Delving Deeper and Deeper

More on Rick Spence’s National Post feature on PEO….

Part I

by Leon Goren, CA

President, Presidents of Enterprising Organizations

As Rick Spence wrote in the National Post: “As a result, PEO is delving further into the internal culture-development business than most of its competitors. Last year, it launched its first Executive Team Leadership Program, which combines 360-degree survey tools with one-on-one coaching, as well as the development of internal executive forums within members’ own organization to ensure that the chief executives become — and more importantly, stay — more consistently positive, collaborative and effective. ‘This is magic. It’s life changing,’ Leon Goren says.”

Just what does this mean? Why did Rick Spence, in his nationally circulated column extensively covering PEO, ask, “Are you really a good leader?” In a follow up story, he answers his own question, prompted by a reader:

“Leadership is basically about taking time to make sure that everyone on the team knows where the group is going, and what they can do better to help it achieve its goals sooner. It’s all about two-way communication: explaining what you want your people to do, listening to their questions, comments and ideas, and giving them the consistent feedback they need in order to understand what they have to do to succeed in the organization.”

Leadership, however, is something many can describe but very few can execute. It’s one of the reasons exaggerated praise lasts in history for such politically inspired leaders as Churchill, JFK, Trudeau or Reagan. Or how business legends like Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Lou Gerstner or Thomas Watson persist in modern memory.

Leadership today

But when we look at leadership today, there is something missing. The stakes are higher; the demands are greater. When Spence says that “PEO is delving further into the internal development business than most of its competitors,” he is correct but also touches on something profound. Delving further, going deeper means that the upside is that much higher – the trajectory of advanced leadership is far above previous practices. It’s the meaning of the success we all seek. A well directed organization is a successful one, providing personal and economic benefits for its leader.

In the original peer environment model, learning occurs in safe, confidential sessions. What peers tell each other and their advisors is taken at face value and believed, which it should be. But with the evolution of our methodology, as part of our Executive Team Leadership (ETL) program, we are actually participating in activities at corporations to view interactions between leaders and their management teams. This includes ‘internal executive forums,’ as Spence describes–offsite PEOs within companies.

Onsite observation is a key expansion of our five-tier methodology, ensuring we accelerate leaders along straight trajectories toward defining their organizations’ goals and objectives. We are not forgetting the importance of peer-to peer teams; we are simply surrounding them with further processes to keep leaders on their path towards fulfilling lifetime aspirations – and that of their organization.

PEO being onsite provides members with helpful and insightful counsel like no other activity we’ve engaged in ever before. It’s like Reality TV—the camera digs deep. What you say is one thing; what someone else observes you saying is something else again. Imagine if you described an encounter with your spouse as you remembered it and compare that with filmed record or even the feedback provided by a facilitator. Compare that further with the commentary a trusted advisor can give you about what is really happening in your organization. He sees the faces, the expressions, the reactions you cannot see.

You receive these kinds of insights:

  • Feedback concerning your own impact on the team (impossible to discern otherwise)
  • How the team perceives your leadership style, based on body language and a multitude of other perceptions invisible to the leader
  • The advantages of a second set of eyes and a trained mind focusing on these crucial issues

At first, it could seem intrusive or even scary, almost as if it’s Survivor or Donald Trump’s The Apprentice. But it’s not: it’s the fastest path toward improved executive leadership, which is another word for achieving success. The deeper the better.

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