Build to a Company to Last, Not For Your Ego

Well as I type this post, Chapter 11 of my book is in the can.  Time to set my sights on chapter 12.  The last four chapter outline how following our FUEL Process to create your leadership development program gives you a competitive edge.  So if you are not familiar with FUEL – it a four step process we use in the consulting practice when designing organizational development initiatives.


Fuel Process

F – Find: first we pinpoint critical success factors based on your organization’s specific needs, develop a competency library, behavioral indicators and define performance measures to plan next steps in your unique path to success

U – Utilize: we design a customized process that addresses specific organizational initiatives we’ve identified together. From hiring plans to succession planning, our experts will provide you strategies that produce results.

E – Engage: We survey and measure what your employees value, their satisfaction and mindset to determine the most effective channels for communicating each person’s role in a more productive, sustainable organization.

L – Lead: Ensuring you have a team of leaders continuously supporting the mission, vision and goals of your organization.

As I prepare for the Chapter 12 – which talks about the final step of the process, Lead.  I saw a great quote: “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.”  ~Tom Peter. 

guy fawkes mask

Don’t just capture their minds also capture their hearts

When I think about making the connection between What’s gone wrong and the Founder’s syndrome – not that we need to make a connection- but they are both rumbling in my head. To solve the Founder’s dilemma, the founder needs to create leaders in their company.  And ideally their own replacement.  Most company owners are the visionary and once they are no longer around there is no one to step into that role.

I wrote a blog  on the lessons about succession planning from Steve Job – Now this was back in Nov 2011 so he had only been gone for about a month.  And many will argue that Apple has lost its innovation edge.  But you can’t deny that Apple is here to stay for a while.  They can limp along for 10-15 years with a loyal following in the computers alone.  Steve Jobs was a great pitch man and Tim Cook will never be Steve Jobs.  But instead of creating a mini Steve Jobs, he created a management team that was consistent with his vision. I ended the blog with a comment of not letting the personality of the owner be bigger than the brand.

And if you think about companies that are centered around a personality:

  • Warren Buffett – Berkshire Hathaway
  • Tony Robbins – Tony Robbins International
  • Robert Kiyosaki – Rich Dad Coaching
  • Donald Trump – Trump International
  • Oprah Winfrey – Harpo Productions/ Oprah Winfrey Network
  • Richard Branson – Virgin Group
  • Brian Tracy – Brian Tracy International

You pluck anyone of these personalities out of the business then what do you have left?  Maybe something – but nothing close to the original.  Sure some will survive look at Stephen Covey but that is mainly because of this books.  And all the fore mention have books some more mainstream than others.  Now that look at companies that were built associated with a personality but not because of it:

  • Microsoft – Bill Gates
  • Amazon – Jeff Bezos
  • Pixar Studios – once part of LucasFilm, co-founding by Steve Jobs, now owned by Disney
  • Starbucks – Howard Schultz
  • Nike – Phil Knight
  • Huffington Post – Arianna Huffington et al 
colorful figures standing

None of them did it alone

There individuals have a lot of folk lore with in the business world, they supposedly changed the game with bold concepts and a sheer grit. All of them great thinkers  who came up with an idea, and like a hero in an action film, accomplished their goal without help from anyone else. The only problem is…the lore is false. Yes, each one of these leaders (in both list) are brilliant, brave, pioneering (and lucky). But none of them did it alone.

Without engineer and programmer genius of Steve Wozniak,  Jobs could have never built Apple into the technological force it is today.

Howard Schultz may have had the vision to put a Starbucks on every corner in America, but he was mentored by other Seattle brewers, and was backed by some very forward-thinking (and gutsy) investors.

Jeff Bezos and Phil Knight both built huge retail companies, but Bezos didn’t invent the Kindle, and Phil Knight didn’t actually design running shoes. So without great engineers, neither one could have accomplished what they did.

Go to a bookstore (if you can find one) and you will find a whole section of books dedicated to Leadership and many of them will tell you to focus on your strengths, and then find people who are great at the stuff you aren’t.

But when you’re first starting out in business, it’s easy to slip into the mindset that you can also become the company hero, doing everything in the company yourself, listening only to the grand vision inside your head. And in the beginning this is probably true.  But as you add on employees you need to hire based that will support that vision and maybe even enhance it.  Which means at times they might disagree with you or challenge you but they also encourage you and inspire you.

So the Lead step of FUEL is about making sure you put the same passion and energy into assembling and energizing a great team around you as you did when you started the company. The Lead means creating leaders in order to continue to grow  and not just stopping at this step but you actually repeat it and starting looking for the next level to achieve.  And this can be inside or outside the company.  Because you know that the company you built is destine to greatness.

Call a senior consultant with Ember Carriers at (513) 984-9333 for a free strategy session consultation to learn how you can fuel your workplace.




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