When I first became the CEO of a large global company, I could see how dependent I was on others. My own efforts would be meaningless without many others supporting me. The top job is often the one in the brightest spotlight, but that person’s success or failure is always the result of a team effort. Usually a very small group—or even one individual—takes on the key supportive role.
Many people dream of becoming President or the leader of the organization. Some people realize that they are best suited and happier in a supportive role or as number two.
“Success is best defined by yourself, not by others.” -Richard Hytner
Richard Hytner is deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, responsible for global strategy and innovation. His recent book, Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows, is a celebration of the No. 2 role. This book made an impression on me because I am dependent on the “No. 2’s” and now better understand the role and the motivations. I also feel better equipped to coach people who are either not looking for the “No. 1” role or are best suited for the supportive jobs.
Richard was kind enough to answer a few questions for me about his journey.
Richard, becoming No. 1, you argue, is not always the key to success. Why not?
Success is best defined by yourself, not by others. So, if becoming the No. 1 is really important to you, give it a go, see how happy it makes you feel and assess – candidly – how others respond to your leadership from a position of ultimate accountability. You can, however, be enormously successful on your own terms leading from positions other than the overall No. 1, achieving great things and deriving deep personal satisfaction. Get rid of the No. 1 and No. 2 in your head and simply weigh each job as an opportunity to test every leadership muscle, not only the one that makes the final decision.
Tell me about your personal journey. When did you realize that being less than “No. 1” was where you would be happier and more successful?
I learned early in my career that leadership is a collective endeavor and, as a CEO, I always surrounded myself with the smartest possible people. It was only when I took a year out, aged 43, to do the Sloan Fellowship program at London Business School that it dawned on me how many brilliant people there were enjoying significant accountability in roles other than the CEO. Even though it took me a further three years as CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi EMEA to work out that I could and should try leading without the authority of a Chief Executive, it was at London Business School that I woke up or, rather, grew up.
“Develop a reputation for being a thinker and a doer, or you will run out of usefulness fast.” -Richard Hytner
You define “A” leaders as accountable for the enterprise and “C” leaders as the Consiglieri who counsel, support, and deliver for the A. What are a few differences of what you term “A” and “C” leaders?
When I pick up one of Jon Gordon’s books, I have high expectations. I expect to be entertained, moved, and motivated to think differently and take action. That’s not an easy accomplishment for any book.
“Your optimism today will determine your level of success tomorrow.” –Jon Gordon
Jon,The Carpenter’ssubtitle is A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All. Let’s talk about a few of these strategies.
The 3 greatest of them all are:
I go into more detail in the book of why they are so powerful, but after studying the most successful people and organizations, I found they truly loved the work they did, and they did everything with love instead of fear. The love they had for their product, people and passion was greater than their fear of failing. They loved their work so much that they overcome their challenges to build something great. They loved their people, so they invested in them and helped them achieve great results. They also cared about everyone and everything. They put in a little more time with a little more energy with a little more effort with a little more focus, and this produced big results. They also served and sacrificed.
Only through service and sacrifice can you become great. When you serve others, you become great in their eyes. We know when someone is out for themselves and when they are here to serve others. You can’t be a great leader if all you are serving is yourself.
“Only through service and sacrifice can you become great.” –Jon Gordon
You talk about the importance of rest. Most of us are so busy achieving, setting goals, and driving that we have learned to smile and nod in response to hearing “get some more rest.” My subconscious often responds with, “I will rest when I’m dead.” Why is rest so important? What made you decide to start with it as a success strategy?
I’ve noticed that the enemies of great leadership, teamwork, relationships and customer service are busyness and stress. Our lives have become so crazy that we are continually activating the reptilian part of our brain and the fight-flight response. So without knowing it, we are living and working from a place of fear where we are just trying to survive instead of thrive.
When we rest and recharge, we can think more clearly and live and work more powerfully. For example, instead of running people over because you are so busy, you can take time to build relationships with your team and customers and create more success in the long term. Instead of just trying to get through the day, you can live and work more intentionally thinking about who needs your time and energy to develop and grow. Instead of rushing through conversations with customers, you can take more time to listen and solve their problems. Every great athlete must rest and recharge and so must we to perform at our highest level.
“Anyone who attempts to build great things will face challenges.” –Jon Gordon
“Does your performance reflect your potential?” is a question posed by Scott Addis in the introduction of his new book. It’s a question I have often asked of myself and of others over the years. Reaching your potential, hitting peak performance, and achieving your best self are different ways to talk about the subject of personal success. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Scott about his thoughts on maximizing performance.
Confident people risk security to achieve higher levels of growth and independence. -Scott Addis
Scott Addis is the President and CEO of The Addis Group and Beyond Insurance, and author of SUMMIT: Reach Your Peak And Elevate Your Customers’ Experience. Beyond Insurance is a coaching and consulting company whose purpose is to transform the process that insurance agents, brokers and carriers use when working with clients. Scott is recognized as an industry leader having been awarded the Inc. Magazine’s “Entrepreneur of the Year” Award as well as “25 Most Innovative Agents in America”.
SUMMIT is divided into four elevations. What are the four elevations? Why is the book organized this way?
When it came to putting the material into a book, I thought it seemed natural to organize and edit the writings into a sequence that reflected a progression from individual skill development to business relationships to the customer experience. Summit is therefore divided into the following four elevations:
Elevation I: Preparing for the Climb (Developing Your Personal Readiness)
Elevation II: Setting up Base Camp (Preparing to Present Yourself to Others)
Elevation III: On to the Summit (Focusing on the Customer Experience)
Elevation IV: The Final Ascent (Discovering Your Inner Strengths)
In Elevation I, you emphasize the importance of paying attention to four performance indicators and developing them as the reader progresses. One of these performance indicators is natural strength. Why is it crucial to focus on honing natural strengths rather than improving weaknesses?
Every person who has ever lived has natural strengths (also known as Unique Abilities) though most people are not conscious of them. Because of this lack of awareness, these people have not experienced the infinite rewards that come from being able to harness and develop their natural talents and pursue their passions wholeheartedly. The more you are able to recognize your natural strengths and shape your life around them, the more freedom, success and happiness you will experience. Your Unique Abilities (i.e., Natural Strengths) have four characteristics:
A superior ability that other people notice and value
Love doing it and want to do it as much as possible
Energizing for you and others around you
You keep getting better, never running out of possibilities for further improvement
Most individuals are not able to identify their natural strengths, let alone concentrate on them, because they are trapped by childhood training. We learn at a young age that the secret to success in life is working on our weaknesses. Unfortunately, it is the focus on weaknesses that results in a sense of deficiency, failure and guilt. As a result, our lives are filled with frustration, wasted potential and missed opportunities. Letting go of these “lack of abilities” to focus on the things you love is a key to maximizing your performance.
Innovation is the lifeblood of the peak performer. -Scott Addis
In Elevation III, you discuss the customer experience. What is the customer experience? Why are the first impressions so significant in building customer relationships?
The Customer Experience Journey is the sum of all experiences that the customer has with you and your firm, the actions and results that make the customer feel important, understood, heard and respected. Each customer interaction molds and shapes the Journey.
A first impression is the mark you make in the first moments of interacting with someone. This impression has a strong effect on one’s intellect, feelings, or conscience.
It is interesting to note that the brain is immensely perceptive and takes into account every minor detail of another’s facial features. The sight and sound around us are picked up by sense organs and the signals are passed to the brain. These signals are then compared to the memories of past experiences. The interpretations of these signals play a key role in forming the first impression.
In your book, you write: “Work-life balance remains my biggest challenge in my quest to reach the peak.” How do you define work-life balance? Why is it difficult to achieve equilibrium between the two?
The term “work/life balance” first appeared in the 1970’s. The expression means having equilibrium among all the priorities in your life. It is interesting to note that this state of balance differs from person to person. However, if there is little or no balance over an extended period of time, the vast majority of people experience stress and, eventually, burnout.
Today’s intense, competitive business climate has created corporate cultures that demand more and more from professionals. To get ahead, 60 to 70 hour work weeks appear to be the new standard.
Goal setting is also very important on the climb. Why is mental imagery, or visualization, a key component of successful goal setting?
Visualization allows you to see yourself at some point in the future, while goals offer a road map to reach these visions. There is nothing more rewarding than having visions, setting goals, launching into action and persisting until you reach your destination. The key to goal setting is your ability to turn this vision into reality.
Mental imagery is essential to goal setting. Your ability to see yourself at the point of goal actualization is a key component to successful goal setting. Goal setting breaks down unless you have great clarity about your vision.
“The last few steps of the climb will be the toughest, yet the most rewarding. They will require mental toughness, commitment, drive, self-discipline, positive attitude, and positive self-image. It is when you make your final ascent that you will discover your inner strengths.” –F Scott Addis
Why is a positive first impression so important? What are some tips you can offer our listeners or readers on creating a positive first impression?
My friend Faisal Hoque is a serial entrepreneur, author, and thought leader. His life is a modern story of success, failures, and resiliency – leaving Bangladesh at 17 for the United States where he has since founded businesses including SHADOKA and others. You may know his writing from Fast Company, Huffington Post, Forbes, or BusinessWeek.
Being holistic and humanistic is key to a great life and doing great work.
Connectivityis a sense of journey to the sense of purpose — it is an individual, lonely pursuit and a collective, companionable one at the same time.
Our individual, interpersonal, and organizational working lives all interconnect. By examining these connections, we learn new ways to create, innovate, adapt, and lead.
We need to address our own mental experiences, our social interactions, and the mindset we can take to orient ourselves to this holistic, long-term view.
We need to explore understanding that leads to long-term sustainability, the way to act in a manner that promotes mutual flourishing, and how, crucially, a leader can urge us along this process.
We need to arrange our lives and our organizations in a way that leads to long-term value creation: surveying the subtle and not-so-subtle arts of idea generation, decision-making, and creating continuous value.
The newest problems of the world find solutions in the oldest timeless practices like mindfulness, authenticity, and perseverance—because Everything Connects.
Understanding Unique Motivations
“Somewhere along the way, people become convinced that stasis is safer than movement. Consistency feels comfortable; volatility is frightening.” As a leader, how do you motivate people out of the comfortable?
I think first, we have to appreciate the interior complexity of the people that we work with. Then, we need to make the links between a person’s individual motivations and what our organizations need. In other words, link the individual–personal goals like career trajectories–to the collective group goals like innovation, revenue growth, and impacting the world.
Leaders need to connect with the emotional intelligence of their people and curate their talent to change, adapt, move forward. There is no substitute for inspiration, curiosity, and passion. -Faisal Hoque
To do this we need to understand what people need from their work in order to do their best work–and how leaders can help arrange that for them. This distinction is rooted in intrinsicversus extrinsic motivation. If people are intrinsically motivated, there is something inside of them that pushes them to their work; if they are extrinsically motivated, something outside of them brings them there. They embrace the unknown, volatility. Leaders need to connect with the emotional intelligence of their people and curate their talent to change, adapt, move forward. There is no substitute for inspiration, curiosity, and passion.
The Benefits of Meditation
You place a lot of value on meditation, calling it the “batting cage for getting familiar with the fastballs and curveballs of our conscious and unconscious habits.” Off the top of your head, what are the top three benefits of meditating?