Posts Tagged ‘hiring’

Blind Partnerships

Monday, October 15th, 2018

If you are dumb enough to refuse a replacement, the time to build trust, which has been integral to your partnership, alliance or consortium’s success, you better have something so desirable others are willing to bet “blind”. That is a luxury very few organisations ever have. Or then again perhaps you have close to zero interest in your partners’ future or in finding a replacement.

Letting Go

Tuesday, September 4th, 2018

There is no “right time” to end relationships in business (employees, shareholders, customers). Yet one of the oddities in a great many organisations, particularly  small businesses, is more time is spent thinking about the “right time” than invested in making the actual changes,  finding replacements or attracting new relationships. 

Five Family Office Traits That Throttle Success In Portfolio Companies

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Patient private capital is arguably more in demand today as a source of growth capital than at any time this century. CEO roles in businesses backed by ultra high net worth family offices (Michael Dell’s MSD Capital, Jorge Paolo Lemann’s 3G or Azim Premji’s (founder of Wipro) Premji Investment) are arguably more in demand than at any point in recent history. Free from the demands of quarterly reporting for public stockholders and the constraints of the private equity investing model, why, here is the “perfect” career option surely? All we need to do is focus solely on growing and nurturing the business and its’ brand, take prudent risk and never have to worry about the cost or availability of capital. Wonderful. What am I missing? Actually a huge amount. In an article published today, in the market-leading Family Office media publication, Family Capital, James draws upon his experiences with over a dozen families around the globe. Learn about the Family Office/CEO relationship dynamics and the consequences that are often overlooked by many Family Offices and CEOs until it is too late.

© James Berkeley 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Are You Thinking What I Was Thinking IX

Friday, April 8th, 2016









  • Most businesses don’t lack great ideas today, they lack people with the skills and volition to apply and monetise great ideas
  • The problem is not the regulatory changes forced on banks, insurers, pharma etc, it is the ability of management and employees to respond effectively and efficiently (skills, behaviour and expertise)
  • The media and politicians express “shock” and “revulsion” at those using offshore tax havens to mitigate their tax liabilities but barely a whimper about at the cyber security criminals, who initiated the breach.
  • Man’s ingenuity is such that we can send a rocket into space and return it to the exact same position it departed, yet our “precision” capabilities when it is applied to tracking terrorist threats, cyber, people smuggling, are largely scrambled and ineffective.
  • Global markets have largely recovered the losses incurred at the outset of this year, yet the business media continues to run “recession scare” stories.
  • Every company is becoming a digital company, the consequences differ based on the quality of the management and employees, the amount of uncertainty within the business and the competitive threats
  • Microsoft and Google beat the best human at image recognition in 2015 but there is little evidence that humans will be replaced by computers in assessing and underwriting risk, which largely depends on art and science.
  • Value chains in almost every sector are being compressed and traditional functions increasingly being made redundant, as technology facilitates the faster dissemination of information and the application of knowledge to critical decision-making (capital deployment, human resources, innovation, strategy implementation). There is no going back.
  • Contrary to popular myth what new entrants into the workforce want today (interesting work, a gratifying job, career progression and equitable rewards) hasn’t changed in decades, what has changed is the ability of businesses to deliver it. Understanding why and doing something about it, is where the valuable debate lies.
  • In all the chest-beating about diversity and progressive organisations, by far the most disadvantaged and impactful on society are not single issue “victims” (sex, race, nationality, age etc) but those individuals with diverse pasts (educational backgrounds and life experiences), who are routinely rejected by businesses driven to hire and promote “people like us”.
  • The fanfare about “Self-Management”, as practised by organisations such as Zappos, speaks louder about the concept than the results the business has achieved in the real world. Separate the fad from reality.

© James Berkeley 2016. All Rights Reserved.

Uncommon Leadership Traits in Profitable Growth Firms

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Arguably the most common failing of organisations in search of profitable growth is leadership. I am referring to leaders, who are disengaged in the implementation of the firm’s strategy. Leaders with values that are incongruent with the firm’s new growth strategy. Leaders, who by their actions are seen to demean the importance of or pay lip service to the new growth strategy. I find this is most common in the operational layer of businesses (mid-level managers) although it is not uncommon amongst peers at the executive level. Here is three recent examples I have seen:

Example 1: The COO of an insurance company, who loves to make grand announcements (ego) about the transformation of the brand’s positioning. He steadfastly absents himself from from the implementation process, where his or her credibility and example, is essential to gain the support of and change the behaviour of his peers and subordinates, in support of the new strategic direction. Unavailable for subordinate meetings, delegates all responsibility and becomes angry when results don’t happen as planned.

Example 2: The mid-level manager who says “I know Head Office want us to be seen as the “trusted adviser” of the client but frankly I see our future best served by selling more of what we know (existing products).” Surprise, surprise the client relationships never change. The top line revenue growth stalls. The organisation is merely known for its’ transactional capabilities and any “window of opportunity” to transform the business is lost.

Example 3: The sales executive, who is placed in the Regional CEO role (ego reasons) in a professional service firm. “I am sorry my diary is full with clients and prospects visits that I need to attend if we are to make this quarter’s sales figures. Let me get back to you when I have a slot to discuss this (strategic decision). I don’t feel comfortable without having everyone around the table and discussing the merits of each alternative and the attendant risks.” Strategic decisions are put on “hold”, frustration builds amongst subordinates and corporate gridlock ensues.

You might very well be laughing at this stage, recognising how close to home these examples are in your own organisation. One of thrills of helping clients profitably grow and expand, is you get to see first hand the victories and defeats in technicolour. It would be funny if it wasn’t that people’s livelihoods and careers are ultimately on the line, indeed, in certain cases the future of the entire organisation.

Any leadership role for a large or small firm has three attributes:

  • Physical capabilities (international travel, lifestyle changes, health and so on)
  • Skills (expertise, knowledge)
  • Behaviours

Leaders largely succeed or fail because of their behavioural traits, yet most firms give greatest thought to and weighting to the other attributes. Their role is to be the crossing that helps connect the current business with its’ future state. While this not an exhaustive list and you would be wise to customise to each situation, these are the behavioural traits you should be emphasising in a profitable growth business in today’s economy:

  1. Impressive Exemplar (high resistance to short-term pressure and self-interests)
  2. Champion of change
  3. High Assertiveness (focus on speed and momentum towards growth goals)
  4. High Persuasiveness (strong appeal to subordinates self-interest)
  5. High Enthusiasm
  6. Superb Communication
  7. Readily Accessible
  8. Logic over emotional reasoning
  9. Excellent listener
  10. Big picture thinker, not micro manager
  11. Adaptive to prevailing conditions
  12. Prudent risk taker
  13. Innovation / creativity
  14. Voluntarily shares credit for success
  15. Willingly admits and takes ownership of failure
  16. Ethics / Integrity

I am always saying to my clients profitable growth is a mirage unless you have leaders and people throughout the organisation, who are talented AND passionate about implementing the growth strategy. I cannot, nor can my clients, motivate a leader or a subordinate but you can sure raise the odds of success by first hiring someone into a leadership position with the requisite behavioural traits.

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.