6 Steps to Building a Powerhouse Organization

This is a guest post by James M. Kerr. James is a Partner at BlumShapiro Consulting. He is a business strategist and organizational behaviorist.  His latest book is The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing ChangeYou can follow him on twitter.

Chemistry is the Secret to Success

The tip-off of the annual NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship triggered a question in my head: “How does a business leader build a perennial powerhouse like some of those NCAA basketball teams do every year?”

Clearly, the finest companies in the world are the ones where management and staff share an unrelenting passion to be the best.  How do leaders foster this passion for winning?  Certainly, getting the right people on the team, setting a common goal and enabling success differentiates the best from the rest.  But, there’s an intangible in the equation, the importance of which should not be ignored. It’s called chemistry.



Why is chemistry important?  Simply put, high performing people resent mediocre performing ones and mediocre performers begrudge those that perform at the highest level of achievement.  Indeed, getting the chemistry right is as important to the establishment of ongoing business success as garnering a talented team and constructing a compelling vision for it to follow.

We all want to be captivated by a “Big Idea.”  It’s part of the human condition to want to be part of something special and contribute to making it so.  Once enthralled, we want to be surrounded by like-minded people who share our enthusiasm and thirst to achieve.

As business leaders, it is our job to provide a vivid and exciting vision and ensure that we hire the “right” people – ones that buy in, fit in and want to work together to realize that stirring vision.  And, my friends, the latter comes down to understanding and managing “chemistry.”



Building the “Right” Chemistry

So, what steps can be taken to shape winning chemistry within an organization?  There is no simple recipe.  However, there are six guideposts that leaders can use to move the process forward, including:


1. Champion a “Do Your Job” attitude – Do your job.  There is much implied in those three simple words, including being prepared, paying attention to detail, working hard, and putting the team ahead of yourself.   It also points to the need for senior leadership to ensure that every member of his or her organization understands what their job is and that they prepare every day to execute it.

2. Revere execution – Business excellence is achieved through faultless execution.  Placing your highest regard on impeccable execution leaves no room for mediocrity.  Those inclined to slack off can be easily discovered when perfect execution is the goal.  Accepting nothing less than perfection separates the wheat from the chaff.

3. Stay focused – The best businesses never get too far ahead of themselves.  They consistently remain fixated on being the best – winning the battle one day at a time.  They don’t get distracted and abandon their plans whenever some new idea comes along.  Falling prey to distractions only causes businesses to lose ground. Remaining steadfast on the goal reinforces effort and strengthens the resolve of teammates who are striving for victory in all that they do.

4. Continuously prepare Few things are more important in the business world than steady, unrelenting preparation.  A business cannot always know which new challenge is waiting around each corner, but it can be prepared to deal with each one by removing as many elements of the unexpected as possible.  Thoughtful preparation enables good chemistry by helping winners continue to win and by building better skills among those hungry for success.

5. Plan to Re-Plan – Sometimes, even the best laid plans go sideways and real-time corrections have to be made. Successful businesses do this by monitoring execution and recognizing trends and nuances in their market space. By planning to re-plan, as needed, organizations can separate themselves from the pack and establish the type of environment where winning chemistry can be established among the team members willing to adjust to the situation.

6. Set an example – Staff members watch your feet.  Anyone can say anything, but it is what you do that makes a difference.  It is through actions that senior leaders become living examples of the traits and values that they want their organizations to embrace.  If you want to establish the “right” chemistry, one where staff are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve the strategic vision, then set an example that your people can follow – be engaged, enjoy the journey, want to win!

To close, there is no irrefutable formula for establishing winning chemistry within an enterprise.  However, these six guidelines form a framework for success that can be followed.  Together, they have the potential to enable the chemistry needed for businesses to consistently outperform its competitors, regardless of the rival.


The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change


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