…is to move from a single leader to a leadership

I have now worked for over 100 leaders in organizations and their
senior teams… close and hands-on. The biggest constraint I see
leaders face is maintaining a senior management team instead of
developing a senior leadership team.

Managers complete tasks, control budget, use their authority to achieve
objectives, manage their subordinates, and bring stability to
operations. This is all good. But, it is not what a senior leadership
team does.

Leaders wield their personal power to inspire people to do more than
they know they can, evoke higher levels of performance than people
believe they can achieve, and introduce change that transforms
performance even if it is disruptive. 

When I first entered the World Bank in 1989 I saw what I called the Lone Genius Model: brilliant
individuals were empowered to achieve incredible results. These people
truly were great. They were able to do things most mortals only dreamt
of. They could plan, execute, and deliver projects that required tens
of millions of dollars, sometimes hundreds, to be realized. They could
envision social transformations and midwife them into existence.

They also often made huge messes. So it was not unusual to have
retinues following them around, cleaning up their mistakes and putting
things right after they mucked things up. It was an effective way to
create miracles, which often were the result.

But, in the late ’80s and early ’90s something else began to happen and
it was due to technology. It was not a deliberate intervention but a
by-product of new ways of working. Teams of extraordinary (but not
quite genius) professionals began to collaborate first using simple
email and later new inventions like Lotus Notes.

These high performing teams of extraordinary professionals
out-performed the lone geniuses. And the system shifted. Not because it
was orchestrated by anyone, but just because the results were coming
from a different source. It was exceptional to behold: teams of smart
people working together in packs.

When a leader relegates his or her senior team to management
responsibilities, they sacrifice the collective intelligence and
sophisticated interplay of behavior that is dormant in the hearts and
minds of their closest allies. The single most powerful transformation
a leader can introduce is to turn his senior team into a group of

I was once called in to help transform a team of 18 managers into a
leadership team. They were responsible for software testing and had
reached 100% compliance. But, they wanted more. They wanted to become
world-class. They wanted to move from being a cost center to being a
profit center.

Their second step was to
articulate exactly what it meant to be world-class in their domain. We
made a list of the core competencies required – there were eleven of
them. And then we identified three levels of performance: the basics,
excellence, and world-class.

For example: in software testing itself:
Basic – Thorough understanding and being able to hold your own in a
conversation with any subordinate or peer in the field.
Excellence – The skill and capacity to step in and do the work of
anyone anywhere in the system and do it with 100% compliance.
World-class – Be the global thought leader, write the book that is used
in universities and offices across the globe.

They succeeded. Within 12 months this team became a powerful profit
center, bringing in exceptionally large contracts and delivering on
them with stunning performance.

The first step was that they
had to want it and want it badly.

They had a leader who wanted it dearly and created an environment where
their professional yearnings were cultivated. He was a veteran airplane
gunner and knew what teamwork was. He sought with all his might to
achieve the same level of rapport and interdependence he experienced in
the air as a gunner. As a result, his team able to cross a threshold
and achieve a level of never before realized performance.

Many leaders say they want a leadership team, but they really want to
hold the reins alone. They are missing out on the single, most powerful
transformation their organization can experience.


January 12, Washington, DC
By special arrangement with Alan Weiss I will be presenting this
special workshop that cuts to the essence of successful consulting,
based on Alan’s two bestselling books which I have used extensively
over the last 9 years. I will provide participants with the foundation
required to drive business growth. Whether you want to jumpstart your
practice or increase your momentum, this seminar will provide you with
the tools you need to realize rapid ROI on your efforts.

For CEOs only
Business Innovation,
Nov 15,
12:00-1:30, Washington, DC

association business models are emerging around us – bold successes by
CEO entrepreneurs.  There are 8 Keys – You can put them to work
tomorrow. I am going to share them on Nov. 15. Event is limited to CEOs
only. No charge for
participation. Only 10 spaces left. If you are interested in
attending or the white paper series, send me an email.