The COVID-19 Survival Recipe

►The COVID-19 Survival Recipe◄


On March 2, 2020 we were retained by a large long-term client with headquarters near Milan, Italy to assist their 500-year old global enterprise with surviving and then recovering from the global COVID-19 pandemic. Since that date 9 other U S and international enterprises have sought our assistance while accepting that this situation in all likelihood changes everything, or almost everything.

Because we were founded in 1992, the recipe presented here results from lessons observed by us while assisting clients with their survival and recovery from the events of 9/11 in New York City, as well as their survival and recovery best practices already gleaned from the current global pandemic.

What Ron Epstein stated above is a microcosm of what nearly every enterprise in 185 countries now faces or will soon face, that being the challenge of re-entry into a business environment requiring a more holistic and refined approach to business survival and success most likely on a permanent basis. Many airline and most other enterprise habits have now been changed permanently in the interests of business revival and survival.  Former business habits are now being replaced by newly important survival methods and necessities.

Each enterprise is unique based upon its own attributes such as geographic location(s), industry, national culture, size, operating distribution, supply chains, regulatory influences, ownership structure, customers, competitors, finances, and executive capabilities. So out of necessity we are providing this guide in a generalized form applicable to all businesses affected by recent events.  Minor adjustments to this recipe may be necessary for the purposes of your enterprise, but it will be important for you to know the downside in advance of not doing most or all of this.

Below are the nearly universal business survival subjects now requiring the attention of nearly all business in the 14 countries within which our clients exist as proven by what we and they learned in 2001 and are now learning once again 19 years later.


Your business recovery and in most cases its survival will soon be contingent on the topics below and how you as an executive as well as your entire enterprise resurrect itself.  Each is easier and less expensive to implement if most or all are applied.

In geographic areas and within supply and customer chains where COVID-19 exists, these survival recipe ingredients apply to all industries, enterprises, countries, ownership structures, enterprise sizes and national cultures:

  • “Business Normal” as defined prior to January 21, 2020 is permanently behind us.  A new business normal will now be created and each enterprise will be well-served by participating actively in its creation.
  • Your supply chain, defined for this purpose as the sources of all of your COGS items, must recover before your enterprise will be able to do so.
  • Human inefficiencies in your enterprise will return first if allowed, preventing required new efficiencies from forming and launching.  Those earlier inefficiencies will now be extremely easy to recognize thus simplifying their elimination.
  • Pursuit of revenue and reasonable margin growth will be required as the price of admission to recovery and survival. Detours such as group think, committee decision-making, diversity, humility, fun, inclusion, sabbatical leaves, and being an employer of choice among others will dramatically slow or prevent recovery and survival.
  • Assuming your enterprise has undertaken lay-off’s and/or furloughs, 4% to 9% of those employees will never return…including some of your biggest contributors.
  • For employees receiving unemployment compensation in the USA, over 80% of those paid less than about $43,000 per year will have no intention of returning to work in the near term because they now receive an additional $600 per week in unemployment benefits above usual state benefit levels, for 4 months.
  • Unemployment now averages 17% in the 185 countries grappling with COVID-19, making hiring people more instead of less risky for the next 18 to 36 months.
  • On average only 37% of position types can be performed remotely while only 13% of employees are capable of working productively on a remote basis. Remote workers must include only your most skilled and productive workers, and remote work monitoring is now a necessity. Construction workers, airline pilots, surgeons, retail managers, paramedics and food service workers among many other position types cannot work remotely and should not request to do so while being paid.
  • Continuous health screening, generally daily for COVID-19, will be a necessity for 18 to 36 months.  This should occur at building entrance(s) that are different from building exit(s).
  • Teamwork is now defined as including little or no physical proximity and interaction.  Many employees will not transition successfully to this newly required teaming model due to the limiting belief that being a team member is founded upon close interactions such as meetings, eye contact, and huddles.
  • Physical meeting frequency, length and size is now required to be reduced by 70 to 90 percent for health and safety reasons.  The reinforcement for this change will be your future observation that 70 to 90 percent of group meetings including more than 2 people have been non-beneficial to customers and labor expense for a very long time.
  • Domestic and international air travel is required to be reduced by 70% (domestic) to 90% (international), in all likelihood permanently. Technology began making most business travel unnecessary beginning in 2007.
  • No business activity or behavior that has a measurable likelihood of resulting in illness or death to others is a right or defensible habit held by any individual(s).  These behaviors include handshakes, hugs, coming to work when sick, lost coffee mugs, coughing, etc.
  • Business inefficiency results largely from slow human speed and slow decision-making. Enterprise recovery and survival will now largely be directly correlated with increased human efficiency and decision-making speed. The first step is delegation of authority to highly capable individuals instead of to groups.
  • Workplace redesign is now a necessity in nearly 35% of workplaces. Think distance and cubicles once again, without cafeterias and coffee bars.
  • Break rooms and kitchens are now not desirable for at least 18 to 36 months.
  • Employees at all levels now need to be consistently provided with personal protective equipment consisting of masks and sanitizer at a minimum.
  • Fear of attending to work absent infectious evidence and clear infection risk is not a valid work absence excuse.  Enterprises paying for fear is frequently what motivates fear.
  • Differing employee health and safety measures are required based upon all local regulations.
  • Rapid diagnostic testing is required if an employee becomes ill, exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, or indicates he or she may be ill with COVID-19.  Having internal or short notice testing capacity is a necessity.
  • Carpooling is out of necessity discontinued indefinitely.  Shared workspace without masks is as well.
  • The primary roles of all supervisors, managers and executives is to ensure full business recovery by consistently stating facts, earning trust, and building confidence.
  • Each workplace requires a named COVID-19 management team sentinel with decision-making authority on all aspects of that subject.
  • Random temperature and symptom screening are now widely occurring on a frequent basis during working hours and are very highly recommended. This is also expected to occur for 18 to 36 months.
  • Your enterprise should not expand paid time off policies largely because the last pandemic was 103 years ago. This one will pass well within the next 103 years.
  • Pandemics kill some people.  But they are also exceptionally effective at separating leaders from managers, and contributors from those who contribute little. Make note now of who your leaders and biggest contributors are for development and succession planning purposes.  These times are the best possible test of what you, your boss, and your team members are made of.
  • People have vastly different levels of current anxiety along with vastly different styles of expressing it. Ensuring that all employees are focused upon enterprise objectives is highly therapeutic for the purpose of mitigating personal anxiety.

Our full list of solutions on this COVID-19 subject is actually much longer than presented above, with the above subjects being many of those widely reinforced since 9/11/01 and again since 3/2/20.

We encourage you to reflect upon and make use of many or all of them to ensure that the inevitable reverberations of the current pandemic during the next 18 to 36 months may be eliminated in your little or big corner of the business world.

This pandemic will continue to make unpleasant music that none of us have ever heard before, and preventing its spread is the only way to turn its volume down.


Please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) so that we may clarify or answer your questions on any of the above subjects.

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©2020, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U S and international law.

Enterprise Survival and Revival

►Enterprise Survival and Revival◄

The President of a nearly 500-year old Italian company east of Milan shared with us early last week, L’Italia come piatto di Petri per il Coronavirus mi preoccupa molto.” Translated to English that means “Italy as the petri dish for the Coronavirus troubles me greatly.”

A senior manager within another client company shared with us 3 days ago, “Our leadership team is freaking out over all this.”  Translated to enterprise failure that means “Nobody is leading.”

Through our current work with 8 client enterprises to ensure business survival during and after this pandemic we observe that the Coronavirus is in fact providing the business solution to its own trail of destruction.  All you need to do is notice it and utilize it in its binary form of 0’s and 1’s.

Just as the people early to the grocery store toilet paper aisles captured all the toilet paper, the enterprises who are now readying their simple survival and revival recipe will endure and thrive as the Coronavirus is defeated.

About 23% of your executive and employee populations as the 1’s will power your company’s survival and the other 77% as the 0’s will either slow it or prevent it.  As you probably know “slow” is fine only when cash flow is typical.


The secret sauce of enterprise survival now includes only pared spending, keeping the wings level during this lengthy turbulence, and re-thinking how your business will operate without knowing how long these troubles will last.  Accepting that it will likely be for a lengthy period is the non-negotiable price of admission.

For individuals and enterprises disaster survival results largely from confidence, coordination, energy, intelligence, optimism, singular focus and inability to be distracted.  Think Ernest Borgnine as Mike Rogo in 1972’s movie “The Poseidon Adventure”.

The Coronavirus has created many distractions most of which have already led and will continue leading to outcomes not in the best interests of businesses, their employees, their vendors or their customers.  Almost one-quarter of your executives and employees have remained committed nearly exclusively to your business mission during recent events while three-quarters or slightly more of your executives and employees have become non-beneficially rerouted from business mission to a subject they have no expertise with. In their imaginations this is the Coronapocalypse and in many of their minds it likely leads to the end of times.

The purpose of this publication is to assist you in knowing who your survival/revival contributors on that smaller team happen to be.  They have been and will continue to be most of the horsepower of your enterprise, and the Coronavirus real-time Assessment Center now in place within your enterprise will affirm that.


Any business or industry where human contact is its foundation is being decimated.  In many cases, it makes no sense to keep operating with little or no cash flow according to many CEO’s recently interviewed by the business press.

Enterprises with high levels of debt, poor customer or employee relations and/or those that were struggling prior to the Coronavirus outbreak are now in grave danger, and the more they are distracted by the Coronavirus from their enterprise mission the more likely their futures range between gloomy and non-existent.

It appears to us that airlines, energy companies, entertainment and gaming enterprises, hotels, leisure industry players, and retailers will in many cases be the first casualties. Even new movies will also now be delayed by either months or years.

If you are a key enterprise leader within any business your primary job for the next 3 to 15 months is to keep your employer alive so employees and customers will have jobs and suppliers to return to when this is all over.  To accomplish this requires astute judgement as to who is contributing greatly and who is not, and only the approximate 23% will keep your business breathing while then authoring its recovery at an unknown future date most likely during the first two months of 2021.


Within your enterprise now exists a real-time, highly valid and very reliable Assessment Center that you are luckily not paying a consulting firm for.  As your real-time Assessment Center sorts the 23% producers (1’s) from the 77% marginal contributors (0’s), the answer key for who your enterprise A-Team players now are and are not is summarized here:

  • The employees and executives, even while working remotely, who remain immediately responsive on all business subjects to all other employees, all customers, all regulators and all vendors 5 days per week, both by telephone and Email. This includes answering the company provided cell phone whenever it rings, with no inbound communications awaiting response at the end of each business day.
  • Those employees and executives who are more energetically driven to stay in business and stay employed than they are distracted by the fear of losing their jobs and paychecks.
  • There are job duties that cannot be done from home such as manufacturing, retail sales and caring for patients, so make note of employees and executives who under such circumstances energetically accept that fact without requesting or demanding remote work or vacation arrangements.
  • The employees and executives who still come to work, perhaps with butterflies in their stomachs, but also with fire in their bellies. People with fire in their bellies are consistently happier and more productive in life and on the job than those without those fires burning.
  • CEO’s and executives are not expected to be as right as they are required to be engaged. Only those who remain fully engaged will create survival and revival, and the others will dramatically reduce chances of success.  If executives do not remain highly engaged during nerve-wracking times, employees in their shadows will not do so either.  In other words, executives who are 0’s breed employees who are 0’s and that virus spreads even faster than the Coronavirus.  It is also much more deadly to businesses than the Coronavirus is to humans.
  • The leaders who deliver bad news directly, with eye contact and without pause, and the recipients of that news who maintain their professional commitments and demeanor’s.
  • The employees and particularly the executives who are seldom distracted by extraneous subjects.  They know what and who to ignore and are also masters of disaggregating all mandatory objectives from all tangential distractions.
  • Because commiserating about Coronavirus is like comparing the result of the 2019 World Cup to the result of the 2022 World Cup today, 2 years in advance of 2022, you will observe that your 1’s will spend very little time commiserating about the Coronavirus or anything else for the foreseeable future.
  • You’re 1’s accomplish nearly everything very fast, a crucial attribute during times of reduced staffing.  In so doing, the Coronavirus cannot catch them.

Pandemics kill some people.  But they are also exceptionally effective at separating leaders from managers, contributors from those who contribute little, and your 0’s from your 1’s.

Freaking out never leads to survival just as running from a grizzly bear never works except for the purpose of the bear’s dinner.

We encourage you to know and remember the names of the people in your enterprise who are not running from the Coronavirus grizzly bear as they will create the least expensive and most successful future for your enterprise during this pandemic and after it is behind us.

They should also be the executives and employees who remain after any necessary downsizing’s occur.


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©2020, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U S and international law.

Preventing Hyperbolic Company Cultures

Preventing Hyperbolic Company Cultures


Our July 23, 2019 article here is still generating much interest among senior executives who have been grappling with amorphous and non-contributory enterprise cultures for years based upon their writings to us.  This article will confirm if your enterprise is so situated and if so, how to stop digging that very deep hole.

As we shared in our earlier article, enterprise Mission and Culture must be aligned solely around business outcomes in order for enterprise efficiency and operating results to benefit shareholders, owners, customers and employees on an equal basis.

In terms of the usual business performance metrics, it is easy for nearly all businesses to do about as well as their benchmark competitors, but even easier to do much better than most or all of them in terms of enterprise culture.

The center of gravity for enterprise outcomes is always the competitor benchmark average that always includes enterprise cultures that are either debilitating or dubious.  You will see how, as you read further.


Seven of our newer clients have sought our assistance to rightfully refashion their company cultures during the last 6 years.  In most of those cases the stimuli for change has been a combination of economic globalization and/or the intuitive client desire to improve efficiency and financial results…in many cases owner or shareholder returns.  One is a medium size Not-For-Profit operating only in the USA, one is a medium size Tribal enterprise operating only within its sovereign nation, one is a large U S public enterprise operating in 11 countries, one is a very large German enterprise employing over 100,000 employees, one is a broadcast media company, one is a rapidly growing 17-year old technology company, and one is a regional bank operating in the USA.

All 7 of these engagements have involved cultural transitions to the collective benefit of customers, employees and shareholders.  It has been the cultural transitions by these enterprises that have propelled each of them far beyond their benchmark competitors within no more than 3 years in each case.  And fascinatingly, it appears that each of those benchmark competitors still has no understanding of what changed, most likely because culture is a cryptic subject for those competitors and many other enterprises perhaps including yours.

Our first scenic view on this journey is that of stated or unstated enterprise culture being a lie with the result of all business outcomes being much uglier:



Please bear in mind these researched and verified facts as some of the underpinnings of organization culture:

  • All professions have customers, without which those professions would not exist.  Within hyperbolic cultures employees are the subject of the culture instead of the customers being the rightful subject.
  • Whether a person is a bank robber or a CEO there is over a 97% chance that their primary identity is their profession as opposed to their employer and what it provides or does not provide to employees.  Within hyperbolic cultures it is the enterprise desire to have its professionals define the employer as “special” instead of defining customers as such.
  • Thought-to-be-cute culture maxims such as “Teamwork Makes The Dream Work” increase human inefficiency and degrade enterprise results largely because they are ethereal and nondescript.  Soft cultures do not create hard business results except by accident and only briefly.  Within hyperbolic cultures formless distractions away from customers and markets are very common.
  • When senior executives have frequent and meaningful connection with customers, so do their managers and employees.  The opposite is also factual.  Within hyperbolic cultures senior executives tend significantly to talk about customers rather than with customers.
  • Customers gain nothing from, and employees are distracted by enterprise endeavors and expenses that customers never experience or see.  Please contact us for current examples of non-accretive culture additives due to the fact that increasing numbers of enterprises are now learning the hard way what culture does not consist of.
  • Zombie Cultures exist whenever enterprise cultures are not communicated clearly in writing and/or are not communicated frequently while being complied with universally.  In nearly all such cases the number of internally conflicted cultures is derived directly from the number of supervisors employed…as many as 9,400 of them in our experience.  Or worse, the total number of employees employed…as many as 47,100 of them within that same enterprise.


Approximately 65% of enterprise cultures have developed either incrementally, accidentally, or disjointedly while not being founded upon either enterprise customers or enterprise results.  In those cases, the culture is at best an erratic contributor to enterprise outcomes.

Based upon our and many other bodies of research those cultures tend to be erroneously aimed internally, toward people receiving paychecks, without clear benefit to or focus upon customers and business outcomes either directly or indirectly.

We have found through our interactions with some of these enterprises that many of their results growth limitations result from the limitations and expenses created by their own hyperbolic or muddled cultures.


Below are several of our culture remediation steps frequently agreed to by our global clients as highly necessary, while understanding that culture remediation is nearly always simpler and quicker than falsely suggested by many executives and consultants:


Through our work with 2 of the above referenced clients while realigning their Cultures solely upon business outcome growth, they are no longer distracted by widespread internal conflict, misaligned individual and team objectives, and pursuit of culture practices on a philosophical basis…subjects like “fun”, “dog-friendly”, “radical candor”, “respect”, “diversity”, etc.  In one client case, employees now compare what they have contributed to what they should have contributed instead of comparing their dogs to other dogs at work.

Increased diversity, mutual respect, fun, inclusion, factual decision making, creativity, workplace safety, quality, timeliness, cooperation, learning, reliability and rapid problem resolution among other exceptional culture manifestations have all improved as a result of culture rather than as a purpose of culture.  In simple terms it is now culture cause and culture effect with both the cause and the effect being significantly improved business outcomes including in terms of how people work together.

In both client cases their hiring models and staffing methodologies have also been simplified by well over 40%.  Their hiring is now based largely upon highest capability to contribute measurably.  And their top lines and bottom lines have grown magnificently because of what one client CEO states as, “We are no longer herding hummingbirds.”

We suggest you reflect upon what these 2 client enterprise cultures now include and do not include, while remembering that enterprise culture remediation includes more than copying and pasting another organization’s stated, universally practiced and highly productive enterprise culture:

“We have a culture of commitment shared by all employees toward all shareholders, customers and other employees, as well as a vow of maintaining our legacy and future of continually increasing our financial strength and market share.  People as either customers, employees, investors, prospects or vendors are what matter most to all of us.”


“Our company culture creates elated customers by employing only people who share that commitment, while continually building the efficiencies and results of our business operations and also establishing the standard by which we and our competitors are measured.  This culture continues our more than century-long commitment to everyone with whom we work.”

If your company’s culture is not derived directly from its mission, is not written, is not communicated broadly, is not complied with while not being jumbled by distractions imagined to be culturally crucial, and/or is not consistently reinforced by all key leaders, your enterprise culture is limiting its financial and operating results in all likelihood on 3 to 8 crucial dimensions.

Our purpose with this article is to help you know if and to what degree, if any, your company culture is hyperbolic at the expense of the company itself.


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©2019, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U S and international law.

Mission and Culture Are Not Rocket Science

Mission and Culture ≠ Rocket Science

Fifty years ago, one enterprise mounted and succeeded at what nearly all people agree is the greatest accomplishment by humans in the history of the world, not yet surpassed for a half-century.

The 2 most important ingredients of that success on July 20, 1969 in descending order of importance were the people aboard Apollo 11 and the 240 people at Mission Control back on earth.  It was a breathtaking engineering and logistical achievement and not since Apollo 17 in 1972 has any human been back on the moon.

Complete alignment between Mission and Human Capital Culture is the primary ingredient of business health and success although that leadership algorithm is frequently corrupted when Mission and Culture are misaligned and in particular, when either of those 2 aspects of business propulsion is fashioned around diversionary subjects of little or no importance to customers and markets.

Through our work with a large U. S. client enterprise that we began our work with back in January 2017 and with the help of an even larger German client enterprise that we then began our work with in November 2017 we have again had our work and client outcomes on the topic of Enterprise Mission vis-à-vis Enterprise Culture affirmed.  And, each affirmation rhymes with each prior affirmation occurring since 1997 on this subject, on a global basis.


Any enterprise without a widely published and seldom changing Mission indelibly focused upon customers and financial outcomes remains in a mode of perpetual comparative degradation, even if slow, within increasingly competitive economies.


Any enterprise without a widely published and seldom changing workplace Culture indelibly focused upon customers and financial outcomes while being largely the same as its’ Mission remains in the same mode of perpetual comparative degradation within increasingly competitive economies.


The often-repeated admonishment credited to many dubious philosophers without P&L experience, “People don’t leave jobs; they leave toxic work cultures” is false.

In fact, people leave jobs for hundreds of widely varying reasons.  Over 80% of people alleging workplace cultural toxicity as they depart or are terminated are employees with capabilities and contributions significantly below employer performance requirements AND the contributions of most other employees.  As a direct result, those individuals tend to be disciplined or discharged…what they falsely define as “toxic work culture” instead of being defined factually by them as not contributing positively to enterprise results.


Because we have confidentiality agreements with our Mission and Culture clients largely as the result of their observation that their Missions and Cultures are now what is creating much of their improving efficiencies and financial results, we are not able to identify those clients here.  But we will name 2 non-client enterprises to evidence the facts noted above.

The American Red Cross mission is, “Preventing and alleviating human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

And, the Southwest Airlines mission is “Dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit.”

As observed by most or all customers served by each of those enterprises, Mission and Culture are as tightly aligned in each enterprise as 2 peas in a pod.  Their Cultures result directly from and actually sustain their Missions without diversion by the ancillary and occasionally dubious topics espoused by certain enterprises as key ingredients of their stated or unstated Cultures.


It is crucial for enterprises to avoid slow or rapid degradation of operating and financial results caused by their failure to ensure that all human activities within the business are focused upon customers and continually improving enterprise results.

In so doing, we and our clients have observed without exception since 1997 that what employees and executives then think of the enterprise provides an exceptional competitive advantage as it relates to lower employee turnover, higher labor productivity, increased margins, improved product and service quality, greater customer retention, improved brand, and lower G&A expense.

Therein lies what is the sole purpose of Mission and Culture within the enterprises pulling away from and staying ahead of the pack.

Our next Proven Solution will provide the most beneficial and simple way to do all of that, proven and refined by us and our U S and global clients since 1997.  And, you will likely then observe that workplace Culture has become the Three-Card Monte (Google it) of business distraction in many cases.


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©2019, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

Eliminating Decision-Making Delays

►Eliminating Decision-Making Delays◄


Our consistent observation gained from nearly 3 decades of work with enterprises ranging from highly successful to barely successful is that effective decision-making outcomes are usually directly correlated to the speed with which business decisions are made.

The majority of decisions needing to be made in business are non-complex due to the fact that when business opportunities occur, productive solutions are usually crucially important and frequently self-evident on a binary scale.  However, seeking and weighing endless options creates imaginary self-importance in those unable to make decisions, culminating in what we call the coefficient of friction when decisions finally occur.

Lengthy decision-making deliberation nearly always results from a combination of inability and insecurity, both of which are anti-attributes of highly capable leaders.  As one Chief Sales Officer told us eloquently in 2015, “I think the purpose of these endless meetings is only to log who will be fired if our belabored decisions fail.”

Decision-making quality and speed, along with 2 other enterprise attributes, is directly derived from the top enterprise leader through the shadow that he or she casts upon everyone receiving a paycheck, even if employees happen to be 12,450 miles distant on the opposite side of this planet.

Generally speaking, increased speed improves business outcomes largely without exception except in the field of watch making by hand.


In our experience, one of the biggest causes of executive team discombobulation is any slow speed with which business decisions are made.

High decision-making speed is in fact the only competitive advantage that costs businesses nothing.  Unnecessarily lengthy decision-making habits and delays create significant excess costs directly correlated with the number of people involved and thus distracted from more beneficial business actions.

Our research on this topic with numerous clients has shown that lengthy decision-making dances remove significant energy from subsequent efforts to execute delayed decisions successfully with improved business outcomes.  Since 2007 we have observed that decision outcome failures tend to have their Genesis in the exhaustion and distractions created by lengthy decision-making dances that include individuals who simply cannot dance fast.

Yes, important pursuits such as exiting burning buildings are accomplished very quickly while things that are not important in people’s minds take much longer.  Labored decision-making very frequently creates marginal decisions in the psyches of those individuals responsible for executing them, as well as a lack of the collective energy necessary to ensure success of eventual decision execution.


Coin tosses provide a 50% chance of success, quickly, without analyses or lengthy meetings and resulting delays.  They are binary and also devoid of politics and distractions.

One of our entertainment sector client Presidents has frequently shared with her direct reports for 3 years, “Let’s either have quick AND fully informed decision-making or just do coin tosses because tortuous decision-making dances do not provide even a 50% likelihood of decision success.”

And in every meeting involving more than one other executive she places a heads-up U. S. quarter on the table in front of her.

-Click The West Texas Image Below To Observe How This Works So Effectively-
(And perhaps watch/listen closely to it 2 or 3 times.)


Increasing executive and enterprise decision-making speed with the direct result of undeniably improved financial results and enterprise brand is quite simple.

Our usual first of 8 recommended actions to that end is for all executives to establish firm decision action execution dates on a very near-term basis while also ensuring that indefinitely deliberative executives are removed from weighty decision-making responsibilities while also not being put in charge of emergency building evacuation procedures.


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©2019, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

What Makes The A-Team Tick?

►What Makes The “A-Team” Tick?◄



Our January 27, 2019 Proven Solution entitled, “Best Contributors For Business Growth” is what has led us to this Proven Solution about A-Teams.  The earlier article led 2 enterprises to seek our assistance in determining precisely who their change agent executives are while also being capable of driving enterprise transformation during the next 2 to 3 years of rapid growth and/or reinvention.  One of the enterprises is based in Paris and the other is based near San Francisco.

Within 90 days it has become clear to them and also to us that who they thought their A-Team was had about 40% correlation with what and who their A-Team needs to be.  The resulting conclusions for both CEO’s and a few Board members have been:

  • It does not take long to get to the lighted end of this usually dark future creation cave, and
  • Subconscious blinders tend to prevent accurate recognition of who true A-Team players are to a degree of approximately 60%.

And in the cases of the 2 client enterprises everybody won because nobody is now thought less of…or is leaving.


The “A-Team” is the fairly small group of executives that is charged with organizationally engineering the future of the enterprise vis-à-vis its intended markets and financial performance growth.

If where your enterprise is headed happens to be where it has already been AND your enterprise has created exceptional brand and financial results all along that prior path, your A-Team for the future is likely its A-Team as currently assumed.

To the contrary and as we have now observed for more than 20 years if where you are going is not where you have already been, a new A-Team DNA is required at a fundamental level because what brought you to where you are is not what will transport you to where you need to go.  Your current A-Team is likely rather amorphous for future enterprise success creation purposes.


What we have observed for more than 2 decades has again been affirmed by our 2 most recent A-Team determination engagements referenced above.

Included below are 11 of the 21 common threads weaving through A-Team executives capable of leading their businesses into a changed and improved future without delay or error.  These capabilities are required of any individuals thought correctly to be “A-Players” and they are essential for any A-Team members charged with leading your enterprise to magnificently improved business outcomes in the near term.  “B”- and “C”-Team members while very important possess differing capabilities not closely related to enterprise transformations.

The order of importance of these A-Team member capabilities varies from country to country, enterprise to enterprise, and industry to industry:

  • They have clearly evident hybrid capabilities and are not limited to just one field of endeavor during the last 25 years or more. The CFO has also been a Director of Marketing, The Supply Chain Director has also been a Human Resources Director, the Chief Marketing Officer has also been a Vice President of Compliance, the Vice President of Human Resources has also been a Division President, and the Chief of Medicine has also been an Anesthesiologist, as examples.
  • They minimize differences among people at work rather than maximize differences between people and are never distracted by fad topics espoused by special interests and first-time purported experts.
  • Their motive for working is the same as the reason for the existence of the enterprise. In other words, their identity is what the enterprise will be in the near term and not where or when they will retire, as only one example.
  • They do not “need their space”. They enjoy all interactions with everybody including strangers, vendors, employees, customers, regulators, executives, owners, investors, shareholders and competitors.
  • They maintain a laser focus on goals and simplified collective objectives for all employees they lead.  In other words, they eliminate distractions.  Everything through yesterday is behind them and this evidences that they focus nearly entirely on the future of the business.
  • They think and talk continually about owner and shareholder interests, followed closely by customer interests.
  • Anything new during the last 3 years that they have needed to learn in terms of the business has been learned by them in 2 minutes to 2 weeks, while being retained permanently.
  • They consistently ask questions to learn and to connect with people having greater expertise than themselves. The last time they asked a question to challenge someone was only in a case of massive failure.
  • They prevent or end conflicts, problems and roadblocks productively and rapidly.
  • When observed, if they were a dog they would be wagging their tail most of the time.
  • They volunteer for just about anything. Whatever needs to be done right and in a hurry with no trail of destruction is always their enthusiasm subject.  They tend to wear it on their persona:



Knowing who the A-Team is tends to be fairly simple provided the enterprise is looking through its windshield rather than through its rear-view mirror as it is heading down the highway to its destination.  A-Team members are not hand-picked or anointed by capable leaders; they are self-evidenced in rather small numbers.  The A-Team is a mission; not a reward.

Most enterprises are about 40% correct as to who their A-Team is and needs to be, and our clients around the world have found that usually between 75% and 80% of their necessary A-Team members are currently employed by them.  That generally distills to a 35% to 60% challenge based upon hard data within real enterprises that we have witnessed for decades.

As we have guided our clients on this crucial subject over the years a number of highly capable executives in several countries have wondered aloud with us whether they have mistakenly defined their A-Team as having too many usually anointed members.  And in those cases, yes, there has been no need for an A-Team of 14 to 38 members within those large enterprises.

You see, excessively large A-Teams charged with creating the future tend to be excessively conflicted, ineffective, internally competitive, and/or slow.

…but the future for victorious enterprises is approaching too fast for any of that.



To join over 3,700 other subscribers on our blog posting notification list (postings every 2 to 6 weeks) please Email us at

Please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) so that we may discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points.

©2019, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

How To Assess Employment Assessments

►How To Assess Employment Assessments◄

(Assessment science is a fairly complex subject, with this article describing some of it in summary form.  Please call or email us with questions on the topic of employment assessments and we will be pleased to answer them.)



Optimized Hiring and Promotion is the candidate evaluation method being used by the increasingly successful enterprises that we work with.  With this methodology, determining accurately predictive Job Match on the parts of external and internal candidates is simple.  This method is founded upon reliable and valid assessment results followed by structured interviews resulting from assessment responses, all at lower cost and more rapidly than past and recent hiring methods.  Optimized Hiring and Promotion inexpensively utilizes non-obvious statistical correlations between how candidates for employment or promotion respond to valid assessment questions and scoring algorithms, in comparison to your enterprise’s job specifics and required on-the-job performance levels.

The outdated methodology of evaluating only technical qualifications, educational credentials, references, and through in-person interviews has been losing its effectiveness for hiring, promoting and retaining people for almost 12 years.  Our client and market research indicate that outdated methodology’s current success rate at less than 23%.

Unsurprisingly, in the majority of cases where the outdated methodology is still used, labor costs, G&A and overhead have increased as Job Match has decreased.


Over 450 employment assessments are now available on a global basis, most of which have few or no users.  Their early history dates to the theories of Empedocles, a Greek Philosopher, in 440 BC.   Their modern development in terms of only personality traits was developed by Carl G. Jung, William M. Marston and Walter V. Clark between 1921 and 1940 with what resulted in the DiSC Personality Profile.

There will always be some level of inaccuracy in the prediction of almost any future behavior BUT the people who do better on tests and in structured interviews resulting from tests also do better on the job in well over 90% of our researched cases.  Reliable and valid assessments are very substantially more accurate predictors of capability and Job Match than unstructured interviews, particularly as it relates to interviews occurring by committees and what are sometimes referred to as “oral boards”.

Without question, the most legally challenged and expensive employee selection tool is the unstructured interview.


Self-report personality assessments are subject to impression management on the part of the test taker, as are interviews. Most candidates tend to present themselves in a positive light even if false, and we expect them to do that. As a result, it is very important to know when they do that and the degree to which they do that, a very difficult task for nearly all interviewers and hiring managers.  Most candidates do a poor job of faking assessment results with about 30% of them faking in the wrong direction.  With the best employment assessments, you can know when that has occurred, but while utilizing only candidate interviews you will never know until after the employee is hired or promoted.

Unfortunately, faking any portion of an interview or assessment makes the entire interview or assessment non-useful for employment purposes because you cannot know with certainty what interview and/or assessment responses were faked.

In simple terms, any assessment that is fixed form with only 4 possible brief answers to each question is an ipsative personality assessment, easily faked and not useful for employment decisions.  For most of those assessments, candidates may easily view an answer key on the web before completing the assessment making the assessment results fundamentally invalid and non-predictive.

Only advanced, defensible and useful assessments tell you when assessment responses have been faked, usually with what is referred to either as a lie scale or distortion scale.  Unfortunately, over 95% of assessments include no such distortion scale.


There are very simple ways to know whether any particular assessment is effective and reliable within your company, and in all likelihood only about 6% of them will be based upon the answers you receive from vendors to the following questions.  These are the questions you will need the answers to in order to be successful with your enterprise hiring and promotion decisions, and we recommend that you print this list for your next conversation with any assessment vendors:

  • What is the most recent date of the assessment’s validation and reliability documentation?
  • What were the scores resulting from that research?
  • Are those scores cumulative or for each assessment scale?
  • Where was the assessment developed and when?
  • How many assessment reports are available?
  • What is the total cost of each assessment and are there volume purchase discounts?
  • Are we charged for anything other than the candidate’s original completion of the assessment?
  • Does the assessment provide numerical assessment scale scores on a STEN basis, or only labels and verbal descriptions resulting from assessment results?
  • In what foreign languages is the assessment and its reports available?
  • How many assessment scales are included within the assessment and what are their names?
  • Is the assessment fixed form or adaptive in terms of user interface?
  • Does the assessment have a distortion scale or a lie scale?
  • Does the assessment measure capabilities or personalities?
  • Can we reliably customize reporting against our company’s specific needs for Job Match purposes?
  • Is the assessment available by internet and also by paper and pencil?
  • Are assessment results immediately available by internet to us?
  • Will we receive a full assessment center interface with all assessment results, security groups and customized business group delineation?
  • Are there any charges for additional assessment reports, interpretation assistance, or technical support?
  • How quickly do you respond to telephone calls and emails from your clients?
  • If internet-based, is on-line assessment access by candidates and us available 100% of the time?
  • Is there a training cost or certification cost?
  • May we easily interpret all assessment results, or will we need assistance from you as the assessment provider?
  • Can the assessment be customized for my company, position, geographic location, department, manager, country, division, or any combination of those factors?
  • When was the assessment last updated?

All of the above questions and their answers are crucial to ensure that your candidate evaluation methodology is highly effective for Job Match, human capital capability and financial results growth as well as enterprise mission success.



To join over 3,300 other subscribers on our blog posting notification list (postings every 2 to 6 weeks) please Email us at

Also, please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) so that we may discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points.

©2019, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

Another Dive Into The Bureaucracy Wreck


This solution expands upon our 03/14/19 solution.
Click Here For That Solution


Our March 14, 2019 Proven Solution article on the subject of bureaucracy has generated many more telephone calls and Emails to us than any prior article published by us.

Included below are 8 of the questions asked of us by senior executives from around the world since that date along with our answers to those questions.  Please note that with all of these questions being very incisive, there is slight overlap among some of the question subjects.

We believe that these comments/questions and our answers will be helpful to many executives beyond just the executives who posed them to us.


Some executives here seem to not know the symptoms of increasing bureaucracy or the problems it creates for all aspects of our business and company.  Bureaucracy is a dirty little secret here and getting worse all the time.  Please stay on this topic and I am sending a few people here to your site.  (Large food products distributor Supply Chain Director)

We have been focused upon this common business performance roadblock as a contributor to declining enterprise results for years.  It is a frequent enough contributor to enterprise capability blockages that we will always assist companies to become more productive while continually removing internal inefficiencies and results roadblocks.  But please know that people who gain something only in their minds from bureaucracy will defend it until the end of time.  The capability set to end it is always more effective than the desire by some to keep and grow it, however, because ending it always improves the numbers.


I am new in this position and bureaucracy is pretty plain to see here.  I wonder how bureaucracy grows in front of otherwise highly capable executives.  We had none of it where I last worked for 16 years.  (Public technology company Controller)

Damaging bureaucracy is analogous to spatial disorientation while flying and while SCUBA diving.  In those situations when there is no pilot view of the earth’s surface and horizon, or when there is no diver view of the sea floor and the water surface, the pilot or diver can each become unknowingly disoriented with very negative consequences  The Aeroflot Flight 821 crash in 2008 and John F. Kennedy, Jr’s air crash in 1999 are examples of pilot spatial disorientation, with no survivors in either case.

Anyone in an aircraft that is making a controlled turn, no matter how steep, will have little or no sensation of being tilted unless the horizon is visible to them. Bureaucracy tilts businesses and blocks executive views of the enterprise horizon.

It also creates a false perception of being effective as individuals and successful as enterprises.  We call this mission disorientation whereby employee and executive views become focused upon the bureaucracy reality instead of upon the horizon reality of competitors, customers, financial results, internal efficiency, and performance-to-plan.  As bureaucracy grows there is an increasingly obstructed view of the business horizon creating unknowing disorientation on the part of many and eventually all of its leaders who have not departed because of it.

Pilots can end this problem by viewing the earth and the horizon or by using their navigation instruments if so qualified.  Divers can view their air bubbles and follow them to the surface in a controlled ascent.

Bureaucracy can commence either purposefully or mistakenly and in business you only need to know what bureaucracy looks and smells like, map it to financial results, and then fly or swim to avoid it just as you would avoid a tornado as a pilot or a school of large sharks as a diver.


Is it possible to know whether someone you are meeting with for the first time is a bureaucrat or a non-bureaucrat?  (Large public restaurant company President)

Yes.  We actually utilize 4 varying groups of 3 evaluation steps to evaluate bureaucratic tendencies. Here is one of our bureaucracy preference evaluation methods:

  • Meet with them for coffee and be sure to be present when the coffee is served. If they add anything to their coffee before drinking it and they then stir the coffee for more than about 2 seconds, it indicates that they tend to take excess time to accomplish things which is a direct manifestation of bureaucracy.
  • Ask them at least 2 questions on subjects about them professionally. If they answer those questions without pausing they are prone to acting as opposed to deliberating and reflecting.  Deliberation, indecision, reflection and slow response on factual subjects are direct manifestations of bureaucracy.
  • Ask them, “When you have a flight connection in a large airport, on moving walkways between concourses do you stand to the left, stand to the right, or do you keep walking?”  Standing still while business moves around you is a direct manifestation of bureaucracy.


Are any of your listed symptoms of deleterious bureaucracy also symptoms of anything else that may be damaging to business results?  (Large non-US airline Chief Digital and Innovation Officer)

Yours is a very intuitive question.  Our 40 symptoms of damaging bureaucracy tend to result only from bureaucratic preferences or resulting bureaucracy itself.

Generally speaking, bureaucracy arises from executive limitations and undeveloped skills that are usually easily corrected on a peaceful basis.  Our experience in nearly all client cases is that it is the bureaucracy that must end as opposed to the executive’s employment ending.  But please know that absent a bureaucracy intervention it is the bureaucracy itself that gives comfort to the usually small or tiny group of executives who happen to be unknowing, while giving simultaneous discomfort to their most capable and productive team members.  In the most severe cases, however, unbridled bureaucracy is direct evidence of unbridled incompetence.

We have seldom met executives whose purpose has been to create bureaucracy and the expenses/failures that result from it, but we have met many executives whose unknowing limitations created and grew very damaging bureaucracy that was more difficult to eliminate with passing time.  Also please remember that people have a significant tendency to hire in their own image which can include executive limitations and undeveloped skills, potentially increasing the half-life of internal bureaucracy.

As a great example, several of the 22 symptoms included within our March 14, 2019 article are frequent manifestations of executive limitations such as a mistaken desire to be knowledgeable about details that should be fully delegated to others, or the very common error of hiring or promoting individuals who are under-capable.  The more under-cable employees and executives there are within an enterprise the more necessary meetings are and the longer it takes for even basic business decisions to occur, with each of those 2 symptoms being direct evidence of deleterious bureaucracy.


From your client experiences what are the expenses that grow the most as bureaucracy grows?  (Large not-for-profit health care company CEO)

CEO’s and Presidents are very seldom the causes or enablers of bureaucracy, but you may as a CEO now have a bead on part of your business where it appears to you that efficiencies are slipping and/or expenses are increasing, causing you to evaluate whether bureaucracy may be the cause. (NOTE:  This individual confirmed that this was the case within 3 key departments reporting to 1 senior executive that reports to this CEO.)

There are both Direct and Indirect bureaucracy expenses and most of them are easy to calculate or note within earnings statements as soon as they begin to exist.

  • Excess headcount is commonly the most damaging direct expense and the primary reason is because as unnecessary headcount is added, bureaucracy tends to be some or much of the job descriptions…whether stated or not…of those excess employees and layers of employees added unnecessarily.  The indirect bureaucracy expenses of headcount are derived overhead consisting of items such as payroll taxes, group benefits expenses, time off with pay, company cars, and workers’ compensation insurance premiums, as examples.
  • Enterprises with excess staffing become inwardly focused instead of maintaining productive focus on competitors, customers, products and services. This results in degradation of earnings, efficiency and/or revenue either slowly or rapidly.
  • As bureaucracy increases, distractions by subjects not connected to improving individual performance and enterprise results become commonplace. Vision and critical thinking become corrupted, and output and workflow slow.  We call this The Gynorcki Syndrome and would be pleased to define that to executives desiring more information on the subject.
  • Because bureaucracy is analogous to a dense cloud formation within any given enterprise, human errors tend to increase in frequency and also tend to not be noticed and/or not be corrected. Accountability tends to not be delineated effectively as bureaucracy increases because many more people than necessary become involved in actions, decisions and delays.  Repetitive errors always have costs either on the top line or on the bottom line and this subject is closely tied to deficient unity of command within bureaucratic structures.  Bureaucracy is actually quite similar to a hall of angled mirrors on the floor, ceiling and walls with confusion, delays and being lost the common human outcomes.
  • Individual and team objectives become amorphous, meaning that fewer individual and team business objectives are accomplished within bureaucratic environments. In business, that translates into degradation of financial results slightly over 85% of the time frequently with the excuses of competition, customers, the economy, regulatory influences, suppliers and/or technology being falsely blamed.


Through your client work have you discovered any particular functional team that tends to create bureaucracy the most frequently, because I think I know which one it is here?  (Very large public manufacturing company CEO)

Bureaucracy can have its Genesis anywhere if it is not prevented at its earliest stage of growth.  However, it nearly always begins within teams that have no P&L accountability while being led by executives with little or no P&L capability.

For that reason, bureaucracy does not tend to begin or grow within airline hubs, in distribution centers, in restaurants, or in hospital trauma centers.  However, buildings and teams where customers are seldom if ever present are a significantly different story.

One of the 3 most common bureaucracy originators is the Human Resources function within which P&L illiteracy is quite common.  This frequently worsens with headcount growth within such functions because teams without P&L literacy and P&L missions frequently do not contribute positively to financial outcomes except by accident.  With each additional headcount in such departments, bureaucracy expands.

We have 3 large clients in the USA and 1 large client in Germany whereby the Human Resources functions are now organized, staffed and led so effectively that they have eliminated bureaucracy within the function in addition to where it has been propagated within other functions and operations.  Those 4 teams are now 18% to 32% smaller than they were previously while each enterprise has grown significantly during the last 3 years.  Coincidentally, all 4 of those Human Resources teams are now headed by P&L literate and experienced executives who have hired similarly skilled professionals.

Lack of P&L interest and ability within such staff functions is easy to prevent and reverse, however.  It is quite fascinating to observe the rapid improvement of functional capabilities and contributions to enterprise financial results as those teams become more financially informed and effectively focused upon enterprise mission instead of only upon an insular functional identity.

In summary, the simplest antidote to this challenge is to have no functional teams led by P&L illiterate professionals who have never held P&L accountability.


Is there any numerical formula that your firm uses to know where bureaucracy exists or is likely to exist within a company because we are large and operate around the world with many differences among us?  And, I believe bureaucracy and financial slippage are each growing significantly.  (Very large non-US technology company Managing Director of Finance and Shared Services)

Yes, although our formula is only 1 of the 3 analysis tools that we use.  That numerical analysis gives us and our clients what has proven for over 4 years to be an accurate initial indication of whether and where non-contributory bureaucracy likely exists within buildings, business units, departments, divisions, regions, subsidiaries and teams. It is entirely numerical and is an algorithm founded upon client data that recognizes the inherent differences between business models, geographies, enterprise missions, industry complexities and varying cultures.

It is a crucial starting point of our evaluations, but it does not indicate the causes of bureaucracy if it exists; only the locations of it.  We have used it successfully and accurately with clients in Doha, Nairobi, Milan, Dublin, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Denver, Phoenix, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and are again utilizing it beginning today with a new client in Houston.

2 of the 6 key aspects of our formula are Operating Revenue and Non-Incentive Payroll Percentage, and our evaluations are usually founded upon 3 of the last 5 years of certain financial data provided to us by our clients.


Is there a “poison pill” for increasing bureaucracy?  (Very large E-commerce company Board member)

There are several poison pills that are highly effective for neutralizing bureaucracy and almost all of them do not create organizational convulsions.  The most effective one(s) to use are determined from the specifics of each enterprise case on subjects such as who/what started the bureaucracy, when and where it started, what is the imagined need for it and benefit of it, and who/what is nourishing it currently.  The loaded question by us is always, “Have there been any magnificent results that have resulted directly from this bureaucracy alone?”

A magical question that we also always pose is, “What will the revenue, margin or profit loss be if this internal bureaucracy is eliminated?”

Another important factor is the subject of what is working well currently while improving financial results within the enterprise despite bureaucracy.

A very highly effective bureaucracy poison pill that is usually combined with 1 to 4 other poison pills is the hiring and promotion of only highly capable and productive people at supervisory levels and above everywhere in the enterprise, and there are very easy and effective ways to accomplish this without complexity or delay.  High human capabilities and lack of bureaucratic tendencies are both easily measured because professional capabilities and bureaucratic tendencies are inversely proportional within individuals 100% of the time.

Reading between the lines of those prior 2 sentences makes clear that all of the most highly capable and contributory employees and executives in your business are NOT bureaucrats.  We call this The Tom White Reality and would be pleased to define that to executives desiring more information on the subject.  This reality is much of what inspires key executives to utilize our bureaucracy poison pills and is also why within our executive search practice we spend so much time assessing bureaucratic tendencies within executive candidates being considered for employment by our clients.


To join over 3,250 other subscribers on our blog posting notification list (postings every 2 to 6 weeks) please Email us at

Also, please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) so that we may discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points.

©2019, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

The “Bureaucracy vs. Financial Results” Case




Since 1996 we have shared with clients, “speed is the only competitive advantage in business that costs nothing”.

Increased enterprise speed tends to have no capital or cash expense associated with the improved financial outcomes it creates.  Simply stated, speed improvements have translated directly to the top and bottom lines on a 22%/78% split in most of our client cases globally.

Bureaucracy has never improved customer capture and retention and it has also never improved enterprise speed.  As bureaucracy grows enterprise and human speed slows, with variable labor and G&A expenses nearly always increasing at an exponential rate.



It is our hope that what is described below does not apply to you and your enterprise, and if that is the case we applaud you for that accomplishment if partially or entirely due to your influence and leadership.  When people are hired, led, motivated and organized optimally bureaucracy cannot take root because bureaucracy is a foreign body within the circulatory systems of highly productive enterprises.

Bureaucracy ranging from what is noticeable to what is excessive adds overhead, slows decision making, distracts from customers and financial objectives, creates internal friction, prevents risk taking, causes departures of the most highly capable employees, and very often removes customer interests from business decisions.

On a large number of occasions, we have been retained out of client survival necessity to mitigate or eliminate this negative force. During 14 of those engagements since 2014 we have occasionally mapped the beginning of bureaucracy, the growth of bureaucracy, the commitment to and defense of bureaucracy, and the impact of expanding bureaucracy upon client brand, revenue, margin, profit and shareholder return prior to neutralizing this cancer in partnership with our clients.



As with the case of colon polyps progressing to colon cancer, the bureaucracy cancer frequently takes as many as 2 to 12 years before it becomes impossible to reverse and heal.  It is a one-way street within both colons and enterprises, and without external intervention both cancers are eventually fatal 100% of the time.  But for 1 to as many as 8 years there tends to be no discernible illness symptoms perceived by most ill people and ill enterprises.

Colon Cancer Stage IV is present whenever that cancer has metastasized from the colon to any other body organs.  Bureaucracy Stage IV exists whenever bureaucracy has spread from its originating department, executive or work team to any other department(s), executive(s) or work team(s).  Our years of research indicate that this bureaucracy cancer spreads noticeably more rapidly within business than colon cancer spreads within the human body, particularly when any new key executive is a fan of such bureaucracy.

Endemic bureaucracy is more damaging to earnings than the most intense market competition is, and we refer to it as Enterprise Stage IV Cancer (ES4C) with clients using pointed words such as affliction, blight, disease, scourge, terror and villain to describe it.



Within business, bureaucracy is any action, habit, methodology, leader preference or undertaking that does not translate into improved financial outcomes and/or internal efficiencies beginning in short order.  It includes any and all activities that are not focused upon enterprise mission as it relates to customers and financial results growth.

As one example within enterprises prone to superabundant meetings, a 4-hour meeting should deliver twice the financial and/or efficiency improvements of a 2-hour meeting.  Likewise, a 12-person meeting should deliver 4 times the financial and/or efficiency improvements of a 3-person meeting.  Conversely, a 1-hour meeting that delivers no improved financial and/or efficiency improvement results should have lasted no hours.

When the most capable people are hired, led and rewarded correctly there is very little need for frequent, large or routine meetings or other bureaucratic manifestations in order to coordinate employee and executive actions.  Unnecessary and non-accretive meetings are defined by us as  group grope.



Bureaucracy is not born; it grows.  Similar to colon cancer it is not possible to cure ES4C without direct and targeted interventions, some of which are out of necessity as invasive as a flexible sigmoidoscopy is for the purpose of ending colon cancer.  Sometimes polyps must be removed and other times the colon and other organs need to be removed or replaced.

The reason forest fires are so effective at what they do is because they create their own winds with those winds generally being 10 times what ambient winds are before such fires exist.  Enterprise bureaucracy is also fueled largely by its own wind.  Bureaucracy and forest fires create trails of destruction in different locations while each is defined by some individuals as effective.

While we cannot possibly know the level of bureaucracy extant within your enterprise from a great distance if it might exist, it is our hope that it and the fuel that feeds it are non-existent for you, the people around you and the damage that is usually left by it.



Listed below are 22 of the 40 easily discernible symptoms of detrimental bureaucracy negatively impacting enterprise outcomes.  When we are called upon to assist new clients in dire bureaucratic straits, many or most of these symptoms are evident.  The more of these symptoms that exist within a given enterprise the greater their combined negative impact on brand, customer and employee opinions, enterprise capabilities and financial results.

  • Inflated position titles when compared with individual position holder accountabilities, capabilities and responsibilities.
  • Reward system structures that are not founded upon market data and compensation best practices.
  • Meetings that occur on a highly repetitive calendar basis such as “The Weekly Tuesday Sales Meeting”.
  • Meeting titles with the word “Staff” included in the meeting title.
  • Meetings that do not end on time and do not become shorter.
  • Meetings that include people who do not talk and perhaps do not listen.
  • Senior executives who are seldom or never present in customer facing locations.
  • Executives and/or employees who do not respond to inbound communications on the date received at least 80% of the time.
  • Individuals without subject expertise challenging individuals with subject expertise.
  • Excess energy spent attempting to solve real or imagined internal issues that do not distill to customers and financial results.
  • Debate and deliberation about opinions and views instead of about evidenced facts.
  • Reserved and named parking spaces.
  • Private, as opposed to shared, executive assistants and secretaries of any number greater than one.
  • Fear of being fired for any reason other than incompetence and/or lack of production.
  • Rewards not differentiated according to individual capabilities and contributions.
  • Administrative, executive and/or middle management headcount growth beyond enterprise revenue growth percentage.
  • Headcount growth within departments and functions insulated from customers and markets such as Administration, Human Resources, Finance, Legal, Information Technology and Marketing.
  • Position titles such as “Chief of Staff” or any similarly rhythmic titles.
  • Lack of autonomy on the part of highly capable employees and executives.
  • Audits beyond those mandated by regulatory agencies.
  • “Dry runs” in advance of meetings and/or presentations.
  • Existence of roadblocks to risk taking.

Please know that the existence of only a very small number…1 to 3…of these bureaucracy symptoms within any enterprise will not create ruinous  bureaucracy until bureaucratic metastasis occurs on what tends to be a naturally expanding basis.  However, when very few or none of the above bureaucracy symptoms exist the enterprise has avoided this malady at least until a senior executive is hired who happens to be a proponent of injurious bureaucracy.

How to avoid that executive hiring outcome will be presented here in a future Proven Solutions article.

Bureaucracy measurably inhibits human and business performance.  And work flow becomes increasingly stagnant within increasingly bureaucratic organizations at the expense of all stakeholders.

This solution is followed by our 03/28/19 bureaucracy solution:
Click Here For That Solution


To join over 3,200 other subscribers on our blog posting notification list (postings every 2 to 6 weeks) please Email us at

Also, please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) so that we may discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points.

©2019, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

How To Know If Sufficient Candidate Soft Skills Exist




Many businesses mistakenly hire and promote for work skills as opposed to contribution capabilities.  Said another way, they frequently hire for “fit” and then fire for “performance”.

Through background checks, employment applications, LinkedIn, resumes, and reference information, “Hard Skills” candidate assessment is the simplest candidate evaluation step for the employer to endure.  Those candidate information sources are the majority or entirety of how individuals are evaluated and hired/promoted within many businesses.

The outcome of that approach frequently is the employment of individuals whose “Hard Skills” strengths are outweighed by their “Soft Skills” drawbacks.

This blog article will provide you with a few of our proven methods to avoid the many drawbacks of missing soft skills, usually at many organizational levels.  Said another way, a Senior Vice President lacking soft skills will generally not have people with soft skills working for him or her for very long.



Hard Skills are functional abilities that are quantifiable and measurable. They are specific to individual position types and vary widely among position types and specializations. The Hard Skills of an accountant, janitor, surgeon, software engineer, CEO, airline pilot, artist or paramedic are different from each position type on a fundamental level. The majority of Hard Skills are taught, tested, and then either confirmed or certified/licensed.  They are what people are hired to do in terms of measurable job accountabilities and tend to be developed and refined over many years or decades.

Soft Skills are the talents related to interacting and working with other people, separate and distinct from functional abilities.  They are the talents of working cooperatively, dependably, pleasantly and productively with other people at all levels within and outside of the business.  These talents manifest themselves naturally beginning at a young age (high school) and also as the result of correction and guidance within the workplace at older ages beginning at about the age of 22.

Hard Skills and Soft Skills frequently exist within individual team members on an inversely proportional basis despite the fact that they must exist on a directly proportional and balanced basis in order for optimal business outcomes to occur.

Soft Skills can be developed rather easily within individuals when the correct methods are utilized, but it is always more beneficial and much less expensive to hire those skills in fully developed form at the front door of the business.



Some professionals mistakenly contend that Soft Skills are personality centered and not possible to change, measure or develop.  Nothing could be further from the facts.  Personality assessments do not measure Soft Skill talents because individual personalities are dynamic and change frequently, sometimes hour-to-hour.  To the contrary, Soft Skill talents must be as constant as showing up for work as expected.

We have not yet discovered any position type or title in any of the 27 countries within which we work that does not require both Hard Skill and Soft Skill talent sets.  Imagine an astronaut with endless Hard astronaut skills and few or no Soft Skills while living in a spaceship with 5 other astronauts for 3 weeks.

Soft Skills include the talents of exceptional communication, continuous learning, acceptance of responsibility, commitment to goals, continuous cooperation, consistent team contribution, rejection of business politics, continual focus on the needs of others including customers, and very high work ethic as a few examples.

Those talents are all observable, measurable and improvable, as well as highly beneficial to enterprise brand and financial results.

In summary, both talent sets are necessary within all employees at all levels of the enterprise in order for business outcomes to continually improve.



Because we have frequently been called upon to follow the trail of destruction created by exceptional Hard Skills alone, we and our clients have learned that exceptional Hard Skills are not beneficial to an enterprise when not accompanied by exceptional Soft Skills.  And usually, business leaders become concerned about soft skills only after realizing that those skills have mistakenly not been evaluated by their staffing teams and hiring managers.

We have 2 proven assessments that measure Soft Skill talents reliably and validly, with one assessment being for non-international and non-cross-cultural purposes and the other assessment being for international and cross-cultural purposes.  Please feel free to contact us on that subject at any time if you wish for this business challenge to be solved in simple form within your enterprise.

In the meantime, below are a few of the Soft Skills solutions developed by us and our clients over the last 27 years on how to know whether Soft Skill talents exist within individuals at a level beneficial to your business.  The individuals exhibiting these symptoms are assured to have many of the Soft Skills now required for improving business results in this increasingly global environment:

  • Lack of nervousness.
  • Exceptional time management and dependability.
  • Questioning to learn, instead of to challenge or correct.
  • Consistently pleasant facial expressions with steady eye contact.
  • Recognition of skills that they do not possess and also wish to learn.
  • Hybrid functional abilities (more than one knowledge/experience set).
  • You feel more energized after meeting them than you did prior to meeting them.
  • Expressions that all or most prior work experiences were enjoyable and rewarding.
  • Very rapid responsiveness with no excuses, including responses to Email and Voice Mail.
  • Inability to be distracted because Soft Skill talents disappear during times of distraction. (More Frequently Distracted = Less Soft Skills.)

We have 7 clients in 4 countries that have dramatically improved their operating margins and pretax profits during the last 18 months by doing this right.  And in 4 of those instances the clients have found recruitment and retention to now be infinitely easier and much less expensive than prior to making the improvements discussed above.

You may be assured that giving equal weight to Hard Skills and Soft Skills when determining who to hire and who to promote (and also, who to fire) will pay very large dividends to you and your enterprise in exceedingly short order.



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Also, please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) so that we may discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points.

©2019, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

Preventing Reward System Death Spirals


Occam’s Razor is a principal attributed to Middle Ages Philosopher and Franciscan Friar William of Occam.  It asserts that when solving problems people should select solutions with the fewest possible assumptions in order to dramatically reduce ambiguities, inconsistencies and failures.  Unfortunately, on subjects of enterprise compensation this principle is frequently lost while dubious opinions, preferences and false information corrupt or replace factual data and proven practices.

Our compensation practice is frequently called upon by new and long-term clients due to the proliferation of disputable and frequently false information regarding the compensation amounts required to be competitive for given positions within the geographies and labor markets where our clients exist.

Misleading and unreliable compensation data as well as interpretation errors have been proliferating increasingly since Glass Door, Indeed, PayScale and arrived noticeably on the Web beginning about 9 years ago.


Using yesterday’s market compensation levels is not adequate to attract, retain, motivate, and engage employees today for the purpose of improving your enterprise’s financial and operating outcomes.   Too much has changed during the last 4 years, too many position types have either decreased or increased in terms of demand and common compensation amounts, and unemployment is now hovering near 3.8%.  January 2019 U S wages increased by 0.76% over October 2019’s data.  Basing employee and executive compensation amounts and methodologies on current and accurately predicted future reality is always in the best interests of customers, employees, financial statements and shareholders.

Competitive compensation is a data subject purely and simply to the same degree that a person’s height is.  When performance feedback systems and compensation structures are simultaneously rooted in factual numeric data analyzed by appropriate comparative metrics (industry, location, revenue, production, etc.), the common distractions of false information, philosophies, imaginary dollar figures, negotiation, and internal politics are shaved off by Occam’s Razor while then being washed down the drain.  Payroll expenses and enterprise outcomes then become relationally linked, and competitive/equitable compensation positioning becomes assured in short order.

However, when compensation data is pulled out of the imagination or the sky as some individuals and consultants prefer, things head south rather noisily.  It is common practice that certain data providers are still distributing data that was collected as long as 9 years ago while simplistically aging all of that data by about 2% per year while mistakenly assuming that compensation patterns for all positions and years exist on a linear basis.  BUT, Switchboard Operators as only one example no longer exist, and during that same 9-year period actual compensation on an individual position basis has moved between +7.8% and -2.7% per year.  Unfortunately, the more false information you utilize the more false your enterprise compensation system becomes.

Human Capital is the first or second most expensive operating cost within approximately 93% of businesses.  It is also the cost that tends to be most prone to  errors, excesses, and manipulations.  After all, when was the last time any person within your enterprise suggested that given position titles be compensated at lower amounts?

When factually reliable competitive compensation data is sought, utilized and responded to wisely enterprises tend to avoid rotting slowly or rapidly from the inside out.


During the last 9 years, the proliferation of web-based mass market compensation purveyors has misled hundreds of enterprises and hundreds of thousands of employees on the subject of what amounts should be paid to employees for given jobs.  Thankfully our international clients do not face this danger because 3 of the 4 firms referenced above operate only within the USA.

The bigger compensation conflagration is that one of the 4 firms referenced collects and reports only nebulous compensation information as supposedly provided by “anonymous” position holders based upon position title alone with no proof or attribution, as opposed to real data being provided by employers with payroll records as a foundation.  That firm is a hearsay company as opposed to a data company and is of no legitimate use to employers.

We suggest that you let that sink in while knowing that the back of the houses from which such information propagates are usually Houses of Cards that are as unsettling to observe as a bologna factory during the overnight shift.

Please understand that when a consulting firm or data provider peddles supposed compensation data without requesting or reviewing position descriptions and organization charts (as well as 4 other crucial items) they are at best misleading the recipient of such information, in this case you.  After all, when the data is either false or problematic there is no need to do anything else correctly.  Contacting those firms with questions about their data to confirm its reliability is always futile and we are retained 10 to 14 times each year to clean up such chaos for our new clients.

As an analogy, if you should suffer chest pains for 2 days, information must be provided to and questions must be asked of you by your physician, with that data then being thoroughly reviewed rapidly (remember…it is chest pains) and explained to you by that same physician before surgery is scheduled.  Multi-dimensional reality is fundamental for both cardiac and compensation interventions because both human and enterprise health require it.


The 2 diagrams below provide many of the answers to the common quandary of how to prevent reward system death spirals and you will likely recognize at least some of the included guardrails.

This first methodology map briefly summarizes our approach to ensuring that your enterprise gains from its competitive compensation position without excess expense, with the numbers included with each methodology factor allowing you to cross-reference with the deeper details about each factor provided within the second methodology map included below (for a larger and printable/savable copy of this graphic, please click Here):

This second methodology map provides the crucial details of our technique to ensure that your enterprise gains from its competitive compensation position without excess expense, with the numbers included with each methodology factor allowing you to cross-reference with the summary items provide within the first methodology map included above (for a larger and printable/savable copy of this graphic, please click Here):


Wrongful competitive compensation information and resulting decisions are unfortunately never translated onto the General Leger as an “error expense”.  Nonetheless, a U S services sector client of ours calculated in November 2018 that their earlier error resulting from false market data provided by one of the above referenced firms had cost them an avoidable 3.61% of total payroll costs during the prior 12 months totaling $974,700, also a period within which employee turnover had fascinatingly increased dramatically.

Doing this correctly costs much less than either not doing it or doing it incorrectly and when the client enterprise financial results of doing it correctly are calculated, doing this all correctly is inevitably found to cost less than nothing.

Additionally, for enterprise performance purposes there is something very beneficial about employees and executives knowing factually that they are being rewarded competitively while not being distracted by false information from either the grapevine or the Web.


Please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) and we would be pleased to discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points or you may visit Here for further information on this subject.

©2019, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.


Best Contributors For Business Growth


On January 21st we were contacted by the President of a large public company in Texas on referral from a long-term client of ours based in Los Angeles.  His company is in significant growth mode and he posed a question facing all rapidly growing enterprises, sometimes without their knowledge at their own peril.

His question was, “We are in rapid acquisition and growth mode.  How do we separate the wheat from the chaff while knowing with certainty who our highest capability and best contributors will be for 4 years of significant growth, major change, and at least 2 acquisitions?”  We then talked for 25 minutes on this subject before he asked that we meet at his office on February 5th.  The essence of what I shared by telephone was that the solution to his concern is usually quite simple.


During times of acquisition and growth 2 of the 9 most important capabilities of Best Contributor executives who create exceptional near-term AND long-term business result improvements without resulting “Neutron Bomb” destruction (see below) are:

  • Best Contributors are followed energetically by other employees and executives while inspiring consistent focus upon strategic objectives, while having themselves produced measurable numerical result improvements during the prior 24 months at a minimum.  Best Contributors with very long half-lives of contribution tend to have a following crowd that is forever growing as well as no symptomatic drawbacks of non-Best Contributors.  After all, how can results grow exponentially unless the crowd growing the results grows exponentially?   And, differentiating those 2 populations using accurately predictive techniques is crucial.    Most important, Best Contributors are always focused nearly exclusively upon customers and numerical results and NOT upon meetings, PowerPoint’s, conferences, unnecessary travel, excessive small talk, work absence, endless analyses, association certifications, passing fads, internal politics and esoteric subjects.  And,
  • Non-Best Contributors tend to have fairly universal limitations such as the 11 capability limiters included within the last sentence of the above bullet point.  For instance, no persons who are distracted by endless analyses and esoteric subjects can possibly be Best Contributors to business success even if they disguise themselves otherwise.  Non-Best Contributors nearly always exhibit symptoms of non-contribution and passive damage that are subtle in comparison to the roadblocks they create and what they generally are unable to produce for improved efficiencies and results.  These limitations can be either subconscious or disguised for the purpose of self-preservation in order to continue receiving paychecks.  Yes, non-Best Contributors frequently impersonate Best Contributors and they tend to have 1 to 3 vocal supporters usually within their same enterprise silo.  Best Contributors tend to have 4 to 400 vocal supporters within many enterprise silos.  It is important that key leaders always be mindful of these limiting attributes that are commonly missed by non-discerning individuals as could have otherwise occurred in the image below regarding a non-Best Contributor in the vehicle’s driver’s seat.  In this case the officer was discerning about the non-Best Contributor evidence painted on the vehicle trunk that many other people would either miss or not accurately translate.



Knowing with clarity and reliability who your Best Contributors are is crucial to acquisition and business growth success, as well as continually improving financial results.

Your primary jobs as a key leader are to replicate your Best Contributors, recruit and retain only Best Contributors, rapidly develop those who are able to become Best Contributors, and create continuously improving numerical results through your Best Contributors.


The W-70 “Neutron Bomb” was war ordnance developed by the USA beginning in the late 1950’s and was very widely protested throughout Europe between 1977 and 1982.  It was a bomb designed to “kill humans while leaving buildings standing”.  It was never actually utilized in combat and the last W-70 in existence was dismantled in 2011.

“Neutron Bomb” enterprise destruction occurs at the hands of Non-Best Contributors who create results while damaging or destroying people.  In business under that circumstance all buildings remain standing while many people do not, resulting in what has been commonly referred to as “brain drain” and what we tend to refer to as “enterprise death on the installment plan”.

Please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) and we would be pleased to discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points.

©2019, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

Damage From Distraction


A significant challenge that we are frequently retained by clients in 6 countries to rectify is what they describe as “an inability to get things done around here as quickly as they need to be done”.  Their usually stated symptoms include reduced labor efficiency, increased variable expense, excess meetings, laborious decision making, customer losses, financial results slippage, recruitment difficulty and/or increasing employee turnover.

We have found almost without exception that employees and executives within those businesses have not become less capable; they have instead become more distracted.  Such distractions are classified by us as “Stranded Time”.

Metastasizing distraction is an insidious destructive force in terms of financial results and enterprise brand 100% of the time.

Our services revolve significantly around Inefficiency Elimination and Distraction Mitigation.  If you have sensed growing internal results roadblocks you may rest assured that you are not alone, and that distraction and/or inefficiency are likely underlying causes.

While many organizations relish calling themselves Continuous Learning Environments, they sometimes forget that much more learning occurs at more rapid paces of contribution than occurs at slower rates of contribution.  That is largely because more failures and more successes (learning experiences) occur at higher speeds…with less money then needing to be spent on training, additional headcount and rework.

For decades, many executives and businesses have had great difficulty establishing, defining, correcting and improving enterprise cultures in order to grow operating and financial results because enterprise culture has in many cases evolved over time from limiting and frequently dubious enterprise habits.

Because culture is talked and commiserated about frequently without being acted upon, we have learned that “Culture improvement is more easily DONE than SAID.”   When approached shrewdly, culture and business outcomes improvement can be accomplished easily, peacefully and rapidly to the benefit of all stakeholders.

Here is one of the 7 Holy Grail’s on this culture subject, and Nike has said the same thing using different words since 1988:

Please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) and we would be pleased to discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points.

©2019, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

The Necessity Of Mandatory Execution


An increasingly frequent enterprise performance roadblock is that of individual leaders and/or leadership teams unable to get things done on a timely basis.  Analyses are completed, meetings occur, decisions are either avoided or delayed, lists of things waiting to be done lengthen, and results remain constant.

One Midwest USA CEO during our initial meeting on this subject told us several months ago, “I am wondering where the balls are in our ball game”.

This organizational tendency is generally not self-correcting and nearly always has its Genesis in lack of execution on the part of one or several senior and middle executives.   And its result tends significantly to be excess headcount that feeds the cancer of metastatic human capital ineffectiveness.  Said another way, diminishing human capital productivity is the primary outcome of lacking execution by leaders… and almost always, nothing else.

This form of organizational failure is usually evidenced by increasing numbers of decision, operational and/or financial result deadlines being missed. Inevitably, as this pattern continues for 2 to 4 months the cause of these failures becomes wrongfully as having no connection to the leader(s).  In fact, the cause is nearly always what we call “self-contradictory” leaders.

These self-contradictory leaders are usually the individuals who:

◊ are supposedly busy all or nearly all of the time.
◊ when they travel for business, their outgoing voicemail messages say something similar to, “I will have limited access to voicemail and email, so please contact blah-ba-dee-blah for assistance”, while forgetting about their company paid smartphone on their waste.
◊ operate on a late or absent basis under most or all circumstances.
◊ tend significantly to hire and promote “B’s and C’s” instead of “A’s”.
◊ frequently postpone or change discussion and meeting commitments.
◊ are very frequently unwilling to return or at least acknowledge communications on the day any such communication is received.

The role of leaders at any organizational level is to see everything, while doing everything they say they are going to do when they say they are going to do it. For instance, if a leader has a seat on Air France Flight #85 leaving for Paris from San Francisco out of Gate 34 at 9:05 PM, and arrives at the correct gate at 9:10 PM, it is no more and no less of a damaging failure than not meeting a business response or result requirement and deadline.  Inevitably he or she loses money, misses an opportunity, and/or messes other people up.

When you are able as a leader to see everything, you are also able to see around corners with great accuracy. And on the other side of this particular corner is organizational inefficiency and increased variable costs either created or enabled by the leader who should have learned something important from their failure to board Air France Flight #85.

Some of our most effective solutions to this burgeoning enterprise performance and execution roadblock are:

◊ Include deadline compliance within executive and management reward systems, summing to 15% to 25% of target and actual incentive payouts.
◊ Fully utilize network calendars and define starting and ending times of all calendar items as being mandatory.  Be late for and non-responsive to nothing.
◊ Begin and end discussions and meetings precisely on time without regard to who is scheduled to participate but is mistakenly absent.  When meetings are scheduled to end, everyone should depart to execute other commitments, including occasionally the commitment to end meetings quickly.  And if any meeting should start late, everyone should still depart at the time indicated on their calendar. Meetings that run late cause organizations to run even later.
◊ Quit the nonsense of meetings when all that is necessary is a decision within one’s authority followed by communication of that decision.
◊ Never use an unexpected challenge as an excuse.  Unexpected challenges can nearly always be added to one’s calendar for a time 5 minutes to 5 days from now.  The only challenges that should change anything are those involving someone either in a hospital or a funeral home.
◊ Operating at the “beck and call” of any person proves that person to be both subservient and lower level.  If one is paid less than $40,000 per year and has no employees reporting to them, that is okay.
◊ When surprises happen today, spend less time on each item now waiting to be dealt with.  15-minute conversations can nearly always become 3-minute conversations for the rest of the day.
◊ When another individual fails to execute on a timely basis never do that part of their job for them, and assume no responsibility for their failure.
◊ Respond to every telephone message and every email by the end of that day or by the next morning.  And require that all those you interface with do the same.  Non-responsiveness is always directly correlated with lack of execution.
◊ Remember that the only opportunity for learning more is when one’s list of things to do is continually either shortened or eliminated. And also, that the only competitive advantage that your enterprise has that costs it nothing happens to be speed.

Nobody ever followed an undependable person anywhere.  And just as a rooster crowing does not cause the sun to rise, being busy and failing to execute does not contribute to enterprise performance and success.

Please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) and we would be pleased to discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points.

©2018, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

Executive Hiring…Improving Their Return On Your Investment


Our last article, “Ensuring That Your Performance And Reward Systems Do Not Do Compensatory Damage”, engendered a great deal of interest and a large number of readers asked us to specifically touch upon our experience and recommendations in the area of executive hiring and compensation. As a result, some thoughts are outlined below. During the last eighteen months executive turnover has become higher than it ever has been in history, throughout nearly all developed nations. For our purposes, “executive” is defined as employees with base compensation in excess of $150,000 or its equivalent.

2000 was the best year in history for executive search firms in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and Latin America, and 2001 showed little abatement. According to our contacts in the U.S. and international executive search communities approximately 50% of that activity has resulted from voluntary executive departures, approximately 30% of that activity has resulted from involuntary executive departures, and approximately 20% of that activity has resulted from newly established executive positions. At the same time senior executive total compensation has, in general terms, climbed substantially in comparison to other employee populations. From a business perspective, despite varying opinions on the subject, that is neither good nor bad. It has, however, contributed to the likelihood of executive departures as the economy turns around.

Quality Leadership

Company performance is more heavily impacted by the quality of leadership throughout a company than it ever will be by how much “underpaid” or “overpaid” its leaders are. Whether an executive is “underpaid” or “overpaid” is in no way tied to the quality of his or her leadership skills. Paying a leader an excess amount will not make him or her a more effective leader, or improve the financial and competitive results of the organization. Additionally, in all cases where executive and employee compensation is directly tied to organizational results, “underpaid” or “overpaid” is immaterial because the pay is directly caused by the organization’s results. Concerns about excess executive pay seem to occur largely within organizations where pay is not tied directly to traceable organizational results specifically created by the executive, exclusive of the broad market.

The best leaders, those who create or enable positive results most effectively, do so without excess concern about how much they are paid. They have other things on their mind and that will become more evident as you continue reading this article. Coincidentally, we have found that they also spend more time concerned about how effectively their team is being rewarded and whether that reward system is supporting the business results that the leader envisions. That concern, specifically, is what creates reward system alignment within organizations. It is also much of what makes successful organizations effective.

Compensation Preference

From a psychological standpoint, money tends to be an exclusive interest for those who are consumed by it. Said another way, those who are consumed by money tend to be quite disinterested in most or all other interests, to the detriment of the organization. We say that because money is inanimate. Organizational results occur because of animate relationships and interactions, the most important of which is that which occurs with and among customers and employees. If the picture is emerging in your mind that excess personal focus on compensation results in diminished animate relationship skills and hence, leadership abilities, you are correct. More important, we have found the following to be true after nearly four years of research:

The degree to which an executive’s total compensation is directly, proportionally and immutably tied to all expected organizational results (revenue, profitability, return on investment, customer retention, market share, shareholder value, customer acquisition and retention, employee opinions and productivity, earnings per share, EVA, etc.) is directly proportional to organizational results and inversely proportional to leadership shortcomings and executive turnover, whether voluntary or involuntary. Largely or completely ineffective executives and leaders have no interest in being paid according to the entirety of the first eight lines of this paragraph. The best executives, those who contribute the most while enabling the greatest level of organizational performance, demand to be paid according to the first eight lines of this paragraph. Those who do not demand so are simply not the most effective executives available for your organization.  One of the first questions most of our clients ask executives being considered for employment with their organizations is, “Could you give me very specific details of how you feel you should be compensated?”  To our clients, that is a pass/fail question.

We have summarily raised the subject of compensation within this article because it tends to have a monumental effect on the capability set that executives bring to the table. The compensation requests of your candidates for executive positions largely indicate their capacities as effective leaders. Some of the other attributes of the executives who will contribute the most to your organization, when you are looking to hire them, tend to be:

They are driven to compete exclusively against current and future direct and indirect competitors of your organization. Under no circumstances do they engender or allow internal competition for recognition, rewards, trips, or special treatment. There is no east region versus west region. The entire team vents all competitive force externally.

  • They never allow “busy-ness” to derail or slow forward progress. In their mind, being “busy” is a sign of inefficiency. They also believe that “now” precludes “never”.
  • Their cellular telephone bills are excessively low because they have mastered the skill of delegation and because they build relationships through many other more effective means.
  • They dress like the people with whom they are interacting so that interaction can, in fact, occur.
  • They spend substantial time “in the trenches” and “out in the field” in order to retain an informed operationally focused strategic mindset.
  • They are more interested in the organization’s goals and rewards other than stock options than they are in the stock options themselves.
  • They have an acute ability to see through and correct the political endeavors of their direct reports and the direct reports to those individuals.
  • They laugh and smile a great deal and that is much of what draws people to them as “followers.”
  • They are equally outstanding at both strategy development and tactical implementation. The best strategies are those that are derived by people with implementation abilities. Executives who are very good at implementation tend to be exceptionally good at creating human alignment and eliminating human conflict during both strategy determination and implementation.
  • They have no intention of immediately “bringing in their own team” after being hired because they clearly understand that leadership means having the ability to lead and quickly develop, with very positive results, at least 90% of any employee population they inherit regardless of the population’s shortcomings.  They NEVER bring other employees and executives with them from their former employer within 6 months of taking a new executive position.
  • They embrace the fact that their new company is entirely different from their prior organization.  As a result, they resist all urges to bring anything from their old organization (staff, philosophies, cultures, etc.) with them into their new organization.
  • They tend to display no narcissistic tendencies whatsoever.
  • They answer their own telephone frequently, proving that they prefer not to construct communication and relationship barriers.
  • They take all steps necessary to remove “politics” from the workplace, thus engendering a culture whereby performance and contribution alone control individual success.

Assuming your total compensation offer to them is competitive and reflects their prior results, proven capabilities and expected contribution, they spend no time whatsoever attempting to negotiate individual compensation program attributes (number of vacation weeks, target incentive, travel benefits, company car model, stock options, base salary, spousal benefits, etc.). Individuals who attempt to endlessly negotiate individual compensation package attributes tend to lack strategic foresight while being internally focused instead of organizationally focused.


The key challenge is for your organization to have the best possible leaders. Each of the above thirteen points is very easy to assess during the selection and hiring process, with 100% accuracy. By utilizing these guidelines along with reference and background checks, psychometric assessments and multiple interviews when hiring executives, many of our large and smaller clients have found that their organizational results and executive contributions have, not coincidentally, improved both dramatically and immediately.

Please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) and we would be pleased to discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points.

©2015, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

Ensuring That Your Reward And Performance Management Systems Do Not Create Compensatory Damage


A universal and expensive challenge for each and every business around the globe is that of compensating employees for their efforts. This challenge is more complex in the United States than in most other countries due to the convergence of federal, state and local laws and because of the presence of many pay methods within U.S. business. Unfortunately, many organizations pay their employees only for their “efforts” rather than for their “results”. More importantly, the most effective guiding principle of compensation. . .that organizational results are much more important than individual results. . .is not currently evidenced at any level within the compensation systems of the vast majority of organizations.

“Compensatory damage” has hugely detrimental effects to the financial performance of the organization. It results in significantly reduced human productivity, increased human conflict within the organization, perceptions of internal unfairness, disconnection from customers, excess variable costs, and diminished financial performance. It has a tendency to go unnoticed, however, during periods of increased revenue and/or profitability and is easily temporarily overshadowed by macroeconomic forces.

Symptoms of Compensatory Damage

Some of the easiest ways to tell whether “compensatory damage” is occurring within an organization are through the following symptoms, among others:

  • Performance management and appraisal systems in use are heavily or exclusively subjective in design instead of objective in design.
  • Single-rater feedback (boss to subordinate) is the methodology of performance appraisal instead of multi-rater feedback.
  • Performance management systems in use are not specifically designed for the market or industry within which the organization operates.
  • Variable pay is absent at any of the employment levels within the organization. In other words employees’ pay is not directly tied, in any way, to organizational or team performance and results.
  • The organization is heavily influenced by union(s), cost of living allowances, or across-the-board compensation adjustments.
  • There is more than a 230% variance in total compensation between any management or executive employees who work closely together, or between any non-management employees who work closely together, with or without a reporting relationship. An example of this is the difference between a flight attendant’s compensation ($33,000) and a pilot’s compensation ($245,000), a 742% variance, or the difference between a company President’s compensation ($280,000) and a company Chairman’s compensation ($725,000), a 259% variance.
  • There are more than two differing reward system factors between any employees who work closely together, with or without a reporting relationship. An example of this is the case where one employee receives a base salary, company vehicle, cash incentive, stock options and an annual trip to Hawaii, and the other employee receives a base salary and cash incentive only.
  • Base wage or salary labor market competitive position philosophies vary within the organization according to level or function.
  • Certain employees are paid on a single dimension “incremental” basis while other employees, at any level are paid a base wage or salary only. The most common occurrence of this situation is when an organization pays incentives to sales people based exclusively on transaction amounts (commission) while not paying incentives to other employees for their activities or results.
  • There are exceptionally large (greater than one times base salary) cash value awards provided to certain employees, based on “assumptive” performance and results relationships, while other employees receive no awards under the same system. The most common “assumptive” rewards are stock options and discretionary incentives.

Whenever the above situations exist within an organization, the organization’s financial performance is being negatively affected in significant ways. This is not to say that there cannot be significant differences within an organization as to how much various contributors are rewarded. There should, in fact, be significant differences based on performance and immutable contribution to results. However, if reward systems within a given organization are universal and remarkably similar in structure (not necessarily in amount) that organization will consistently outperform other organizations that are committed to inefficient reward systems and organizational misalignment.

Our concept of stranded, or wasted, compensation is a natural by-product of the above situations. So is limited organizational productivity and performance.

Our Recommendations
The following are some of our recommendations as to what enterprises must do to avoid these dilemmas:

  • Closely evaluate and and improve the means with which external candidates for employment and internal candidates for promotion are selected.  If optimal candidates are selected in all cases, the challenges outlined in this article will be minimized.
  • Ensure that your compensation systems are universally designed to directly impact organizational results with each and every employee. Ensure that the linkage between reward system and results is not “assumptive”.
  • Evaluate your performance management and appraisal system to ensure that it is largely or exclusively objectively focused.
  • Ensure that your performance management and appraisal systems make optimal use of multi-rater feedback.
  • Implement a well designed, preferably simple, variable pay system that ties all employee efforts together (executive through front line).
  • Promote and hire only employees who enthusiastically embrace the concept that pay is related to how they and the company perform, rather than separate from it.
  • Never utilize any incentive that is assumed or designed to be discretionary. Connect all payouts to definitively measured organizational results.
  • Drastically minimize or eliminate rewards based exclusively on individual, versus team or organizational, performance.
  • Ensure that at least 51% of all variable pay payouts within the entire organization are derived from results that current customers and prospective customers have noticed.
  • If yours is a publicly held organization, honestly evaluate your stock based reward systems for “stranded compensation” (see our Performance and Reward Systems web site page for further information). The most effective stock based reward systems, through their design, will differentially drive performance during a bear market even more effectively than during a bull market. Bear markets and bull markets will occur, on a cyclical basis, for as long as public markets exist. The key is to have internal reward systems in place that will actually drive organizational performance well beyond market performance, whether bear or bull.

Please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) and we would be pleased to discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points.

©2016, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

Proven Leadership Strategies During Challenging Economic Times


We have been in plenty of doors within almost every business sector and industry and have observed that not many organizational leaders have a strategy or plan for the near term, let alone the long term.
There are many factors as to why, including fear of the unknown, the desire to just leave well enough alone, the thought that the early indications of a financial rebound are simply an aberration are all contributing to the malaise that currently exists in American business.

But as many of us know, the United States has survived and rebounded from 10 recessions between 1948 and 2002 and all indications are that this one will be no different. So what are business leaders to do? What’s the plan?

Although every company is different and not all solutions fit every organization, the following strategies are tried and true and should be part of every organization’s plan moving forward:

1. Ensure that you have a strategic plan for your organization and don’t be afraid of tweaking it as necessary based on updated information or changing market conditions. The idea of developing and following a 1 to 3 year plan without making necessary revisions based on new information or changing trends at best can be likened to operating blind and at worst could be business suicide.

2. Commit to never returning to your past when it comes to headcount and human capital overhead. The days of old which included multiple layers of executives with extremely high base salaries supplemented by exorbitant perks and incentives are a thing of the past, thankfully. Companies are doing much more with much less, which should prove to strategic leadership that the days of entitlement are dead and gone!

3. Ensure that you have the right talent in the right jobs within your organization. Now more than ever, it is extremely important that you have your human capital talent performing duties that are a match to their skills and abilities. One very positive result of the economic downturn has been the identification of those individuals who cannot keep up because they lack the skills, abilities and/or motivation to perform their job duties. If you have not already done so, now is the time to identify those individuals, assess whether they still fit within the organization and take appropriate action.

4. Know what the market is paying and adjust wages accordingly. Although money is not the only reason why your key people stay with your organization, it is a key reason and will play a part in whether they stay with you once the economy is in full swing again. The war for talent is real and you don’t want to be in a losing battle with your competition, because you did not react quickly enough to the changing marketplace.

5. Finally, embrace the role of the strategic leader of your organization. Although you don’t have all of the answers and your crystal ball is no better than other leaders in similar roles, don’t be afraid to seek out assistance from professionals who can provide you with insights and strategies that you may not have considered. The number of organizational leaders who have sought us out for the purpose of executive mentoring is at an all time high for our organization and the feedback that we are receiving from our mentees is that they cannot put a dollar amount on the value they and their organizations have received from this process.

Remember, your team is looking to you to set the course and drive the direction of the organization. Now is a critical time to provide the kind of leadership necessary to see your organization through these difficult times. Ignoring the challenges or hoping they will fix themselves is never the answer. The five recommendations above are a good starting point and don’t be afraid to utilize your leadership team, this is a great opportunity for them to be involved and contribute strategically to the organization and its success.

Please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) and we would be pleased to discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points.

©2014, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.

Busyness…Its Impact On Your Organization



Worker productivity is higher than it has ever been as companies have tightened their financial belts over the last 18 to 24 months. Individuals have been, and continue to perform their duties as well as the duties of others, as positions have been eliminated and not replaced. From a financial perspective, the good news is that labor cost as a percentage of the organization’s top-line is generally much lower than it has ever been. The bad news is that we may have provided individuals with an excuse for not being immediately responsive internally and externally and not taking timely action based on busyness.

What Busyness May Be Costing Your Organization.

Busyness takes multiple forms within organizations and can result in internal and external turmoil and frustration, erosion of the organization’s competitive edge and a loss of market share.

One form is an utter failure to be responsive to telephone calls, emails and written correspondence due to busyness. Recently, I contacted an individual whose outgoing voicemail message stated that she would be attending a conference for an entire week and would not be responding to telephone messages or emails until she returned. In an age where everyone is wired to the hilt with cell phones, Blackberry’s and laptop computers, I found it amazing that anyone who was away attending a conference would choose not to be responsive for an entire week. I use the word “choose” because it is truly a choice not to be responsive, when in reality, there would have been ample time and opportunity to be responsive, while enjoying the conference. I proceeded to leave the individual a message on a topic of great urgency to her and received a call back one week after she returned from the conference. When the call was finally returned, the reason given for the delayed response was busyness. We always say that rapid responsiveness is a competitive advantage that costs you and your organization nothing. Those organizations that are rapidly responsive to both their internal and external customers/clients find their rapid responsiveness to be recognized, remembered and appropriately rewarded.

Another form of busyness that is invading organizations is the failure to take timely action, which can cost an organization greatly. An organization that we are familiar with recently identified a need to quickly develop and execute a new commission incentive plan for their sales force. The organization was in jeopardy of losing many of their key sales people because they were being recruited away by a competitor with offerings of higher sales commissions. A very thorough and detailed commission plan was developed based specifically on the organization’s needs and desires, making them extremely competitive. As a result of multiple reviews and committee meetings, which resulted in only very minor plan revisions, eight weeks elapsed between the time the plan was finalized and eventually rolled out. The good news for this particular organization was that the plan was very competitive and well received by participants. The bad news was that the lack of forward motion resulted in multiple weeks of delay in which three top performers departed. Delays can be extremely costly as in the above example and there seems to be a willingness by some leaders to accept these delays. Delays based on a personal preference to have one more review or gather additional information must be eliminated. To be competitive, organizations must adopt an “enough is enough” philosophy and commit to getting things out the door. This philosophy is simple, but will pay immediate and sustained dividends to the organization.

Solutions That Cost You And Your Organization Nothing!

Some of the best solutions often cost the organization nothing and are simple to implement. To rid your organization of the busyness that may actually be holding it back from greatness, try implementing some or all of the following:
1. Require that all telephone calls and emails are replied to within 24 hours of receipt, no matter where the individual may be or what the individual may be doing. In our current electronic age, there is no excuse for not being immediately responsive.
2. Eliminate all unnecessary meetings and require that all necessary meetings start and end on time and have an agenda that was circulated to all participants at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. Cancel meetings that are not necessary and only involve key decision makers who can impact the outcome of the meeting. Do not allow individuals to invite multiple layers of support people to attend the meeting. Instead, require that they have the answers themselves rather than diverting the question to someone on their team.
3. Institute one day each week as a “no meeting day,” enabling your management team to manage by “walking around” and engaging the workforce.
4. Foster decisiveness within your team by instituting an “enough is enough” rule that states that one more test, or one more committee meeting that will not provide new information is not allowed. This will rid your organization of “paralysis analysis” while causing it to be much more competitive in the marketplace.
5. Do not allow busyness to be an excuse for not keeping commitments or getting things done. Deal directly with those individuals or departments that are constantly too busy to get things done.
6. Set the example by “doing what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it!”


The U.S. economy is firmly in a turnaround and all indicators are good for financial growth and increased productivity. Now is the time to make sure that you and your leadership team is firmly committed and ready to take their performance and the performance of their team members to the next level.

Please Contact us or call us at 1-480-467-0344 (USA) and we would be pleased to discuss, clarify or expand on any of the above points.

©2014, Leadership Strategies LLC.
All rights reserved under U. S. and international law.