It's been 20 years since I hung out my shingle with a dream to build a successful business. I'm intimately familiar with the cocktail of initial feelings - you know ...that mixture of excitement, uncertainty, terror and can't turn back now passion.
Honestly I wouldn't have dreamed I'd be a recognized leader in my field, consistently name to a top list of something or other (most recently top 30 Global HR Influencers). And, in addition, married to an entrepreneur who owns two businesses and have 3 adult step children who own and run their own. Combined we employ over 125 people, and generate $40+ million in annual revenue -- and growing.
We truly represent and are living the American dream with its daily challenges, hope, fears and headaches of most business owners and leaders.
My Backstory Can Serve Your Current & Future Success
Entering my 20th year in business, I was recently reflecting on my professional life to date, I came to an astonishing realization that I not only had been in business for 20 years, but had experienced an additional 20 years as a young professional. That's almost 2 generations - lordie!
I've also traveled extensively throughout North America teaching and speaking to thousands. This experience helped me gain a ground floor and c-suite view of business operations in a variety of context. I could tell you some stories!
As I was constantly exposed to a variety of business challenges large and small, here are five of the most significant observations:
1). Very few businesses have a dependable way to confidently, consistently get needed results through people.
2). Few leadership teams are cohesive and optimized in performance across an entire organization.
3). The source for competent help with the "human" factor of an operation via human resources was consistently, sorely lacking (and I'm sad to say this since HR is my core professional industry).
4). The challenge for great management is still a pressing need. "Bad" managers still abound even with more free information available than ever before on how to be a good one! Why is that do you think?
5). Popular resources to train and develop competent managers is still for the most part ineffective...after all these years!
Important Note: In my early years, I assumed the human resource department (for the companies that had one) was competent in dealing with human behavior related to business operations. What I learned was that, in general, they were well versed in administration, rules, paperwork, etc... but knew very little if anything about leadership, management, talent management and lacked meaningful business acumen.
These findings are still very true today! What does that mean? Not much has changed in 20 years and our new generation of business leaders and their HR counterparts are repeating the past.
Developing Leaders & Managers
As it relates to developing leaders & managers, most companies still do not have an reliable approach or method that is simple, easy to understand and implement and provides consistent results month after month - one that could be predictable.
Industries from which conventional approaches are derived such as talent management, human resources, leadership & management training, organizational design & development and change management are disjointed, haphazard, typically not business growth focused, lacks business acumen, provides no operational structure or support, inconsistent, lacks continuity, mostly ineffective and wastes a tremendous amount of time and money.
I Decided - Reimagine Business Building, Leadership and Business Management
One of my favorite all time quotes is from Albert Einstein. Paraphrased it goes something like this, "You cannot solve a problem at the same level of thinking and understanding at which you created it." (That's what a lot of business leaders try to do by the way.)
With Einstein's thought in mind and armed with the experience of facilitating thousands of hours of creative and innovative thinking workshop across North America, I took some time off - granting myself a "mini" sabbatical.
Taking a step back, I attempted to detach myself from anything I knew about leadership, management, business operations HR, and all the trends, buzz words, lingo, and consulting speak associated with them. I wanted to create a clean mental slate -- which I discovered was pretty tough to do. I found it quite a challenge to think and speak differently from what's been ingrained for over 20 years!
I realized that if I was taking the time to do this and found it difficult, how much more difficult would it be for those who are constantly in the throws of it --working from traditional-conventional thinking and being part of professional organizations who promote and reinforce it... and are teaching the newest generation of industry professionals to do the same.
During my "mini" sabbatical, I went back to business building and operations 101 reimagining what it takes to build and run a business in its purest form. I wanted to reconnect with the core fundamentals, while keeping in mind my client experiences and conversations within our family about our businesses.
To determine a "core fundamental", I asked this question, "If this x, y, z item, service or product didn't exist, could a business still run and grow successfully - today?"
I also asked, related to services, products, and thinking from the variety of people management industries, "How is this helping?" "How useful is it really?" My conclusion (similar to what Dr. Daniel Goleman shared in his book Working With Emotional Intelligence), millions of dollars are wasted each year on stuff that just really doesn't matter and do not meaningfully contribute to running and growing a business.
Also, we've over complicated and intellectualized ad nauseam the basic human experience at work (aka "consulting, HR & management speak"). And, many products and services serve as distractions which severely bog down operations, slow growth and profits.
And finally, many useful elements that are simple and free are overlooked.
What My Realizations Produced
My sabbatical gave me an opportunity to not only be reminded of a variety of observations I've had over the years, but to gain some fresh perspectives as well. The experience planted a seed, inspired a vision, and fueled a desire to address these issues.
1). I reframed my mission and core focus to address the #1 most persistent, pressing need in business - great management! (See The Management Dilemma)
2). And therefore decided to restructure my business to offer the collective expertise I'd had the opportunity to develop over the past 20 years to serve that mission, in a way that could be easily accessible, to use and available worldwide.
3). With mission in mind and expertise in human behavior in hand, I came up with a pretty radical resource that synthesizes the best of my experience and will absolutely challenge conventional thinking, approaches and services regarding training and developing leaders and managers, and which positively impacts business management, operations and overall talent management.
That synthesis is now The High-Performance Leadership Initiative which includes the 5 Step Predictive System for not only building high-performing leaders and managers, but also teams, departments and business units. Ultimately, its a unique resource for building a high-performance organization.
My Big Realization
My work with clients had produced a system, which had already been tested in some of the most challenging environments. I had developed a dependable way to successfully, sustainably execute the core fundamentals of building and running a business as well as create high-performing leaders and teams. It was called results-based leadership.
And since we were measuring results, every aspect of its application was tied to operations, impact to the organization and P/L. What was originally a leadership and management development initiative became a comprehensive business management improvement system that could be converted into a program that anyone could use .
That work and all the success stories associated with it are now my High Performance Leadership Initiative which includes The 5 Step Predictive System. This initiative provides a comprehensive solution to the persistent challenge of:
> successfully working with people,
> building leadership & management competencies at all levels,
> building highly collaborative teams,
> improving operations
> cultivating organizational strength and agility (responsive to change as needed)
> quickly fills a knowledge gap about human behavior/performance for leaders, managers and their HR partners.
> creates a natural collaborative partnership with HR and all other leaders
> all while growing and running a thriving business.
Yes -- all with one initiative!
President: "I am blown away by the results. It is undeniable the change in his leadership and how his department is functioning. Our down time has been substantially reduced on each line. I am so surprised that we saw immediate financial impact within the first 2 weeks."