Jim Naleid's - TEC Blog

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Humor in the C-Suite

What's so funny?

Executives know there are opportunities everyday to display humor and yet, more often than not, they pass them by.  Why?

Before you owned a company, led it or managed one of its divisions, did you have a better sense of humor than you have or allow yourself to exhibit now?

Countless numbers of corporate leaders could be making a huge mistake by keeping their sense of humor under wraps.

We all personally know leaders who, when away from the C-Suite are funny and liberal with a smile, (accompanied by a good snort now and then,) but for some reason, hold back from displaying the same with their colleagues, competitors and customers. Truth is, they are also under-utilizing a prized leadership skill.

"A jest often decides matters of importance more effectively and happily than seriousness."

You understand I'm not talking about what some mistake to be humor when it is crude, vulgar, cynical, sarcastic or directed at an unassuming and indefensible colleague.

We're talking about the wide range of skills needed by every leader, no matter what the battle. It just so happens that the sense of humor each of us either have been born with or developed over our lifetimes, seems to be forgotten or deleted from the portfolio of skills required to lead.

No doubt there is a time and place for everything, just as there is for the use of one leadership skill over another. Lately I've been asking CEOs about their sense of humor and most believe that their natural ability to find humor, even in difficult situations, is something to keep guarded.

I disagree with them on that and urge every business leader who shares that sentiment to reconsider. There's plenty of serious stuff in every day to be serious about, but you know what? An alert, lively and genuine leader also knows there is, or ought to be,  plenty to smile about too. It's all in a days' work.

Jim Naleid is a Life-long Entrepreneur, Change-Agent and Thought Leader, Managing Director of Naleid & Associates and Regional TEC (“The Executive Committee”) Chair leading a group of executives to become Better Leaders, Making Better Decisions with Better Results. http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimnaleid

Monday, April 29, 2013

Lead with Your Strengths...

But learn to use both hands...


Greg (A.) Harris enjoyed a 14-year baseball career in the major leagues playing for 9 different teams beginning with the New York Mets in 1981 and throwing his last pitch in a Montreal Expo uniform. To date, there is no other major league pitcher on record who was a 'switch pitcher.' For the uninitiated, that means he could throw a baseball with either arm just about as effectively with either.

Game rules during his stint didn't allow for him to utilize this unique skill but as he was closing out his final season with the Expo's, he was allowed to do so. On September 28, 1995 and in the ninth inning against the Cincinnati Reds Harris retired Reggie Sanders pitching right-handed, then switched to his left hand for the next two hitters, Hall Morris and Ed Taubensee, who both batted lefty. Harris walked Morris but got Taubensee to ground out. He then went back to his right hand to retire Bret Boone to end the inning.

As spectacular a feat this is, my guess is that you have forgotten of or had never heard of Greg Allen Harris. Beyond that, it may matter little to you that he had this unusual athletic ability. (For the record, Pat Vindette, a kid from Omaha is now playing in the minor leagues that can 'switch-throw' with either arm at 90 mph.)
Pat Vindette
Had Harris even been allowed to 'switch-throw' during games while in the league, my guess is that he would still naturally favor his stronger right arm. Opponents eventually would figure out how to deal with the 'switch-pitching.'


Business leaders also tend to "throw' with their strong arm or manage to their perceived and or recognized strengths. While that may seem the natural thing to do, a bigger problem is that most leaders rely on that strength far too often. Staying with the baseball analogy, it could be likened to a pitcher who has a great fastball or 'slider' but little else. Simply put, a pitcher with a versatile array of pitches outlasts and outsmarts his opponents more often than not.

Robert Kaplan and Robert Kaiser, in their recent release, Fear Your Strengths, do a masterful job of helping leaders understand what a lack of management versatility can mean and the impact it can have on organizations.

"Strategically oriented leaders are lauded for their aggressiveness and vision, but often criticized for not being sufficiently grounded in reality. Operationally oriented leaders are admired for their focus and their ability to systematically drive the organization toward its goals, but they are frequently faulted for having tunnel vision and a lack of strategic boldness. Although it may seem that that these are inherently different and mutually exclusive kinds of leaders, they are in truth prime examples of lopsided leadership. They are leaders who overuse one set of strengths at the expense of under-using others."[1]

Most leaders will resist the notion that their approach to leading and management is, well, lopsided. As a result of depending solely on their strengths, they, more often than not, approach the thorniest of challenges with the same mind and skill-set.  They tend to 'over power' the opponent, challenge or issue in a way that is satisfactory in the short run but detrimental to the long-term objectives of the company.

Kaplan and Kaiser found that there is a distinct difference in results between companies whose leaders lack versatility and those whose leaders have developed a diversified 'portfolio' of skills with which they effectively lead.

"Versatility defined as striking a balance on both the forceful-enabling and strategic-operational dimensions accounts for about half of what separates the most effective leaders from the least effective leaders."[2]


Kaplan and Kaiser have compiled a database of executives that numbers close to 7,000 and they admit there are few leaders among them that have developed a complete repertoire of operational, strategic and visionary skills. Understandably, those that rise closer to the top of the list have long-lasting success that wears well over time.

As they see it, there are three primary steps that leaders in pursuit of versatile excellence must take.

1.)           Accept Yourself
                "You must unflinchingly reconcile yourself to the reality of who you are and how you lead."[3]

2.)           Test Yourself
                "The stimulus of new experience outside your comfort zone can slowly but surely redefine and shore up the structure of your self."[4]

3.)           Offset Yourself
                " There is great good in working on yourself. In addition to the practical benefits, it’s a way of retaining your youthful energy. The moment you stop growing is the moment you grow old."[5]

When I first came across Fear Your Strengths, it was the following line that convinced me of the need to discuss this thought process at all;

“A whiff of brutal clarity, if it’s based on reality, is an essential component of leadership.”[6]

There's no time like the present. Get going!

Jim Naleid is a Life-long Entrepreneur, Change-Agent and Thought Leader, Managing Director of Naleid & Associates and Regional TEC (“The Executive Committee”) Chair leading a group of executives to become Better Leaders, Making Better Decisions with Better Results. http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimnaleid

[1] Kaplan, Robert E.; Kaiser, Robert B. (2013-04-01). Fear Your Strengths (BK Business) (pp. 27-28). Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
[2] Kaplan, Robert E.; Kaiser, Robert B.; Fear Your Strengths (p. 35).
[3] Kaplan, Robert E.; Kaiser, Robert B.; Fear Your Strengths (p. 86).
[4] Kaplan, Robert E.; Kaiser, Robert B.; Fear Your Strengths (p. 89).
[5] Kaplan, Robert E.; Kaiser, Robert B.; Fear Your Strengths (p. 92).  
[6] Kaplan, Robert E.; Kaiser, Robert B.; Fear Your Strengths (p. 25).  

Monday, April 22, 2013


 It's been decades since my folks took us to Washington, D.C. As a seven or eight-year old kid, (think Martin Richard), the impressive statues and monuments of those who were memorialized there remained in mind, but their words were of little concern to me then.

Just hours prior to the Boston bomb blasts, on Monday, April 15, 2013, we climbed the marble stairs to the Jefferson Memorial's rotunda. The first thought that occurred to me is that we (mankind) have always had a penchant for building significant edifices to one another. Nothing peculiar about that, it is just what it is.

A small wooden brown sign admonished visitors to maintain a quiet dignity while visiting in order to allow others to reflect on whatever they came to consider.

The first view of the interior walls led me to these words on the Southwest Portico;
"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and constitutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as a civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."
-Excerpted from a letter to Samuel Kercheval, July 12, 1816.
This fascinated me. I had to read and re-read to make sure of its' meaning.
Given the times in which we live and the significant societal shifts taking place, the words "institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times," presented a challenge for me. It raised more questions than answers. One has to wonder, and perhaps serious historians and academics believe they know, but do you suppose Jefferson and his colleagues envisioned a "more enlightened" society in which citizens who benefitted from the freedoms a constitution sought to preserve would lead to a point in time wherein the unborn would prove to be unprotected, the institution of marriage itself would be pressed to a new definition, mad men and women would take up arms in senseless acts of wanton violence and slaughter one another in the streets?
You decide.
Turning 180 degrees to momentarily think this through, the words immortalized on the Northwest Portico, presented what seemed like a paradox to me:
"Almighty God hath created the mind free. All attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens...are a departure from the plan of the holy Author of our religion...No man shall be compelled to frequent or support religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but all men shall be free to profess and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion. I know but one code of morality for men whether acting singly or collectively."
-Excerpted from A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, drafted in 1777. First introduced in the Virginia General Assembly in 1779, after he had become Governor. Passed by the Virginia Assembly in 1786, while Jefferson was serving as Minister to France. The last sentence is excerpted from a letter to James Madison, August 28, 1789, as he was returning to America to assume his position as Secretary of State.
My concerns faded after turning to the Southwest and Northeast Porticos.
Southwest Portico
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men. We...solemnly publish and declare, that these colonies are and of a right ought to be free and independent states...and for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour."
-Excerpted from the Declaration of Independence, 1776.
Northeast Portico
"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free. Establish the law for educating the common people. This it is the business of the state to effect and on a general plan."
-Excerpted from multiple sources: "A Summary View of the Rights of British America," "Notes on the State of Virginia," "The Autobiography," letter to George Wythe (1790), letter to George Washington (1786).
Go back and re-read the first and second sentence of the above, "...these liberties are the gift of God."  Let's just take the position that the words of Thomas Jefferson cast in stone here on the interior Porticoes of the Jefferson Monument are indeed his words and based upon his beliefs. If so, there is no paradox after all.

While on one hand Jefferson acknowledged that life is fluid and society is apt to experience certain change, it also is clear that he believed in God Almighty, attributed the creation of man and earth to Him and at the same time wasn't inclined to force those convictions upon anyone else. Having said that, Jefferson evidently concluded that the laws of reason and freedom that he espoused came from the same source, this Creator, this God Almighty.

Leaders like Jefferson are very special, of course. Relatively few achieve or are credited with such great things. This man set one of many important examples that all of us should aspire to. The greatest of these is the fact that he knew what he believed. He put his beliefs in writing and shared them appropriately with others now with long-lasting benefit for many. Business leaders do well to take this example into consideration, that is, to make their beliefs known, hold them dear and clearly communicate them to those they expect to be followers.

[As an aside; I'd love to have the opportunity to ask him if he thought the Almighty God, the Creator he spoke of would be the one that would need to adapt to a society of 'enlightened' mores over time or vice versa. Wouldn't you?]

Jim Naleid is a Life-long Entrepreneur, Change-Agent and Thought Leader, Managing Director of Naleid & Associates and Regional TEC (“The Executive Committee”) Chair leading a group of executives to become Better Leaders, Making Better Decisions with Better Results. http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimnaleid

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Other Things that are Top-of-MInd

It’s taken a few weeks for me to get back to the keyboard. My wife’s dad passed away on March 20 and besides being my wife’s dad, we were good friends and business partners. Not everything we invested in together worked. We won and we lost. Thankfully we won more than we lost and best of all, when it came time for him to cash in, saying goodbye didn't bring with it the sting of death,[1] or so as sharp as it can be.

A number of years ago, he agreed to allow me to put him through the estate planning process and that we did. Today, as the trustee and personal representative of his estate, I serve his four children and a slug of grandchildren. While it’s comforting to know we did the right things in anticipation of his eventual day of demise, it can still be unnerving when faced with the real task. It’s hard not to ask a few postmortem questions. Did we do everything we could? Did we overlook anything? What did we miss? Will we be able to keep the family intact and without cause for undue concern while the process gets underway? How long will this latent anxiety linger?

It isn't my intent to make excuses for not sticking to my weekly schedule, but to be honest; I simply haven’t felt like it.

Two weeks ago this past Saturday we gathered with family and more friends of that family than we imagined existed in a small town in south-central Minnesota. We gathered for the sake of my father-in-law’s friends that are left and the friends he allowed his kids to nurture over their years of stopping by the place at North North Avenue. As an in-law, one does what they can to be immersed in the social aspect of such an event. Those who have been there know what I mean. You kind of just float around, smile when met with a smile and a handshake. You anticipate the oft asked question, “Now, how are you related to Don?” So it goes.

This was a lively gathering. When it was time to quiet down and take on the serious tone of the morning, we all obediently found a chair while some had to stand. The music was inspiring. The priest, in my opinion, let me emphasize that, in my opinion; was a bit pompous. Probably a nice enough fellow and a kind elementary school teacher. It should go without saying that many there thought otherwise and were moved by his words of comfort and solace.

We all went outside on this chilly late morning to attend to the 21-gun salute and presentation of the flag to the widow of another one of the magnificent “Greatest Generation.” The poor guy with the bugle was a bit surprised when the recording of “Taps” began before he lifted the bugle to his lips. He recovered nicely, however, and we appreciated his effort. Two of the grandsons and one of their wives are currently serving; one in the Air Force, Navy, and Marines. They were smartly attired in their dress blues. Don’s Purple Heart was awarded to him as a Marine corporal for wounds he suffered in the Asia-Pacific theater. Semper Fi always meant something to him too.

I’m not quite back yet, but I’m getting there. From reading the last chapter of a generous old man’s life we decided to take a road trip with stops in Perrysburg, OH; Saratoga Springs, NY, Lake George through the Adirondacks and Woodstock, VT to our destination of Northwood, NH. We wanted to begin and participate in the ‘writing’ of another new book for our seventh grandchild who isn't yet two months old. She’s adorable, little, soft-skinned and precious. There are few things finer than having a tiny human being fall asleep on a grandpa’s chest they've met for the first time.

There’s a leadership lesson in here somewhere but if you can’t find right away, don’t fret. I’m not sure I’ve identified it yet myself. When I sat down to embark on this task before the sunrise this morning, my initial intent was to pick up on one of two subjects that have been coming and going over the last couple of weeks; one having to do with managing advisory or corporate boards and the other being “curiosity.”

I’ll get back to one or the other next week.

Jim Naleid is a Life-long Entrepreneur, Change-Agent and Thought Leader, Managing Director of Naleid & Associates and Regional TEC (“The Executive Committee”) Chair leading a group of executives to become Better Leaders, Making Better Decisions with Better Results. http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimnaleid

[1] Hosea 13:14; 1 Cor. 15: 55, 56

Monday, March 18, 2013

"And (End) all that RIGAMAROLE"


Heading into the weekends I begin thinking about my blog, The 'R' in Saturday; http://jcnsaturday.blogspot.com

Last Friday, while on this quest, and as is often the case, I pulled one of my old standards off the book shelf, one that I likely picked up for 25 cents at a garage sale; Success with Words, A guide to the American Language (Reader's Digest, 1983). A long list of academicians collaborated with its compilations.

"Rigamarole" (also; rigmarole) is the word that caught my attention. It's a word that 'boomers' heard their parents and grandparents use. Somewhat in context it simply carries the connotation of "all that extra stuff." Success with Words used an undated quote from a New York Times editorial of the time that supposedly read;

"The blunt fact is that a foreign government on American shores is preying on American citizens. And notwithstanding the niceties of diplomatic immunity, and extraterritoriality and rigamarole, the response should be equally blunt." (Emphasis, mine)

Some may wonder for a moment, as I did, if that wasn't actually written within the last week but be reminded the quote is pre-1983 and I have no idea what the issue of that day happened to be. 

Even so, I was fascinated, but had a difficult time incorporating it for use for my Saturday post. The next morning, my wife, in a typical and jovial morning mood, used the word in a most interesting way. I hadn't shared my research from the day before but, a bit astonished, I told her that I had just spent some time on that word the day before. So now you know how it got into my thought process and made its way here.

The word has a rich history of its own and while it originally meant and was used differently from what it is, if at all, today, according to the contributors of our source material, "Eventually, in the 18th century, the expression surfaced...meaning a lot of meaningless talk...later also, a sequence of pointless activities."


It hasn't been my experience to meet business leaders that intentionally set out to create a bunch of rigamarole, but inadvertently they do. Or, they allow it to come into being and don't recognize it until it has gripped their company. More often than not, they may sense it is thwarting certain initiatives but are unable to identify it for what it is. In reality, rigamarole is the unintended consequence of not paying attention while the foundation of it was laid and built upon.

Large company leaders seem to be plagued by this condition to a greater degree than their smaller brethren, and yet it can be far more devastating to a small to mid-market company.


This isn't anything new or earth-shattering and for many decades consultants and efficiency experts have been working with executives and C-level management teams to cut through the rigamarole. Some of the problem, though, is that a good deal of what is already out there under the guise of best practice and clear thinking becomes nothing more than a bunch of rigamarole as well.

It is here that my experience leaves me and you with just three pieces of advice, 1.) If something isn't working quite the way you envisioned it to, you've probably got a problem with rigamarole, 2.) If you sense that could be the case, find an outside source to engage with about your concern, [could be a Share-group member, trusted business peer nearby] but without that extra set of eyes and ears you won't  get the unvarnished truth as to what it is, and 3.) Understand that whatever rigamarole you have created, or allowed to exist, it can be cleared up in short order once you admit it.

Your Direct Reports probably already know what it is, may have even contributed to it, dislike it as much as you suspect and will be more than willing to participate in the eradication of it. There really is no excuse for it.

Jim Naleid is a Life-long Entrepreneur, Change-Agent and Thought Leader, Managing Director of Naleid & Associates and Regional TEC (“The Executive Committee”) Chair leading a group of executives to become Better Leaders, Making Better Decisions with Better Results. http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimnaleid

Monday, March 11, 2013

Disruptive Forces - What Business Leaders Need to Be Doing Now

Stock markets are hitting new highs. Housing starts are on the rise and home values may have hit bottom and are trending up. The private sector is adding jobs and the unemployment rate is improving while, life for the long-term unemployed or out-of-the-workforce, statistically is not.

Even though U.S. inflation is pegged at 1.6%, every household that does breakfast and dinner at home is feeling the squeeze of higher commodity prices, foodstuffs and the fuel it takes to shop. Insurance premiums; health, auto and liability all are on the rise. Just the other day folks I was with engaged in that old 'game' of "Remember when tap beers were a dime and a gallon of gas was twenty-five cents?"


There is a different answer that's appropriate for the individual investor than might apply to the business leader. For today, my objective is to stick with business.

Managers ought to be thinking seriously about what the most significant disruption to their business could be in the coming months while their charges concentrate on executing the plan that has been entrusted to them. Those that are complacent  and fail to concern themselves with possible and significant disruptions to their business pay a stiff price for doing so.

It's been five short years since the economic disruption spurned by loose banking practices caught up with everyone. Some are convinced banks once again will be at the center of the next disruptive force that could affect your business.


Neil Weinberg, Editor-in-Chief at American Banker caught my attention with his recent blog post title, "Beware of the Banking Bubble."[1] Let's face it, since the so-called "Dot.com Bubble" disrupted the easy flow of money thirteen years ago, we tend to pay more than usual attention to bubbles forming, or worse, those that are about to burst.    

Mr. Weinberg voices a concern that hearkens back to the overall attitude bankers held in 2007 and he fears that some of the same are surfacing today. Among other things, he notes that "Compressed net interest margins mean bankers face pressure to under-price risk to win loan business and to look to other questionable tactics to turn a buck." Think fees -  back-end, front-end, small print, you name it. Retail and Commercial borrowers and depositors know what Weinberg is talking about. He then asks a relevant question; "In what imprudent ways are bankers likely to respond to these various pressures?" Great question.

Enter stage right, the Federal Reserve and Ben Bernanke. Edward Luce at The Financial Times opened a recent piece by stating the obvious, "The Federal Reserve under Ben Bernanke has been the only serious economic actor in Washington."[2] If you're leading a company today, it goes without saying that the disadvantage of not being able to print money in order to buy down your own debt handicaps you against your competitors. The good news is that neither can your competitors do so. The bad news is banks will make life miserable for lenders when and if rates head north.

While Luce generally heaps praise on the Fed Chairman, he acknowledges that, "Without the Fed's easy money, the stock market would be languishing and unemployment would be rising." As a former portfolio manager, this scares the (insert your own) out of me. Mr. Weinberg quotes from Moises Naim's[3] new book, The End of Power, wherein the author accurately noted that "When the Fed has met a new problem it has usually engineered a new solution." Note that the Fed has signaled its intent to discontinue this engineered strategy once unemployment falls to 6.5%. Many are urging Bernanke to curtail the practice sooner.


Leaders of any size company ought to be thinking about the next disruptive force that will affect their business and in so doing will make a huge mistake if banking isn't on their short list. Everything from short-term lending to insurance premiums will be adversely impacted when the Fed halts the presses leading to higher interest rates and a less than subtle upward inflationary course.

This is a discussion that must take place within companies, now. Strategy considerations should include everything finance related, including the unorthodox. It might make sense to renegotiate a higher rate on your current short-term or line of credits and lock them in for as long as possible. It might make sense to take advantage of rates and increase your debt on the balance sheet if a three to five year term is offered. If you've contemplated selling out, it might make sense to do it as soon as practical while cheap money is still available to your potential suitors. In other words, pull your team together and put all of the banking "If's" and "Might-make-sense" ideas on the table.

Ben Bernanke has been frequently reminding whoever is listening that "There is only so much the Fed can do." So, manage the potential disruptive force a change in Fed policy will bring to business and banking practices. Move it up on your to-do list, now.

As you if you didn't have enough to concern yourself with!

Jim Naleid is a Life-long Entrepreneur, Change-Agent and Thought Leader, Managing Director of Naleid & Associates and Regional TEC (“The Executive Committee”) Chair leading a group of executives to become Better Leaders, Making Better Decisions with Better Results. http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimnaleid

[1] Neil Weinberg; Editor-in-Chief at American Banker; "Beware of the Banking Bubble", March 7 2013
[2] Edward Luce; Columnist for The Financial Times; "A good engineer that knows his own limits", March 10, 2013
[3] Moisés Naím (born 1952) is a Venezuelan writer and columnist. He is a Senior Associate in the International Economics program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Job Description for Owner and CEO: "RUN THE COMPANY"

Drawing from my own experience, whether leading a division of or building from scratch, no one, including myself, ever asked what or how my job was actually defined. I was there to "run the company." Wasn't that obvious?

In the ten years since leaving a nearly 25-year career in sell and buy-side investment management it has occurred to me that many, too many, of us have led and defined our roles by assumption rather than by clarity. We just "ran the company."


In either case, that of a business owner/entrepreneur or executive that started out lower on the ladder and now is in the C-suite (or facsimile thereof), to my surprise, a great many have found themselves with the responsibility of either running a company or a significant division of it without a clear idea of who they are, why they are and what they are determined to do and how.

In my role as adviser  counselor or coach; common questions I ask of those depending upon me are meant to get leaders to focus on a few very important things.

·         Who are you?
·         What's your job description?
·         Who wrote or defined your role?
·         Are you functioning in that role, as described?
·         How do you see yourself?
·         Have you written your own description of that role?
·         Why not?

We could go on and on with an endless list of questions like these. It just surprise me to find that in virtually all cases, (non-scientific) leaders plow along doing what they believe is expected of them while rarely thinking about the need to clearly define themselves and the role that is not only expected of them but the role they want to play within their organizations.

Once a leader clearly defines who they are and why, they then ought to do the same for each one of their Direct Reports.


For the sake of this discussion, let's assume the owner or CEO is the one that decides a position needs to be filled. A discussion with the in-house HR professional follows. Perhaps an outside search firm is engaged. The leader has something in mind and ultimately someone is going to write a job description and initiate the search.

Would you be surprised to learn that it isn't uncommon for the professionally drafted Job Description and the reality of what the CEO wants don't match? There may be two primary reasons why that happens. One, the Owner/CEO hasn't clearly defined their own role and the second becomes as obvious; they haven't personally and clearly defined the role of the talented individual they are seeking.

Imagine a Head Coach that sends out talent scouts without clearly defining the precise athletic skills, qualities and demeanor of the talent they want. We're all too familiar with athletes that were said to be "the most sought after" but for whatever reasons don't fit or simply flop. Why does that happen?

There are numerous reasons. When and if the Head Coach leaves the search up to others while not clearly defining themselves, their objectives and exactly what they expect of the assistants, and ultimately the athletes, the results speak for themselves.

"The breakthrough companies we visited were filled with great coaches - people skilled at helping people do their very best."[1]  Keith McFarland includes a great discussion on the topic under the heading, "The No. 1 Job Of A Leader: Coaching" in his terrific look at high performing companies in Breakthrough Companies. McFarland there notes that, "If managers focus too much on getting the right people on the bus, and not enough on developing the people they already have on the bus, you can bet that bus is headed for some kind of fender bender or worse."

As we all pay more attention to this need and responsibility for leaders to reconsider who they are and why they do what they do, it is critically important that leaders also accept the responsibility they have to clearly define themselves, what they expect of their Direct Reports and finally, to give clear definition to what their company is and why. No one in the HR department can or should be doing this for them.           

Jim Naleid is a Life-long Entrepreneur, Change-Agent and Thought Leader, Managing Director of Naleid & Associates and Regional TEC (“The Executive Committee”) Chair leading a group of executives to become Better Leaders, Making Better Decisions with Better Results. http://www.linkedin.com/in/jimnaleid

[1] The Breakthrough Company; Keith McFarland; Crown Publishing; p.214, 215