Leadership as root cause

Phrase: What does “A fish always rots from the head down” mean?
Definition: When something fails, it is the leadership that is the root cause. If the top of the organization is not functioning properly, then the bad practices filter down.
This phrase was presented yesterday in a Sage Learning Event by Scott deMoulin of Destiny Training Systems. He was discussing assignments where his team was engaged to train employees of companies and improve their performance. He said that when the training was not working because of the capabilities of the people he was working with, he would request a meeting with the senior leadership. It became clear after meeting with the C suite in these companies that the organization was challenged at the top and that the real training needed to happen with the leadership.  Last evening, 60-plus people joined us to learn from Scott. What was consistent about all of these C-level leaders is that they took several hours out of their day to improve themselves as leaders.
What did you do this week to improve as a leader?
Weekly Wisdom by Jerry Rollins, CEO of Sage Executive Group

Sage Smart: Underdogs work together to win

How did the underdogs get their bite in knocking off a stunning array of top-seeded teams in the NCAA college basketball championships? And what can aspiring business leaders learn from victories achieved against teams with far greater star power?
Jerry Rollins, CEO of Sage Executive Group in San Diego and a former professional hockey player, was struck by the initials “T.O.E.” imprinted on the jerseys of the little-known Manhattan College Jaspers when they almost defeated a nationally ranked University of Louisville team with several players bound for the NBA.
The initials stood for, “Team Over Everything.” In game after game, Mercer, North Dakota State, Dayton and Harvard “with less talented players beat much better athletes on the floor,” Rollins said.
It’s a lesson that can be applied to the business world.
“The best teams I ever had went up against bigger companies, had less capital, weren’t as highly educated or ‘articled,” but always seemed to win,” Rollins said.  “On a business team, checking egos at the door and playing a role rather than having five stars on the floor leads to better results.”
The smarts that a coach uses to win against seemingly stronger opponents can be used by a chief executive officer as well.
“Get a bunch of high-powered individuals to play well together and coexist in the sandbox,” Rollins said.
Sage Smart:  A blog of tips and lessons from Sage Executive Group

Disciplined Exercise Can Foster Prosperity

“Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy person has no time to form.” Andre Maurois
Each year as our birthday approaches, we are reminded that some decade markers are getting closer. They seem to create an emotional barrier until the big day passes and you still feel the same. This came to mind this week because I have a birthday approaching and was discussing health, fitness and life balance with a group of millennials and 30 somethings. Since I am in my late 50’s and very conscious of health and fitness, it was funny to hear some of them say, “I’ll get more balanced and concerned with health and fitness when I’m in my 50’s”.
Habits formed when you are young and able to are much easier to manage than habits formed because you are forced to. If you do form them at an early age, the second half of life can be much more enjoyable. A great example of this was when was a young man of 20 and playing professional hockey. I had the honor to play against Gordie Howe, who that year was 46. He not only played at that age, but was still a very physical specimen and a major contributor to his team. My message in writing this is that he played until he was 51 and was able to do so because of his amazing exercise regimen. I, on the other hand, was retired at 24 because I was never as disciplined as he.  Form your habits now and live a more balanced life and enjoy a more prosperous career.
Weekly Wisdom by Jerry Rollins, CEO of Sage Executive Group

Sage Smart: Why Top Performers Leave

When it came down to interviewing the finalists for a key management position at a San Diego company, Sage CEO Jerry Rollins and adviser in the hiring process discovered surprising similarities in why great candidates wanted to leave their current firm.
“They were told what to do, but had zero input into the direction of the organization,” Rollins said. “Their  job was to implement orders sent from afar.”
Top talent is looking for “organizations that are agile and nimble compared to big and stodgy,” and wants to be rewarded for top-tier performance. The finalists, while well paid  in their current jobs, had received no significant rewards for outstanding work. “Big companies are breeding mediocrity into their organizations” by not offering major incentives tied to performance, Rollins said.
The finalists had another thing in common. Everyone of them came through a personal referral, lured by the company’s reputation.  “You want to create culture of never having to look for someone to fill a position because people are lined up wanting to work for you,” Rollins said.
Sage Smart:  A blog of tips and lessons from Sage Executive Group

Great leaders show the way

“Don’t let your ego get too close to your position, so that if your position gets shot down, your ego doesn’t go with it.” Colin Powell
This past week, I spent several days with some of the best leaders in business. They were speaking of their companies, families, dreams and personal aspirations. I observed common attributes they shared, the teams they had built, the successes achieved, their lofty goals and also what they wanted to contribute back to society. What I did not hear was a lot of self-aggrandizement about what they personally had accomplished. They talked more about the cultures they had helped create and foster. Now I don’t want you to think these folks don’t have healthy egos. They possess much self confidence, and it is based on knowing who they are and what they are capable of. They also know what they don’t know and are not afraid to surround themselves with executives who are better, smarter and faster.
Great leaders know the way, show the way, and go the way, while allowing their teams to take credit for all of the accomplishments.  I like this quote when talking about ego in leadership.
“Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” Ann Landers
Weekly Wisdom by Jerry Rollins, CEO of Sage Executive Group

Aways seeking a taller mountain

“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” Nelson Mandela
I get to work with and have close relationships with many of the best leaders in business. I  am becoming aware that many of the most driven, highest-performing and best in class businesses are led by people who never take credit for what they accomplish. I also have observed they don’t take the time to celebrate amazing feats. All success does is make them hungrier for bigger and better mountains to climb.  Many of you who read this are probably going to send me a note saying, “were you thinking of me when you wrote this,” and my honest answer is yes, it is all of you!
As my wife has so wisely advised me through the years:  “Today, just take time to smell the roses, enjoy those little things about your life, your family, spouse, friends, job. Forget about the thorns – the pains and problems they cause you – and enjoy life.” Bernard Kelvin Clive, Your Dreams Will Not Die
Weekly Wisdom by Jerry Rollins,CEO of Sage Executive Group

Being on time is still a virtue

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”
Woody Allen
I am convinced that the other 20 per cent of success is showing up on time.  I think that we are experiencing  a breakdown of some basic values that is affecting businesses in a negative manner.  Being on time for meetings and appointments used to be a virtue.  Now they seem to be more like general guidelines or approximate place-holders on the calendar. Companies that have discipline, respect and great values in place believe that being on time for meetings and appointments is important. Unfortunately, many of the negative behavioral traits are being demonstrated in the C-suite and trickle down to every level.  There are a number of different reasons for this. Some people do not have the organizational skills,  others have never learned how to balance their calendars, some lack discipline,  some over commit,  and in other cases people abuse power by making people wait for them.
Now that I have had my weekly rant, maybe I have the problem of being a perfectionist and need to lighten up. Comments please!
Weekly Wisdom, Jerry Rollins, CEO of Sage Executive Group