Archives For Extreme Global Leaders

At The Root Of It All

October 29, 2013 — 2 Comments

Here is an under-recognized, under-utilized truth:

PEOPLE make the company, the company does not make the people. 

Often leaders are preoccupied with who they are going to hire.  Agreed – hiring is a critically important decision.  Who you hire, as a leader, will ultimately determine your level of success… or will it?  It seems logical enough. After all, if you hire great people you’re laying the foundation for building great teams, units, and organizations… as well as great overall business results, right?

At The Root Of It All

On the surface, you are absolutely right. However, if you dig down deep to the root of many organizational issues, you find a much darker problem: “A” Players are hired for their talent, innovation and potential to take the organization to new heights, and then they are treated no different than the “B” and “C” Players in the organization that make no real day to day impact. The reality is that without great people that make real impact, you cannot sustainably build great products or provide great services. Continue Reading…

There are two essential keys to success in global business today that will determine if you emerge bloody and battered  or ready for the next epic battle: 1) Cash is king and how you, as Commander, manage that cash will determine your ability to live to fight another day. However, if you do not strategically develop products and services that will enable you to consistently triumph over the competition, you will find yourself overtaken    2) If cash is king, then innovation equates to the arsenal of weapons used to protect the castle walls and conquer new territories. Without innovation you can not conquer your enemy or protect your kingdom.  If you, as Commander of all the armies within your domain, are responsible for ensuring strategic battle-plans are executed successfully,  you must leverage the best artillery you have available – including yourself… especially yourself.

As Commander, you are prepared to go forth and conquer everyday operations, selectively forget past triumphs, and boldly and strategically go forth into uncharted territories. In doing so, do you fully comprehend what it will require of you, personally, in order to fight successfully on all three battlefields and emerge triumphant in a war that is constantly evolving – a moving target? What is it that separates the good commanders from the great? What kind of leader does it take to mandate continuous, aggressive innovation on an ongoing basis?

Who has mastered the art of war, successfully engaging innovation as a strategic weapon to consistently emerge victorious?   Steve Jobs, Lou Gerstner, John Chambers, Richard Branson, Larry Page/Sergey Brin, or perhaps Mark Zuckerberg…all of these commanders have some distinct characteristics we can look to for guidance. If we observe behaviors, what we find is that strong commanders that embrace the role of innovation consistently:

  1. Embody Energy & Drive
  2. Display Courage & Focus
  3. Possess Mental Clarity
  4. Create Demand
  5. Seek & Drive Change
  6. Develop Dreams
  7. Engage & Deliver
  8. Value Accountability
  9. Intuitively Understand Customer Needs/Wants
  10. Embrace & Use Failure As A Springboard To Success

But how do you, as Commander, agressively drive innovation both internally and externally? Because you are the weapon of choice and will ultimately have a great impact both in the midst of ongoing battles, as well as on the outcome of the war, it is critical for you to embrace the fact that innovation will substantially drive outcomes. Ask yourself some interesting questions as you evaluate your commitment to innovation:

  • Passion: Do you, as Commander, have the vision, energy and drive to look into the future for new, unclaimed territories or are you stuck on the bloody battlefield on which you currently reside? Are you internally driven to focus not only on the future, but across industries, sectors, or nations to generate innovative ideas that will enable your troops to overtake the enemy and secure new, previously unexplored territory? Are you passionate about identifying significant events that will change industries, companies, customers – impact nations or the world – and do you ENGAGE them? What are you willing to give up in the name of innovation?
  • Possibility: Do you see potential and have the capacity and conviction to develop what you envision? Do you engage in intelligent risk-taking every day? Are you intuitive – understanding what people/clients want before they do? Do you consistently ask what it is that a billion people need and don’t have? Do you constantly scan the environment for opportunity? Do you work backward from your imagination or forward from your past?
  • Purpose: Do you have a personal sense of ownership and commitment to continuous change and securing new territories? Do you have a deep understanding and sense of purposeful investment in the continuous evolution of your army and your arsenal? Are you personally committed to discovering uncharted territories? Do you set highly ambitious, but realistic, goals?
  • Practice: Are you consistently encouraging your troops to engage and practice the innovations that arise within a controlled environment prior to attacking the enemy? Do you practice what you preach? Do you use practice as a competitive weapon, leveraging it as an opportunity to enhance the battle-plans and your ability to win prior to engaging?
  • Perception: As Commander, do you often reject conventional wisdom?  Are you constantly looking over your shoulder at the bloody battlefields on which you have triumphed in the past or are you looking forward toward unexplored territories? Are you looking for ongoing opportunity gaps? Do you believe in your ability to win?
  • Persistence: Are you relentless in constantly asking, “what’s new?” of everyone you come in contact with? Do you make an effort to see everything through multiple sets of eyes – the eyes of the troops, the enemy, and the innocent bystanders (your customers)? In every instance, do you think, seek, search, listen, probe, and extract? Are you focused on seeking out unexplored opportunities? Are you prepared to condone cannibalization – constantly annihilating yourself in order to renew products and services before the competition takes the advantage?

Within your arsenal of weapons lies innovation – too big, and too formidable, for any enemy to conquer if the Commander (you) chooses to leverage the competitive advantage within. How far will you go to ensure you are not the weak link in your companies ability to innovate?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you mind the innovation gaps in your organization. Please feel free to contact me at or by visiting our website at Check back next week for the next installment of the Mind The Gap series.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Mentors represent knowledge, reflection, insight, and wisdom. They offer understanding, compassion, strategy, and good advice. They engender trust, issue challenges, provide encouragement, and offer positive reinforcement. It is the Extreme Global Leaders responsibility to mentor those brilliant mavericks that global business attracts – those individuals defined as willfully independent and dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge and innovation. They challenge the common practices of global business – business they see as ready for change and renewal. Mavericks continually raise uncomfortable questions that challenge the status quo, inspiring us to go wider and deeper – not to hide from the reality of the ever-evolving global marketplace.  Mavericks consistently inquire into how they can do something radically different. They want to think about the next big idea and make it happen. Mavericks want to make a difference, discover how to re-create and re-energize their team, division, organization, and their world.  They are Extreme Leaders in the making – you want Mavericks, indeed, you NEED them.

In his book, Leading The Revolution, Gary Hamel warns, “Most people in an industry are blind in the same way. They’re all paying attention to the same things, and not paying attention to the same things”. Mavericks are just the opposite, they understand that strategy and product/service development can no longer be about replication, competing from virtually identical playbooks – they get that innovation and reinvention are an “X” factor to organizational (and individual) success. Extreme Global Leaders know that mavericks are their best opportunity to continually and successfully reinvent the organization.

A transformational approach to leading mavericks is required. A single maverick can be challenging, a team of global mavericks can be downright intimidating – yet exhilarating at the same time. Mavericks are extremely confident by nature and if managed appropriately, are likely to unleash their creativity and insight to the benefit of the entire global organization. Appreciating and recognizing the possibilities mavericks bring to an organization is extremely important. When processes or projects become entangled, turn to skilled mavericks for unorthodox solutions and infectious enthusiasm, and leverage their willingness to involve and commit themselves 110% to ideas and projects. If change is causing chaos and confusion in the organization, a maverick’s visionary foresight will encourage creativity and inspire the whole group to passionately pursue their game-changing future.  Always keep in mind what Earl Bakken says about these unique individuals: “You want to have some mavericks who are out ahead 5 or 6 years. If you don’t have them, you better grow them …”.

It is critically important for a Global Leader to establish and maintain an environment where new ideas— often outside of the corporate norm, sometimes radical—can be heard and evaluated. Extreme Leaders find ways to pay specific attention to what their “idea people” are saying and doing – they listen and understand that from the maverick will come the innovation and reinvention of the future. They listen, even when the listening is not particularly pleasant or easy. They understand, as they listen, that talented mavericks do not always communicate in a direct or linear manner. In some cases, the communication is both brilliant and unintelligible, and it becomes the role of the Extreme Leader to provide for the essential interpretation and operationalization to leverage the information to the company’s benefit. It is the Extreme Global Leader’s function to hear the ideas, but more importantly, to encourage and guide them toward successful ends.

Extreme Global Leaders neither bury brilliant mavericks, nor let them venture too far off on their own – they mentor them in a purposeful and meaningful context. With an enormous amount of imagination and patience, Extreme Global Leaders accommodate their thinkers on a global basis and give them the support their brilliance deserves. The challenge in leading mavericks is great, but so, too, are the potential rewards. Who are your mavericks and how are you going to mentor them?

You can contact me at or by visiting our website at Check back next Thursday for the next installation  of Leadership Across Boundaries & Borders.