English Football (Soccer) and Executive Development

By John R. Childress
Chair, Cultural Transformation – President, N2Growth Europe, N2Growth

For the past 20 years  I have been living in London and to say that the English are football crazy would be an understatement.  There are multiple football leagues, as well as club teams in almost every village.  The latest statistics show there are more than 140 individual leagues, containing more than 480 divisions, with an estimated average of 15 clubs per division, giving this tiny country more than 7,000 teams in the English men’s football league system.

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The Toxic Leader

By Grant Wattie
President, N2Growth Australia

There is a new definition of leadership in our lexicon. The seagull leader is someone who flies in, s**t’s over everything, and leaves. I’m constantly amazed when working inside organizations that the names and examples of such people come up constantly in the conversation. Yet rather than being weeded out, they seem to survive and thrive in an institutional ethic that values by choosing short term greed over longer-term value and culture.

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Management: Good Service Begins (And Ends) With Good Values

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

“They make it easy for us to do our jobs right.”

That is what a young service advisor at my local dealership said to me when I complimented him on his service acumen. He had overhead him speaking to a new customer; he was solicitous of the customer’s needs and made no effort to “upsell” him on services he didn’t need. In fact, he didn’t sell him anything; he just advised.

This dealership, founded by Howard Cooper in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has a history of customer service. When Howard sold the store in 2012, he took a portion of the proceeds and distributed them to his employees based upon their tenure. For every year of service employees received $1,000. Even employees who had less than one year service received something in profit sharing. The new owners (Germain Honda) are building on the service tradition that Howard Cooper established.

 

Read Full Column on Forbes

Working Without Purpose Is A Waste Of Time

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

“Sometimes you can learn best about a topic by identifying what it isn’t before you define what it is.”

This hit home with me when I was asked how you could know when an organization lacks purpose. The interviewer was Shawn Murphy, a workplace consultant and host of the popular “Work That Matters” podcast. I thought the question was brilliant because it challenged me to define purpose by first describing what it was like without purpose.

Read Full Column on Forbes

Best Talent You Have May Be Right Under Your Nose

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2Growth

While you can argue that someone content with his lot deserves stasis, too often we have seen very talented individuals get overlooked by their managers and as a result stay put. These are very often the folks that make their organizations tick over; metaphorically they make the trains run on time, but even better they put the cars in the train together so that they deliver the goods (or services) customers need.

 

Read Full Column on Forbes

Governor Christie: Leadership Begins With A Look In The Mirror

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2growth

Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?

Legend – as well as Shakespeare — has it that Henry II said something to this effect in fit of pique directed toward his one-time good friend and loyal civil servant Thomas a Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury. The King was vexed over Becket’s refusal to subjugate church authority to the state and Henry sought to limit Becket’s influence. In time, Henry’s henchmen travel to Canterbury thinking they are doing the King a favor and slay Becket in the cathedral.

I cite Henry’s behavior frequently in my coaching with senior executives as a means of cautioning them to watch their words. Its theme resonates today in the unfolding drama of Governor Chris Christie and traffic jams near the Fort Lee entrance to the George Washington Bridge. At the moment it appears as if loyal aides conjured up the traffic jam as a means of getting back at the mayor of Fort Lee who was not a supporter of the governor in his re-election bid last fall. One of whom, Bridget Anne Kelly, his deputy, has been axed.

 

Read Full Column on Forbes

Are You too Busy to Say Thanks?

By Brian Layer
Chief Executive Officer, N2growth

Is it me or has Thanksgiving been overrun by our national pastime–holiday shopping?  Apparently, we are too busy to spend a single day reflecting on our blessings.  It should come as no surprise; gratitude went out of fashion years ago.  But more accurately, as most of us became removed from the challenge and hard work of producing our bounty, our gratitude diminished and like most things that come easily, we began to take it for granted.

This change of attitude is not just a cultural problem; it’s a leadership problem too.

As leaders, we can become removed from the team’s challenge and hard work and in turn; our gratitude can wane.  We get too busy to acknowledge the hard work being done on our behalf.  Perhaps our leadership gratitude has gone the way of our cultural gratitude—squeezed out by other priorities.

As a Soldier, I was lucky to lead in an Army that takes gratitude seriously.  As an officer, I was empowered to express gratitude on behalf of my unit and our Nation.  I could give awards for service and achievement that expressed my gratitude as well as that of the chain of command.  As a general, I had the sad, sacred duty of expressing the gratitude of a grateful Nation to the loved ones of our fallen.

I have lots of experience saying thanks officially and I have witnessed the power of formal gratitude; still, no token of appreciation resonated like an unexpected, sincere and personal expression of gratitude.  As my responsibilities increased, I too became removed from the challenges and hard work of my Soldiers.  Yet, my rank didn’t diminish my duty to understand their sacrifice or excuse me from saying thanks. I had to make getting to the right place to say thanks in a meaningful way a standing priority.  I visited people, wrote notes, called meetings, planned events and used every power at my disposal just to say thank you and you should too.

Don’t let your professional gratitude go the way of Thanksgiving—squeezed out by other priorities.  The privilege of your position will only insulate you from the challenges and hard work of your team, if you let it.  Keep your leadership priorities straight.  Make time and take time to say thank today and every day of the year.

Thoughts?

Follow me on Twitter @brianlayer

Board Diversity

Top 10 Reasons Diversity Is Good For The Boardroom

By Mike Myatt
Chairman, N2growth 

I do quite a bit of work on matters of board composition, selection and succession, and what I can tell you is this; board diversity is simply smart business. You’ll never hear me recommend diversity solely for the sake of checking a box, but when diversity in the boardroom offers so many benefits to the CEO (and to the entire organization) it’s nothing short of irresponsible for chief executives not to place their board composition under the microscope. In today’s column I’ll share with you the top 10 reasons why diversity is good for the boardroom.

 

Real Full Column on Forbes

Presidents and Executives Need People Willing to Disagree With Them

By John Baldoni
Chair, Leadership Development, N2growth

It is important for a leader to include people in his inner circle whose power does not derive solely from the leader.

That is the gist of a comment that David Gergen offered as one of the reasons President Obama has stumbled managing some of the major challenges facing his administration, namely the launch of the Affordable Care Act and the intelligence-gathering activities of the National Security Agency.

Gergen, a veteran of four White House administrations, noted that the president’s inner circle of aides, while all very capable, owed their positions to him. While that ensures a degree of loyalty, it cannot make it easy for them to raise tough questions or challenge the president.

 

Read Full Column on Bloomberg

 

Diversity of a Different Persuasion

By Patricia Lenkov
Chair, Executive Search, N2growth

Diversity is a complex issue because it comes in all shapes and sizes. It has been and continues to be the subject of much debate in business communities across the globe. As an Executive Recruiter, I have been asked to identify candidates who are diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and even geography.  One type of diversity that has more recently begun to receive subtle yet perceptible attention is age diversity.

What? You may ask yourself! Age diversity in a country where federal and state laws prohibit questions about age?

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