are at
Simplifies (makes it look ‘easy’)
Complicates (Makes it look difficult)
Tolerant of open disagreement
Intolerant of open disagreement
Knows people’s names
Doesn’t know people’s names
Has strong convictions
Vacillates when a decision is needed
Trusts words and numbers on
Delegates whole important jobs
Keeps all final decisions
Doesn’t – unless it ‘suits’
Thinks there are at least 2 other people who would be better at his/her job
Number one priority is to make
bloody sure no one remotely gets near to being a threat
Focused to the point of monomania on values and ethical principles
Unfocused except on self
Sees mistakes as learning opportunities
Sees mistakes as punishment opportunities
Does ‘dog work’ when necessary
Above ‘dog work’
Consistent and credible with the troops
Unpredictable. Says what he thinks they want to hear
About Terry Neill
Father of 4 wonderful children and Grandpa to 9 grandchildren.
In his 30 year career with Accenture/Andersen Consulting he was based in Dublin, Chicago and London. He was Chairperson of Andersen Worldwide and Accenture; and was worldwide managing partner of the Change Management Practice.
He returned to Ireland in 2005 and was a Director of Bank of Ireland Group, UBM (the world’s biggest events company) and CRH plc. He is chairperson of the National Council of Wexford Festival Opera.
He is a maths/physics graduate of Trinity College Dublin. He was for 13 years a Governor of London Business School, where he had also gained his MBA. He is a member of both the Board of Trinity Foundation and the Trinity Arts & Humanities Governance Board. He was chairperson of Co-operation Ireland (GB) and Camerata Ireland, Barry Douglas’s all island chamber orchestra.
This is an interview with John Zimmer, one of the leadership communications coaches who joins me regularly at IESE Business School for various programs. This week we are teaching the Executive MBA program.
John has a wonderful blog: Manner of Speaking. Four of the top posts at his blog are:
IESE Business School is a global business school offering MBA and Executive Education programs. Ranked #1 in world by FT, four years in a row (2014-2018). IESE has locations in Barcelona, Madrid, New York, Munich and Sao Paulo.
The Mission of IESE Business School
The mission of IESE is to develop and inspire business leaders who strive to make a deep, positive and lasting impact on the people, companies and society they serve.
“We want to educate leaders to whom we can entrust the future of business and society. For this reason, we develop the integrity, spirit of service, professional excellence and sense of responsibility of all those who take part in one of our programs.”
IESE Business School
IESE Business School activities are centered around three management axes:
general management approach
people-centered vision, with the ethics and social responsibility that entails. We believe that companies are, above all, communities of people who work better in atmospheres of respect and trust.
If you take better decisions, you improve your life. How to take better decisions:
Improve your data
Focus on what is Important (with Frameworks)
Get other brains involved
Improve your Data
Feelings are not a good guide in complex decisions. Only evidence and the perspectives of people who have gone through similar decisions is good data for your decisions. Everyone has an opinion, not all opinions have value.
What data are you putting in front of you as you begin the process of deciding?
Focus on what is Important
The famed Eisenhower prioritization matrix has two axis:
level of importance,
level of urgency.
This gives 4 states:
important & urgent
Important & not urgent
Not important & not urgent
Not important & urgent
Zone 4 is deadly.
Stay out of Zone 4. Zone 2 requires the greatest discipline, and has the greatest long term payback.
You have to know where you are going. If you don’t have goals, you’ll drift into shit you don’t enjoy doing. You’ll not build anything. You’re headed down a dead end.
What are your lifetime goals? Do you have them written down? Who do you want to be when you are older?
Imagination is the greatest human talent. It is vital to use your imagination to visualize your desired future. An architect doesn’t begin to build until the house is finished (on paper).
Get other brains involved
I was with the Arbinger Institute last week.
The biggest problem with human beings: Self Delusion.
We have such a huge need to see ourselves as being right, that we will ignore all evidence to the contrary.
Mastermind groups, peer advisory groups (EO, YPO, Vistage), mentors and coaches are vital to hold a mirror up to you and call out flawed thinking processes.
The person we find it easiest to lie to: ourselves.
Be careful. The question is not whether you are deceiving yourself, the question is where are you deceiving yourself.
Here’s a quick analysis (not scientific nor complete) of poor ways of listening. I am guilty of #1 and #2, I can enjoy #3… but I really hate #4. (#2 is my Achilles Heel).
The 4 Categories of Poor Listening
Knows it Already
Knows it Already
As you get half-way through your sentence, the Knows it Already already knows what they think you are going to say. They are now preparing their response rather than listening to the rest of your words.
Whatever you have done, they have done it… but twice as well, or twice as big or twice as impressive. You share that you went on safari last year and saw 2 elephants. They went on safari 2 years ago and saw 4 elephants, 10 lions and millions of other animals.
I give thanks to Florian Mueck for helping me recognise and reduce my tendency towards “One Upping”
Whatever you share, they will share something negative or comparative about other people who are not in the room.
“All my daughter really wants from me is a few minutes of my undivided attention… the richer people get the more money they spend trying to “
I am bad with money
It has taken me many years to admit this to myself. It was only by admitting it that I have been able to take the steps to put my family on a path to financial freedom.
I have a long standing belief that if I am a good person and do good work, the “money thing” will sort itself out. This has proven to be a poor approach to a well balanced life.
I still have had a lot to learn about my relationship to money. Many of the lessons shared in this video resonate with my own (poor) relationship to money. I am so optimistic that the future will be better that I don’t hold myself to the discipline of saving and investing my money. It has taken several business failures and a clear objective reflection on my poor money decisions to start to accumulate money over the last few years.
10 lessons about money from Dorothée Loorbach
Dorothée was “successful” in her job and made a lot of money… and then she spent it all… until she was broke, unable even to bake her little daughter a birthday cake. She had to face her own flawed beliefs about money and how they were damaging her ability to live a life that matters.
Waldemar Schmidt, past-CEO of ISS, a 250,000 employee global facilities services business.
Currently on the Boards of 28 companies, London Business School Advisory Board, Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Executive in Residence at IMD.
Author of 4 books including “The Job of the CEO“. Note: all book Royalties are donated to the Waldemar Schmidt Scholarship for (Brazilian) students at the international MBA Programme at Copenhagen Business School.
Highlights from the Interview
1:49 What is the Job of the CEO?
3:18 Know Products, Numbers, Customers
4:30 Management and Leadership
5:35 Taking Good Decisions
12:40 The Calendar of the CEO
15:07 What do you do after being a CEO?
16:45 Why did Waldemar step back from the CEO role?
18:10 Advice to a 55 year old ex-CEO
19:55 Networking as a CEO
21:18 How to Build Relationships with top Head Hunters
23:20 130 dilemmas that CEOs will face in life and business
23:50 The worst enemy of great leadership: Arrogance
A leader should be interested in developing 2 competencies in the people within their organisation:
Good Decision Making (to take good choices about how to use the resources of the organisation to achieve strategic plans)
Influencing Skills (because if they cannot influence their peers, people will have to involve you every time…)
If your team doesn’t have #1 they are taking poor decisions. If your team doesn’t have #2 they cannot execute without your support (you will be sucked in to every initiative).
In order to take Good Decisions, you need to ask great questions.
Most people ask few questions and rapidly jump to a solution. Great decision makers ask many questions and get many perspectives before they commit to a decision. Here’s a set of great questions…
This set of questions was inspired by the Global Digital Citizen Foundation and by Vistage Issue Processing where we help leaders develop the ability to ask great questions to help leaders think more deeply and see new perspectives, clarify objectives and take disciplined effective action.
The Ultimate Guide to Great Questions for Critical Thinking
Divided into who, what, where, when, why, how…
…benefits from this?
…is this harmful to?
…makes decisions about this?
…is most directly affected?
…have you also heard discuss this?
…would be the best person to consult?
…else has overcome a similar challenge?
…will be the key people in this?
…deserves recognition for this?
…is the impact on you?
…is the impact on those close to you?
…are the strengths/weaknesses?
…is another perspective?
…is another alternative?
…would be a counter-argument?
…is the best/worst case scenario?
…is the most/least important?
…can we do to make a positive change?
…is getting in the way of taking action?
…else would we see this problem showing up in your life?
…else have you overcome this type of challenge?
…are there similar situations?
…is there the most need for this?
…would this be the greatest problem?
…can we get more information?
…do we go for help with this?
…will this idea take us?
…are the areas for improvement?
…is this acceptable/unacceptable?
…would this benefit you?
…would this cause a problem?
…is the best time to take action?
…will we know we’ve succeeded?
…has this played a part in your past?
…can we expect this to change?
…should we ask for help with this?
…is this a problem/challenge?
…is it relevant to your goals?
…is this the best/worst scenario?
…are people influenced by this?
…should people know about this?
…has it been this way for so long?
…is there a need for this today?
…is this similar to _____?
…does this disrupt things?
…do we know the truth about this?
…does this benefit you/us/others?
…does this harm you/us/others?
…do we see this playing out in the future?
…can we help you?
[Edit: this poem was shared by my Dad upon receiving this post]
I Keep Six Honest Serving Men Rudyard Kipling I KEEP six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When And How and Where and Who. I send them over land and sea, I send them east and west; But after they have worked for me, I give them all a rest.
I let them rest from nine till five, For I am busy then, As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea, For they are hungry men. But different folk have different views; I know a person small— She keeps ten million serving-men, Who get no rest at all!
She sends’em abroad on her own affairs, From the second she opens her eyes— One million Hows, two million Wheres, And seven million Whys!
Jim Collins delivered the Keynote at this year’s Vistage ChairWorld meeting to over 800 participants.
About Jim Collins
Jim Collins is a student and teacher of what makes great companies tick, and a Socratic advisor to leaders in the business and social sectors. He has authored 6 books that have sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. His books include:
Good to Great which examines why some companies make the leap to superior results,
Built to Last, which explores how some leaders build companies that remain visionary for generations;
Great by Choice, which is about thriving in chaos—why some do, and others don’t.
Conor’s Video Summary of Jim Collins 12 Questions
Jim Collins shared 12 questions that come out of his work over the last 25 years.
These are my notes and reflections from his Keynote address.
The 4 part video series below gives a short overview of each of the 12 questions.
#1 strive for excellence
The first step is a conscious decision on the part of leadership to decide for excellence, to decide to build an enduring great company. Often leaders are enduring great individuals, but that doesn’t make for an enduring great company. Leaders must put excellence in the company over “success” in their own individual life. (This doesn’t mean that they give up a good life, but that they are willing to pay the price of leading an Enduring Great Company.)
Differences between level 5 and level 4 leader?
Humility. This is key to level 5. Deep genuine personal humility combined with a brutal will, a fierce resolve directed at something that is not about them
Leadership: People follow when they have the choice to not follow… otherwise it is just power.
Charisma – not necessary for Level 5 leadership (“never confuse personality with leadership”)
The author of this blog with Jim Collins, best selling author of Good to Great and Built to Last, at Vistage ChairWorld, January 2019
#2 First who, then what.
Right people, then trust them to figure out where the bus is going. Great vision without great people is irrelevant. Single most important talent: select great people for the key seats. Nothing is more important that key seats filled with great people.
#3 confront the brutal facts
What brutal facts must we confront? No opinions.
#4 Hedgehog concept
Fox knows many things, hedgehog knows 1 Fox loves complexity, hedgehog loves simple Intersection of Passion, best in world, drives economic engine Big is not equal to great (think restaurants- if it were to disappear it would leave an unfillable hole)
#5 20 mile march
Driving the flywheel “Which push made the difference?” None… Cumulative effort consistently over long time Flywheel- causal links between, inevitability “I admire Nike” “what do Nike do? Products so great that pros wear them” great products + social proof Execution 1-10… flywheel accelerator at quality of execution of lowest quality of execution Best investment strategy “a highly undiversified investment where you are right” “We can make it up on a good day” fallacy. Be super careful of overextension leading to missing your March Cycle across USA… booked the hotels ahead of time: have to make it, and prepare for tomorrow and the next day “Part of the task of helping others is to be really hard on them… with love”
#6 bullets, then cannonballs
Innovation small, then massive support of small wins. Scale the right innovation. Scaling innovation is more important than innovation. Fail: Not enough bullets Bullets but no guts to fire cannonball Untargeted cannonballs
#7 don’t die
The first step of moving from good to great to built to last is “don’t die” I am terrified by good times. Complacency! Be properly terrified all the time. Fortune 500 85% carnage rate.
Productive paranoia:Prepare for the storms (cash to assets ratio 3-10 times greater)
The only mistakes you can learn from are the ones you survive
#8 clock building or time telling?
Idea-> biz-> great company = enduring success
“The genius with a thousand helpers model is not building a great company”
Shift from time telling (individual level) to clock building (at a company level). Every leader can grow to be the leader of a bigger, greater company. Don’t answer questions with answers… help people find their own answers, their own resourcefulness.
Steve Jobs 2.0 – had a yoda who helped him create a culture of geniuses. What’s your leadership 2.0?
#9 preserve the core, stimulate progress
Yin & yang Core set of unchanging values and purpose, constant progress towards your north star
#10 What’s our BHAG?
Time frame 10-25 years… anything less is just base camp
“The best people want to do the hard things”
A Good BHAG frightens mediocrity away. Test of BHAG – does it repel some people?
#11 return on Luck
You didn’t cause
Get good at making the most of when luck happens. How do you handle the unexpected? Use both good luck & bad luck (crisis allows change) to improve.
#12 Stop Doing list
Only doing is not discipline. True discipline is about what not to do first. What should you not be doing?
Peter Drucker – age 65 had written only 1/3 of his books. Age 86 wrote 10 more books.
“You will survive, you will probably succeed… The question Mr Collins is how to be useful”