Skip to content
Global Offices

High Performing Teams: Lessons from The Ryder Cup

June 29th, 2015 by Simon Brown
Pin It

Ryder Cup Leadership LessonsWith all the hype surrounding the possibility of Jordan Speith pulling off a Grand Slam of major wins, my mind turns to the comparisons of individual sporting success versus competing as a team. Keen golf enthusiasts will remember the last Ryder Cup in 2014, when, for the sixth time in seven competitions, the United States lost to Europe. This is a significant turnaround for the European team, which, between 1935 and 1985, only won the Ryder Cup once. Additionally, the aftermath of the latest Ryder Cup battle has seen the European captain Paul McGinley being praised whilst the US captain Tom Watson received a lot of criticism even from his own players.

After the defeat in 2014, when asked “what had worked in 2008 (when Paul Azinger captained the USA team) and what hasn’t worked since?”, USA team member, Phil Mickelson, openly criticised Watson’s leadership skills by praising the last winning Captain, saying that “Azinger got everybody invested in the process: who they were going to play with, who the picks were going to be, who was going to be in their pod. He had a real game plan; how we were going to go about playing together; golf ball, format, what we were going to do if so-and-so is playing well, if so-and-so is not playing well: we had a real game plan. We use that same process in the Presidents Cup and we do really well. Unfortunately, we have strayed from a winning formula, and we need to consider maybe getting back to that formula that helped us play our best.”

Golf is usually an individual affair and playing in a team sees completely different dynamics on the course – players are no longer in competition, but playing together towards a team victory. The same applies to successful business leaders who have their individual agenda, however when coming together with their peers in the boardroom they unite to deliver joint results. The characteristics of high performance team-working apply to the C-suite as well as Ryder Cup teams. As has been well documented, the parallels are endless. A good Ryder Cup team can be transformed into high performing team by adopting these following leadership characteristics:

1. Discussing and building commitment to a common vision and purpose

There is a significant difference between a close-knit team that drives towards a clear vision or purpose and a group of individuals that happen to play together. By the very nature of the tournament, the teams who play in the Ryder Cup consist of individuals who are ranked as top performers and being part of the Ryder Cup team represents a pinnacle of their individual golfing careers. It is then the Captain’s role to shift their mindset from individual to team performers with a common vision.

2. Establish clearly defined goals and review expectations

The goal is clear – to win. As with business, in order to achieve the goal it is essential to review progress throughout the process. As the Ryder Cup lasts for three days, expectations need to be reviewed based on daily results and acted up on accordingly. For example, if at the end of day one the score line is 6-2, the losing team may need to revise their strategy for the next day to recover the situation.

3. Share information in ways that directly adds value to the team effort

Team members learn about the competitive environment and conditions by experiencing them. After each match, the Captain needs to involve each individual, asking them to share their feedback on how they are feeling about their own performance. Sharing their experience and knowledge openly results in expanding views and revealing new facts which can have direct impact on other players. In 2004, exhausted after the first day and having lost in the morning of day two, Europe’s star performer, Colin Montgomerie, famously asked his Captain, Bernhard Langer, to leave him out that afternoon for the overall good of the team. In doing so he ended his own personal record of successive appearances in Ryder Cup matches. Self-sacrifice was made to benefit the team. Sharing information about how they are feeling and what support they require allows the Captain to react and adjust the game strategy accordingly.

4. Set high standards of performance for themselves and follow through

The Ryder Cup is a prestigious event and high standards of performance are essential throughout the tournament. In any given Ryder Cup, players and Captains look back at historical results and strive to take their team’s performance to the next level. With the quality of performance so high in years gone by, the competition presents a new level of challenge, providing the opportunity for players to inspire themselves as well as their team members. This is the highlight of their careers and they are naturally driven to perform at a level that will make their mark in the history books.

5. Review complimentary skills and utilise them effectively as well as understand their weaknesses and how to minimise their impact on team performance

Team performance is obviously strongly dependent on the playing form of its individual team members on that given day. Knowing how to utilise your strengths and minimise weaknesses provides a competitive advantage in the game. For the first 2 days of the Ryder Cup competition, players are paired so they complement each other’s skills in an attempt to maximise the overall effectiveness of the broader team. If a key team member’s form is poor, the Captain may need to adjust his strategy to ensure that the overall team is not impacted.

6. Hold themselves mutually accountable for the successes and failures of the team against agreed goals

When playing as an individual, one poor shot can negatively impact the performance on that hole and even the entire round. This is exacerbated during the Foursomes part of the Ryder Cup, when teammates share one ball and take alternate shots. Success or failure of one player directly impacts the other player. Therefore it is crucial to embed a culture of mutual accountability with a no-blame mindset and to adapt quickly. Being mutually accountable and able to recover quickly even under pressure helps the team to correct their thinking and return to a positive mentality. It is one for all and all for one when it comes to teamwork – sharing success and failure (instead of a culture of blame of other team members…or even the Captain, as demonstrated by Mickelson) is the attitude that creates a culture of engagement and drives performance.

7. Manage team morale and create a motivational climate

Morale and motivation is a key element in team golf – often when under pressure it is not about the technical skills but the mindset of the players that determines success. For a team it is crucial to create a connection between players and it is the Captain’s role to gel the individuals into one unit. Naturally the mindset of the individual will impact the overall team morale and it is therefore essential that players receive the support and encouragement to feel and perform their best; as it is equally important to focus on developing and driving a team climate. As an extension to this thinking, a supporting network can add to this motivational environment.

The 2004 European Ryder Cup team, and its captain, Bernhard Langer, took unprecedented action to build morale and create a motivational climate. Assisted by US sensitivity to excessively patriotic behaviour, Langer instructed his players to be as friendly to the US spectators as they could. From the practice days onwards, the team talked, joked, and laughed with the fans; they presented balls, gloves and hats. In contrast, Team USA remained distant, aloof and disengaged. As a result, the gallery provided only muted support for the home team and gave unexpected support to the visitors. Through its efforts, Team Europe achieved a public relations triumph and Team USA lost the battle for popular support. This proved decisive. Instead of being put under the immense psychological pressure that results from competing on enemy territory with a partisan home crowd, the Europeans gained psychological space and emotional stability.

8. Regularly identify and discuss ways of improving the way they do things

A team’s ability to improve is determined by reflecting on past performance via a collaborative process between the players, captain and others. Coaching throughout the build-up and the tournament itself has significant impact on the entire team dynamic. Just as in the boardroom, it is essential for the captain to respond quickly to poor performance and a constantly changing competitive environment during the event. Each captain will want to out-perform his predecessors, to leave a legacy; therefore a spirit of continuous improvement is at the heart of the team effort.

9. Use opportunities to build collaborative and cooperative relationships

The team climate is determined by its leader. It is the captain’s role to build a collaborative environment between players and build cooperative relationships that drives team performance. The captain also has his own small army of non-playing advisors, comprising of vice-captains, sports psychologists and other support staff to help to build this culture whilst the individual players act as technical experts to execute the strategy – and it is the combination of the two that creates a winning team.

10. Manage inter-personal interactions within the team in appropriate ways

It only takes one bad egg to negatively impact the entire team – Tiger Woods’ brilliance over the past two decades as an individual performer has arguably not translated into positive team performance. His performances over the years in the Ryder Cup have been ‘patchy’ at best. His behaviour on the golf course has on occasion not reflected the traditional spirit of the game’s history, where etiquette is paramount. This behaviour is detected by his team-mates, creating tension. Similarly, Mickelson has been reported to have practiced on his own in preparation for a Foursomes match, rather than in a pairing. Players who are not being team players and take an individual approach will have negative impact on team performance and that’s why it’s so important to make sure that the team members get along with each other, are motivated and driven to win – not as individuals but as a team.

Business leaders should remember that a high performing team is greater than the sum of its individual players. Teams with the best individual players don’t always win. More important is to create a climate where individuals work together towards joint success, thereby having a positive impact on performance. I wish Jordan Speith all the very best for the rest of 2015, but the bigger challenge will come when the European and USA teams next meet to compete for the coveted Ryder Cup at the Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minnesota in 2016.

Print Friendly

Leadership lessons I learnt from being a dad

June 25th, 2015 by Martin Slattery
Pin It

Leadership Lessons I learnt from being a DadLast weekend was Father’s Day, a day to be thankful for the men who guided us through childhood and adulthood. A day for us fortunate to have children to be spoilt and have praise heaped upon us…for a day at least!

I love being a dad. I’m sure that fellow parents would agree that having kids is wonderful, most of the time! At its best it can be the most rewarding thing, yet it also proves an extremely tiring experience and can often be stressful. The house is never quiet, the chores are a constant and  the “mum and dad” taxi service is a job in itself. But the rewards are far greater.

In my moment of reflection, I thought how much I have learnt from my own dad about being a father and the “leadership skills” that are needed to manage your own children. And it raise a question- what is it like to be a good dad/ leader? In this moment I become increasingly aware of similarities between parenting and the essential leadership skills needed in business – engaging, supportive, motivating and providing guidance to learn and succeed.
In business as in parenting, looking at the bigger picture and takings a more strategic approach can make a significant difference and eliminate the chaos. My two kids are now at that age when they can become more actively involved and take ownership of their chores etc. Is life getting easier? A little maybe but they still need a prod and a push to get things done. As such, I find that the following leadership practices can work very effectively:

1. Investing your effort in high-value activities

Value in business terms is defined as the degree to which an activity contributes to the individual’s own goals and objectives, the business unit’s or organisation’s strategy or the team’s ability to deliver results.

Within a family context, this means reviewing what is actually worth your time and energy as a parent by simply asking yourself: “Can I stop doing this?” There are two scenarios following this question, if the answer is:

• Yes – you should look at how you can you spend less effort or whether you could delegate the specific task.
• No – you should ask yourself what must happen for you to stop engaging in the activity.

Delegating tasks to your kids at first will be met with huffs and puffs but it will have a positive impact that goes just beyond taking the task off your hands. It creates a great sense of ownership and pride and if positioned correctly, they will feel they are being trusted with the task and will be motivated to do a great job. With kids, as with many colleagues, they feed off positive interaction and praise for work well done. By delegating and providing a purpose to do well, individuals are more likely to achieve. If not, you can always threaten to take away the TV.

2. Coaching

There is a fine line between coaching and criticism. Avoid this trap, as children are very sensitive to feedback that will simply criticise their actions without being able to learn any lessons and see the “so what”. Coaching is a daily parental activity and doing it right will have long term positive impact. When coaching children as well as coaching your team, first of all assess the situation and identify hidden influences such as: do they know “why is it important”, “what to do” or “how to do it”? Then identify your own assumptions and test them before identifying what must change. Express your expectations in terms of outcomes or results, linking the change to the reason why it must take place and be prepared to make adjustments during your discussion. As well as using coaching to encourage we need to use the skill to provide constructive feedback. By reflecting together on how a job was completed and areas that could be done better will prove more impactful than simply “telling” or shouting.

3. Handling disagreement

At work and at home there are always going to be disagreements. Being able to know when to walk away and when to resolve the issue is important.

My kids will often disagree with me, my wife or each other. I am sure I am not unique here but it’s important to make your positive intentions explicit – clarify your intentions without dismissing your kids’ perceptions and ask for their views. Sometimes expressing it will help them to see your argument from a different perspective and hearing their point of view also gives you information that may change your own perspective. Limit the number of questions you ask, so you do not cross-examine them and ask questions to gain information rather than to convince them that you are right. Listen carefully to what they have to say and check back with them to ensure they are clear on what is happening and if they are, agree with the outcomes. Allow your kids to be defensive, but don’t take their anger or resistance personally and allow time to play a factor. Set the tone and set the pace to get this resolved, however resist the temptation to solve the problem yourself – instead involve your children in solving it with you – if all else fails you have naughty step. You may want to try that in the office too.

4. Getting results through others

Before you start delegating tasks, make it clear to yourself what exactly is it that you are about to pass on to your kids and determine their readiness for it.

This should be teamwork.

Therefore be clear when describing the purpose and how it affects them individually as well as the family and discuss what success should look like. Don’t underestimate the power of incentives and appreciation. Make sure you acknowledge the good work they are doing and always be there to help them to improve if needed. Use every opportunity to build their confidence and competence – it will naturally increase their sense of ownership and commitment for the task. Tell them when they did a great job. And more importantly tell everyone else!

Being a Dad has a number of challenges and we are operating on a forever changing landscape, but the rewards are far greater. Enjoy the ride as the journey can take any number of diversions, by ensuring you have instilled a high level of trust and unity within the family unit it will see you through the good and bad times.

Like in business the family is the team. Team members are the kids. Leaders are the parent. Be the Daddy!

Print Friendly

Engagement and Accountability: What Great Leaders Do [Infographic]

June 16th, 2015 by Brian Hawthorne
Pin It

While everyone is accountable for their own performance, management plays a significant role in modeling positive behaviors in the workforce, and therefore must improve their own accountability before it can increase amongst their teams. How do great leaders improve engagement and accountability within the workplace? Forum’s latest infographic based on our recent survey outlines the steps leaders can take to implement the combination in order to drive performance.

Contact Us

Contact Us to Learn More

Print Friendly

Trust and Integrity Fumbles in Deflate-Gate

June 11th, 2015 by Claudette Chagnon
Pin It

“Running a football team is no different than running any other kind of organization…

some of us will do our jobs well and some will not, but we will all be judged on one thing: the result.” –Vince Lombardi

I wonder if Vince was thinking only of the score when he uttered these words of wisdom.  Like most sports fans who are listening to the deflate-gate debate, I am focused instead on the other results, the “lessons” on trust and integrity—or lack thereof—from three leaders in the football business, Roger Goodell the NFL commissioner, Bill Belichick, New England Patriots Coach and the Patriots team captain, Tom Brady.


Deflate-Gate. NFL football deflated on the field

Trust is like a forest. It takes a long time to grow and can burn down with a just touch of carelessness.  (David Horsager, author of The Trust Edge: How Top Leaders Gain Faster Results, Deeper Relationships, and a Stronger Bottom Line.)

Let’s note that, prior to deflate-gate, the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had already fumbled his leadership on major issues of domestic violence and player brain injuries.  So it was already hard to trust Goodell, in the wake of deflate-gate, when he said “We take seriously anything that potentially impacts integrity of the game.”

Yet, he failed to set any kind of leadership example-any fair and proper course of action– immediately following deflate-gate and before the Super Bowl started.  Was he intentionally deflating the alleged cheating scandal or intentionally ignoring the rules of the game? And then, the NFL was excruciatingly slow in reaching an investigative conclusion about whether the Patriots and their superstar, Tom Brady, cheated before they became Super Bowl champions.

Whether or not the Patriots cheated, the conspicuous failure to act and lack of leadership sent a message to the world—and importantly–to our youth, that cheating is not that important.  The “result” of the commissioner “doing his job” poorly is not only that he received widespread harsh criticism, but he lost the respect and trust of his employees and players, (not to mention the rest of us).

Lesson:  You cannot be an effective leader without trust. You can have a solid strategy, excellent interpersonal skills, and even make money for your organization, but if people don’t trust you, you will not get the results you want.


The NFL rendered a very harsh judgment against Tom Brady for using under-inflated footballs, saying the “integrity of the NFL” is at stake. Seriously?  Is this a case of the football calling the pigskin deflated?  Let’s talk about integrity.

  • For years, the NFL repeatedly denied football causes brain injuries while fully aware of the devastating effects that playing in league could have.
  • Although Coach Belichick may not have been involved in deflating footballs, the NFL, media and public became immediately suspicious of him due to his reputation as a cheater.  In 2007, he cheated and stole the New York Jets’ signals, paid the half-million-dollar fine and moved on. Former football coach, Don Shula, has called him “Beli-cheat.”
  • The New York Post called Brady the “Pretty Little Liar” among more racy headlines and more than one person has compared him to Lance Armstrong.

Is deflate-gate an example of football arrogance justified by football brilliance?   Yes. Does a certain level of success exempt certain people from integrity?  No. Although Bellichick will retire from football as a great and winning coach and Brady as one of the all-time great quarterbacks, there will be a permanent injury to each of their legacies.

Lesson:  The size of the lie does not matter.  The deflate-gate scandal started out as a little puff of illegally escaped air.

Although it might not make a difference to the outcome, or the excuse that “everyone does it”, Rule 2, Section 1 of the NFL Rule Book states that the balls must be a certain weight, length, width and even color.  In any game with authorized equipment and rules, nobody should get away with purposely changing the elements that make the game fair and square.

Leaders with integrity are authentic, transparent, and honest, and trustworthy; they speak the truth, present themselves sincerely, and take responsibility for their actions.  Whether you are a star athlete or leading a team or business, you must commit to a set of core values, standards, and even rules that you will never compromise.

Full transparency:

Claudette Chagnon lives in Massachusetts, is an occasional New England Patriots fan, and her son wears a t-shirt that says “They hate us because they ain’t us.”


Print Friendly

A Walk in the Buyers’ Shoes

June 3rd, 2015 by Ainsley McLeod
Pin It

06.03.15-A-walk-in-the-buyers-shoes-300x200A recent research by McKinsey identified that B2B buyers would on average use six different ways to interact with potential vendors to obtain the information they need to make their purchasing decision. Alarmingly, two thirds of buyers come away frustrated with the inconsistency of the experience. ¹

To me, the most critical component of a sales role is to understand what the buyer values. Then highlight that value through the solution on offer and use that to build on the relationship.

By understanding what they value you then understand what’s important to them and what’s driving the need to buy. This is a good way to appreciate the world within which they work and to spend a moment to walk in their shoes. The things I tend to consider are:


On a high level, business buyers are typically driven by two basic emotions – fear and aspiration. On a professional level they may fear that they will lose business or won’t be as successful as their competitors and aspire to achieve increased profits or improved efficiencies. For personal reasons, buyers are driven by the fear of loss of professional credibility and by aspirations to succeed and to be recognised within their organisations.

Naturally, business partnerships will be formed with the above in mind – most of them unknowingly. For successful sales conversations, it is essential to mirror these emotions and provide the best solutions to drive your prospective client’s professional and personal success. The objective of the partnership is to be beneficial and should not be a burden – quite the opposite. Empathy and looking at “what’s in it for the customer” will go a long way.  A good starting point is to question how your clients measure success and what is their overall business strategy. Your clients are not buying your solution’s benefits – they are buying the results. Describe how your products and services will have a quantifiable impact on your customer’s success and the company’s success as well as the impact on the customers’ customers, processes, and people.


Social networks and digital technologies are allowing for rapid progress in the area of collaboration. With the rapidly increasing number of users, the area of influence and interactions is not only widening, but also naturally increasing. With this impact in mind, internal and external collaborative networks directly impact the purchasing decisions. As a result of this shift, business buyers are becoming more consumer-like and sales executives are expected to have extensive knowledge about the business as well as the buyer’s individual profiles prior to the initial conversations. This makes the conversations much more personal, as both sides would have already reviewed the other person’s and company’s online profile prior to meeting face to face.

The decision making is also widely influenced by the brand’s online reputation and buyers often consider public opinion expressed online. They would also reach out to the online community for recommendations and feedback on their purchasing plans prior to making a decision. The increasing impact of social media is becoming a key factor in forming an opinion that is not based on what the brands themselves are presenting, but more so the voice of the wider public interacting with those brands.

Walking in the client’s shoes has a powerful impact on sales conversations as this enables a better understanding of key drivers and objectives and how to best match them. We are all people, so remembering the human side of sales will make those shoes walk much further.

¹Do you really understand how your business customers buy?, McKinsey & Company

Print Friendly

Forum Named a Top 20 Content Development Company For Fifth Consecutive Year

May 28th, 2015 by Brian Hawthorne
Pin It

The Forum Corporation is once again pleased to announce that we have been named a Top 20 Content Development Company by for a fifth consecutive year! This award would not be possible without the continued relationships of our exceptional clients and partners who work with us to help salespeople develop strategy-specific skills and improve their overall performance.

“This year’s 2015 Top 20 Content Development Companies are finding unique and effective ways to design learning programs to support employee, partner and customer development across all industries,” said Doug Harward, chief executive officer, Training Industry, Inc. selected us based on the following criteria:

  • Industry visibility, innovation and impact
  • Capability to develop and deliver multiple types of content
  • Company size and growth potential
  • Depth and breadth of subject matter expertise
  • Quality of clients
  • Geographic reach

In addition to our clients, we would also like to thank for this award.

Print Friendly

The Importance of Being Where Your Client Is

May 20th, 2015 by Tom Gooderham
Pin It

businessman in airport

As I prepare to embark on another business trip abroad, I have the time to reflect on why this type of activity is still relevant?

With today’s ever so progressive technology, I can be on a Skype call, WebEx, Adobe Connect, Face Time, Lync etc. So why spend my time and the company’s travel budget on this? If you travel a lot for work, I bet you ask yourself the same question. Well, one of the best pieces of advice I got when I started my career was to ‘be where the client is’ and it is fair to say that I took that on board. In fact I had enough air miles for two First Class BA tickets from London to Delhi by the age of 30! But the question is, ‘Why be where the client is’?

My point of view is that in order to sell globally one needs to understand the cultural dynamics of doing business in different regions. I work in a people business (and to that extent we all do) and in order to earn the right to engage in commercial conversations with a customer, it’s not only vital to have that inherent knowledge of how your product or service will benefit them, but also how do you position it to them.


Engaging with clients from a different country or culture requires acquainting yourself with the basics in advance – something as simple as online research will yield several web sites with information and resources to help you understand cultural norms and cautions.  When meeting customers face to face, simple gestures and body language can mean wildly different things in different cultures. For example, sitting casually with a foot resting on the opposite knee is showing one’s foot, which is a highly offensive gesture in the Middle East; and although shaking hands is common practice in the west, it may be deemed inappropriate when working in different regions.  Having sight of these differences can prevent awkward and somewhat embarrassing situations occurring just by getting the basics right.

There are also clues in what I like to call the ‘Opening Pleasantries’. Take cues from the other person’s communication style – what they say before they start talking about business is a clue about the individual’s communication preference. Remember Wolf of Wall Street? The Swiss Banker scene? ‘Excusez Moi Jorden, Swiss culture requires 10mins of ‘chit chat’ before business can be discussed!’ A comedy example, yes, but the sentiment is there. Having an understanding of how to position yourself early on in any client meeting or interaction can be quite crucial to the overall success of that meeting and any longer term relationship that you are hoping to develop. Anyone who’s seen that movie knows that particular relationship didn’t go that well!


In addition to thinking about both your verbal on non-verbal communication, it’s also important to think about your attire and etiquette. Sounds simple, right? But that said, be prepared to dress professional when meeting people in certain regions, or specific industries. Not all business etiquette accepts the causal business attire often advocated by the US and the UK. I remember meeting with a Japanese client in London a few years ago and being advised by a manager who had worked in Asia that it’s important to always wait to be directed to your seat for a meeting, as the seating indicates the status of the meeting’s participants and that I should always wait for the leader of the meeting to finish and remain seated until the leader stands at the end of the meeting.

Respecting and understanding these types of cultural manners is something that is key to relationship building and is easy to do. There are a number of good books on the market related to communication and etiquette when working with different cultures so there is really no excuse for getting it wrong.

So in summary, in the information age it’s possible to do business wherever you want, whenever you want without ever leaving your office or home! That said, with businesses becoming more and more competitive with many products and services becoming commodity sooner, compacted by the ability for customers to use technology to identify solutions and find providers at the click of a button; being where the customer is and doing business in a way that is respectful and in line with their cultural preferences may be your differentiator when looking to generate business in the highly competitive environment.

Print Friendly

How Sales and MLB Managers Share the Same Winning Team Strategies

May 12th, 2015 by Russ Becker
Pin It

America’s pastime is once again in full swing: 2015 Major League Baseball has finally arrived. Even though the season is only one month old, team managers are already trying to decide how to play during the postseason by ensuring the batting order is perfect, their pitchers stay healthy and everyone is up to speed on any new rules.

It might seem to be a stretch at first to compare a sales manager to an MLB manager. Logging long nights in the ball park, managing highly paid professional athletes and worrying about how to replace injured players are worlds away from the job of a sales manager. But MLB managers—the great ones— actually share core qualities with top sales managers.

Both types of managers require expertise in number crunching, motivation and coaching. They also have to be great leaders who possess strong management qualities, including transparency, respect, motivation and communication.

One of the best of the MLB managers is San Francisco Giant’s manager Bruce Bochy, who is known for his even-keeled demeanor, hence the nickname “Captain Calm” and has more wins than any active manager in baseball today.  He’s just the tenth manager to win three World Series titles (2010, 2012 and 2014), and has more victories in the postseason than all but four managers in the history of major league baseball. 

By all accounts, the San Francisco Giants shouldn’t have won the 2014 World Series.  Going into the series, their record was underwhelming.  The Giants had played under -.500 ball from June 9, 2014 and were matched against the Kansas City Royals who were the first team to enter a Series with an 8–0 record in the 2014 postseason and only the second to enter undefeated in the postseason since the creation of the Wild Card in 1994. But what the 2014 Series proved is that a great manager can make all the difference.

Here are three lessons worth noting for the upcoming season:

1. Train and know your team’s skills, then let them do what they do best

Baseball Strategy

Bochy didn’t get where he is today because of luck.  He knows baseball strategy, and he also understands the personalities on his team and what each person is cable of delivering.

During the clutch seventh game of the 2014 World Series, Bochy had a very important decision to make — whether or not to take Madison Bumgarner’s talented arm out of the game.  There was never a doubt that the superstar pitcher would play despite having just two day’s rest. However, whether or not to leave him in after an error that put the tying run on third base with two outs in the ninth inning was another question.   

But Bochy knew what Bumgarner was made of and what he could deliver.  Unflinchingly, he made the decision to let the pitcher finish the job and the rest is history.  Bumgarner retired Salvador Perez on a foul pop ball for the final out and the Series win.

The lesson here is to train your people well and then let them do their jobs.  Of course there will be the opportunity for course correction along the way, but when people are allowed to do what they are good at, they are successful.

2.  Understand how to win with the talent you have

Many sales managers inherit their teams and may believe those teams are not staffed with the correct levels or even enough people to deliver on goals.

Bochy has a reputation for winning with whatever talent he’s given.  That may seem over simplified, because one needs some talent to succeed, but this is where Bochy’s knowledge of baseball strategy and people skills come into play.  He knows how and when to best use the talent he has, and he remains in control of every move in every game.

The team members also feel that Bochy believes in them, which is very important in building confidence.  “He always has faith in us and he shows it.  We pick up on it and it makes us play better,” said first baseman Brandon Belt in an AP Sports article. 

Research by the Gallup organization shows that salesperson performance improved 20 percent with the attention of a talented manager. Additionally, there is a longer tail to the results from a coaching investment because those who are coached are often the most loyal and reliably productive members of the team.

3.  Always have a game plan but maintain flexibility

Approaching a situation without a plan can be disastrous, and baseball, is really no different.  Bochy begins every game with a plan but is famous for his ability to think on his feet, pivoting to address just about any situation that might arise.  In this ESPN article, Bochy’s flexibility (his willingness to sometimes even start from scratch) is cited as a reason he is one of the best.

So having a plan is great but being able to adjust in the moment with and for your team is ideal.

In the end, being a great manager is about building a team, placing the right talent in the right positions, and adjusting your strategy to succeed along the way. Through this journey, whether you’re managing sales or baseball, one thing remains true for both as spoken by one of the best in the game, “Never let the fear of striking out get in your way.” As Babe Ruth believed, the only way to win is together.

Print Friendly

Celebrating Women in Business – Part 3

May 8th, 2015 by Francesca DiGuglielmo
Pin It

In our “Celebrating Women in Business” series we continue to look at our very own female leaders who share their perspectives on their success and learning journey. This month we are pleased to introduce Francesca DiGuglielmo, Forum’s VP and Senior Relationship Manager who talks about her career story and the most impactful experiences which formed her professional life.

 What did you want to be when you were a kid?  

Not sure – just that I needed/wanted to have a job.  I had visions of becoming a clothing designer and working in Paris.

What, if any personal challenges did you face to get into business and a leadership role and how did you overcome these?05.08.15 - Celebrating Women in Business Part 3.jpg

I had the highest mathematics/technical scores on 8th grade aptitude tests which was perplexing to the guidance counsellor since “I’m a girl” – meaning that he was unsure what to suggest to me since usually the boys had high scores in these areas…  But, then, he said:  ‘oh, look:  you like people, so that’s good!”  I had not recalled this conversation for years – not until I became more aware of how boys/girls are provided options – based on their gender.

What, if anything, would you have done differently in your career to date? 

I’m very happy with the opportunities I had and developed.  But, occasionally, I wonder what might have been different, if my Guidance Counsellor had suggested:  “oh, look – you have the top scores in math/technical areas – you should study mathematics!

Have you had a bad boss along the way and why was this person a poor leader?

Yes – indecisive and non-supportive. Focus was on own success – to the detriment of the team

What’s the hardest business conversation you have ever had and what did you learn from it?

Having had to hold an employee accountable for actions and deliverables.  After a great deal of investment in the success of the employee they had other priorities  for the most part – my generosity and support was taken for granted.

What I learned:  be clear and specific on expectations, measurements along the way, and accept that the achievements and improvements must be driven more by employees’ commitment and desire than what you want for him/her.

What lessons have you learned in your personal life which have helped in business? 

Allow time for reflection and re-grouping, thus increasing ability to take actions that are more based on logic and balance.   Also, perspectives change the farther along you are in all life’s experiences.  So, at any given time, if you stop – and look back to your experiences from when you started…your view is broader and richer – than it was at any given point early in the journey.

Do you think women make better leaders than men and what’s the reason for your answer?

Leadership is gender neutral.  I’ve had great/not so good leaders of either sex

What are the strengths of women in business and how can women maximise these and build on them to get ahead?

In some cases, women seem to be better in compartmentalizing and balancing many competing priorities – and doing well at it  – without much fuss!

What are the weaknesses and how can they overcome them? 

Being trapped in the box that others may have (inadvertently?) put you in…overcome it by:  seeing no barriers for yourself

What is the one piece of advice you would give other women in business who are aiming to be senior leaders? 

Develop a strong self-awareness; understand others’ needs, differences, and motivational drivers and make sure to know the difference and how to effectively adjust and align so that goal is to drive the business objectives.

How do you think leadership in the workplace will look different in 5 to 10 years’ time and how will this affect women?

I hope it will be common place to have outstanding women in leadership positions everywhere.

How is globalization affecting this change? 

Broadening perspectives more widely.

Print Friendly

Accelerating Talent in a VUCA World: Leadership in Asia Pacific

May 6th, 2015 by Grant Bosnick
Pin It

“Changes aren’t permanent, but change is.” (Neil Peart)

At 2:46 p.m. on March 11, 2011, an earthquake and tsunami hit the coast of Japan. I was there when it happened. Now, as we’ve passed the 4th anniversary, the conditions and circumstances in the recovery became known as “The New Normal.”

And elsewhere across Asia Pacific there are not only changes, but rather there is change. And this constant change is the new normal.

With 3 of the top 5 world’s largest economies (China, India, Japan), surpassed only by US and EU; 5 of the top 10 world’s fastest growing economies; and age distribution differing radically across countries – a new generation in China, an aging population in Japan, a young one in Indonesia, and a mature one in Korea and Hong Kong, this is the landscape of Asia Pacific.

Moreover, it’s an interconnected region; what happens in one place affects the others, whether it’s a natural disaster, political event or product innovation.

This creates then a VUCA World, that is, Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. A term first used by the United States military to discuss preparedness, the term was then popularised by Bob Johansen of the Institute for the Future. It is, essentially, a world of constant change. And as Bob Johansen wrote, “The capacity for VUCA leadership in strategic and operating terms depends on a well-developed mindset for gauging the technical, social, political, market and economic realities of the environment in which people work.”

So, as leaders in Asia Pacific, what does this mean and what do we need to do to be able to do this?

To thrive and succeed in a VUCA World, we need to put into practice and develop ourselves on 3 levels of leadership simultaneously:

  1. Self
  2. People
  3. Thought

Self Leadership includes having a vision, integrity, consistency, and principled values. People Leadership is about managing change, leveraging diversity, delegating, engaging, coaching, building consensus and commitment, and inspiring others. And Thought Leadership focuses on analysis, strategy, decision making, and innovation.

Together the sum (and synergy) of these 3 levels will enable leaders to thrive in a VUCA World. As Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, the CEO of The Lego Group once said, “Leadership is what happens when you’re not there.” And in Asia Pacific, a constant VUCA world of change, developing all 3 levels will accelerate talent and enable this kind of leadership to flourish.

Print Friendly