This week we’re talking about the curse of being in a great leadership team.
And the curse is that if you leave and you go back to a normal team it can be quite confronting to realise all the small things that added up to make the team great, simply aren’t at the new team.
We discuss what you can do if you find yourself in this position, how you can be a positive catalyst, using your past experiences to help a not so great team most towards greatness.
The curse of being in a great leadership team
Episode 77 – The Growth Whisperers
The Growth Whisperers is a weekly podcast hosted by Brad Giles and Kevin Lawrence two advisors to mid-market businesses, one Australian, one Canadian, who each work with CEOs and Leadership Teams across the world with a mission to build enduring, great companies. Each weekly episode covers interesting situations and questions from the world of strategic planning, leadership development, talent and hiring in high growth entrepreneurial companies where real results matter.
The curse of being in a great leadership team
Kevin Lawrence 00:13
Welcome to the growth whispers podcast where everything we talk about is about building enduring great companies, companies that are good, getting better and better and better. I’m Kevin lauritsen. I’m joined as always, with my co host, Brad Giles. how’s it going today?
Brad Giles 00:28
cracking, it is absolutely cracking. I’m doing really, really good today. I had a good ride this morning out in the sunshine, like a 40 or 50 kilometer push bike ride. Very good. Yeah. Once you get to exercise, it’s quite nice. I’m good. And how are you? Good.
Kevin Lawrence 00:45
I’m doing great. Yeah, I’m just up in the interior of our province where it was beautiful and sunny, and get out on the lake. And just that was wonderful had to come back down to the mainland today. But there’s good things in the mainland too. But it was one of those. It’s just amazing day and things are good and ready for the new season, kicking things off for the year and or for the this version of the year. So it’s doing great. So word of the day, Brad, what do you What’s your what do you got for us today?
Brad Giles 01:14
confidence, confidence. So I’m talking to a sales manager yesterday. And this sales manager, you know, we could do a whole episode on this. But this sales manager likes to sit stretch targets, these being huge numbers that those people love people really
Kevin Lawrence 01:34
excited a moment,
Brad Giles 01:36
and, we’re gonna get so pumped and never ever, ever, ever achieves it. And so I was sitting down with the CEO, and the sales manager, and the sales manager was defending why he needs to have these big huge set, stretch targets. And I said, it’s about confidence. I said, you can say that about your team. But sure you don’t hit it once or twice. But there’s shareholders there’s a board. And there’s a whole team there. And people it’s like the boy who cried wolf, people don’t believe what you’re saying. And therefore there’s no point in the whole process after a while. No.
Kevin Lawrence 02:17
And worse than the people around you don’t believe it. But neither do your team starts to lose confidence in themselves because they feel like a constant failure. I used to be a stretch target guy, I grew out of it. I got smarter. It’s a juvenile ignorant thing to do. Part of my brittleness it’s a bad idea.
Brad Giles 02:35
No, I don’t, I don’t see any
Kevin Lawrence 02:39
stretch, but not like the we’re gonna conquer the mountain stretch. And that’s why the word is
Brad Giles 02:45
coming. You got to have confident exactly your confidence from continual
Kevin Lawrence 02:49
achievement. Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, somebody I know that was on their way to being an Olympic athlete. In the end, they didn’t get all the way. But they were talking to what we talked about this the previous episodes, the rule of 50 is that when you learn a maneuver, they had to do it 50 times in a row perfectly. Then in their mind, they had it but if they could not do this, the exact maneuver 50 times in the row, then they had to go back and practice more they hadn’t mastered the skill. But imagine consistently doing the same thing if you don’t use you massive confidence. And I love that and stretch targets based often destroy it most of the time.
Brad Giles 03:30
Like I said, we could do a whole episode on that. But what I’m really interested in is, we should do an episode,
Kevin Lawrence 03:36
what’s your worst minds trust?
Brad Giles 03:39
Kevin Lawrence 03:40
same as it is it’s difference in ads, it’s about ongoing working with people in work or life. And that we begin whether it’s a brand or a person to begin to trust. And when you have trust, you don’t have to think much. You can turn off all your extra sensors, and just go about your day and do your thing. And I know interesting I was working on a project was selling with a high def, I’ve lots of people I work with a high degree of trust that it’s easy, and it’s fast. And someone else I worked on where there was a high degree of trust and then they started to break it. And then they broke it and then they broke it now hired someone to document every damn thing going on practically documenting every move, every conversation, every everything and I hate it. And I just you know and I will work with that person because just you know, when you don’t have trust everything grinds to a halt everything, it becomes harder and heavier and you’re all your sensors are on all of the time. It’s just not fun. And again, you know, people that trust each other certain types of people who work well together. And ideally in the world that we work and live. We find people we can naturally trust because they have a similar operating system and just it’s easier. So high degree of trust adds to a high degree of confidence and that’s winning right trust and confidence that’s a hell of a winning team or winning relationships. It is love it.
Brad Giles 04:57
So I you know, I know you’re the one mashes them together. But I think that, you know, trust and confidence and the subject that we’ve got today, the curse of being in a great leadership today,
Kevin Lawrence 05:08
how it is out. We couldn’t do it. If we planned it, it wouldn’t be that good. Brad, that is outstanding. And that’s Yes. Nicely done.
Brad Giles 05:19
That’s what we’re talking about today. That is a part of the curse. So what are we talking about today, Kevin?
Kevin Lawrence 05:26
Well, I think as you set it up, the curse is the curse of being on a great leadership team. And once you’ve had great, you don’t want to do good. And we bid on an outstanding team. And I hope for those of you listening that you have, but being a part of a magical, or a great team, there’s nothing like it. And when you do and things happen, and you win, and you can almost read each other’s minds, and it’s just outstanding. I had a chance to, you know, even as a coach be a part of a lot of spectacular teams. Yeah. And what’s interesting, is that when I get into a situation with just an okay team, and that they seem to be okay, just being okay. I can’t do it. Yeah, yeah. It’s like, if you don’t want to be an excellent team, with an excellent business, full of excellent people. Yeah, I’m, I’m out. I actually I had a company work with, and I gotta give the CEO a call. he’s a really good guy. But he had a very mediocre company with a mediocre team. And it was just not fun. Like, it was a for me, it was a drain working with them. Yeah. And I said to him, oh, you’re wasting your money with me. I like you. And I’m happy to support you. And I know, you’re getting some value. I don’t think you’re getting enough value for what you’re paying. Because he was okay with mediocrity. And so it wasn’t good. He wasn’t gonna make the decisions to take the team from mediocre to good. Nevermind. Great. And so yeah, it’s. So once you get used to and the thing is, a lot of these people don’t know what great looks like and feels like they’ve never been there.
Brad Giles 07:11
And we have. And we have, and we’ve seen it amongst. We’ve seen it many, many times. Now. I mean, I don’t want to be prescriptive, but which probably means I do want to be prescriptive.
Kevin Lawrence 07:24
Right. Thank you do Brad, I think he got a prescription already filled it out. You’re gonna tell us?
Brad Giles 07:27
Well, maybe it in my experience, it takes about a year to go from mediocre to good. And then another one to three years to go from good to great. Now that’s a broad.
Kevin Lawrence 07:46
Yeah, I’m running through it my mind I, my finding is it generally 18 months on average, to get to like, you know, typical to good.
Brad Giles 07:57
Yep. Is that’s what I’m saying the way that’s fine. Yep. Yep. Yep.
Kevin Lawrence 08:01
Totally Good. Very good. And there’s a lot of things have to be dialed in. But then it’s 123
Brad Giles 08:06
years after that. Where you going from a good to a great. And, you know, the other thing about being in a great leadership team is that there’s momentum, growth. Yeah, growth is good. But momentum is awesome. momentum, you get a sense that the flywheel is really spinning up, like and that’s a it’s a visceral feeling that you get in those teams that, yeah, is just amazing. But you can’t engage a leadership team coach or consultant and expect that happen in six months. But here’s the thing, the people who go on that journey, sometimes don’t get to appreciate the quantity of difference that is there. Between when they were typical at the beginning, yes. And three, four or five, whatever years later, they don’t, they don’t ever stop and say sometimes they don’t stop and say, Well, there are 250 things that are different from before. They don’t know, they don’t know, they’re like,
Kevin Lawrence 09:15
they’re like the story of the frog in a pot of water. Right. It’s like, you know, if you want to make frog soup, you put a live frog in a pot of water and you just turn up the temperature over a period of time tiny bit after tiny bed after tiny bit and the frog won’t jump out. And if you drop that frog into a pot of boiling water, it’s going to instantly drop jump out if it can. But as you gradually turn up the temperature, it doesn’t realize please don’t go and do this. This is a metaphor everyone. This is not a science experiment that we’re recommending do not hurt any animals, please. But we’re amphibians, but it’s just gradually turning up the temperature and you don’t realize how much you’ve changed and grown I have. I’ve one firm I’ve worked with for close to 20 years. And they became great, like, well, more than a decade ago, and we just keep dialing it and dialing it. And I remind them, every meeting actually, one of my team members just ran their meeting. Last week went really well. I heard which is awesome to hear. But I keep reminding them how damn good they are. Because they don’t know. I see inside all these other companies. They like, from clarity of strategy, strong execution, financial reporting, succession planning culture. I mean, look at the running 91% a player’s for gosh sakes, like you know, like, and, and, and industry leading profitability at almost every window, you look through their old standing, and they don’t even think they don’t even know what I got to remind them because they don’t know.
Brad Giles 10:51
Well, it’s the new normal. It’s the new normal for them. And yes, and here’s the thing that I’ve noticed at least a few occasions, I’ve seen executives leave the leadership team to go and work at another business, and then had a conversation with them. And they’re just like, I can’t, I can’t believe that what is happening at this business. And I’m like, No, what you’ve done is you’ve stepped back into the real world. And you’re realizing that this is how most businesses run.
Kevin Lawrence 11:28
Now, all you got to do is go into your favorite restaurant that you love for those of you that are able to go to restaurants right now, your favorite restaurant that you love, and you know, and it’s great. Just go visit a few other ones in the same neighborhood as that one. And you’ll see how different that they are. There are some really great ones. But you you don’t realize how great your favorite restaurant is, at some point. They tell you go to one. It’s not great. Yeah, no, it’s interesting. I was in a city called Klein, I spent a lot of time there. And there’s this amazing restaurant there called the Bohemian cafe. Everyone knows to go to the bow or the Bohemian for breakfast. It’s just it’s a really funky breakfast place. And there’s always a massive lineup on the weekends. And then next door is a nice little cafe. Right? I made the mistake once of going to the nice little cafe next door, you know if the Bohemian is like a nine out of 10? Yeah, in the cafe next door with no line. There was about a two and a half. And it’s just breakfast. But still, you know, it’s just you don’t realize how great is sometimes until you go and experience it somewhere else. So we know that. And you know that way? No, we have the this great gift of being on great teams. And it drives me crazy when I go into companies that aren’t like that. And I see some of the things that you know, make me want to pull my hair out. And they’ll have a lot hair basement and pull my hair out.
Brad Giles 12:56
Kevin Lawrence 12:57
what do you do, we got some ideas of what we when you’re in that situation, if you’ve been on a great team, and you got the curse, and you know what great looks like from all these angles. And it’s how I feel like in my world all the time. How do you take that and channel and do something positive with it? Brad, you got an answer for
Brad Giles 13:14
us? No. Well, I think the curse? Let’s answer the question. The Curse of being in a great leadership team is that if you happen to leave, you may not recognize what you’ve lost? Yes. Right. You, you may think to yourself, Well, I it’s time to make a move or whatever is on your you know, your agenda. And you go and then suddenly, the years that it has taken to build, you know, the greatness that we’ve spoken about before. It’s not there. And the point is, it can be incredibly frustrating because you suddenly look around and it’s like you are I going back to high school and saying, Wow, like all of these people are operating at this level. It’s not the level that we’re accustomed to them, why are they doing things that way in that way? And why isn’t everyone aligned? And why don’t the meetings work. But this is all the things that are happening in the background to get this level of momentum in a business. And so the curse is that you don’t you may not recognize it. And then you go to another place and you’ve let go of that first one.
Kevin Lawrence 14:34
So let’s say you’re at the second one, what are some things that you can do? Well, one, you know, you can look for things that are there and sort of some greatness under the surface to try and help it now whether it’s with the team, that you’re a part of your peers, or the team that you lead. It’s looking for some elements of greatness that are already there and trying to really bring those things to life. And it’s the things that matter and the things you know, you can probably have an impact on because sometimes again, people need, you know, role models or people to show them the way. And one thing that another client of ours does is they take people on field trips, no pre COVID when you were allowed to do that, but they take people to go experience great for themselves. So for example, one of the companies that we worked with Ritz Carlton hotels is known for some of the best service in the world. So we held our meeting at a Ritz Carlton with the with the request, that the general manager will come talk to us about how he runs the hotel, and why the Ritz Carlton is successful as the Ritz Carlton when they do. So we had everyone experience the Ritz Carlton, and the service and hear from the management there, as an example, right. And that’s why people bring in, you know, sports coaches and other things like that to talk. So somehow expose them. So notice the elements that you can build on and expose them to some greatness in some way that can help them get to see some of the elements of, you know, what a great culture or, or specifically a great team looks like.
Brad Giles 16:08
And you can consider what are the gaps in the organization that are the most obvious that are within your wheelhouse, you know, a simple one could be things like the meeting rhythm, and we’ve spoken Yes, we’ve got at least a few episodes on that already. How to how to conduct a great daily or weekly. So the meeting rhythm or some of the priority setting that we do through Korean genders. So if there is a, if you’re in an executive, in an executive team, there’s probably a level of influence where you can, you can or you’re able to begin these kind of initiatives, knowing if that’s, if that’s, you know, what you’re looking to do?
Kevin Lawrence 16:51
Yeah, one of the things even that we often do when we have to go and help great create great teams, which is a big part of what we do is even to look at how they conduct themselves in meetings. I heard something today about, you know, Alan Mulally when he was running forward, spectacular CEO. And one of the things that he was really big on is that there was no jokes allowed, that would somehow diminish another person. I like that. I do too. Now, on some of the companies I work with, we do a lot of it. Like there’s a lot of joking around. And in the environment, it’s you know, it’s kind of like a brotherhood and sisterhood. And it’s it, it generally seems very healthy. But it could go wrong really easily. And it could be hurting some people’s feelings and things like that. So yeah, that was one of the things and that may or may not be important to your group, but it’s looking at the behaviors of the team, because the behaviors of the team are really critical. And we have a exercise that we facilitate with teams on setting the behaviors that we’re all going to commit to, and the team makes it up. It’s not a CEO thing. It’s our leader thing is the team thing. But it’s the behaviors that we hold ourselves to. And it really makes a difference, because for example, one of the teams, we have an executive that was on an amazing team, interestingly, and he’s gone to another company, and it wasn’t an amazing team. And so we’ve gone through and we’ve we the first they hired us to go and help develop some of the executives to reset the vision, reset the strategy and a bunch of the disciplines to be successful, particularly a whole bunch of disciplines around people and stuff as well. And the first thing we started with is the behaviors. So hey, if we’re going to gel this team, and we’re going to spend, you know, a number of days debating important topics, we need to know the behaviors and what’s okay and what’s not. Yeah, we ground the meeting in that every single time.
Brad Giles 18:46
And another thing is to look for level five leadership. So, Jim Collins speaks about level five leadership as being the hallmark of great companies, you’ve got to have a leader who wants to build a bigger business that is bigger than themselves, someone who’s a paradoxical mix of both humility, and will, the will to succeed it at most costs, in order to build a business that is greater than themselves. So looking for those traits in a leader is quite important. I certainly do it with the teams that I work with I’m trying to identify are they capable of? Are they close to level five leadership in any sense?
Kevin Lawrence 19:35
A perfect. Another one is, is to actually look for festering or lingering debates or decision that needs decisions that need to be cleaned up. Often there will be fractures or misalignment on the team on certain things. You know, it could be that you know, it’s something to do with the policy about how we handle sick days or bonuses. Or a project that team is working on, they can agree on and get across the finish line there. There’s often stuck or built up stuff in teams that often need to be get debated, agreed to and moved on. So you can kind of dissolve this kind of lump. It’s in the system.
Brad Giles 20:16
Yeah. Because people don’t know what they don’t know, if they’ve never been in a great leadership team, this may, they don’t know, a what it looks like and be how to get there. So if you’ve been there before, the opportunity is, is to start to show lead the way.
Kevin Lawrence 20:32
Yeah, and clean up all those loose ends that are in a way. And the final thing is, is on the thinking here is like just leading by example, if people know what a great deal on great teams people help out and support each other, right, there’s a lumber of things that great teams do, you know, people on teams make sure that when things go wrong, they debate to try and fix it, not to blame a person and stick it in someone’s face. And on great teams, you know, people do things like pull each other aside, like, hey, how can I help you with that? versus, you know, making fools of people in meetings or undermining people are things like,
Brad Giles 21:13
that’s a great point. So for the executives, you know, one of the really good questions is, is the executive team, your number one team, or is your individual business unit, your number one team. And obviously, the goal here is to have the leadership team as your number one team.
Kevin Lawrence 21:35
Correct. And if the leadership team is if your peers are your number one team, and your loyalties there, they’re going to have each other’s backs. And that means the other departments are going to be more in sync. And then you can come to the table and help each other and fight for what’s right for the business, instead of lobbying for your department. Yeah, the stuff is not rocket science. And so it’s, it’s amazing to have that experience. And I hope those of you listening have had the experience of being on an outstanding team, because there’s nothing like it there. It’s just It’s amazing. That’s why people ask me why you travel around the world in different places to go work with these teams. Because they’re awesome. Like, they’re awesome people doing great things not perfect, but awesome. And they’re and continually getting better. It’s very inspiring, almost addictive, sometimes it’s so powerful. And so if you don’t, how do you bring it to them? And how do you, you know, when you realize you might have taken it for granted? And you have frustration? What can you do, and it’s trying to share that gift and look for elements of greatness you can build on the look for level five leadership that can be enhanced. Lead by example, make it your number one team, you know, just look for ways to help people to see it and have them visit it and be in the middle of it.
Brad Giles 22:52
Awesome. So the curse of being in a great leadership team is that you can’t unlearn what you’ve learned in you. Duty human nature may not fully appreciate simply what great looks like at that point. And, and then when and then if and when you leave. You may regret or you may be in a situation where you go back to normality which can be very, very frustrating in my experience dealing with these people. The chat What are you could share today the curse of being in a great leadership team. You’ve done the summary there, Kevin so that’s good. This has been the growth whisper is website. No, it’s not. This has been the growth whispers I don’t know where that came from. This has been the growth whispers podcast. Thank you for listening. As always, you can catch Kevin at Lawrence and co.com and you can catch me bred at evolution partners.com.au. I hope you’ve enjoyed this chat today about the curse of being in a great leadership team and look forward to chatting to you again next week. Take care
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