Practice What You Preach: What Managers Must Do To Create A High Achievement Culture

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Firms that are perceived by their employees to actually practice what they preach are more financially successful than their competitors, says consultant David H. Maister, based on a worldwide survey of 139 offices in 29 professional service firms in 15 countries in 15 different lines of business.
Maister asked the simple question: Are employee attitudes correlated with financial success? The answer, he found, was "an unequivocal 'Yes!'" Further, the author shows that high levels of employee commitment and dedication "cause(yes, cause) a demonstrable, measurable improvement in financial performance." Maister proves that if your firm doesn't promote enthusiasm and high morale in your employees, your firm will make less money.
So, how can you create a culture in your firm that promotes growth and superior financial returns? Maister discovered that the most successful firms surveyed excelled by doing well on things to which most, if not all, firms pay only lip service: commitment to clients, teamwork, high standards, employee development, and other familiar topics. However, what distinguishes the best from the rest is that the best live up to their own standards.
Digging deeper by conducting in-depth interviews with managers and employees of the firms he surveyed, Maister has found that the key to success is not the systems of the firm, but the character and skills of the individual manager. He explores in detail the central role of the manager (what he or she must be, must do, and must require of others). The reader will find specific action recommendations from the managers and employees of these "superstar" businesses on how to build an energized workplace, enforce standards of excellence, develop people, and have fun -- all as powerful profit improvement tactics.
Practice What You Preach can help any manager increase firm growth and profitability, and will provide proof to firm executives that great financial rewards come from living up to the high standards that most businesses advocate, but few achieve.
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About the author

David H. Maister, one of the world's leading authorities on the management of professional service firms, is the author of several successful books, including Managing the Professional Service Firm, True Professionalism, and Practice What You Preach, and coauthor of The Trusted Advisor.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Oct 18, 2001
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9780743215923
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Consulting
Business & Economics / General
Business & Economics / Leadership
Business & Economics / Management
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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How to turn company values into competitive advantage

We are inclined, for whatever reason, to treat values like works of art. We view them as nice to hang on the wall, and beautiful to look at, but we don’t act as though they truly mean much to us in the real world. In fact, the opposite is true. The best organizations understand their values, articulate them clearly, and hold them higher than any short-term concerns or short-cut methods. This does not put these companies at a competitive disadvantage. It is the source of their competitive advantage.

If there's no clarity at the top about what values really mean, then there's no consistency at the management level or further down the organization. This means that there's no way to measure, coach, assess, promote or fire people in line with those values. Any organization that does not articulate its values concretely functions like a modern Tower of Babel. No one can be quite sure that they are speaking the same language at different levels or different locations within the organization. Decisions don't always make sense or feel right. Confusion reigns. No matter how compelling and inspirational the organization's vision may be, its aspirations fall far short in reality.

Values are about achieving results in a way that is consistent with what an organization stands for. They provide a direct connection between the CEO, the factory worker and everyone in between; and form the basis of the organization's "brand" as understood by employees, customers, suppliers and even shareholders. When the work is done right, values provide an organizing principle, a directional compass that helps organizations succeed; they become a source of energy for an organization's vision, strategy and day-to-day efforts. Vision, strategy, market share, reputation and profits are all very important – but having a clear and consistent set of values is far more critical in predicting whether an organization will continue to succeed and grow as its people, markets, competitive landscape and technology change. People must make their contributions to an organization willingly and independently to bring passion, commitment, creativity and energy to a job. But they will do so only so long as they believe that what they are doing is authentic and meaningful, and is part of a code of commitment shared by the organization as a whole.

Inside the Box focuses on values in a clear and practical way to understand what they are, where they come from and how they are transmitted from employee generation to generation. Inside the Box provides a roadmap for any leader or manager on how to identify the values that make an organization, department, team, or individual unique. It also shows how to measure whether an organization or individual is operating according to those values, and how managers can use values as the basis for all of their people decisions and drive superior performance as a result.

Praise for Leading in Times of Crisis

"Building on the solid base of their book Head, Heart, and Guts, Dotlich, Cairo, and Rhinesmith lay out the ways to become the kind of leader needed to navigate through today's complexities and uncertainties. Leading in Times of Crisis is a necessary guidebook to survive and thrive in the global perfect storm."
—John Naisbitt, author, Megatrends and Megatrends 2000

"The risks and opportunities that confront today's leader have never been greater. Leading in Times of Crisis provides unique and valuable insights, along with straightforward principles, that will help point the way in an increasingly diverse and rapidly changing environment."
—Ken Frazier, president, global human health, Merck & Co., Inc.

"This book blends practical business solutions with useful insights about leading people.It should help anyone looking for new ideas to deal with the uncertainty and complexityfacing leaders everywhere today."
—Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN (formerly Home Shopping Network)

"The main message of this provocative book is that leadership as we have known it ischanging rapidly and dramatically. Moreover, research shows that well over half of people in leadership positions fail. The challenge for leaders today is daunting. But a carefulreading of what Dotlich, Cairo, and Rhinesmith have to say from their extensive experiences will help to reduce significantly this troublesome failure rate."
—W. Warner Burke, Edward Lee Thorndike Professor of Psychology and Education; chair, Department of Organization and Leadership, Teachers College, Columbia University

"Research demonstrates that the #1 leadership competency in shortest supply is 'dealing with ambiguity and complexity.' Dotlich, Cairo, and Rhinesmith give you the real-world tools to actually do it. This book helps us to reach deep inside ourselves, our organizations, and our markets to achieve dynamic, sustainable success. Get this book to effectively navigate change, inside and out!"
—Kevin Cashman, senior partner, Korn/Ferry Leadership & Talent Consulting, and best-selling author, Leadership From the Inside Out

The book that shows how to get the job done and deliver results . . . whether you’re running an entire company or in your first management job

Larry Bossidy is one of the world’s most acclaimed CEOs, a man with few peers who has a track record for delivering results. Ram Charan is a legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors, a man with unparalleled insight into why some companies are successful and others are not. Together they’ve pooled their knowledge and experience into the one book on how to close the gap between results promised and results delivered that people in business need today.

After a long, stellar career with General Electric, Larry Bossidy transformed AlliedSignal into one of the world’s most admired companies and was named CEO of the year in 1998 by Chief Executive magazine. Accomplishments such as 31 consecutive quarters of earnings-per-share growth of 13 percent or more didn’t just happen; they resulted from the consistent practice of the discipline of execution: understanding how to link together people, strategy, and operations, the three core processes of every business.

Leading these processes is the real job of running a business, not formulating a “vision” and leaving the work of carrying it out to others. Bossidy and Charan show the importance of being deeply and passionately engaged in an organization and why robust dialogues about people, strategy, and operations result in a business based on intellectual honesty and realism.

The leader’s most important job—selecting and appraising people—is one that should never be delegated. As a CEO, Larry Bossidy personally makes the calls to check references for key hires. Why? With the right people in the right jobs, there’s a leadership gene pool that conceives and selects strategies that can be executed. People then work together to create a strategy building block by building block, a strategy in sync with the realities of the marketplace, the economy, and the competition. Once the right people and strategy are in place, they are then linked to an operating process that results in the implementation of specific programs and actions and that assigns accountability. This kind of effective operating process goes way beyond the typical budget exercise that looks into a rearview mirror to set its goals. It puts reality behind the numbers and is where the rubber meets the road.

Putting an execution culture in place is hard, but losing it is easy. In July 2001 Larry Bossidy was asked by the board of directors of Honeywell International (it had merged with AlliedSignal) to return and get the company back on track. He’s been putting the ideas he writes about in Execution to work in real time.
The Undiscovered Consumer . . .and the Mistake of Universal Excellence

What do customers really want? And how can companies best serve them? Fred Crawford and Ryan Mathews set off on what they describe as an "expedition into the commercial wilderness" to find the answers. What they discovered was a new consumer -- one whom very few companies understand, much less manufacture products for or sell products or services to. These consumers are desperately searching for values, a scarce resource in our rapidly changing and challenging world. And increasingly they are turning to business to reaffirm these values. As one consumer put it: "I can find value everywhere but can't find values anywhere."

Crawford and Mathews's initial inquiries eventually grew into a major research study involving more than 10,000 consumers, interviews with executives from scores of leading companies around the world, and dozens of international client engagements. Their conclusion: Most companies priding themselves on how well they "know" their customers aren't really listening to them at all. Consumers are fed up with all the fuss about "world-class performance" and "excellence." What they are aggressively demanding is recognition, respect, trust, fairness, and honesty.

Believing that they are still in a position to dictate the terms of commercial engagement, businesses have bought into the myth of excellence -- the clearly false and destructive theory that a company ought to be great at everything it does, that is, all the components of every commercial transaction: price, product, access, experience, and service. This is always a mistake because "the predictable outcome [is] that the company ends up world-class at nothing; not well-differentiated and therefore not thought of by consumers at the moment of need."

Instead, Crawford and Mathews suggest that companies engage in Consumer Relevancy, a strategy of dominating in one element of a transaction, differentiating on a second, and being at industry par (i.e., average) on the remaining three. It's not necessary for businesses to equally invest time and money on all five attributes, and their customers don't want them to. Imagine the confusion if Tiffany & Co. started offering deep discounts on diamonds and McDonald's began selling free-range chicken and tofu.

The Myth of Excellence provides a blueprint for companies seeking to offer values-based products and services and shows how to realize the commercial opportunities that exist just beyond their current grasp -- opportunities to reduce operating costs, boost bottom-line profitability, and, most important, begin to engage in a meaningful dialogue with customers.
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