Amazon Leadership Principle 2: Employee Ownership

Amazon Leadership Principle 2: Employee Ownership

What does it really mean for employees to demonstrate ownership? Taking care of every detail? Stepping up to take blame and correct mistakes?

Amazon characterizes the best of employee ownership this way:

“Leaders are owners. They think long term and don’t sacrifice long-term value for short-term results. They act on behalf of the entire company, beyond just their own team. They never say “that’s not my job.”

The American Workplace: Still the Great Uniter

The American Workplace: Still the Great Uniter

The results of a recent Jobvite study of the workforce shows that one space where Americans are still somewhat unified is the workplace. The findings shed light on emerging trends and highlight some key areas where there are no surprises.

One key trend is that we are in the age of the “Hyper Hopper”—with job satisfaction rates on the decline (64% in 2017 vs. 74% in 2016), nearly half of job seekers are changing jobs at least every five years, particularly younger people, single people, and those who earn less than $25,000/year.

Vulnerability is Sexy

Vulnerability is Sexy

When was the last time you felt truly vulnerable at work?  Are you a CEO who feels comfortable using the words “I don’t know” with your leadership team members?  Have you shared some of your fears with them?  Have you allowed yourself to be human?

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the annual summit of the Small Giants Community in Detroit.  For two days, 150 leaders committed to growing a business with purpose grappled with topics such as culture hacking, open book management, and leading from the behind.

When do you need to hire a COO?

When do you need to hire a COO?

After reading a blog post by Dale Robinette (thanks Dale!), we realized that we gave our readers advice on how to hire a new Chief Operating Officer, but gave no advice on when it is time for your company to find a new one.

Here are a few thoughts on when to hire a COO:

1) If your current COO leaves, you need to find a replacement. Most businesses benefit from having a COO, and trying to run a business without an operations leader is a risk most business owners should not take.

Toxic Culture

Toxic Culture

John Lankford, author of “The Answer is Leadership” wrote, “Values and norms are the building blocks of a company’s culture. Some companies constantly reinforce their defining principles by displaying them in strategic areas of the building. Other businesses treat them less formally, but no less seriously. In either case, every business – and, often, every team – has its unique “rules of the game” that ultimately define the overall culture. Whether formally displayed or tacitly acknowledged, though, if management approaches those values and norms as an afterthought, doing little or nothing at all to articulate them – the result will be deleterious. It cannot be overstated that your company’s culture is a reflection of its management team – always.”

Nasty Bankruptcy: Why a Founder’s Brand is not Enough to Build a Great and Lasting Business

Nasty Bankruptcy: Why a Founder’s Brand is not Enough to Build a Great and Lasting Business

Reminiscent of its .com flopping predecessors, Nasty Gal filed for bankruptcy late last year after raising tens of millions in venture capital. It was a fantastic fall from grace for the company. Yet the brand of its founder Sophia Amoruso lives on - through her best selling book, a popular podcast, and a new Netflix TV series. 

This divergence between company and founder success can teach entrepreneurial CEOs some important lessons:

Meet Tom Billingsly, CEO

Meet Tom Billingsly, CEO

Tom Billingsly never fashioned himself to be more of an entrepreneur than any other Tom, Dick or Harry. 

Yes - he did have ideas all the time about new business to business and consumer solutions. For example, easily programmable electronic arms for mail carriers to hand deliver the mail to each resident — without ever leaving the comforts of their 1988 Ford Festivas. Since he loved to play ping-pong but rarely had a playmate - why not develop a high-tech paddle which, when combined with the Oculus VR, could deliver a night of table tennis fun?

More Thoughts on the Seven Roles of the COO

More Thoughts on the Seven Roles of the COO

A few months ago, I wrote about The Seven Roles of the COO, a topic that is often poorly understood or underestimated. I was amazed at the level of interest. I received thousands of views, hundreds of likes and a sizeable number of shares and comments. There were many COOs who raised their hands, confirming my belief that they tend not to be talked about or recognized and, when someone does focus on them, they get excited and willingly share what they do and why they do it.

The Seven Roles of the COO

The Seven Roles of the COO

I recently came across an article in Harvard Business Review that is as relevant today as it was when it was written over a decade ago.  Titled Second in Command: The Misunderstood Role of the Chief Operating Officer, the piece notes the “situational” nature of what the COO does. A person sitting in the COO chair may play many if not most of these roles during his / her tenure. The seven defining roles for the COO, based on his / her relationship with the Visionary CEO, are as follows:

Book Review: Small Giants by Bo Burlingham

Book Review: Small Giants by Bo Burlingham

There have been countless books written about very large corporations and the key to their success.  There also are many books out there telling how to grow your business.  The assumption in all these books is that you need to be growing to considered successful.

In Small Giants, Bo Burlingham refutes that idea by proposing that there are many companies that purposely choose to stay small, but are really successful organizations.  They just use a different measure of success than traditional revenue growth.

The Culture Piggyback

The Culture Piggyback

Last week I had the good fortune to participate in a video conference call on the topic of how to build, sustain and nurture a thriving corporate culture. The real time “fishbowl” was led by Art Saxby and Tom McCrary, CEO and Managing Partner respectively of Chief Outsiders. Chief Outsiders offers seasoned Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) to growth-oriented CEOs on a part time basis. Art and Tom are part of the Small Giants Community — organizations who are small in size yet giant in purpose — which hosted the gathering.