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The Right People are Critical

The most extensive research on this topic comes from Jim Collins in Good To Great. Collins found that: “First get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”  As Collins puts it, “People are not your most important asset.  The right people are.”

Leaders will find consistent performance elusive if they do not have the right people on the team.  Getting the right people on the team and the wrong people off the team is the first step.  Until the right team has been assembled, the situation can be very tenuous and requires a cool head, courage and a commitment to a set of clear yet simple principles and objectives.  Who are the right people?  The right people are a combination of the 12 characteristics listed below combined with a total commitment to the team and the success of their peers and staff.

The Right People:

  1. Work effectively with and through others – the ability to form strong and trusting relationships and inspire greatness at the individual, team and enterprise levels.  They are highly self-aware and adept at negotiating their social/political business landscape.
  2. Impeccable integrity – people trust in their words, intentions and actions.
  3. Adaptable and constantly growing – they quickly cycle new information and adapt themselves and their business to reflect the needs of the business.
  4. Driven to succeed and highly resilient – they never give up and are almost impossible to discourage.
  5. Humble temperament – they don’t have or pretend to have all the answers.  They are self-aware of their strengths and weaknesses.  They are open to constructive feedback and are the first to admit their mistakes.
  6. Deal with reality – They tell themselves the truth and own their problems no matter how ugly they are. They are relentless when it comes to resolving performance problems, political dysfunction and business challenges.
  7. Lead the business – They stay close to the needs of their customers and continuously evolve their strategy, products, services and organizations to reflect those needs.  They effectively communicate a vision and drive the organization forward.
  8. Create energy – they seek to limit bureaucracy and political infighting, empower people and nurture an entrepreneurial spirit throughout the organization.
  9. Solid judgment – They exercise solid judgment backed by the appropriate business and mental models.  They listen to the opinions of trusted sources and diligently collect relevant information regarding strategic decisions.  As a result, they consistently get strategic decisions correct and avoid costly missteps.
  10. Appropriate focus – They focus on the appropriate level of work and problem solving while effectively delegating, empowering and hold others accountable for driving tactical decisions, action and outcomes at subordinate levels.
  11. Act like owners – They make decisions based on the long-term health and success of the business.  They are transparent in their decision-making and those decisions reflect the care and concern for the business first, the team second and their own interests last.
  12. Build executive bench strength – They carefully select and develop the best team available.  It is a central duty of the high performance executive to develop deep executive bench strength in key positions through coaching, experiential learning and regular feedback.  They continuously challenge, encourage and push people out of their comfort zones to raise their games.  Conversely they are quick to deal with poor performers and individuals who do not operate within the core values.
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