How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time

Laura Stack makes an amazing claim in her book Execution IS the Strategy. She states that strategy must emerge out of execution, and she provides four premises for this approach.

  1.  Interdependency – strategy and tactics are part of the same over-arching process, with an inherent relationship.
  2. Fluidity – strategy must be more flexible in its tactics now than in the past.
  3. Speed – strategy must be executed more quickly than ever before to be effective.
  4. Validity – strategy must still be appropriate and strong, or none of the first three premises matters.

Laura then provide the 4 keys to efficient strategic execution, which she calls the L-E-A-D Formula:

Leverage – do you have the right people in place to achieve your strategic priorities?

Environment – do you have the organizational atmosphere, practices, and culture that will allow employees to easily support your strategic priorities?

Alignment – do your team members’ daily activities move them toward the accomplishment of the organization’s ultimate goals?

Drive – are your organization’s leaders, teams, and employees agile enough to move quickly once the first three pieces of this list are in place?

To learn more about how execution and strategy interact, and how to apply the L-E-A-D formula to your organization, join us on May 30th for our Soundview Live webinar How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time with Laura Stack. Bring your questions and fill the room with your team members.

Four Memorable Quotes from Soundview’s Author Insight Interviews

A great accompaniment to many Soundview Executive Book Summaries is the Soundview Author Insight interview. Each interview is worth a careful listen because authors often reveal new interpretations of their material. The interviews also provide them with the opportunity to share new information gained since the book’s publication.

Here are four great thoughts to consider and share with your team:

“Most people think that success resides somewhere outside yourself. It’s something other people have. It’s something you need to go out and discover. But actually, success is always inside yourself and it’s the connection between your own interests, your own aptitudes, your own motivations and the opportunities that life presents.” G. Richard Shell, author of Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success

“What we find in both individual change and organizational change is that it often requires some sort of disruptive event, some sort of major external activity in order to force change. Change becomes reactive as opposed to the individual or the organization being proactive and embracing change. The first step in performing change better is leading it better.” – Susan Goldsworthy and Walter McFarland, co-authors of Choosing Change

“For the most part, when you examine alliances you realize that it is a common pain that drives people together.” – Rich McKeown, co-author (with Mike Leavitt) of Finding Allies, Building Alliances

“People are hardwired for negative or positive emotions and we all have a different set point inside our brains for anxiety, depression and happiness. You have to really understand your set point and then do as much as you can to keep yourself on the positive side of hope, optimism, compassion and generosity.” – Bob Rosen, author of Grounded

A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change


A To-Do List for Achieving Results

For more than 20 years, James M. Kerr has been an independent management consultant working with both large and small companies: He helped Home Depot reimagine its store operations, for example, while advising smaller firms such as specialty insurer Jewelers Mutual on how to open up new markets. Already the author of three books, Kerr’s fourth book pulls together the varied experiences and knowledge acquired in his project work into a deceptively simple but practical and comprehensive checklist for executives. The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change is built on 10 general items that all executives must manage and implement if they are to be successful: establish leadership; build trust; set strategy; engage staff; manage work as projects; renovate the business; align technology; transform staff; renew communications practices; and reimagine organizational design.

With the chapters devoted to each of these items, Kerr moves from the general to specifics with sub-checklists that are focused and actionable. The checklist for establishing leadership, for example, is as follows: have a dream; actively set direction; communicate early and often; be dynamic and visibly involved; promote collaboration; practice inclusiveness; don’t tolerate bad leaders in your midst; make no excuses.

LexisNexis Fakes a Trade Show

In less experienced hands, a book of checklists and sub-checklists could easily turn into a litany of platitudes with little implementable substance behind them. The Executive Checklist, however, reflects the grounded, real-world perspective of a management consultant paid handsomely to get results, not talk. The discussion on having a dream, for example, does not describe Martin Luther King’s speech or John Kennedy’s space goals. Instead, Kerr introduces the concept he used with LexisNexis Insurance Software division of a “vision trade show” — essentially a faux trade show with booths manned by a member of the senior leadership team.

Floundering in the ultra-competitive property casualty software market, LexisNexis top management had decided to write a new vision story for the company that would help employees understand where the company was going. Because engaging employees was vital, the new vision story was first introduced in a specially produced magazine with articles written by executives and then further explained through Kerr’s vision trade show. As with a traditional trade show, LexisNexis employees moved in small groups from booth to booth, where they “were treated to a briefing or demonstration highlighting a specific element of the firm’s vision story,” Kerr writes. “To make the trade show experience even more realistic, each booth provided attendees with various giveaways, including logowear, squeeze balls and golf goodie bags.”

For LexisNexis, the trade show booth format had several advantages over the traditional town hall meetings often used to spread the word on a company’s vision. Each booth emphasized specific key points or themes, such as speed to market, continual transformation and the building of a talent factor. In addition, the fact that top executives manned the booths persuasively demonstrated the full commitment of top management to the new vision.

Do Your Job

Recognizing that the job of an executive is to lead and motivate others, The Executive Checklist includes actions that executives must demand of others as well as themselves. For example, Build Trust, the second of Kerr’s 10 items on his executive checklist, includes imperatives such as “model the behavior,” “share the wealth” and “keep it light.” Building trust, however, also includes “don’t play games” and “do your job” — which apply to both boss and employee. Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, doesn’t play games and does his job, but a great part of his success — he turned a franchise never known for its winning consistency into a team that, since he became coach, has appeared in more Super Bowls than any other team — comes from ensuring that his players also never play games and always do their jobs. In fact, as players go through the entrance to the New England Patriot locker room, they pass under a sign that says simply: Do Your Job.

LexisNexis and the New England Patriots are just two of the many companies referenced in The Executive Checklist: an easy-to-use reference manual for executives to keep nearby for quick guidance.

Three New Summaries to Unlock the Door to More Success

The barrier between standard and extraordinary leadership can be symbolized by a door. At a certain point in your career, particularly if you’ve acquired a degree of success, you’ll find yourself trying to unlock the door with the skills you’ve developed. Soundview now offers three new book summaries that can help sharpen your abilities and blend them into a single key that can open the door to greatness.

by Mike Myatt
by Mike Myatt

Hacking Leadership by Mike Myatt. In Hacking Leadership, Mike Myatt identifies 11 leadership gaps that can be holding leaders back and affecting their performance. The gaps are found in areas of leadership, purpose, future, mediocrity, culture, talent, knowledge, innovation, expectation, complexity and failure. Myatt provides actionable leadership and management “hacks” to bridge the gaps in order to create a culture of leadership within organizations and help leaders drive exceptional results.


by Bob Rosen
by Bob Rosen

Grounded by Bob Rosen. Internationally renowned CEO advisor Bob Rosen proposes a new approach to leadership in Grounded in which leaders at every level can become more self-aware, develop their untapped potential, and drive better results for themselves, their teams and their organizations. Rosen’s Healthy Leader model highlights six personal dimensions that any leader can master: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, vocational and spiritual health.



by Jim Burkett
by Jim Burkett

The Learned Disciplines of Management by Jim Burkett. In The Learned Disciplines of Management, Jim Burkett presents a framework of individual disciplines that form a self-reinforcing management system for making the right things happen. These include planning, organizing, measuring performance, executing, following up, real-time reporting and problem solving. Practicing these will reveal what effective management can do.

Book Review: Platform

by Michael Hyatt
by Michael Hyatt

Trying to get the message of your company or brand heard in today’s social media environment is equivalent to trying to hear an ant’s footsteps while seated next to a jet turbine. The secret, according to author, blogger and publishing executive Michael Hyatt, is to build the virtual stage from which you address your carefully cultivated following. In Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Hyatt gives executives a thorough method to connect and build your business.

Hyatt didn’t acquire more than 200,000 Twitter followers without providing a mountain of bankable advice. Platform gives readers the best of the best in a jam-packed read that should sit close at hand on an executive’s desk or digital reader. He begins with the observation that too many social media books overlook: start by creating a great product. Fortunately, Hyatt’s advice about product creation covers everything from how to be compelling to how to create a memorable name.

Once a company has its outstanding product, Hyatt takes readers through the steps to prepare for launch, build a strong strategy, expand your reach and stay actively engaged with your followers. The section on building your home base is can’t-miss reading. In an era when litigators are fielding more and more questions about intellectual property, Hyatt’s tips to protect oneself are well-considered.

Of the utmost importance to executives is Hyatt’s staunchly realistic reminder about how a great platform is built. For any leader who considers platform creation a task that can be farmed out to what Hyatt calls a “babysitter,” he provides the following advice. “Take a long look in the mirror. The person you are looking at is your new chief marketing officer,” he writes. Executives can lead the charge to be heard and Platform is the book to help them do it.

Getting to More Without Settling for Less


How to Scale Up Faster and Farther

Most companies have “pockets of excellence,” according to Stanford University professors Robert Sutton and Huggy Rao — units, departments or subsidiaries where people perform at the highest levels and generate the best results in the organization. The problem that bedevils many leaders, however, is how to spread that excellence throughout the company — what is known to practitioners as “scaling” or “scaling up.” In their new book, Scaling Up Excellence, Sutton and Rao describe five principles required to scale up the excellence.

  1. Hot Causes, Cool Solutions. This first principle involves the debate on what comes first: changing the mindset and beliefs of the people in the organization (hot causes) or making people change their behaviors whether they believe in the cause or not. The authors argue that either order can work.
  2. Cut the Cognitive Load. Scaling up requires new actions, new processes and new learnings, and sometimes employees can get overwhelmed by all that is new. The authors recommend that organizations that are scaling up look not only to add” but to “subtract” as well. Limit the bureaucracy whenever possible. Find the old processes or old structures that are no longer needed in the new scaled-up organization.
  3. The People Who Propel Scaling. “People propel scaling,” as the authors put it, and that first means having the right people with the right skills doing the right      things. Hiring the right people, however, is just the beginning. No matter how talented your employees, scaling up doesn’t work unless they are accountable: that is, they are compelled to work in the organization’s best interest.
  4. Connect People and Cascade Excellence. Connecting people is also key to spreading the excellence. Diversity plays a role: The more departments, functions, locations and positions on the organization’s ladder are represented, the greater the reach of the scaling-up effort.
  5. Bad Is Stronger Than Good. Because they will have much more impact than any positive actions, it is essential to prevent and eliminate any and all destructive attitudes, beliefs and behaviors from the organization, according to the authors.      Lesson number one: Nip it in the bud.

Each of the principles are supported and illustrated through a variety of case studies and academic research. In addition, the authors offer a specific and detailed list of practical how-tos to instill the principles in an organization. For example, among the seven ways to ensure the talent and accountability required for successful scaling up (principle three) are squelching free riders and bringing in guilt-prone leaders — those who will feel guilty for putting their needs above the needs of those they lead.

Catholicism vs. Buddhism

One of the key questions that leaders of scaling-up initiatives will need to ask themselves is whether or not one size fits all. The authors call this the Catholicism (replicating tried-and-true practices throughout the organization) vs. Buddhism (having a guiding mindset but adapting the practices to fit local conditions). There is no right or wrong answer. Leaders, however, will need to figure out which path is best as they launch their initiatives.

Based on what they call a “seven-year conversation” that included combing through hundreds of academic studies, conducting detailed case studies as well as targeted interviews, and presenting emerging ideas to a wide range of business audiences, Scaling Up Excellence is a definitive guide on one of the key paths to organizational success.

Book Review: The 80/20 Manager

by Richard Koch
by Richard Koch

As far as obvious statements go, Richard Koch penned one of the best in any business book when he wrote, “Work is overwhelming.” Fortunately, he sets the hook he baited for readers by following his statement with the news that work doesn’t have to be so taxing. In The 80/20 Manager: The Secret to Working Less and Achieving More, Koch takes Vilfredo Pareto’s principle that a small number of events create the majority of effects and applies it to the world of productivity. Koch’s book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.

Koch is renowned for bringing the connection between focused effort and results to the masses in the million-selling book The 80/20 Principle. Despite that book’s high sales figures, he recounts the basics of the principle for readers in The 80/20 Manager. Koch provides a business context when he explains why not all revenue should not automatically be labeled good for a company. This blind devotion to revenue, in Koch’s words, “drives the worst and most palpably absurd blunders in the business world.”

To keep managers from falling prey to this problem, Koch provides 10 ways to enable leaders to put the thrust of their efforts into the “20” to get the “80” in return. Executives should note that the 10 ways are not steps in a process. They are to be taken a la carte at the author’s direction. Koch writes, “Being brilliant at one of the 10 ways will take you an awful lot further than being competent at all 10.” Each of the ways Koch describes, whether it’s developing a questioning mind, becoming a “superconnector” or piercing your work through simplification, is well-crafted and can be quickly applied by readers.

The 80/20 Manager is a welcome companion to Koch’s previous work and will generate results for executives.

Keep Your Skills Sharp with Three New Summaries

A leader’s skill set is like the set of knives used by a master chef. The wielder can only perform at his or her best if the tools stay sharp. Now available from Soundview are three new Soundview Executive Book Summaries that will help you maximize success, become a better coach and navigate the complexities of being more compelling.

by Richard Koch
by Richard Koch

The 80/20 Manager by Richard Koch. Bestselling author Richard Koch demonstrates how managers can be much more efficient and effective by applying the 80/20 Principle – the idea that just 20 percent of our time, effort and key decisions generate 80 percent of our success. The 80/20 Manager can help managers to focus on the issues that really matter, ask the right questions, find the right connections and realize meaningful achievement for their businesses and themselves.


by Jack Canfield and Dr. Peter Chee
by Jack Canfield and Dr. Peter Chee

Coaching for Breakthrough Success by Jack Canfield and Dr. Peter Chee. Jack Canfield, coauthor of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and Dr. Peter Chee offer a practical guide of 30 principles that every coach needs to succeed. Learn how the Coaching Principles representing the heart of a coach, the Situational Coaching Model representing the mind of a coach, and the Achievers Coaching Techniques representing the energy of a coach can build upon each other to empower people to achieve breakthrough success.



by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut
by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut

Compelling People by John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut. What makes some people irresistible and others forgettable? John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut introduce us to two qualities – strength (the root of respect) and warmth (the root of affection) – and they detail the signals that broadcast each of these. Drawing on the latest social science and the authors’ own work, Compelling People reveals the basic framework we use to judge each other and what we can do to earn both respect and affection.

How You and Your Team Get Unstuck to Get Results


Getting Leadership on a Positive Wavelength

In Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams, author Roger Schwarz argues that many leaders fail today because they cling to the leadership approach of what he calls unilateral control. This approach will be familiar to most: The leader makes the decisions, and the others obey.

Effective leaders, writes Schwarz, reject the unilateral control approach in favor of a mutual learning approach. With this approach, leaders and the other members of the team join together to learn, decide and act as one cohesive unit. Leadership is transferred to the whole team and not just one commander.

Why the Unilateral Control Approach Fails

The problem with the unilateral control approach, as Schwarz eloquently details, begins with the values and assumptions that make up the mindset. The values are

• Win, don’t lose. (You value your goals as you define them.)

• Be right. (One of your favorite phrases might be, “I told you so.”)

• Minimize expression of negative feelings. (You don’t want to know about other people’s frustrations and anger, and you keep yours hidden as well.)

• Act rational. (You don’t see the need for feelings, especially when your position is perfectly logical and unassailable.)

The unilateral mindset also features destructive assumptions, writes Schwarz, including but not limited to

• “I understand the situation; those who disagree, don’t.”

• “I have pure motives; those who disagree have questionable ones.”

• “My feelings and behavior are justified.”

Not surprisingly, according to Schwarz, the behavior engendered by this mindset is hardly constructive. Some examples of this behavior: withholding relevant information; speaking in general terms and not agreeing on what important words mean; keeping reasoning private and not asking others about their reasoning; controlling the conversation; and acting on untested assumptions and inferences as if they were true.

The result of the unilateral control mindset, writes Schwarz, is lackluster team performance, strained relations, and less individual well-being.

Why the Mutual Learning Approach Succeeds

In contrast, the mutual learning mindset, Schwarz writes, presents a much different set of values, assumptions and behavior, leading to much more positive results. As described by Schwarz, the values of the mutual learning mindset are transparency, control, informed choice, accountability and compassion. The assumptions of the mutual learning mindset reflect these values and include

“I have information but so do other people.”

“Each of us sees things others don’t.”

“Differences are opportunities for learning.”

The values and assumptions of the mutual learning mindset, writes Schwarz, lead to behaviors such as

• Stating views and asking genuine questions.

• Explaining reasoning and intent.

• Focusing on interests, not positions.

• Testing assumptions and inferences.

As expected, the result of such behavior is better team performance, better working relationships and greater individual well-being.

In addition to individual behavior, Schwarz shows how the mutual learning mindset can guide the design of the team – its structures and processes – to ensure the best results.

The power of Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams is not just the breadth of Schwarz’s insight but also the depth and clarity with which Schwarz describes each issue.

The general theme of Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams may be familiar. Schwarz, however, has written a book on new leadership that is exceptionally practical and applicable.

Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams is not filled with exemplary anecdotes of what others have done; instead, the book concentrates – in detail – on the specific values, assumptions and behaviors that leaders must accept and adopt if they are to be successful.

The 30 Best Business Books of 2013

With the publication of our December edition, Soundview is pleased to announce the complete list of the 30 best business books of 2013.

This proved to be an interesting year for business books. In a year during which world governments struggled with economic pressures and internal breakdowns, a clear lack of communication has been routinely cited as a major symptom of global problems.

This was reflected in the business books that rose to the top of many people’s reading lists, as well as Soundview’s 30 best business books. Depending on one’s interpretation, there are at least six titles on the list below that deal directly or indirectly with communication. In an era in which communication occurs in an instant, executives should take more than a moment to read and learn from the summaries below.

Well Said by Darlene Price

The Pause Principle by Kevin Cashman

Change-Friendly Leadership by Rodger Dean Duncan

Extreme Productivity by Robert C. Pozen

Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream by Steve Van Remortel

How to Be Exceptional by John H. Zenger, Joseph R. Folkman, Robert H. Sherwin, Jr., and Barbara A. Steel

Care to Dare by George Kohlrieser, Susan Goldsworthy and Duncan Coombe

The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz

Beating the Global Odds by Paul A. Laudicina

Real Influence by Mark Goulston and John Ullmen

You Can’t Lie to Me by Janine Driver

Idea Agent by Lina M. Echeverria

The Art of Explanation by Lee LeFever

How to Say Anything to Anyone by Shari Harley

Changeology by John C. Norcross

Can’t Buy Me Like by Bob Garfield and Doug Levy

No More Pointless Meetings by Martin Murphy

Leadership and the Art of Struggle by Steven Snyder

Finding the Next Steve Jobs by Nolan Bushnell and Gene Stone

The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan

Change with Confidence by Phil Buckley

The Inclusion Dividend by Mark Kaplan and Mason Donovan

The Reality-Based Rules of the Workplace by Cy Wakeman

Lukaszewski on Crisis Communication by James E. Lukaszewski

Tipping Sacred Cows by Jake Breeden

Relationship Economics by David Nour

ENGAGED! by Gregg Lederman

The Fearless Front Line by Ray Attiyah

What Keeps Leaders Up at Night by Nicole Lipkin

Talent Economics by Gyan Nagpal