83 Chapters
Medium 9781626569812

Scale Matters

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Gary contacted the benchmark companies and informed the team all had agreed to meet. Two of the four requested a return visit. He was straightforward in his response; he told them a visit at this time would be premature, because they were very early on this journey. He promised to follow up when more had been accomplished. His candor was appreciated and did not thwart any of the team’s upcoming visits.

For their first visit, the team decided to send Charles, Bob, and Kim. They agreed not to ask Rose to travel until her mom was more settled.

The first company was a large, well-established, global organization in the financial sector. It had tens of billions in assets and had been successful for a very long time. Although the organization had certainly been impacted by the economics of the day, a conservative posture had served it well during turbulent times.

When the team arrived at the firm’s global training facility, they found the place to be well appointed but not flashy—designed to make their usual students, banking and finance professionals, feel comfortable and relaxed. Today the team would meet with Judy Cortez, the executive director charged with leadership development.

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Medium 9781626563940

Place Your Bet

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

On the ride home, Blake began to think about all he’d learned in the first few months on the job. He realized leading a large and complex enterprise requires a different level of leadership. “Chess not checkers” made perfect sense conceptually. His challenge now was to figure out what it looked like in the real world. His conversation with Jack was extremely helpful. He believed his team could turn Jack’s ideas into plans and tactics that would work. He was about to encounter his first real test.

On Monday morning, the team assembled at 8:00. This was beginning to feel normal, even to Elizabeth, who was not a morning person. She had already lobbied several members about moving the meeting to 8:00 p.m. The group politely declined.

As the team gathered, Blake could hear a couple of conversations around the table. It sounded to him like they were talking about chess!

“Good morning! I trust you’ve had a good weekend. I hear a couple of you talking about chess; we’ll get to that in a moment. First, I have asked Brad to help us develop a process we can follow to create next year’s plans. Brad, please give us a quick overview.”

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Medium 9781523094974

A Brighter Future

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

At the team’s next meeting, they reflected on their work to clarify the idea of a Better Boss and felt good about their efforts. They believed making the necessary behaviors specific would help the leaders throughout the organization engage and deliver the promise.

“Next on our agenda, ‘A Brighter Future,’” Kim said.

Gary was the first to comment. “You don’t have to be Top Talent to know what that means.”

Rose asked, “What do you think it means?”

“More cash, of course,” Gary snorted.

“Gary, are you still singing that song? You obviously haven’t looked closely at the data,” Ben said.

“Money is not the panacea you want it to be,” Peggy said.

“And, it was rarely mentioned as an attractor during the focus groups,” Charles reminded the group.

“Why do you think that is?” Rose asked. “We all need money.”

“Certainly, Top Talent expects to be paid. However, this Brighter Future they seek is really about more than money,” Charles said.

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Medium 9781523094974

Why Top Talent?

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Blake was eager to attend the next dinner meeting with the CEOs. Although the previous meeting had been relatively uneventful, he was optimistic. He knew these men and women were in their respective positions for a reason. He wanted to learn as much as he could from them.

After the normal pleasantries, Martha kicked off the conversation with a question.

“Who has a status report for the group? Who’s had a breakthrough?” After a long pause, “No one? Certainly, someone has done something.” Martha turned to Blake. “You were full of vim and vigor when we first met. What have you accomplished?” she asked.

“Well, we’ve defined the goal,” Blake offered.

“And?” Betsy asked.

“And, we’re working on it.”

“Doesn’t sound like much progress to me,” Bart said.

“Well, I understand why you would say that, and I wish we had accomplished more; however, I believe a problem well defined is half solved.”

“So, you think you know the problem? I do, too,” said Sam Caldwell, the head of a small hotel chain headquartered in their town. “I need bodies; I can’t find enough of them.”

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Medium 9781626569812

Bet on Leadership

Miller, Mark Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Blake sent Jack an email and was not surprised by the response: See you Thursday morning at 10:00—usual location.

As Blake had done many times before, he made the drive to Gresham Park. From his new address, on the other side of the state, the drive was a little shorter. Blake knew the routine—find the crowd, and he would find Jack.

Just as on other visits, Blake found the table at which Jack was holding court, schooling some unsuspecting opponent on the finer points of the game of chess. The pristine, fall weather seemed to have increased the crowd of onlookers.

“Checkmate,” Jack said in a tone reflecting both excitement and humility. He had won again as he most often did here in the park; grandmasters don’t have many legitimate rivals in this setting. The crowd offered what might be described as a “chess clap”—a golf clap but slightly more subdued.

As the latest student left the table wondering what had just happened, and how it happened so quickly, Jack addressed the crowd, “That’s it for today. Thanks for stopping by. See you next week.”

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