Talent-Leadership-Culture (TLC) Ep. 4: Simple Instructions

ATC is proud to partner with Cendea to present the series, “Talent-Leadership-Culture (TLC)”. This blog series addresses the questions and gives insight to the art of finding the RIGHT tech leader to hire at the director level and above. Thank you to our experts for sharing their knowledge with the tech community.

One of the most daunting tasks of any parent on Christmas morning is to triage the carnage of long-anticipated presents that have now been opened by the kids. One of the most important realities is that for some of those presents, there is “some assembly required”. And thus it’s so with TLC (Talent-Leadership-Culture). Some assembly is required.

Balance is an essential attribute of any effective leader. In our previous blogs we brought together individual elements of TLC. This is the three-legged stool on which the future growth of an organization will ride… as long as the stool is balanced. One or two legs of that stool will not stand on their own, they can only do so with balance and dependence on the other elements. That’s the key requirement of an effective leader…to allow each leg to stand in concert with the others. Just like the separation of powers on which our Constitution was founded, an organization must have its own durable constitution/charter to withstand the rigors of the growth path ahead. If you lead out of convenience rather than conviction or courage, those legs will wobble at best and at worst, collapse. 

  1. Create company’s Vision, Mission, and Culture 

Similar to our Constitution that ensures separation of powers is the brilliant three-legged stool concept on which we were founded at Federal Express, now FedEx. That three-legged stool was People – Service – Profit. The belief was that if we took care of our employees – the People, they would in turn take care of our loyal customers via Service, which over time would build revenue and thus Profit. It was sacred to us. Whatever your three-legged stool is built from, there should be protection from attacks and apathy. Take the time to establish your own constitution and protect it beyond all measures. A leader cannot post a win on his/her own. Business is a team sport. 

What’s the defining nature of the organization? It is culture – so work on it … and let no one utter that it is “shareholder value”! No one said this is easy, but copy from the best – learn what they did right and take advantage of that! Look at Southwest, FedEx, Google, LinkedIn, Disney, and others. You need to craft that into who you truly are and what you are doing. If you don’t fit in with the Southwest model, learn what you can from it and move on to look at others.

  1. Hire great talent, especially leadership (which may include replacing yourself!

Joel Trammel recently wrote a great article about what CEO’s get wrong about growth. He repeatedly asserts that the road to successful growth is to attract first class talent and then make them productive and effective. Rest assured, great people in a great culture leads to a productive workforce. The team simply won’t tolerate apathy and sloppiness. 

Herb Kelleher assembled one of the most compelling cultures in a very tired industry when he built Southwest Airlines. People want to be a positive reflection of their team. Paying attention to details is important. Success depends on it. 

  1. Establish efficient and effective processes and validate your results 

It does take time and resources to build efficient and effective processes, but the long-term gains can be astronomical both in terms of money saved and customer satisfaction internally and externally. That is only achieved if you get customer and employee feedback – see how others view how you’re doing. Your vision for what is great is only good if it matches what your target audience wants and needs. 

Rinse and repeat. Do it for all processes – especially ones that are time consuming and require the utmost accuracy. Then your time and money can be spent on going further versus continuously having to fix what wasn’t done right to begin with and you chose to live with it! 

  1. Challenge your beliefs, drive continuous improvement, and revisit this list frequently 

Why are we doing things this way? What do our Clients really want? How can we make it faster and better? What do our Clients need that would transform their actions and abilities that they can’t envision having today and how can they get there? “That’s the way it’s always been done” without exploring alternative possibilities is a copout. Technology is changing the world. The question “How can we change our industry through constant innovation?” is critical for survival – because someone else will do it and leave you behind — your customers will move on if you don’t embrace change! 

We get the opportunity to innovate with what others have invented before us. T. S. Eliot once stated: “We shall not cease from exploration…and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” 

All the words have already been written to bring this about, there’s nothing new here. This is simply a reminder that the formulas (or assembly instructions) don’t have to be rocket science stuff. It’s as basic as it comes. It just takes dedication and insistence on doing right things right. Uncommon common sense! Fred Smith got it right, Herb Kelleher got it right, and Joel Trammell reminds us of the right approach in his article. At Cendea, we celebrate being a part of those growth success stories. It’s all about TLC! Get started! 

Cendea is in its 25th  year of securing great talent for great opportunities.  Please feel free to call us at 512.219.6000. Wade Allen, President & CEO, x101, or Jim Bledsoe, Senior Partner, x121.