Relationship-Centric Blueprint for High-Performing Teams – Full Transcript

David Nour
David Nour

David Nour
Hi everybody, David Nour. Back with you for another episode of our Intelligent Growth live. Delighted to be with you. Regrettably, my partner-in-crime, Jenn Cordz, is heads down, focused on a client engagement. This is a big week for that really big project we’re working on. And she’s she’s staying focused on on making sure that that is successful. I’m excited to be back with you. I’m excited to share, as we continue this series on really driving intelligent and profitable growth at an enterprise level, and how do you create material value. I’m excited to share insights from the forthcoming book Relationship Economics, I finally was able to get my hands on one, this is physically one of the first ones I was able to look through and excited for this thing to be launched this next month.

So grateful to Wiley and and the entire team for their help in getting this thing out. Today, we’re talking about this idea of a blueprint for a highly relationship centric team to perform their focus to really execute on their priorities in the post pandemic era. And specifically, how do we drive intelligent, profitable growth? I was on a call with a CEO and CFO of a fortune 500 company earlier today. And it’s very consistent in the conversations that I’m having of this effort to, in many ways, go back to the fundamentals go back to really the critical aspects of our unique business that has made us successful over the years. And how do we go back? And, you know, instead of 75 different initiatives, how do we focus? How do we focus on doing. And I’m increasingly, I’m coaching executives and teams alike to really think about this, how do we do fewer things? But do fewer things exceptionally well? How do we do fewer things, but get those few things on everybody’s radar? How do we do fewer things, but make sure the T’s are crossed, and i’s are dotted.

So if you think about overarching buckets, to focus on, you know, with every executive, every conversation, culture, and talent is top of that list, with every organization, every executive, their business model, their digital presence, that transformation from kind of what made us successful, what we’ve done, to intellectually understanding that we have to transform to remain relevant. And there’s been a lot written, a lot talked about digital transformation. If you peel back the onion, most executives run draw that will tell you, it’s a cultural transformation. And that’s what’s going to make that organization successful and able to actually execute the changes, lasting changes that it needs to transform itself. If you think of big buckets, like I said earlier focus, we had a relationship economic summit last fall, where 20 or so C suite executive clients and friends attended. And Eric McCarthy is as a friend and a board member and a VC private equity leader here and here in Atlanta. I love this comment about this idea of power of deduction about everybody’s very good at adding, let’s add more initiative.

Let’s put more on the whiteboard. Let’s add more to the, you know, the executive team and such cascade to everybody’s efforts. Yet nobody wants to take anything away. So as I said earlier, as the way I opened, how do we do less, but really focus on exceptional execution focus on fewer things that we do really, really well. And last but not least, is this idea of execution. You know, most of the listeners, most of the audience have been around long enough to know, a Grand Canyon size difference between strategy formulation. Here’s where we’re going in the next three to five years. Here, this grandiose vision of where we’re going to try to get to and the execution of it, and it’s never a straight line. It’s never a series of predetermined stair steps that we can all easily take and get there. So how do we really focus and if you look at those buckets, the culture and talent one, a prevailing thought a prevailing approach by many leaders is purpose. So if we have a purpose then we can attract people who get that purpose.

And I would submit to you that purpose should be bi directional. So not only does the talent understand the culture or the company’s purpose, but does the company understand the talent’s purpose? Are those aligned? And then do they buy in? Do they buy and buy in on a set of cultural norms, a set of values from which they attract and retain other talent, they develop that talent, they nurture and sustain that talent, they remove obstacles, and the roles of that talent, they enable and empower that talent to unequivocally show up and do their best on a daily basis. That’s really what I’m coaching a lot of leaders to think about fundamentally, are you focused on your culture? Are you focused on your brand? And within that cultural conversation, in my, I full disclosure, my lens is biased, because I tend to think about the relationship centricity of the team. How well do they know each other, like each other, trust each other work well together? If I’d randomly sat on teams, Zoom meetings, or team conference calls, and not just within a team, but cross functional, are they supportive?

Are they, do they have healthy debate? Do they challenge each other’s assumptions and assertions? Not individuals, but the ideas for very specific intent of raising the bar, enhancing, elevating, the impact of those initiatives? So I’ve been looking for this idea of a blueprint. If I had a cultural blueprint, or a playbook that I use to attract individuals that we use to assemble and develop teams, that we made cultural must-have’s in our organization, what would that look like? And in full disclosure, in my research and due diligence, I haven’t been able to find one specific to relationship centricity. So I’m going to share with you kind of what we’ve come up with, and our approach to this. So if you can see this, my screen, in association with this new book, again, launching next month, we’ve created a set of exercises, or workshops or leadership retreats or kind of team gatherings that I that I kind of host.

And as you can see, there’s a set of exercises that that really are the, you know, key insights from the book, the key actionable things from the book, you know, this idea of strategic relationship planning, this idea of design thinking and strategic relationships, what would that look like? Your your relationship brand familiarity. And how familiar are people with not just your technical skills, but the way you build and nurture relationships? And we’ll tackle some of these in subsequent episodes, and or I’ll put them up as courses in the Nour Forum community. This is the one that we’re going to focus a lot on today. And this is the one that it’s this idea of a relationship-centric team, a team that doesn’t just address doesn’t just bring up us and them, that function, that geography that group, but really talks about “we” challenges and “we” opportunities and hold themselves, as well as each other accountable without the need for that hierarchical focus. So this is an exercise that we take a team through, it’s candid, it’s raw, it’s sometimes often difficult.

And yet, it’s exactly what many leaders are looking for when we talk about this idea of shared values and shared approaches to how we win and how we win together. So in the book, again, the entire second chapter is focused on growth and business relationships. Specifically, the last section is the title of it is the relationship-centric, high performing teams. On page 72. If you watch this later, or your you have access to the book, and if you want to reference it, I have the blueprint that you’re looking at. And what I want to do in this episode is just touch up on the three critical columns, and really address kind of where these ideas came from what’s important, and hopefully give you a chance to think about scoring yourself, your team, your organization. More importantly, developing a roadmap developing your own blueprint of what do we need to double down. How do we ensure that we live these values on a consistent basis? How do we ensure we train and develop our managers and leaders to model these behaviors. A number of them are going to be very much behavioral. And the focus is going to be critical.

So starting with the left hand column. Last time I checked, there is no, you know, organizations are comprised of individuals, there is no relationship between logos, or buildings. It’s John at this company, and Sandy at this company, or the two executives who have gotten a chance to get to know each other and invest time and effort in working together. So the idea of really focusing on individual competencies first, is consistent with what I’ve advocated over the years, which is you cannot build effective relationships, impactful relationships, if you don’t focus on you. So if I just focus on this individual competencies, right, and it can see the team dynamics and relationship centric organization, let’s just stay focused on the individual competencies. Are you, do you attract people who are competitive, they understand external threats and targets, they’re willing and able to compete and win. Because I would submit to you that the days of average are over. The days of, you know, punching in and clocking in and clocking out. I, again, the executives I just spoke with said, we got to find a way to don’t just do what we’ve always done.

For the last 50 years, historically, we’ve improved this percentage on top line, this percentage of bottom line. And we need our leadership to understand how to break through doing just enough. People, my experience, who are competitive, are seldom content. They’re happy, but they always are aiming they’re reaching. There were potentially athletes and in their collegiate careers. Not competitive at any cost. That’s a cautionary tale. But certainly competitive and more than willing to hustle and focus on, again, understanding what happens outside, and how do we compete to win? Are they connected? Obviously, we’re looking for individuals that, again, are proactively creating, capitalizing quantifying the relationships at the edge of where the organization meets its market, at the edge of what the organization delivers its value. Both the value creators and value enablers in the words of Sandy Ogg, who wrote a great book called Grow. Are they connected? Are they connecting the dots and realize that that’s the organization’s relationships, not just their own?

Are they bringing those relationships into the organization? I know someone at that company, I know someone, that supplier, I know someone at that private equity firm that can help us. Are they connected? Candid? Do they have the courage to not just defend status quo? That’s a lot of what happens in many organizations. Do they have the courage to challenge the status quo? Again, I want to make sure I’m crystal clear. This isn’t about challenging individuals. This isn’t about me, personally attacking you. It’s about challenging the assumptions and the assertions in that initiative. And those lofty goals and that pie in the sky, you know, board presentation of okay, hold on a second. I respect it. Sounds great. I’m all in. I just have one question. How do we plan to get there with a status quo infrastructure, or status quo leadership that’s been in that position in their respective roles for 20, 30 plus years? Because I don’t know an organization that doesn’t need fresh thinking and fresh perspective. Are they generous? Do they credit others openly for their contributions, their success, their ideas? Or are they kind of limelight huggers?

And this can’t be told, have I told you how generous I am. It’s got to be demonstrated. It’s got to be felt it has to be realized. Are they resourceful? This I gotta tell you one of the most valuable aspects of an individual in high performing teams, is their scrappiness. It’s this is do they seek support of others to supplement, clarify information, and realize their strengths? And candidly, where I’m not at my best, and where and how I should surround myself with others, who are going to amplify our collective impact. Are they engaged? And again, there’s a ton of information on this. Gallup has some frightening statistics of how few people are, in fact, how few employees are, in fact engaged in their day to day work, engagement. Obviously a huge interest for a lot of leaders. How do we elevate engagement? How do we really bring engagement to front and center and all that we do? What I look for in individuals is: do they use facts and bring conviction to persuade, with really a unique ability to frame explain and defend. And by the way, conviction, I have a sign in front of me by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that says, “fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

We’ve all seen conviction kind of go awry, when that person is so passionate, that they alienate others that they need to help them succeed. They are so passionate about the results and the outcomes, they’re trying to create good people, good intentions, and then you get the impression that person has sharp elbows, or they don’t really collaborate effectively, or impactfully with others. And their job may not be at risk, it may but it may not be at risk, but there certainly are, are limiting their growth potential. They’re limiting where and how others are going to tap into them and their skills and their expertise and their ability to create impact. So engage – that is a critical one and one that we tend to forget. Compliant: this is increasingly a huge responsibility. For every individual in the organization, do they operate within legal and ethical guidelines, and allocate resources as such? This is no longer just the compliance function or the Chief Compliance Officer of many organizations.

This is an individual level: do I understand the rules? Do I, am I willing and able to follow the rules? So I don’t put myself my team, my organization at unnecessary or just ill advised risk. So compliant is again, one of those that you have to understand there’s a reason there’s guardrails, because they keep you from going over a 200 foot cliff. Do you understand the guardrails in your organization? I would also add appropriateness. Do they realize which conversations are appropriate? Do they practice good judgment? Do they proactively coach others to do the same? So these are the things I’m looking for in individuals. We talked about the next one, focused. Do they, do they commit to completing you know, a set of outcomes? But not with blinders on. Course-correcting or navigating around obstacles to deliver that results. Focus, as you can imagine, appreciate double-edged sword. One, it’s very targeted, that if that’s the pro, the con becomes very myopic.

And and if some of you know I ride motorcycles, and there’s a very dangerous behavior, in riding motorcycles, that’s called target fixation. So if you stare at something, that’s the direction the bikes gonna go. Now, I’m focused. The problem is I’m focused on a pothole or I’m focused on going off course and to the dirt and gravel off the road around a tight corner. And you’re taught in various training programs, despite your every instinct to keep looking at that. The only way out of that scenario is to force yourself to look to where you want to go, not where you’re headed. And and as such take take measures to turn that bike, stop that bike, whatever the case may be. So again, focused. Fantastic. We all need it. Not at the cost of myopia, right, at the cost of getting that target fixation. So, to commit to completion, while course-correcting or navigating around obstacles. I can’t get that person respond. I can’t get resources from this place.

Not enough hours in a day, great. Let’s work around them. Because I gotta tell you, I’ve been around enough executives where one of the most delightful phrases I think every executive loves to hear and believe they can’t just hear it, they also have to believe it, is when someone says, “I got it”, “I’ll take care of it,” “I’ll get it done.” Not just hearing it. But believing that that person will overcome those obstacles, and ask for help when they need it. But “I’ll take care of it,” “I’ll get it done” becomes invaluable. Next one: clear-sighted. I’ve always told leaders, people cannot follow you, if they don’t know where the ship is headed. This is all about that individual effort. have, you know, are you able to boil down any emerging trends or problems, challenges, obstacles early on? Do you have a clear line of sight? Where we are today? I often talk about your journey from now to next. Do you have a clear line of sight where we are today? And where we’re going? And as such, can you see, can you synthesize? Can you identify what the obstacles may be in our path to get there? Here’s the key early, early.

Can you anticipate? Listen, there’s there’s gonna be an obstacle. There’s a pothole, there’s set of challenges. There’s a we need a skill set at this at this level, that we don’t have this project, this initiative is going to go through several phases. We’re really good at the planning and the mapping. When it comes to execution. I can build your wireframe when it comes to coding, right? Well, you know, copy, we’re too close to this to write our own copy. As an example. We’re too close to this to do our own. We’ve done our first pass of financials. But if I’ve been spent, you know, staring at a spreadsheet for months on end, I need a fresh lens to look at, particularly my assumptions around some of those growth challenges and opportunities. Do we have the capacity to deliver? Do we have the right supply chain partners to deliver? So clear-sighted is not just a line of sight, but the ability to identify, anticipate early and really get to the problems challenges, and bring those up for discussion. Last, but certainly not least in this in this set of personal attributes, is intelligence.

I’ve always believed it’s really difficult to train people on intelligence. So is this person naturally inquisitive? Is this person, genuinely, do they embrace that growth mindset? Do they really believe that education is never a destination, it’s always a journey, and are they on that lifelong growth journey? One of my favorite questions to ask candidates and executives, like, tell me how you’re learning. Tell me how you’re growing. And you wouldn’t believe, maybe you would? How many struggle with an answer because they know they intuitively know. They need to learn and grow to remain relevant. They need to and by the way, there’s passive ways they can learn. Well, I read. Well I hope so, right? Or I, you know, watch TED videos, that’s great. And then there’s proactive, you know, I attend conferences, I belong to this peer group that challenges me non competing peer group, I belong to a CEO group, I regularly get together with a handful of other CEOs or others, and you don’t have to be a CEO in any role, any function.

And mastermind of like-minded professionals would go a long way in helping you raise the bar, on who you are, how you show up, how you think about just scenarios around you. A friend of mine, years ago, called it a smart guys group. And there were, I think, regular get togethers. And I’m still in touch with several of the individuals from that from that group. And it was, I think, the most intelligent people in his community of network and ecosystem, and he would get them together on a regular basis, just to kind of compare notes, no agenda, other than what are you seeing, what are you hearing? What do you think about what are you doing differently? And they were from very different walks of life. So a very successful CFO with several exits, a very successful CMO who is increasingly, you know, taking on bigger CMO roles and is now at a Fortune I think, you know, 50 company. So you don’t have to have titles, but you do have to think about this idea of if I’m the average of the five closest relationships to me, how am I proactively nurturing those?

So this is, again, all we’ve covered so far is this left-hand column, as I mentioned earlier, A relationship centric team always, always starts with these individual competencies. So you can see 10 here, in the exercise that we do with teams, we ask you to kind of grade yourself this is by starting, you know, the look in the mirror, really ask for each of these. What are three things you could do this next year, that could be a really good exercise for you, if you’re listening to this or watching this. I will also, by the way, post this blueprint in our private online community called the Nour Forum. And if you just go to, you can you can see that, but but really thinking about really thinking through these individual competencies, am I you know, forget Joe in that other department and Sandy and finance and Steven it and how do I focus on me, if I really want to be a great teammate, a great team player, if I want to be seen as collaborative, if I want to see someone who materially contributes to, you know, value creation in the organization, am I doing these 10 things? Am I elevating these 10 things? That’s where it always starts.

The second column, again, in this relationship centric blueprint for really high performing teams, we’ve researched, we’ve interviewed we’ve observed over the last two decades, is really the team dynamics. And if I focus on the team dynamics, again, right middle of the page, it unequivocally starts with competency, right? Are they well, skilled, are they well practiced? Do they consistently aim to master the communication and really work through the interdependencies by definition? No team is an island, no individual on a team should be an island. We all have respective strengths and there are interdependencies. I cannot generate this report. Without accurate information from you, that report that I generate, it has to go to somebody who’s going to present it, who’s going to get feedback. And that feedback has to come back into this team environment. Do you understand those interdependencies? And do you succinctly communicate, “here’s where we’re going,” “Here’s what we’re doing,” “Here are the priorities,” on a regular basis. I’m coaching a team leadership meeting every Monday morning. Is it candid?

Are we talking about the priorities this week? Are we talking about where everybody is and what they’re doing and where their focus is to and we do this, we’re a small team, and we do this ourselves. So through our weekly kind of standing team meetings, we really focus on what are the priorities this week? What does everybody up to? What do you need help. The next one is the commitment. Or there you can see that emotionally engaged and dedicated to targets and values with a very high degree of loyalty. I can’t reiterate to you enough that loyalty has to be reciprocal. I struggle with some of the headlines we’ve all seen recently of, you know, really marquee companies, in good times. They’re heroes, because they’re adding a whole bunch of people. And they constantly talk about our culture and our team and how valuable they are to us. And as soon as the economy turns south, they announce massive layoffs. And yet there are companies out there who didn’t add a whole bunch of headcount during, right, the heydays. And similarly, they’re not announcing a whole bunch of layoffs.

I think it was a McKinsey report recently that highlighted the cost of that layoff. Between severance, between reputation in the market, between the cost of hiring those people back, finding them potentially lost market opportunities, is actually higher than retaining them. So loyalty is bi directional, but specifically the team. Are they engaged? Do they do they act like they own it? One of the things I’ve always coached our team is do not put your name your signature on something that isn’t your best. If you can’t behind stand behind, you know the value that you’re creating with whatever it is that that that signature, is your commitment that that this is my my work, the quality of my work. So that commitment goes a long way in really articulating that emotional connection that dedication addition to that the result. The next one again, coalition, do they build cross-functional? Or business unit? In essence, influence respect? Do they? Do they collaborate? Do they deliver on commitments? Are they, not periodically, but consistently and incredibly dependable? Can I count on Susan to deliver? Do I know that Hector on our team, or Juan on our team has my back? And and are they working with other parts of the organization to to gain buy in to develop that, and nurture that trust and the influence?

Can they be counted on when others need them? And again, you cannot, a lot of these are X factors. You cannot say you do these things. Oh, yes, I build a fabulous coalition. Show me. Show me what that coalition looks like. Show me how you can access individuals and bring them into the fold into the tent really get buy in. The next one could could be free, you know, could be misconceived, but conflict is an asset. I gotta tell you, and this is not a political statement, I grew up in the Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill days, where civil discourse was expected, It was the norm. So I I’m of the thought, school of thought that conflict isn’t always necessarily bad. I believe conflict can be an asset, I believe conflict can be constructive. Let’s look what it says, a constructive approach to resolving dysfunction. And by the way, this function is in every team, this function and that we can’t communicate consistently dysfunction and somebody jumping the gun again, good people, good intentions, you have to assume good intent. But there’s dysfunction there. And how do we resolve some of these things? How do we construct in a positive, constructive, forward moving approach to address those challenges?

That’s when conflict becomes an asset. That’s what I’m looking for. That’s ideally what you’re building in a team. Feet forward. I can’t take credit for this one. This is a Marshall Goldsmith, coach, mentor, friend, that often talks about high degree of measure, analyze, and enhance processes. Every interaction is a learning and growth opportunity, every interaction is a chance to question what went well, what didn’t go well, you know what that part we rocked it, this part, we screwed up royally. So feet forward, allows you to kind of capture those, measure them, right? How do we make time to analyze them? How do we enhance, and the reason I say processes is because you again, you’re savvy enough to understand processes create repeatable, predictable outcomes, processes create a desired set of outcomes, processes scale beyond any one individual. And in that team, right, Susan needs to take some time off, she is on the verge of burnout. Sarah wants to take some time to spend with her family and her kids. Right? So who’s gonna step in. And if we have processes, it allows us to and playbooks allows us to pick up where others have left off and focus on execution.

Peer discipline. I‘m a huge believer of, to the extent possible, you all good things in moderation, right? Flatter organizations. Self governance of performance expectations, truly demonstrates it’s a team. It’s a sports team, that doesn’t require the coach from the sideline to yell and scream and hold people accountable at practices only at practices or during halftime. I coached and played soccer for a number of years. That team it’s not only the individual realizes, but as a as a peer group, the team says, “You got to do a better job covering that guy,” as a team, “if you need help ask for it.” But that peer discipline is critical. And and it you know, I’ve always believed leadership – you don’t need a title to be a leader. So those who step up and demand that discipline, demand that performance, expectation of themselves and everybody around them set themselves apart from everybody else. Protective: are they protective of each other? Do they have each other’s back? Again, I have in front of me have the courage to leave the table when respect is no longer served. Do they back each other up? Right?

It goes right after the peer discipline, you have to hold yourself accountable and your team. By the same token, you want to protect that team. Well, you know, Jennifer didn’t deliver that report that we needed. Okay, hold on, hold on. I believe she did. It may have not been as complete, or it may not have been the report that you’re looking for. But she delivered what she was asked. So they’ve got it, you’ve got to protect. And people talk about, you know, a team and a company has family. Very few behave as such. So I’m always looking for are they protective, are they have each other. The next one proud, they deeply believe in, you know, winning is everything. Again, not at any cost, but but genuinely, really succeed as a team. And it says team success outweighs individual glory. If I go back to the soccer analogy, no team wins because of a superhero. Now, if you watch the most recent World Cup, and are messy, and the Argentinian team lost one of the first round games to Saudi and right, it wasn’t because they didn’t have a superstar or superstars on the team.

It’s the team surrounding that superstar with others that can likewise carry their weight. And that can be said the same for other teams that have superstars on them, but not really the team around them. So that sense of pride that we’re going to either win as a team, or we’re going to lose as a team. It’s critical to again, feel experience here in conversations. Trust-centered. This is all about the courage to fail and learn. I’ve often said if you don’t screw up, you’re not human. It’s not that any of us as individuals or teams don’t screw up, it’s what you choose to do about it afterwards. So as a team, do you constantly develop, nurture, sustain, protect, defend, amplify that trust? That if I commit to doing something, we’re gonna make sure we get it done? And then last but not least, respected. You know, you got to earn that through thought leadership, consistent value add. And you got to do that both within an external to the team. So not just thought leadership, but also practice leadership. Are we the envy of the function, or the geography or the organization, our team?

Do they ask “man, I don’t know how those guys are doing it. But they’re unbelievable, and how consistently they show up, how consistently that finance function, how consistently that field marketing team, how consistently that digital team shows up. And the value they add.” Right? They don’t, they may not always agree. They may not always do what we asked them to do. But you know what, when they do deliver, it’s their best, it’s their best work. And they’re very good at what they do. So, again, attributes 10 of them in a team function, that I think you would agree builds really nicely in a team dynamic on the individual competencies. You have to start with the individual. But the very next focus should be, “do we have these things in our team?” Certainly not the only ones, just 10 that work really well. And elevating the fact that you do have relationships in the organization, to now those relationships becoming invaluable in value creation in the organization. Last but certainly not least, and by the way, left to right, easiest to most difficult. It’s always easiest to work on yourself, it’s always, you have the most control over that. In a team environment, let’s be honest, you may not choose who you choose, you know who you work with.

But if you’re if you’re lucky enough to manage a team, if you’re blessed enough to lead an organization. As you move to the right, it becomes more difficult because now you are dependent on others, you’re dependent on a broader mindset, that that is, you know, comes to the table. So the right-hand side. Again, when we go into an organization when I asked leaders about not just their performance and their financial results, but “how adaptive is the organization?” And what I’m asking is about different leaders, different functional groups, different geographies: how consistently do they scan the periphery, to learn, to navigate, understand, identify, change, disruption, things that could create headwind but not always just headwind but also potentially tailwind or turbulence. What’s the confidence level? And that which they can move? The analogy like you lose here is use here is you remember playing dodgeball as a kid? When that ball was coming at you, most of us didn’t stand still. What did you do? You moved. Now imagine that as your organization. You see that that dodgeball, you see that competitor, with the pricing with availability, with their go to market strategy, you see it in the market, you see it happening.

How agile is the organization to move, and pivot and bring others along with them? So that adaptability again, we saw this in the global pandemic over the last several years. The organizations who didn’t just survive but thrive, saw the disruptive nature of people not going out there, not going to restaurants, we’re not traveling. Right? We’re working from home, how do we quickly adapt? And I’m, I’m really proud of our team. We went from being you know, out on the road, and to all digital, and delivering a whole lot of value added services completely digital, from our coaching to our development, training and development, to our executive education programs, to our strategy visualization work, to Jenn Cordz, again, my co-host on this series, the whole RevOps, that that entire team is remote-first. And their ability to adapt to different client and market needs is just incredible. So organizationally, what’s your confidence level? How adaptive is the organization? Big thinking. Again, you know, if you look at most well performing, positive performing organization, leave them alone. And they’ll, they’ll, they’ll kind of provide some growth. How are they thinking big? How are they evolving the business model? How are they doing things differently versus doing things incrementally?

Again, you may have heard me talk about this, doing the same thing better is iteration. Doing new things, is innovation. Doing new things that makes the old obsolete is disruption. Now, disruption is sexy to talk about and cool, and everybody wants to do that. Yet, it really is a stair step. Because if you iterate enough, if you ask enough questions of “is there a better way for us to do that?” you will stumble onto so you’ll not only just iterate, but you’ll stumble onto opportunities to innovate. And if you have the courage to make bets, prudent bets, but almost like venture capital bets, knowing that out of ten, eight may go nowhere. But the two that hit, are going to be the future of our business. Now you can bank on innovation. Only when you innovate, the two that will become the future of the business often are disruptive opportunities. So you have to start by creating relationship centric organizations. Create the space create opportunities to think big. Emotionally astute, deep sense of allegiance, with really multi-generational workforce. This is, I was having this conversation with another leader. And we’re talking about you know, how we lead at sales leaders as sales leaders 10, 20, 30 years ago, couldn’t be further from what’s expected today.

Mental health wasn’t on a lot of leaders forefront of their minds. You would be very short-sighted if you ignored your team’s mental health in 2023 and beyond. Bringing their whole self to work. Again 10, 20, 30 years ago, you’re like wait, what? I tell you what, why don’t you keep your whole self at home? And I’ll find somebody else that will come in and work 60, 70, 80 hour weeks. It’s I think you’d be really hard pressed to find that today because they, I think the talent realizes that what I do for a living isn’t who I am–just who I am. I want to time with my significant other. I want time with my kids and family. I want time with my friends. I want to disengage and go get away from. I need a digital detox. So you got to be emotionally astute as an organization to realize we need fresh thinking we need fresh perspective. We’ve got to, we’ve got to evolve. Effective at execution, we talked about this. This idea of, of execute with speed, with accuracy with precision, precision, and, and insights. So I was talking to another executive, and I said, you know, they’ve had a phenomenal run as a CEO, chairman of the board for the last 25, 30 years. And I said, What’s your biggest regret? And I love his comment. We didn’t learn fast enough, fail fast enough, apply what we learned fast enough. So that decision velocity was something that he really wanted for his successor.

This idea of sense of urgency, this idea of much greater precision. So surgical, not with an axe. These are all examples of that execution effectiveness. And this is again, you see this, in how teams talk about their key initiatives. And they don’t leave a lot to chance. They don’t leave a lot to unknown they don’t. You know, they absolutely learn in the very next engagement, the very next customer sale, the very next, customer engagement. What worked well, what didn’t in the previous one. So that execution effectiveness. Dependable, we talked about this as as individuals and as teams, but as an organization, do we follow through? Do we remember, do we deliver on commitments, starting with a senior leadership team. Senior executives set the tone. The cultural norms are set by the senior leadership team. And guess what it cascades from there. So with all due respect, if the top guy top person is a jerk, those jerk behaviors are assumed to be accepted cultural norms. If the top person gets distracted very easily, the organization has an you know, initiative fatigue, because they have an idea a minute, that top person sets the tone. That executive leadership team sets the tone.

And just like anybody who’s got a child, our kids watch what we do with greater intensity, greater observation, and greater desire to model that behavior than what we say we do, good or bad. And the rest of the organization is watching. They’re watching the executive leadership team for: are you laying people off and then you’re off to your palatial right, Aspen? Or Lake Como? Or are you genuinely engaged with the rank and file, with the rest of the team? Are you modeling the right behaviors? So that dependability becomes, again, very apparent. Not overly complicated, you know, consistently transforming metrics, processes, boil them down. Simplify them, clear them. We’ve all heard, if you can’t explain something, you don’t understand it well enough, yourself. And I gotta tell you, a full disclosure, for a long time, I equated simplifying something, to dumbing it down. And a mentor drove into me to the contrary, simplifying things, takes a deep understanding of why it matters, and why it’s important. And simplifying things makes it easy, much easier to be understood, to understand. And I listen, I have an MBA, and whenever I get these decks from clients, presentation decks that are full of MBA talk, and we’re trying to talk to field sales reps, or field service engineers, or the HR team or the procurement team, I’m like, “That’s great with the MBA talk.”

How do we boil it down to that which they can understand and internalize and apply? So not, I’m not advocating increasingly businesses not getting complicated. I’m advocating relationship-centric organizations, simplifying, and they simplify the complex. Unbound: does the organization aim high as a workforce on board for the journey ahead? A lot of leaders I meet have great aspirations, and they’re trying to get there with a horse and a buggy. They’re trying to get there with B and C players at best and I’m and grading on a curve here. You can’t do that. Do you have the talent? Do you have the infrastructure? Do you have the resources to get you to where you’re trying to get to? Are we strategic as an organization? Are we early adopters of technology? Do we have a team that evaluates their broad based application? Functionally? Do we aim for excellence? Or are we transactional? And listen, God bless. There’s a lot of transactional businesses and in our country and in the world, who do well. The relationship centricity of the organization is is tenacity, it’s drive, it’s poise, it’s strategic thinking, direction, trade off, really understanding. Where do we excel? Where do we need to upgrade?

Top Grading is one of my favorite books, because it talks about not just a players, that we all understand. But how do you define them? How do you attract them? How do you retain them? How do you develop them? How do you raise the bar? Which leads to the next one: are you a magnet for talent? Are you a home for very diverse world class, technical, because I believe every business is or should become a digital business? And then leadership town. So are you, are you a place where people want to come and work and be a part of what you’re building? If not, why not? Purposeful: We talked about this long term vision is consistent, shared, understood, nurtured, everybody’s on the same page. My favorite litmus test for purposeful is if I went and randomly asked a whole bunch of people in your organization, could they articulate the key things you’re after? Could they articulate the key strategic priorities? Could they articulate the things that are really important to your to your success? So as I said, this is a blueprint, that over the years we’ve interviewed, we’ve researched high performing companies, their leaders, their organizations, it is on page 72, of the new book.

Again, Relationship Economics, I don’t know if you can see that or not. But that’s the cover. And we believe the culture and the leadership team, the board’s investment in that culture proactively, intentionally, strategically, as well as this, the relationship centricity of that culture becomes an unbelievable enabler of an organization’s ability to drive intelligent and profitable growth. So I hope that’s been of interest and value to you. Again, I would encourage you come join us in the Nour Forum. That’s, where I’m there every day, Jenn’s there. I share ideas, perspectives, Nour Noon Nuggets. And I will post in an RE3 group, I will post this, this template, this blueprint. And I would encourage you to check it out. Download it as a PDF you can or an image that you can use. And I hope you’ll continue to come back and listen to or watch us live every Tuesday at noon Eastern, or you can consume the podcast on Apple and Google and wherever else you consume podcasts as well. So on behalf of my co-host, Jenn Cordz, thanks for joining us. I hope this has been of useful and interest to you. I hope to see you again next time: Tuesdays at noon Eastern. Thanks, everybody. All the best. Bye bye!

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

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