2017 Leadership Series – 2017-02 “CEO TOOLS & ANALYSIS”

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  • It’s a new year, JANUARY 19TH, want to become reflective for 7 minutes? As the CEO, President, or Business Owner…

    The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked 11 experts to grade Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Doug Daft on several different topics using a 4.0 scale (A=4.0, F=0.0). The following worksheet was adapted from that article and includes their questions and a few others. (By the way, the overall grade for Daft was C+ … )

    How would you grade yourself? How would others grade you?










    Has the CEO set a clear strategic direction for the company? Has the CEO communicated the direction effectively with company’s various constituencies, including employees, customers, suppliers and shareholders? Has the company responded positively to the direction set by CEO (as measured by results)?










    Has the CEO assembled a strong management team to implement the strategy? Has the CEO held direct reports accountable for performance? Has the CEO established an effective succession plan for top management?

    Financial Performance









    How has the company performed under this CEO when it comes to hitting financial targets, improving profitability and controlling costs? Does the CEO set realistic, aggressive financial goals for the company? Does the CEO understand, measure and monitor overall financial performance?










    Does the company have a strong sales and marketing plan and team in place? Have sales results met goals and expectations? Has sales training taken place, and has it been effective? Have sales and marketing responded effectively to changing economic conditions?

    Operational Performance









    How has the company performed under the CEO when it comes to improving operational effectiveness, improving on-time performance, and increasing operational efficiencies? Has the CEO developed a culture of continuous improvement?










    Does the CEO foster a customer-focused approach to innovation? Has the company introduced enough new products or services to address the changing needs of customers? Is the company considered “innovative” within their industry?


  • If you feel you are on the cone of a rocket, overwhelmed or just want to be around or in a peer-to-peer mastermind group with other successful business owners, let’s have that NEW YEAR cup of coffee. You have the next 11 days in January to look around the corner and determine what are your personal goals for you and your enterprise. Blessings, 

Ed Stillman, Austin Texas Exective Coach and Vistage Group Chair (This article in part was taken from the Vistage Worldwide Member Library)


2017 Leadership Series – 2017-01

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Entrepreneurs and Small to Mid Size Business Owners

Welcome to 2017

It is my goal to bring you once every 2 weeks an article that will assist you in becoming a better leader, making better decisions and hopefully provide you a better balance between business commitments, personal relationships and your spiritual walk.

2017- January 12 – LEADERSHIP STYLES

When I returned [as CEO] to Perot Systems, my first job as a leader was to create a new understanding of myself … I told myself I was having the same experience as a caterpillar entering a cocoon. The caterpillar doesn’t know that he’ll come out as a butterfly. All he knows is that he’s alone, it’s dark, and it’s a little scary. I came out the other end of the experience with a new understanding of leadership. I don’t have to know everything. I don’t have to have all the customer contacts. I don’t have to make all the decisions. In fact, in the new world of business, it shouldn’t be me, and my job is to prevent it from being me.”

— Mort Meyerson, former CEO, Perot Systems, “Everything I Thought I Knew About Leadership Is Wrong,” Fast Company, April 1996

Leadership Culture

It’s an inescapable fact of business life: All organizational cultures reflect the personalities of their leaders. The leader’s behavior — how he or she goes about a daily routine, or reacts to crisis — sets the tone for the workplace. Every day, in hundreds of ways, the leader demonstrates to others what is suitable — and unsuitable — in the organization.

When, for example, a CEO insists on micro-managing and making day-to-day operational decisions, the management team becomes frozen in place, unwilling or unable to challenge decisions. If a CEO shows an inclination to avoid conflict, that behavior will be played out in the organization as well.

“CEOs need to understand that the people around them interpret their behavior through what they do and do not stand for,” says Vistage Chair and speaker Don Schmincke. “The leader’s actions profoundly shape the culture of the organization.”

The same principle applies to what Vistage speaker Lee Thayer calls “the most powerful force on earth” — mediocrity.

“An inclination towards the mean is present in any organization and can only be overcome by the leader’s personal fanaticism. Leaders face large numbers of people who tend toward mediocrity, and also have to consciously fight against it in themselves.”

As a result, the CEO must embody a distinctive, passionate style of leadership. “Nothing done conventionally by the CEO will offer any kind of competitive advantage,” Thayer says. “Conventional thinking always and everywhere leads to conventional outcomes.”

Closing the Distance

The secret to effective leadership lies in closing the distance between yourself and those you seek to lead.

“It’s easy for a CEO to stay inaccessible,” says Vistage speaker Ben Gill. “There’s always a shortage of time, an abundance of commitments — reasons why you can’t be seen and heard by employees. But these reasons become secondary once you realize that getting closer to your constituents is truly an important goal.”

“A true leader is always learning,” adds Don Schmincke. “They seek out new information through formal and informal settings. They do not discourage constructive feedback and disagreement.”

Great leaders also make themselves visible on-site. They run into people in the cafeteria and talk to them about what’s on their minds. They solicit and respond to employee email. They get to know the people who work for them, they find out who does what well and who needs more attention. They learn first-hand what’s happening on the front lines.

The leader’s visible presence serves to lessen employee anxiety, especially during times of transformation and change. Our Vistage speakers suggest various techniques to infuse courage and trust in employees, both in personal encounters and through normal organizational channels:

  • Tell it like it is. The people who follow you deserve to know what’s going on. They’ll do a better job with the facts at hand.
  • Get something done fast. Short-term victories can bolster employee resolve in the face of intimidating long-term change. Celebrate these wins and show people that you appreciate their efforts.
  • Make change exciting. Build on the short-term gains and guide employees through the next cycle of change. With a foundation of trust, they can distinguish between good ideas that didn’t pan out and those that were ill-conceived and deserved to fail.
  • Take risks on people. Leaders always persuade people to do more — and be more — than they ever thought possible. Encourage your employees to go beyond what they’ve done in the past.

A must read from Warren Buffett for anyone developing the next generation of business leaders…

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Imagine working on one skill in 2017 that–once you improve it–will raise your value by 50 percent. The one skill is public speaking.

The dividends on the investment you make in sharpening your communication skills will pay off for the rest of your career. Don’t take my word for it. Listen to billionaire Warren Buffett’s advice to a class of business students at Columbia University back in 2009:

“Right now, I would pay $100,000 for 10 percent of the future earnings of any of you, so if you’re interested, see me after class.”

After the laughter subsided, he turned serious.

“Now, you can improve your value by 50 percent just by learning communication skills–public speaking. If that’s the case, see me after class and I’ll pay you $150,000.”

Buffett’s point is that mastering the art of public speaking is the single greatest skill to boost your career.

You might be thinking, “That’s great, but I have a fear of public speaking.” That’s OK. Buffett was actually terrified too.

Overcoming your fear

As a young stock adviser, Buffett took a Dale Carnegie public-speaking course to overcome his fear. It’s a little known fact, but Buffett dropped out of the course on his first try, because he was afraid he’d be asked to speak up. He worked up his courage a second time and today proudly displays his Dale Carnegie certificate in his office.

According to TED curator Chris Anderson, public speaking matters more than ever. In his book TED Talks, Anderson writes: “As a leader–or as an advocate–public speaking is the key to unlocking empathy, stirring excitement, sharing knowledge and insights, and promoting a shared dream.”

Isn’t that what you’re trying to accomplish as an entrepreneur pitching an idea or a small-business owner pitching a potential customer?

Your goal is to create empathy, a bond of trust between you and your listener. Your goal is to stir excitement, share knowledge, and promote a shared dream. Effective public speaking is the one skill that can help you achieve all of these results.

Learning the skills

Anderson calls the ability to captivate an audience “presentation literacy,” a superpower to pitch your ideas, sell products, and accomplish your dreams. The good news is that Anderson believes the skill is teachable.

I agree.

Thanks to broadband connections, YouTube, and TED.com, anyone with a computer, phone, or mobile device has the world’s top business speakers at their fingertips.

For entrepreneurs and small-business owners, I suggest starting with YouTube videos of the greatest presenter in business history–Steve Jobs.

Nearly every public presentation Steve Jobs ever gave–as far back as the original Macintosh product launch in 1984–is available for streaming. A mesmerizing example of a product launch is Jobs’s 2007 introduction of the first iPhone.

Pay particular attention to:

  • The simple, visual, and engaging slides that Jobs used to complement the message.
  • How Jobs delivered the presentation without a teleprompter or visible notes. He simply had bullet points of the messages he wanted to cover discreetly tucked behind the computer he used for the demos.
  • The fun that Jobs had delivering the presentation. He placed a crank call to a nearby Starbucks store to demonstrate the maps feature of the new phone.
  • The clever way Jobs packaged the content. He fooled the audience into thinking he was introducing three new products. They were surprised when he revealed that all three products were rolled into one–the new iPhone.

In the iPhone launch, Steve Jobs reminds us that today’s audiences want more than to sit through yet another boring presentation. They crave visually appealing slides. They want to be informed and inspired, enlightened and entertained, all in the same presentation.

Yes, the skills are teachable–Steve Jobs was not a natural; he worked at it–but mobile video has made it a lot easier to teach yourself, through watching the world’s greatest entrepreneurs and business legends work their craft.

As an entrepreneur or small-business owner, you are only as valuable as your ideas. If you cannot persuade others to buy into your ideas, then they don’t matter very much.

Your ideas deserve to be heard. Make a commitment this year to sharpen the one skill that can change your life and the direction of your business, and raise your value by 50 percent almost immediately.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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2017 EEOC Audit for Small to Mid size Business Owners

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On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being in full compliance – what’s your EEOC scorecard look like going into 2017 … 6 questions that deserve your attention on Tuesday, January 3rd?

55 to 60 – probably safe for 6 months – revisit every 6 months

48 to 54 – evaluate where you are most vulnerable and take action in Q1 2017

41 to 47 – getting less than 7 hours of sleep?

34 to 40 – you should be talking to a labor lawyer

1.Write a discrimination policy

The key to preventing EEOC lawsuits is to document everything, starting with your Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy. The policy holds employees legally accountable for upholding the laws and values enshrined in federal civil rights statutes. It also explains what managers and staff should do in cases of alleged discrimination.

A standard policy details how managers should record EEOC incidents, take corrective actions, and follow up. Every employee should sign the discrimination policy during onboarding.

2. Make your non-discrimination policy visible

Post your discrimination policies somewhere every employee must see it. Your logbook, employee handbook, learning management system, and breakroom are good locations. Remember, visitors, vendors, and guests could take away the wrong idea if they see a piece of paper titled “ANTI-DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT POLICY.” Keep it in the back of the house.

3. Mandatory training  

Training ensures that employees follow the protocols set forth in your discrimination policy. Courses should teach employees how to distinguish discrimination from typical office and work related shenanigans.  

At minimum, training should cover:

  • What employees should do if they experience or see discrimination in the workplace.
  • How to report incidents.
  • Step-by-step actions managers should take upon learning of an incident

Be ready to prove that employees have completed training. Whether you design your own courses or license them through an online learning management system, document completion.

4. Don’t ask illegal interview questions

If we sat down to a mock interview, would you be able to pick out which questions are illegal? Probably not without practice and training.

Many managers don’t realize that asking for the candidate’s age, number of children, and disabilities during the hiring process can be considered discrimination. However, you can obtain the same information by reframing discriminatory questions. For example:

  • Do you have any disabilities → Are you able to perform the following tasks…?
  • How old are you? → Are you between the ages of 18 and 65?
  • Do you have kids? →  Do you have responsibilities that may prevent you from committing to your assigned work schedule?

5. Find the line between fun and harassment

In most office and/or work related culture, jokes, pranks, and profanity are fun until they cross a line. Good managers know where that line is and guard it aggressively. Trust managers to confront employees who put the company at risk of an EEOC lawsuit. Shouting four-letter words is one thing, but jabs against someone’s gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, or disability can trigger lawsuits.

6. Document, document, document

From recruiting and hiring to benefits administration, reviews, and termination… document everything. Be ready to back up your actions with evidence. Maintain time-stamped records of personnel issues, corrective actions, and disciplinary activity in a digital or physical logbook. By assuming that you will have to justify your actions in court, you will reduce the chance that you ever have to.

Now, talk to your lawyers…

The internet is not the place to make your legal strategy. Use this article to understand the high-level issues, but please consult your legal counsel for further guidance. They know what documentation, policies, training, and systems you need to avoid an encounter with the EEOC. Just remember, you can’t “win” an EEOC lawsuit, but you can prevent one.

Sent from my iPhone

Ed Stillman

Austin Texas

Vistage Group Chair


512.422.6232 (mobile or text)

I help individuals become better business leaders – and business leaders become better people – who run better companies and make a more significant difference in the world.

Let’s Make Work Better… https://rework.withgoogle.com

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Here’s an interesting article and link from Google as we move into 2017.


To a Productive New Year



Did you know that a 1.56% monthly rate of change will enable you to double your revenue in 3 years?

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Here’s a one page way to get there.

Patrick Lencioni sixteen years ago wrote his leadership fable titled “The FOUR OBSESSIONS of an EXTRAORDINARY EXECUTIVE”. Here’s a  link to his Friday with Vistage webinar https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqz6rEPAnmg

His focus was on:

  1. Build and maintain a cohesive leadership team
  2. Create organizational clarity
  3. Over-communicate organizational charity
  4. Reinforce organizational charity through human system

His book can be read in a weekend (180 pages) worth the purchase and read. February 15 & 16, 2017 Michael Lorsch, from The Table Group will be in Austin leading a 3 hour workshop for business leaders through Lencioni’s thought process.

Task: do a visual planning session with post-its (stickies) with your team and prioritize the top 3 groupings needed to reach and exceed your intended outcome. Pick a topic: process improvement, problem, opportunity and have each of your team come up with 7 words on 7 different post-it’s and create your infinity wall. You will amazed in how quick clarity is found and how much you learn about the real issues facing you.



Setting realistic weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals, objectives and targets and holding your team accountable is a step in the right direction to double your revenue in 3 years.


Ed Stillman is a 10 year Vistage Chair and facilitates 4 peer-to-peer Austin advisory groups. Email me at ed.stillman@vistagechair.com and let’s connect and see if I can assist you in becoming a better leader making better decisions.

Workshop Recap: Culture Trumps Everything

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Dr. Gustavo Grodnitzky was in Austin and conducted 3 workshops for Vistage members last week. His talks are on Culture and Gen Y. We get the culture we deserve and anything that influences behavior impacts the culture of the organization.

My 3 Take-Aways

  1. Create focus for your business with a cause
  2. If you don’t connect with your people, you lose them
  3. Culture starts with trust

Dr. Gustavo’s belief is when you take money off the table, and create focus on cause for the organization, retention will improve. What would your culture look like if you made $$$ a non-issue? Do people work harder for cause than for cash? Are you paying your employees fairly and competitively and focusing on social rewards to motivate employee behavior.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs suggests cultivating social norms for employees creates collaboration vs. competitiveness. If most new businesses fail because of undercapitalization and high turnover, will productivity and efficiency improve by cultivating social norms for both the employee and the customer?

Looking for a way to create connectedness within your team, company or non-profit? Connectedness can be demonstrated in a variety of ways when on explores cognitive, physical and emotional behaviors. From the gangs on the street for a 12 year old to your new employees longing for a cultural fit, connectedness is a primary human drive and it’s not always about the money.

How does what you do change the world or change human experiences in the world? Cause is belonging, it’s a meaning, it’s significant, see the big picture, know your purpose and ask yourself is profit a cause or a result? Cause drives behavior.

I have shared with hundreds of sales associates it’s all about getting to know, like and trust each other before a relationship is created and the sales rep has or should earn the right to ask for the order. What are your beliefs, the behavioral rules, and traditions, rituals that make up your company culture? Dr. Gustavo shared TRUST = Experience/Risk or Vulnerability.

Brene Brown in 2010 shared her studies on connection. A very worthwhile 20 minutes, so find the time and join the 27 million others who were touched by her message. Link to video

I’ll close with Dr. Gustavo’s ROCC – Reliability, Openness, Competitiveness, and Concern. Add your own bullets and connect with me for a deeper dive.