The Clemmer Group - Jim Clemmer's Leader Letter

Issue 180 - March 2018

Friend and fellow consultant and speaker, Donald Cooper and I found out after the fact that we were working independently with "John" a hard driving restaurant entrepreneur. John had rapidly built one restaurant into four highly successful locations with an innovative new concept and his fanatical attention to details. I got involved with helping John after he'd just raised millions of dollars to rapidly expand the chain. I struggled with him for 18 months to help build his leadership team and expand the organization's capacity for growth. Everything had to go through John. He was working 90 to 100-hour weeks frantically trying to micro manage all the details. It became apparent he wasn't coachable and wouldn't change. So, I stopped working with him.

Soon after that, he brought Donald in to help him. Fairly quickly Donald saw the problem. He sat in John's office with two baseball caps. One was beautifully embroidered with the word "PLAYER" and the other with the word "COACH". Donald told John that every time someone comes into their office, every time his phone rings, and every time he goes into a meeting, he must look at those two hats and ask himself, "Which of these two hats does this business need me to wear, right now?"

John grasped the concept, but couldn't stop himself from being the star player. He never became a coach. About two years later his company went bankrupt.

Coaching really matters. DIY, I-can-do-it-better-myself, managers choke their organization's growth. You'll see some of that research in this month's issue. Here are a few "thoughts that make you go hmmm" on growing and developing others:

  "…when you embrace the role of teacher, you build loyalty, turbocharge your team's development, and drive superior business performance. Teaching is not merely an "extra" for good managers; it's an integral responsibility. If you're not teaching, you're not really leading."
- Sydney Finkelstein, "The Best Leaders Are Great Teachers," Harvard Business Review (also author of Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Manage the Flow of Talent)
  "Leadership is lifting a person's vision to higher sights, the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations."
- Peter Drucker, author of 39 management books, hundreds of articles, and widely considered to be the father of "modern management."
  "If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.
- John Quincy Adams, 6th US president
  "The most powerful teachers aren't those who speak, perform and orate with the most dazzle and force. They are those who listen with full body intensity and customize. Teaching is not one-size fits-all; it's one-size-fits one."
- Eric Liu, Guiding Lights: The People Who Lead Us Toward Our Purpose in Life
  ".... a common challenge for the leader/manager is to recognize that strength-based coaching is about asking the right questions, not about having all the answers. This is a major shift for some leaders who have been encouraged to believe that leadership is about individual brilliance, not collective endeavor and empowerment of others."
- Doug MacKie, Strength-Based Leadership Coaching in Organizations: An Evidence-Based Guide to Positive Leadership Development

Coaching and developing is also intertwined in what we've found to be nine essentials to helping teams and organizations soar. And just as "many roads lead to Rome" you can view a webinar showing six different approaches to inspiring others.

Hope you find something here to help you keep growing.

Coaching Matters: Are You a DIY Manager Choking Growth and Development?

Good managers often have strong technical expertise and analytical skills. They love to jump into the details and resolve tough problems. Effective leaders resist the quick-fix, I-can-do-it-better-myself temptation. He or she knows such do-it-yourself projects reinforce the upward delegation cycle ("Hey, boss. Here's another one for you to solve"). This leads to him or her becoming ever busier while team members' growth is stunted and the organization slows down to the pace of the stressed-out manager.

The sad story of hard driving entrepreneurs or upwardly mobile and ambitious managers choking their organization's growth is an all too familiar one. These entrepreneurs and managers become the barrier to the organization reaching its next level of growth. These managers don't make the transition from running operations to building a team that runs operations. Their own stunted leadership growth prevents them from making the critical transition from driving and directing to coaching and developing.

Countless studies show leaders with highly developed coaching skills have a huge impact on their team or organization's results. For example, less than 15% of employees with leaders rated in the bottom ten percent of coaching effectiveness rate their work environment as a place where people want to "go the extra mile." However, when leaders are rated in the top ten percent of coaching effectiveness, "going the extra mile" leaps to nearly 50% -- a threefold increase. A MetrixGlobal survey found that "business coaching produced a 788-per-cent return on investment and significant intangible benefits to the business."

This month's Harvard Business Review features an article on "The Best Leaders Are Great Teachers." Management professor and author, Sydney Finkelstein, (his new book is Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Manage the Flow of Talent) reports,

  "...the best leaders I studied were teachers through and through. They routinely spent time with employees, passing on technical skills, general tactics, business principles, and life lessons… and it had a remarkable impact: their teams and organizations were some of the highest-performing in their sectors.

A manager sees people as they are. And they're often a growth choke point. A leader sees people as they could be -- and nurtures that potential through strong coaching and development.

9 Essentials to Honing Your Leading Edge and Boosting Team/Culture Performance

I've just invested research and development time in updating and fusing key components of our workshops and retreats into a new two-day workshop. Periodically we step back and review the latest research, draw from our experience, and enhance our development tools and approaches.

The Leading Edge is a new workshop to help leaders struggling with how to help their teams and organizations boost effectiveness. Many leaders feel they can't do much to change behaviors and culture. But overwhelming research shows that's not true. Leaders have a major impact on "the way we do things around here." A team or organization's culture ripples out from its members and leaders. The single biggest key to transforming a team or organization's culture starts with its leaders defining and developing their behaviors.

Teams and department/divisions with exceptionally strong leaders build thriving peak performance local cultures even if the bigger culture they're part of, and leader they report to, are weak. Organizational culture exists simultaneously and independently at three levels: the unit/team, department/division, and entire organization, and those micro or main cultures can be enriched at any level.

Nine elements especially stand out from this latest review of best leadership and team/culture development practices:

  • Lead, Follow, or Wallow – highly effective leaders make critical choices to proactively change, grow, and develop rather than being changed
  • Strong Leadership Cuts Through the Management Maze – team/organization performance is dramatically improved when good managers learn how to become great leaders
  • Yield of Dreams – highly effective leaders tap into this infinite and renewable energy source
  • The Heart Part: courageous conversations, two-way communications, and openness, come from, and expand, trust
  • Coach Diem – outstanding leaders seize key coaching moments to up everyone's game
  • Making Teams Work – too often managers build a "scream team." Extraordinary leaders build dream teams by boosting collaboration, cooperation, and coordination
  • Three Core Questions Defining Your Team or Organization's Culture – too many vision/mission/values statements are lifeless gibberish and generate a high "snicker factor"
  • Hitting the Shift Key – the best leaders and teams act on their understanding that their culture ripples out from what they do, not what they say
  • Setting the Culture Compass – failing to map a route through the many swamps and sinkholes of team and culture change are why 70% of these efforts die out

Rate yourself on this checklist. How's your leadership? How's your leadership team?

You can get more information on our newest public workshop at The Leading Edge: Boosting Team and Organization Culture. Join me here in the center of the universe (which is, of course, Waterloo Region) in April and we'll help you (and your team) sharpen your leading edge.

Webinar: 6 Key Ingredients for Inspirational Leadership – Discover Your Personal Recipe!

What does it take to be an inspiring leader? Positive and perky? Pep talks? High fives?

I was invited by a hall of fame NFL quarterback to give a leadership presentation to his senior management team in their offices. He was building a very successful national company on a high growth trajectory. As we toured the premises, he gave high fives in the hallways and cubicles as he was told about customers just signed on and other achievements. The CEO's energy, passion, and enthusiastic support was as contagious in the office as on the gridiron.

This CEO's approach is often what many feel is the recipe for inspiring and motivating others. It certainly worked for him. But does that mean everyone shown try to emulate the Enthusiast approach? Only if it's authentic and fits their strengths and preferences.

Over the last 15 years, Zenger Folkman's leadership effectiveness database has grown to over 1.5 million assessments of 120,000 leaders. ZF analyzed 1,000 leaders with the very highest ratings for Inspires and Motivates Others to determine what approaches made them so much more inspiring.

While not a "silver bullet" for leadership, Inspiring and Motivating Others is the closest competency to being that all powerful solution.

  1. It is most valued by employees
  2. Highly correlated with employee engagement
  3. Best predictor of overall leadership effectiveness

Many people think that inspiring others requires substantial amounts of charisma and enthusiasm. ZF research clearly shows that's not true. The Enthusiast approach was one of six different approaches they uncovered. But it was only used 14% of the time by these highly inspiring leaders. The other five approaches had equally positive outcomes.

Just as there's no one recipe for the best dish, the ingredients for highly inspiring leaders can be combined in a variety of ways. Using multiple approaches provides more flexibility and has a greater impact. Like great chefs, highly inspiring leaders use a combination of approaches that match their style, preferences, and what the occasion calls for.

Last month, Joe Folkman and Jared Harding delivered a highly interactive webinar on 6 Key Ingredients for Inspirational Leadership – Discover Your Personal Recipe. They showed how inspiring leaders have such an impact and the important role they play in organizational success. This wasn't a passive listening session -- that wouldn't be inspiring. Attendees were able to:

  • Participate in Zenger Folkman's Inspirational Approaches self-assessment to measure their preferences for how they inspire others
  • Receive and interpret their individual report LIVE during the webinar

Inspired to join us and check it out? You can view the responses and compare with your own preferences. Click here to access the archived webinar.

Tweet Reading: Recommended Online Articles

Linkedin Reading   Tweet Reading

This section summarizes last month's LinkedIn Updates and Twitter Tweets about online articles or blog posts that I've flagged as worth reading. These are usually posted on weekends when I am doing much of my reading for research, learning, or leisure. You can follow me on Twitter at

My original tweet commenting on the article follows each title and descriptor from the original source:

Video clip from Zenger Folkman's Extraordinary Coach program humorously shows the dangers of hands-off leadership.

"Laissez-Faire Leadership"( video)
"Here is an example of a laissez-faire leadership style. Where do you fall on the leadership continuum?"

Zenger Folkman research showing the most powerful leadership approach producing the highest results.

"Heroes, Zeros And Guides: Looking At Types Of Leaders" -- Joe Folkman
"Are heroes or guides the more effective leader? To understand each group better I analyzed our 360-degree feedback assessment data, describing over 70,000 global leaders."

Are you using all your strengths by leveraging your manager's ability to help you elevate your leadership?

"Is Your Manager An Ally or an Adversary?" -- Jack Zenger
"We have tracked the data regarding the degree of change a manager makes as a consequence of a development experience, determining that managerial involvement is one of the most powerful elements of success."

Read The Leader Letter in Weekly Installments

Leader Letter Blog

The items in each month's issue of The Leader Letter are first published in my weekly blog during the previous month.

If you read each blog post (or issue of The Leader Letter) as it's published over twelve months you'll have read the equivalent of a leadership book. And you'll pick up a few practical leadership tips that help you use time more strategically and tame your E-Beast!

Feedback and Follow-Up

I am always delighted to hear from readers of The Leader Letter with feedback, reflections, suggestions, or differing points of view. Nobody is ever identified in The Leader Letter without their permission. I am also happy to explore customized, in-house adaptations of any of my material for your team or organization. Drop me an e-mail at Jim.Clemmer@ or connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, or my blog!

May the Force (of strengths) be with you!

Jim Clemmer

Jim Clemmer

Phone: (519) 748-5968

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