Category: Recruiting

How CEOs and Board Members Can Make the Best Hire Together

How CEOs and Board Members Can Make the Best Hire Together

Often times, performance improvement hinges on making an important executive hire that is necessary to fill a key gap in your team. When teams begin to consistently miss their KPIs, MBOs and other metrics, the consequences of low performance fall squarely on the shoulders of the CEO.

Achieving high-growth at a startup is difficult, and it can be an even bigger feat to sustain the same level of growth as a company matures. Series B funding comes with greater expectations for founders and CEOs. Boards can easily decide that in this pivotal moment, given the performance metrics or lack thereof, it may also be time for that dreaded conversation about a succession plan or an immediate replacement plan.

So what can you do as a CEO when you’re in the midst of a turnaround plan or have already launched an executive search and the board is worried about continued deterioration in performance?

First, understand that when any board expresses this concern to the CEO, what they really mean is, ‘You better make something happen fast.’ The hard truth is that they’re not talking about your team’s failure to perform, they’re talking about your failure in leadership performance. And if you’re incapable of solving this problem as a leader, you might have reached the end of your tenure.

Making the right or wrong executive hire in this situation can be your saving grace, or give the board more reason to give you the boot.

The weight of this pressure on a CEO can unfortunately make a hiring process all the more difficult. Board members might want to step into operating roles, make introductions and suggest potential candidates to fill the role. This is well-intentioned, and occasionally seems like a promising idea. As a CEO, you feel obligated to meet those candidates and the feeling is awfully similar to being set up on a blind date by a friend who means well but doesn’t fully understand what your wants and needs are.

These kind of referrals still limit you to Level 2 Recruiting—a blunt, passive recruiting strategy based on referrals, networking and candidates that are leftover from other searches or unemployed (often with good reason). If you end up hiring the person the board recommended and it doesn’t work out—as CEO, you’re still the one responsible for the whole mess.

The biggest factor determining the success or failure of any CEO is his or her ability to recruit and hire well. And when something as important as an executive search—and potentially your own position in an organization—is on the line, you want to make sure that the job is done with mastery.

Rather than you or your board members dabbling in recruiting and using up the precious time and energy you need to drive your team’s performance, bring in the right expert—not just someone referred by the board. Partner with someone who has built companies like yours before, who understands core competencies and culture fit and can elevate your search to Level 3 Recruiting™. Level 3 Recruiting™ is about precision extraction and a refined selection process that secures the top 1{f7a32599756963b989bde631f1a44401cc789db6f847c3735c9e8f651be632a4} A+ executive leaders.

This collaborative process is the best way CEOs and boards, especially in the midst of intense pressure or even in a crisis situation, can make sure they make the best hire.

CEO Spotlight: What To Do When Performance Numbers Suck

CEO Spotlight: What To Do When Performance Numbers Suck

CEOs are responsible for driving the highest possible performance results. Of course, this task is much easier said than done. Teams miss their KPIs and MBOs for any number of reasons. Sometimes, despite the strength of your leadership, you know your own expertise in making it better is limited.

So how do you get performance back on track fast? Skillful leaders are able to achieve results through their team the same way a good coach builds team performance by leveraging individual talents and filling the gaps. Sometimes CEOs and coaches feel torn about what to do when it comes to making tough calls on talent. Here are your options:

  1. Train: You can send someone to get the training they need to improve individual and team performance. It’s a good idea to develop the skills in your team, but this option takes a significant investment in time. In the months that it takes for this person to learn new skills, he or she might have the theoretical or academic understanding of how to solve a problem – but the person will still lack the the years it takes to develop mastery. If your business is in high growth mode, any individual’s capacity to learn – no matter how strong a team member he or she might be – will likely be outpaced by the needs of your company.
  2. Outsource: You could outsource a problem area to a consulting firm. This might be a good plan for skills that are not strategic to your vision and goals. Keep in mind that this option is expensive and you are not guaranteed quality. If you need to increase performance in an area that is strategic to your mission and vision, then you need to build the capacity internally.
  3. Recruit: That leaves a CEO with the best option for developing capacity in a high-growth company. Recruit and hire a world champion to fill the gap your team is missing. And remember that hiring must be done with mastery. Dabbling in recruiting and making the wrong hire will only add to whatever problems you’re already facing.
  4. Nothing: The last option is to do nothing. CEOs do this all the time by choosing not to hire an expert. Sometimes it’s worse and they take on yet another set of responsibilities for themselves to prove their personal significance. This is the most painful option that often causes the kind of skull-crushing brain damage that creates suffering for everyone involved.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

Make the right executive decision and remember that the best utilization of venture capital is to acquire the right human capital.

The Ultimate Truth About Big Bad Search Firms

The Ultimate Truth About Big Bad Search Firms

There was a saying, “No one ever got fired for buying IBM,” that you might have applied to choosing a big brand search firm. You now realize that these search firms have no clue what you need. Worse, they don’t care.

Too many leaders choose a big brand search firm because of the false sense of security that this brings. The most important thing in choosing an executive search partner is the person who’s actually doing the work, not the brand of the company.

Is your business in high growth mode? Do you want to meet the best candidates? Do you want to meet them fast? Do you want the expert advice of someone who can close the deal? If you work with a big search firm, you’ll be disappointed. Big firms are used to working with companies growing at a slower rate than yours. Their sense of urgency is much more relaxed. Since they’re used to working with big companies, the importance of your search may not be as high as if you were a Fortune 500 company. They might take 9 months to conduct a search. An elite, special forces boutique firm can do it in a fraction of that time.

Remember, the best tech is not at IBM or any of the big tech firms. It’s usually at the smaller, ankle-biter firms that are completely disrupting and re-inventing the category. This is true of boutique executive search firms as well.

To achieve the greatest potential you have as a leader and to realize your entrepreneurial dreams, you’ll need to have the courage to step outside the box of big brand thinking. Rather than rely on flashy names and referrals from other people who have no idea what you need, apply your best critical thinking and executive decision making to choose the search partner that’s right for you.

 

How to Secure the Team Win Without its Captain

How to Secure the Team Win Without its Captain

You’re missing a key player on your leadership team and it’s affecting your entire operation. Morale is down. People are kicking the dirt on the ground. It’s been months since anyone on that functional team has felt a tinge of success. The void has created hesitation, doubt and fear. Impending functional doom seems imminent as other staff members contemplate jumping ship and resigning.

The pressure from your team, the company and the board is unrelenting. You can feel the apprehension in the air, and you’re not quite sure what to do about it. It’s easy in this moment to begin to question your own plan and leadership capacity.

So what do you do?

There are only a few things you need to remember:

  1. SNAP OUT OF IT! Remember – you are a total winner! Get your mojo back and activate your power, peace and prosperity muscles.
  2. Your greatest resource is your resourcefulness. Have an honest dialogue with your team. Ask for their support. Paint a picture of the greater vision that you have for the team, the future leader you want to bring in and for the organization as a whole. This is how you can rally the team and uplift morale. You need to protect, nurture and grow those team members in the absence of a chief functional officer until such time when you find the right A+ hire.
  3. There is an A+ player for every role in every company. Have you mapped out what success looks like for the functional leader you want to hire? Have you created a winning profile that includes both technical chops and the right culture fit? As you seek to fill the position, are you going beyond online search and networking? There is a better way of recruiting – an elite, special forces approach – that is Level 3 Recruiting™. Level 3 Recruiting™ is defined by a refined selection process, precision extraction and securing the top 1{f7a32599756963b989bde631f1a44401cc789db6f847c3735c9e8f651be632a4} of A+ executive leaders.
  4. Especially during a low point, it’s crucial to remember that victory is possible! Don’t settle for a mediocre candidate to fill the missing role quickly. Once you’ve hired your A+ player, your team will emerge a hundred times better and stronger than before.

Now go, attack, win!

5 Awesome People That Will Make Your Founding Team Unstoppable

5 Awesome People That Will Make Your Founding Team Unstoppable

Every entrepreneur with a genius startup idea needs a strong founding team to help make that vision a reality.

How do you get the right founding team together so you can reach your startup dreams? Start with awesome people you can trust. The foundation of every great team is trust – trust that each member is committed to the grand purpose, eager and capable of getting stuff done to the highest quality.

I co-founded HotJobs.com with a small team of dedicated entrepreneurs on a mission to transform the job search industry. We were headhunters and had acutely developed abilities in recruiting and assessing the best talent. We had worked together in the trenches and we had trust. We built an absurdly talented tech team. We hand-selected and inspired a best-in-class sales force. Our founding team created an indomitable culture.

More importantly, we got the classified help-wanted ads from the newspapers to online and into the digital world to create massive efficiency. We helped millions of job seekers in the process. Our team power-built the fledgling startup to 650 employees, $125M in revenues and a $1.2B market cap after its IPO. Although we might not have realized it at the time, we had a founding team with all of the right ingredients to make our startup dreams come true.

From my experience co-founding, recruiting and building all-star executive teams, I’ve come across some essential players that can make any founding team achieve the growth and scale they desire.

The Visionary

Every startup begins with a grand idea, vision and purpose. The visionary is the guardian of these powerful forces. This person often serves as both CEO and Chief Inspiration Officer. If your team is in the railroad business, the visionary is the one who discovers unchartered routes and decides that your trains should go to those new markets.

The Operator

The analytical, detail-oriented operator is a necessary counterbalance to the visionary. This person is working behind the scenes, figuring out tactical execution to drive the unit economics of the business and achieve performance results. This person will ensure operational excellence and that the trains run on time.

The Engineer

Your engineer is a master craftsman building an outstanding product. This person’s skill set is in tech and product design – he or she is your Data from Star Trek building the trains and the tracks.

The Dealmaker

Even the best and most innovative products don’t sell themselves. You need a master dealmaker to lead distribution. This person has a knack for creative relationship building and can orchestrate the marketing and sales deals that fund your operation with the right pricing model. The Dealmaker makes sure the trains are full of passengers with sustainable profitability.

The Team Builder

Your team builder is your Chief People Officer. This role is becoming increasingly more important in the knowledge economy. The team builder ensures you have the right people in the right seats doing the right things in the right way and enjoying the journey.

The biggest reason why someone will succeed or fail as part of any organization has everything to do with whether their personal DNA matches the cultural DNA of the organization. This makes the role of the Chief People Officer the most important advisor and partner to the CEO.

An organization’s greatest assets all go home at night. A great team builder knows what gets their people to come back: 1) Performance excellence on an individual level – people feel they can achieve their best work, and 2) Team affiliation, camaraderie and a sense of belonging.

A leader’s core values are made up of his or her unique life experiences, beliefs, motivations, biases and critical thinking. Once the CEO and Chief People Officer have a clear understanding and are in sync on the core values (the pillars of a company’s culture) make sure to learn the core values of each person, especially on your leadership team before you hire them. This way you can continue to raise the bar and replicate the organization’s DNA with people who amplify your culture.

FoundingTeam_resize

The Powerful Truth About Your Important Executive Hire

The Powerful Truth About Your Important Executive Hire

The difficult lesson many entrepreneurs will learn is that most startups fail. The truth is, the right or wrong executive hire can decide whether a business will succeed or founder.

In business and in life, it’s wise to heed the words of Epictetus: “First, say to yourself what you would be. Then do what you have to do.” In building the best leadership team and making the right executive hire, the only question is: will you do what is required?

The wrong executive hire at a high-growth business costs significantly more than at a slower growth company. It can literally put your survival at stake when an executive leadership role is involved. When hiring an executive leader, does it really make sense to be penny wise and pound foolish?

Anything that slows down your ability to execute translates into lost market opportunity or advantage. Growth is crunch time: either leadership will have the capacity to grow organizational effectiveness, execution competence and performance agility, or the things that made your business a hot prospect in the beginning will wither and die. When it comes to hiring an executive leader, being thrifty or hasty is a sure recipe for loss of momentum and operational horsepower.

Moreover, the Society for Human Resources Management puts the cost of replacing a bad hire at up to five times their annual salary. And the costs rise steeply as you ascend the organizational ladder. Then there are the intangible costs. High turnover impacts morale, creates organizational drag and produces a loss in opportunity costs. Success in anything requires a full-time effort. When in high-growth mode, the costs of turbulence in your leadership team are especially disruptive and even devastating.

If you want to avoid being part of the vast majority of startups that fail, understand the high costs of making a bad executive hire. Then develop and invest in a smart plan, a process to evaluate the wide reaches of the market for top leaders, and recruit the top caliber executive leader that is right for you. Fear, greed and scarcity are all part of the same mindset and can break your entrepreneurial dreams. To grow a thriving business, the opposite is needed. Exercise your abundance mindset and the bold confidence you need to achieve your mission.

Everything bad that happens at a company is fundamentally a people problem. What’s also true is that there is an A+ player for every role in every company. Executive recruitment, done the right way, will uplift your business and bring it to the next level of success. Luckily, recruiting is a leadership competency and can be developed. Acquiring the top 1{f7a32599756963b989bde631f1a44401cc789db6f847c3735c9e8f651be632a4} of A+ executive leadership will require the same level of grit, sweat and indefatigable determination it takes to launch and grow your business.

You are determined to turn your vision into reality. You’re ready to disrupt markets, design entirely new ecosystems, conquer and change the world with what you’re doing. That’s why your business deserves the most talented executive leadership team.

So, how DO you recruit for key roles with precision and skill? Here are three important basics I can’t stress enough.

A Handy ABC:

Anticipate Waiting

This one may seem counterintuitive. After all, when searches languish for months as over-stretched executives spend their days firefighting and making it work (the everyday norm for growth mode), organizational chaos is not far behind.

You need to fill key leadership roles quickly. The need to get those empty slots filled can pressure executive teams to rely on paper indicators and make hasty decisions. That can be a costly mistake. Nature abhors a vacuum; your search will create opportunities for your team to step up and fill in some gaps. Reward initiative with battle pay. Then get the right hire fast, and be confident that your analysis was thorough enough to make sure your executive hire will last.

Brain Surgery, Don’t Perform it on Yourself

Bring in help. If you’re beginning to ask yourself if you need a professional executive recruiter on your side, then you should have hired one last month. The return on a proper executive search is 1,000{f7a32599756963b989bde631f1a44401cc789db6f847c3735c9e8f651be632a4}.

First-time CEOs often make the mistake of hiring a big name search firm. Look deeper into who you choose to partner with and select a master headhunter based on that person’s background and experience. Don’t settle for a recruiter running potential hires through a series of prefab tests or pushing leftovers from other searches.

Look at it this way: your enterprise value is scaling up because you value expertise. Expertise doesn’t start and end with technical know-how. Find an executive recruiter that has been in the trenches, gets culture, and — ideally — one that handcrafts every fit. If the cost of a recruiter has you in sticker shock , compare it to the costs of replacing a bad hire. Then go for a run or grab a coffee and rethink your math.

Culture Fit

A high-level candidate’s skills and talents won’t count for much unless they can actualize those skills and talents within the culture of your team. Gut instinct isn’t a reliable guide, a time-tested proven methodology is. When your management team is a team of three buddies, then yeah — your instinctual liking for one another counts for a lot. As your organization grows, assessing cultural fit becomes a much more subtle and complex challenge. Recruiting for a seamless culture fit requires a fierce drive to find the ideal candidate — an elite, special forces approach to recruiting — and it takes strategy and expertise to expedite the search.

The best utilization of venture capital is to acquire the right human capital.

This post was originally published on Medium.

When Making a Hire Decision, Attitude is More Important Than IQ

When Making a Hire Decision, Attitude is More Important Than IQ

Attitude defined:

at·ti·tude

(n) A settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior.

People’s predisposed thoughts and feelings are the foundational factor in determining the outcomes of every human interaction (behavior). IQ is also important, and more so at the end stage of interactions, as it allows people to analyze situations and make calculated decisions. Workplace behaviors such as collaboration, task completion, and communication are all critical for high performance and the achievement of strategic outcomes in an organization.

Operational excellence in high-growth companies is about negotiating intrinsic social contracts and hierarchies in the most efficient, clear-minded way in order to get stuff done. Just as happiness depends on outlook, not material things, organizational success depends on employee attitude—not IQ.

Researchers at Stanford University found that individuals who identify strongly with external attributes like IQ and “being smart” are less engaged with the learning process. They are more likely to fall into destructive behaviors that mask their true intelligence and undermine the development of their true potential, to the organization’s detriment.

The researchers found that starting from childhood, people often fall into two outlooks on intelligence: a “fixed  mindset” and a “growth mindset.” Those with fixed intelligence think that success is based upon fixed traits—they believe that they are either born smart or flawed, and their entire lives are defined by a set amount of intelligence and capability.

Often, people who are told they are “smart” hide behind the praise. They become fixated on maintaining their smart status at all costs, even if it means rejecting new challenges for fear of failure, or not wanting to seem dumb. In this limiting mindset, inner life becomes a monologue of comparison that filters out useful, realistic criticism.

On the other hand, those with a growth mindset know that excellent performance depends upon perseverance, hard work, and learning from failure. For those with a growth mindset, life is ripe with opportunities and there is no “failure”— only challenges to overcome on the path to mastery.

How do people become one way or the other? Noted author Carol Dweck, Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, discovered the “fixed” and “growth” mindsets while studying the behavior of schoolkids in the early 2000s.

She gave two groups of children an easy puzzle or test to solve. Both groups solved the puzzle, but the first group was told they succeeded because they were smart (a fixed trait). The second group was told they succeeded because they worked hard (a growth-oriented trait). Guess which group gave up when the test got tougher? The fixed group, who felt they would lose their “smart” status by failing at a more difficult puzzle. On the other hand, the growth group enjoyed the new challenge.

Dweck’s groundbreaking book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, reveals that emphasis on smarts or effort have profound effects on long-term adult potential. People who develop fixed mindsets prefer tasks they already do well and avoid situations in which they may make mistakes. This leads to aversion to learning and risk-taking—deadly in today’s quickly changing world. Even worse, it compromises morals: the fixed mindset group in Dweck’s research were more likely to lie about their test results to protect their reputation.

In her book, Dweck writes that a fixed mindset is insecure: it is like “always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens.” That’s no way to live—or to live with this trait in an employee, even one who is perfect on paper.

Thankfully, individuals can change their mindsets. Dweck had tremendously positive results when she put fixed mindset students, who thought they had limited potential and suffered social and emotional trouble, on an 8-week study skills program that emphasized the brain as a trainable muscle. Many students who thought they could never succeed learned to face and even love solving challenges.

Dweck’s theory of education is now taught across multiple disciplines, including sports, in which confidence and rebounding from a break in concentration can mean a close win.

For company leaders, recognizing growth attitudes means celebrating employees for their enthusiasm about solving challenges and curiosity about working, not their alma mater. To hire these kinds of people, ask potential hires about their views on personal and professional growth, both great topics of conversation during interviews. Selecting new colleagues based on how they grew from failures in their past experience is golden wisdom on the topic of team-building.

For everyone else, entering a growth mindset means taking a deep inquiry into the nature of our beliefs about self.

Do you believe that your character, intelligence, and creative abilities are inborn attitudes? Or do you dream of bettering yourself through challenges, realizing that your potential is, while not limitless, unknowable? A shift in mental attitude can impact the way you go about your daily tasks, which ultimately leads to the efforts that shape your success.

Choosing the candidate that has a 20 point higher IQ is isolated to that one person. The benefit of choosing the person that has the better attitude magnifies the enthusiasm, flexibility, and adaptation of the entire team. We’re all looking to conquer the world with what we are doing. We need people who want to achieve success for themselves and who can help us do it as a team. A winning attitude is infectious and magnifies teamwork. And teamwork wins championships.

The Good & Great Recruiters

The Good & Great Recruiters

We’re all looking to conquer the world with what we are doing, and we need the right people to help us do it–people who want to achieve success for themselves and can help us do it as a company.

The difference between good and great in recruiting–like everything else in life–ends up being about passion, focus, and discipline. You always know it when you see it – and it always shows up in the results of that recruiter’s work. The best way to put it is that a good recruiter has a keen interest in recruiting and knows all the rules. A great recruiter knows how to go beyond the rules.

Great recruiters reach mastery level because more than just being interested, they are deeply committed to achieving great success for their clients. Talent is not enough. Applying years of hard work produces skill. And recruiting is a craft that is best learned from apprenticing with a skilled master.

A good recruiter has solid first-order thinking, and a significant amount of subject matter expertise in any number of areas that make executives successful. This means that they are keen evaluators of technical chops and delivering candidates that are a strong technical fit for any given role.

This is not enough. Technical chops are no guarantee of whether a candidate can work with the team, fit into the company culture, and stay motivated and engaged in the long term.

This is what great recruiters understand and master. A great recruiter will add value by understanding a company’s cultural DNA, and delivering candidates who will fit and integrate into the team perfectly. Great recruiters know how to identify an executive’s blind spots, and can anticipate how the new hire will complement the CEO’s personal traits and leadership abilities.

Good recruiters also know how to walk away. When necessary, they will advise their client against making a hire, even if it’s a pressing role. Closing that search would undoubtedly mean an immediate benefit to the recruiter in the short term, but great recruiters know that their reputation depends on delivering the best possible hire and have two other candidates on the ready. They can’t afford to let their client close on a candidate if they know it’s not the right match.

I always tell people that recruiting, on its most basic level, is about understanding human relationships. Good recruiters understand roles. Great recruiters understand people; they have conceptual models of how to differentiate top talent. They have a proven methodology for achieving outstanding results. For this reason, the periodic check-in with your friendly, neighborhood recruiter is a great way to get feedback and market assess the competitiveness of your own executive team.

It’s tough to go from good to great in this field. It can often seem that great recruiters are born, rather than made. I also recognize that there are a lot of green recruiters just beginning their careers out there, with the seeds of greatness in them, looking for how they can make it to the next level. Learning to evaluate a person’s ability to fit in a team requires a keen sense of understanding about culture fit, leadership agility, social intelligence, and pragmatism, all for the purpose of being able to lead the organization towards its strategic objectives. Here’s my advice for those people:

  1. Be a student of leadership. Apprentice yourself to a truly great recruiter, and study the work of business leaders and cutting-edge, best-quality thought on executive leadership at every opportunity. Read the books on leadership from the great thinkers on this subject. Your life’s work is to help top executives find the people they need to win. You should understand those people, their challenges, and their priorities inside and out, in order to excel in your own role.
  2. Build something. Spend time, as an internal executive operator, actually building and growing a company. My time at high-growth companies like TheLadders and HotJobs helped me to develop an understanding of the needs and challenges of large high-growth businesses, and taught me how to hire and develop leadership from within. This has aided me immeasurably in helping other companies find the talent they need; my clients can trust me and communicate with me effectively, because I have walked a few miles in my clients’ shoes.
  3. Get your hands dirty. Spend a significant amount of time, energy and considered thought in studying the fine distinctions of character and leadership in practice. Learn to make judgment calls on character – and watch your results, by tracking the success or failure of those you have personally tapped for leadership roles. When you are able to verify your judgment of character by a track record of identifying successful future executives, you will know you have progressed to the highest level of recruiting prowess.

In 20 years of doing this work, I have never found anyone who is crazier about recruiting than I am. Mastering the art and science of recruiting allows me to now spend my time with the top CEO’s, the top venture investors and the top 1% of A+ executive talent focused on making the world a better place. The level of understanding of new technologies, latest methodologies and the synthesis of new ideas is intellectually fulfilling. Changing the lives of real people who happen to be visionary CEO’s and their executive teams is heart-warming. Helping companies that are doing good in the world satisfies the soul. Great recruiters everywhere share this passion. We know that by finding the world’s great leaders and putting them in the right roles, we’re changing the world.

The Key to High Performance Leadership

The Key to High Performance Leadership

High performance is the strongest desire of every CEO. High performance requires high-performance leadership. High-performance leadership is built on a foundation of excellence and a framework of harmony.

Too often executive leaders at startup tech companies try to build a foundation of harmony in order to achieve operational excellence. This is a mistake. They fill their office space with ping pong tables, video game machines, snack rooms, kegerators and creature comforts as a means to appear competitive with Google-style employment perks and to lure top recruits. They attempt to compete on a basis of social harmony and having an awesome “culture” without actually having spent any deep thinking time on culture and the practices that drive outstanding business performance. They’ve mistakenly prioritized social harmony over disciplined, measured operational excellence.

No-one is saying that harmony isn’t important — only that it’s impossible without operational excellence as its foundation. Both excellence and harmony are important for high performance. Excellence is of first importance; it is what you must lay down as a foundation first because there can be no harmony without excellence. If performance and results are where you want them, then, sure, I am all in favor of ping pong tables, laser tag and sleeping pods.

My advice to CEOs and executive leaders: Build a performance-based culture of excellence around performance drivers, KPI’s, measurable outcomes. Build a meritocracy where people get as much responsibility as they can handle on the basis of true merit: ownership, accountability, execution and results. This is the foundation of operational excellence.

Harmony is about creating the environment for direct, honest and open dialogue about the things that matter — trust, commitment, results. It’s about having adult conversations about performance metrics and holding each other accountable. Harmony is not the same as avoiding conflict rather it’s about engaging in meaningful productive outcomes and solutions-driven discourse. This is high-productivity harmony.

Patrick Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team provides a great model for building this kind of harmony around excellence. He pinpoints several dysfunctions that prevent a team from achieving excellence, including lack of trust, avoidance of accountability, inattention to results, and, perhaps most importantly, fear of conflict — which is to say, when employees avoid conflict and create artificial harmony by going along with others’ decisions indiscriminately — the results they achieve will be lacking and the team as a whole suffers.

When your employees are driven by excellence in their standards, by excellence in their craft, by excellence in the rigorous disciplines required for disintermediation of an entire industry then, and only then, can you have harmony from the top down and from the bottom up in professional life. Moreover, you will have a culture of excellence where employees can trust and rely on each other. They don’t have to worry whether their teammates will come through. They don’t clash over poorly executed projects. Rather, a focus on excellence magnifies the definiteness of purpose and accelerates productive collaboration on a team. This creates the kind of environment that magnifies everyone’s fire in the belly and a team spirit that the most capable of champions want to be a part of.

(Operational) Excellence + (Productive) Harmony = High Performance Leadership

In the Harvard Business review, Matthew Lieberman points to James Zenger’s research indicating that “results focus” and “social skills” are actually two different parts of the brain — and that these two parts of the brain never work at the same time.

“These two networks function like a neural seesaw,” Lieberman writes. “In countless neuroimaging studies, the more one of these networks got more active, the more the other one got quieter. Although there are some exceptions, in general, engaging in one of the kinds of thinking makes it harder to engage in the other kind.”

Yet leaders who were exclusively results-focused or exclusively social-focused both received poor approval ratings from their subordinates. Those who combined both skills were rated as great leaders a staggering 72% of the time. Great leaders are those who can effectively seesaw between the two parts of their brain that contribute to excellence and winning as a team.

Ultimately, it is a commitment to both excellence and harmony, with excellence in priority, that creates high performance. Playing full out, measuring, learning and adapting creates the kind of high performance execution that everyone wants to be a part of — because culture is everything. This fulfills not only the strongest desire of their CEO, but also the Board, investors, customers, and stakeholders. Most importantly, it fulfills the strongest professional desire of their own. This kind of high-performance leadership creates an indomitable culture that wins championships and creates the lasting impact of legends.

This post was originally published on the Dave Partners blog.

Thank you for reading! Who do you know that plays like a champion? Please share this with them and hit recommend. Here are 2 more skills of the top leaders.