Monthly Archives: December 2018

Don’t Settle for Less

Last year, one of the common leadership themes which our CEOs started addreessing is the negative effects of tolerating inferior performance from staff. By becoming aware of bad habits we can change!

Unless we’re excellent at time management and delegation – critical goals our CEOs pursue – we often get overwhelmed with things, especially firefighting. As a result, to avoid the stress of adding a new time commitment to help staff improve, we tolerate inferior performances.  In addition to the damage that sub-par performances produce directly, they have an indirect negative impact – signaling the firm’s acceptance of a lowering of standards. To succeed in today’s world, you need A performances – not less.

We see this especially when we have employees who are not meeting KPIs (performance standards) set for them and also showing no effort to improve. We should dismiss such employees; instead they linger like a virus, usually because of “loyalty”. Yet, when a manager finally releases this employee, others speak out: “What took so long? We all know his/her faults – and they made our lives more difficult!”

This year, the CEOs that I have the privilege of coaching/mentoring, are going to take it to the next level – Don’t Settle for Less. You should too!

Tom Koulopoulos, in a blog posted in Innovation Excellence, notes a conversation he recently had about Steve Jobs with his co-founder of Apple – Steve Wozniak. Woz told him that one of his management techniques explains why Apple’s culture creates such innovatively-well-designed products like the iPhone.  “Jobs had a habit of sometimes just popping into meetings. He’d quickly survey the room, take stock of the problem being addressed, and without so much as five seconds of prelude, he would announce to the people there, ‘You can do better than this’. And with that, he’d leave the meeting. His comment wasn’t necessarily delivered with a tone of arrogance or even disappointment, but rather as a statement of fact– simply put, ‘Don’t settle!’”  The net result is that everyone went back to the drawing board to do better – and created a culture encouraging everyone to do their best.

Henry Kissinger, a foreign policy expert who helped President Nixon open the doors to US-China relations in the 1970s, pursued a similar goal.  As the story goes, he would often request from a staff person a policy position paper.  A few days later, the colleague would put it into Kissinger’s  inbox, and be told to return the next day. The next day, the colleague would return, and Kissinger would hand the paper back to the person with the following comment; “you can do better”.  A few days later, an improved paper was produced and submitted. The following day, Kissinger would hand it back saying, again, “You can do better.” A few days later, a third version of the paper would be submitted. Mr. Kissinger would accept it, saying to the colleague, “Thanks, now I’ll read it.”

He knew that the first set of papers were not thought through well enough and refused to settle for less.  How often does do you get “data-dump presentations” rather than fully developed products that meet the standards. Several CEOs I know complain that even new analysts hired from top schools often don’t pay an attention to detail. Also they follow the prescribed presentation template, focusing on detailed facts, with no attention to crafting a persuasive, compelling presentation that drives the audience to the desired conclusion (e.g., not following our ADAP (Audience-Driven, Authentic Presentation) standard.

So this year, make one of your leadership themes not to settle for less! 

Share with us, how are you inspiring people to take the time to submit their best work possible?  Are you creating a CILO (Continuous Improving Learning Organization) where staff are held accountable for improving skills? (For more on how the Eval2Win Job Description and Performance System guides the worker and supervisor dyad to constantly improve, contact or 646-290-7664).

Engaged Employees Make Recruitment and Retention Easier

When I interview candidate CEOs about their three most significant challenges for future growth, one of the answers usually is “finding and keeping top talent”.  Studies show that recruitment is easiest for companies with engaged employees, especially since they often identify talent and make referrals. That’s why Vistage has several experts who share their insights and strategies with our members on:

  • How to hire the best people and then keeping them and
  • How to develop effective cultures that keep employees engaged.

Our Interview discussion then turns to how well the CEO’s organization is doing.

The Gallup Organization recently surveyed a number of organizations with six questions which asked employees about conditions at their companies.  Here are the questions. Ask yourself what the results may be for your organization    Then check that against what Gallup found in its survey.

What percentage of your employees strongly agree that:

  1. Their leaders have a clear direction for their organization?
  2. Their organization always delivers on its promises to customers?
  3. Their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees?
  4. The performance reviews they receive inspire them to perform?
  5. They are sometimes, very often or always burned out at work?
  6. They are searching for new jobs or watching for new opportunities?

Got your numbers?  Good.  Now compare to what Gallup found:

  1. 22% agree that the leader s have a clear direction
  2. 26% believe the organization always delivers onb its promise to customers
  3. 12% believe their organizations do a great job of onboarding
  4. 14% believe performance reviews inspire them to improve
  5. 67% report they are sometimes, very often or always burned out at work
  6. 51% say they are searching or watching for new opportunities (and 47% say now is a good time to find a new quality job!)

What are you going to do about it? Share with us what you’re doing in 2019!

Note: If you’re a CEO of a committed to growth and live in the NY region, we offer you the opportunity to experience Vistage’s 4-part service ecosystem (which enables members to grow 2-3X faster than competitors (D&B studies)). If you live elsewhere, let us know you want an introduction to a local Vistage Chair, so you, too, can explore the opportunities. Contact

Solve Your Hiring Problems by Keeping Employees Engaged and Happy!

In today’s talent-scarcity labor market, smart CEOs set talent management as a top priority.  Are you?

I was reading a Business Insider article on ways employees can be happier at work and I thought I’d share with you the top ways:

  • Enable staff to advance professional development. Knowing you can grow and learn in your company (through classes or projects done in the company) leads to happiness.
  • Facilitate staff’s ability to identify what truly motivates them. As we grow, our purpose/life priorities may shift. Indeed the reason the person took the job in the first place may not be for central, intrinsic values which are central for her/him. Working with mentors is one way a person can discuss these issues – and find new ways to stay motivated by taking on new assignments, moving to different departments, etc.
  • Remind staff how they are benefiting by working in the company. Many times people get lost in their day-to-day work, and forget about all the extras the company is offering (e.g., profit sharing, extra 401K match, benefit packages, community involvement opportunities). I know of a case where the company bought for each employee a life insurance policy, and after several years discovered that almost none of the employees knew.

The list also reminded me about the Gallup Q-12 which I previously discussed. Don Clifton, Ph.D. studied 24 companies in 12 industries with 2500 business units, and interviewed 105,000 employees and found that 12 items differentiated highly productive, engaged employees from all the others.

The top six statements which highly engaged employees strongly agreed with were:

  • I know what is expected of me at work.
  • I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right
  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day
  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development

If you’re a CEO in NY who wants more success in the volatile new year, you can learn more about how Vistage members learn about these strategies, help each other tailor implementation and then hold each other accountable for execution. The Vistage community of 22,000 CEOs, 1400 experts, and 800 Chairs, gives members a Competitive Advantage over others; Dun & Bradstreet reports that they grow 2-3 X faster than competitors.

In January, we’re sponsoring a no-obligation breakfast for qualified candidates to attend a mini-CEO Advisory meeting. See details at:

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December 2018
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