This is my 500th article for Forbes. If we published them in book form, they would fill seven books. Reflecting on the three main ideas flowing through and out of those articles:
- BRAVE Leadership – A framework for thinking about culture and leadership.
- Strategic Points of Inflection – Jump-shifting strategy, organization and operations.
- Executive Onboarding – Four steps to accelerating progress and reducing risk.
The common theme across all three ideas is the importance of other-focused leadership. BRAVE leadership is ultimately about inspiring and enabling others. Accelerating through points of inflection starts with others’ problems you and your team are going to solve. The fundamental premise in executive onboarding is that it’s not about you. You can’t succeed without help from others.
The BRAVE framework is broadly applicable. It started as a middle way of assessing culture that we developed for the third edition of our book, The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan. We wanted something more robust than just assuming culture is “the way we do things here,” but more accessible than an in-depth culture survey. You can get a general read on culture by assessing its behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values and environment.
As we got into it, we realized that culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage and turned BRAVE into a leadership framework as well, tackling five questions from the outside in:
- Environment: Where to play? (Context)
- Values: What matters and why? (Purpose)
- Attitude: How to win? (Strategy)
- Relationships: How to connect? (Communication)
- Behaviors: What impact? (Implementation)
The main articles on this include:
The Five Most Important Questions for BRAVE Leaders and
Corporate Culture: The Only Truly Sustainable Competitive Advantage
Strategic Points of Inflection
The insight here is that “Every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.” (Deming) If you want different results, you have to change your strategies, organization, and operations. Sometimes you can do that gradually. Sometimes you face what Intel’s Andy Grove described as a point of inflection, “An event that changes the way we think and act.” That requires jump-shifting your strategy, organization and operations in sync, all at the same time.
And it turns out there are only four high-level business strategies. The most effective organizations choose to be best in class in either design, production, delivery or service – and in only one of those. That strategic choice dictates your culture, organization, and operating choices as well as what the “E” in CEO should stand for.
While this is unapologetically a gross over-simplification, it has definitely helped organizations focus their efforts and accelerate progress through points of inflection.
The main article on this is:
What It Takes To Accelerate Through A Strategic Inflection Point
Points of inflection can occur when circumstances or ambitions change, as the result of a merger or acquisition, or during an individual transition. For the last, we apply the concepts of executive onboarding.
The most effective executive onboarding includes:
- Getting a head start.
- Managing the message.
- Setting direction and building the team.
- Sustain momentum and deliver results.
Failures in new roles almost always come back to either poor fit, poor delivery or poor adjustment to a change down the road. Everyone involved tends to blame someone else.
The main article on this is:
Executive Onboarding: The Key To Accelerating Success And Reducing Risk In A New Job
Plus I’ve written a whole range of Executive Onboarding notes commenting on specific onboarding situations.
Leadership is about inspiring and enabling others. Happiness is good, or more precisely, three goods: doing good for others, doing things you are good at, and doing good for yourself. While each individual balances those three goods differently, those that care more about doing good for others naturally attract like-minded followers and inspire and enable them to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose. This is why the world needs more other-focused leaders. Be one of them.