Podcast Ep 160 | Rating your firm on Jim Collins’ 7 Good to Great principles (1/2)

Jim Collins book Good to Great is one of the all-time business classics due to the size and quality of the research that underpins the principles that he identified in the research about companies that endured and achieved great performance, relative to their peer companies who only achieved good performance.

 In Good to Great, Jim Collins identified seven core principles that great companies excelled at.

In this part one of two episodes, we dig into the seven principles from Good to Great and ask you to rate your firm’s performance on each of these.




Please note that this episode was transcribed using an AI application and may not be 100% grammatically correct – but it will still allow you to scan the episode for key content.


Brad (00:00:13) – Welcome to the Growth Whisperers, where everything we talk about is building enduring great companies, companies that last, companies that you actually want to work in. Cuz it’s enjoyable cuz it gives you a reward and a purpose. My name is Brad Giles here in Perth, Australia, and joined today I am by my co-host with my co-host Kevin Lawrence in Vancouver, Canada. Gday, Kevin, how are you today?

Kevin (00:00:37) – I’m great. You know, just as you said that I’ve realized since we started this podcast more than three years ago, we haven’t been in person, we haven’t been in the same room together. Mm-hmm. , this is a complete, well we, we had been many times before, but it’s, you know, completely doing all of this virtually. And, uh, we’re just saying we look forward to getting together. We do need to set that debut. I’m doing great. Um, as always looking forward to, uh, sharing some perspectives and stories and in particular today talking about the great, uh, Jim Collins.

Brad (00:01:10) – Oh yeah, yeah. He is, he is, uh, he’s someone that we’re, I guess, big fans of. We use a lot of his work because it’s, it’s so, uh, it’s so reliable and it’s such a, a large body of work that, um, that has proven the test of time, the difference between a good company and a great company amongst many other research projects that he’s done.

Kevin (00:01:34) – Correct.

Brad (00:01:35) – Mm-hmm. . So, we like to start with a word or phrase of the day. What might be on your mind today, Kev?

Kevin (00:01:43) – Hmm. Word today is busy. Got a lot going on and my life and my work are both full of lots of great things, but it’s very, very, uh, busy. Had a, a great day today with my daughter, you know, downtown in the city doing some stuff and had a great time, but then is popping back and doing the podcast and got, uh, team meeting tomorrow morning, our quarterly meeting with the Lawrence and co firm team. And it’s just like, yep.

Brad (00:02:18) – Beautiful.

Kevin (00:02:19) – Busy, busy and, and busy with a lot of great stuff.

Brad (00:02:22) – Mm-hmm. That would be, be here.

Kevin (00:02:23) – Yeah. Busy with, busy with goodness. I would put it as a phrase.

Brad (00:02:28) – Nice. Nice. How

Kevin (00:02:29) – About you, Brad? What, what’s, what’s the word that’s that’s popping in your brain today? Uh,

Brad (00:02:33) – Resilience. Resilience. Well, uh, it’s just been on my mind lately. Um, resilience is one of the things that many leaders possess, but also must possess, uh, in order to endure. Um, we are faced all the time with, you know, challenges that come our way. Uh, and, and yeah, resilience is something that I see regularly and certainly admire.

Kevin (00:03:01) – Yeah. And we will be talking about that in a few weeks in an upcoming episode. I mean, it’s something I talk about, think about work on all the time. It’s kind of what we need to keep doing what we’re doing in the challenging times, even in the good times. Too much of a good thing can also be bad. Oh yeah. Awesome. Well, let’s dig right into today. So we’re talking about Good To Great by Jim Collins and the idea of the episode is, Hey, you know, the principles, so do we mm-hmm. , but why don’t we take a step back from this amazing business classic that is worthy of being read again and again because it gives us insights of how to run our business better. Mm. And remind ourself of the principles, but more importantly, look at how effectively we’re leveraging them and living them in our business. Cuz it’s one, to know it, it’s two to really fully bring them to life and it’s a whole other thing to benefit from it or get, uh, it’s almost a greater value or performance in your organization because of it. Yeah. So that’s kind of what we’re looking at today. We know, ’em, we, you’ve likely read the book. It’s probably time to reread it again, but hey, what, what, where let’s remind ourselves on how we can do better. Oh, Brad, always you, you’d add your own thoughts to that. Yeah.

Brad (00:04:20) – Uh, we know the research, there are seven and, and it came up mm-hmm. , uh, from yourself. You, you said that, uh, that, uh, you were doing a similar thing with a team and it was really effective, so thank you for that. Um, but considering these seven principles and how do we rate, and that’s the, that’s the key. It’s good to know the principles, but if you wanna, if you want to identify opportunities for improvement, you’ve gotta be able to rate yourself against the principles. So if there’s a principle and you’re rating yourself an eight, well that’s fantastic. If you’re rating yourself a four outta 10, nowhere near as high as an eight, there could be some great opportunities to improve within there. And so that’s what we wanna talk about. Yes.

Kevin (00:05:05) – And, and for example, a company I was with recently, when they went and looked at it, they saw that the first, who then what principle number two, they used to be amazing. They used to, in the past, would’ve rated themselves at a nine. They figured they were probably down to under a five. Yeah. They got real loose in their people, part of their business. And, you know, and as a result it had impact on the culture of discipline, uh, which is later one of the fir later principles. So before we jump in this great book, good, great. I just did a search while you were talking,

Brad (00:05:39) – Uhhuh .

Kevin (00:05:39) – What year do you think, and you, you know, my guess was wrong. What year do you think Good to Great was published? What’s your, what’s your, what’s your guess?

Brad (00:05:50) – Uh, I would say 1997.

Kevin (00:05:54) – Very close.

Brad (00:05:56) – I was gonna say 1996, but 1997, we’ll go

Kevin (00:06:00) – On. Well, on my, according to Google, October 16th, 2001.

Brad (00:06:11) – So I was quite a way off actually. ,

Kevin (00:06:13) – Well, y yeah. I thought it was more recent than that. It, so it’s at this point, uh, 22 and a half years old, almost 23 years ago. Yeah. And in business, that’s, that’s, that’s that’s pretty darn enduring.

Brad (00:06:28) – Yeah, yeah.

Kevin (00:06:29) – For sure. Yeah. And he would’ve, now you, you’re partially right cuz he would’ve been doing his research back then because the research took many, many years. So just from my own curiosity, we’re talking, it was more than 20 years old in a world of fads and trends and all this stuff That’s a, a, a quite an enduring term. But that’s,

Brad (00:06:46) – But that’s why we like it, because it’s based, it’s based on a, a, a long-term research study over 30 years. And who were the companies that performed in a great fashion rather than a good fashion, uh, uh, you know, by, you know, a factor of 10 or 20 or 30 times. Yes. Their peers. Um,

Kevin (00:07:06) – And that’s the essence of it. It’s not the nice list. It’s, they got notably better results. And that’s why he used data of, of public companies because it was a available in the market to get more data on them. And were given the same opportunities in the market and everything else. They just, the comparison. Yeah. People, some people it’s like dealt, dealt similar cards. Some people got notably better results than others. And that was the good to greate companies.

Brad (00:07:34) – Yeah. And there might be critics who would say companies like Fannie Mae perhaps ran into trouble afterwards, or there were companies mm-hmm. in there, for example, cigarette companies. But, but it’s not about any of that. It’s simply about the data and that’s why it endures.

Kevin (00:07:54) – Yes. And the root of it is, is that those companies were great for a long period of time, and if you go back and we dig in under the hood, many of them likely got away from those core principles that made them successful in the first place. Yeah. But we’re not here to talk about that. What we’re here to talk about is the principal. So let’s, let’s dig into the first one, which is a good starting point. And, uh, it’s level five leadership. And, and what they found in the research is the heads of these companies, instead of the egomaniac popular CEOs that we would see in on tv, or the ones that are actually, you know, in the media and the headlines on a regular basis in the real world, these, these CEO o and leaders were not like that. Hmm. They found that they had an incredible mix of personal humility and indomitable will is the word they use in the book.

Brad (00:08:54) – Like, will and drive like no other, but humility to match it. And I love this one because we meet and work with CEOs all the time. And the best ones, you wouldn’t even know that they are a C E O. You know, recently we had a, a session, uh, where we took 20 CEOs, uh, worked with a, a partner, uh, the growth faculty and, and, um, we a bunch of CEOs to go and spend two days with Jim and his lab in Boulder. And the most successful CEO e o in the room was the most quietest and most humble. Now, when he shared stuff, it was impactful. Mm. He was amazing. And I’m not gonna give any more details about it, but he just, his humility was over the top.

Kevin (00:09:44) – Mm.

Brad (00:09:44) – And yet pretty sure he was running the biggest company in the room by a Mm. I don’t, he was running one of the largest companies in the room for sure. And he was, you had to kind of draw the stuff out. I had a great conversation with him, but yeah. Incredible, incredible humility and incredible will. They are not seeking the camera, they’re not seeking attention. Their energy is going into building an amazing dam company that’s this, this amazing mix that they have.

Kevin (00:10:17) – Yeah. They wanna build a business that’s bigger than themselves. This is one of the rules. Yes. When, when we, um, when we talk to clients who might want to work with us, um, this is one of the rules that we, we talk about with them or that we, we try to identify as present. Do they want to build a bigger, a business part of me that’s bigger than themselves? Because if they say, look, here’s what I want. I want to get a boat that’s bigger so I can spend more time on my boat. Well, that might not necessarily be the right kind of business that we are looking for. We want people who are looking to build a business that is bigger than themselves, and that is not to shine a spotlight on them as a person. It, it’s, it’s this mix of personal humility and indomitable will. And that’s another reason why, uh, a few episodes ago we spoke about the nine books that every c e o should read. One of those books, um, that we ask every c e o to read is Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holladay, um mm-hmm. . Because getting them to, they may already have that present, but understanding the challenge with ego is so important.

Brad (00:11:35) – Yeah. I know what’s interesting as you’re talking with this, one of the metaphor, metaphor, metaphorically level five leaders don’t wanna stand on top of this mountain called the business. They want to stand behind it. And generally they want to stand behind this mal that they’ve helped to create with their amazing teams. Their team is more likely to be in front, they’re more likely to be in high in behind. They’re not, they’re not doing it to stand on top and be seen. They’re doing it to do it from internally knowing that they’re doing, uh, an amazing, amazing thing. And and I, and I love what you said, generally bigger than themselves. They’re, uh, incredible, uh, people, which Jim Cols himself is one. Like he is focused on doing great work and yeah, it, it, it’s interesting. It’s a hard thing and it’s because some CEOs are so driven, many people, and that’s their personality driven by the spotlight.

Kevin (00:12:29) – And the challenge is those people often don’t then put the additional hours and work into the business. They’re putting additional work and hours outside, external from the business in a way that’s making them feel good, but maybe, um, maybe not getting ’em the results. So it’s funny, one, one, um, one c e o worked with, we talked about this and we talked about, um, you know, luxury cars and fancy, you know, like hot luxury brand clothing and everything goes, you know what, there’s nothing wrong with that. You know, another CEO said, you know, a little luxury’s good for the soul. Yeah. But with this, this other CEO said, Hey, if you want to have a expensive watch or expensive clothes and you want to dress like a runway model, uh, when you get dressed up with your friends, or you want to drive a Ferrari when you’re out with your friends, he said, that’s fine. Yeah. But we don’t bring that to work. At work. We’re doing great work. We’re not here to compete with each other. We’re here to compete against the competitors. So all of those extra things, those are, there’s nothing wrong, just, just time and place for those things. And that was a great level five leader perspective.

Brad (00:13:37) – That is, I love that. You know, uh, one of the, one of the examples that Jim uses is the mirror or the window. And so if there was a success, does he look in the mirror metaphorically the he or she, the, the, the leader and say, what a great job I’ve done. Or

Kevin (00:13:55) – Yes.

Brad (00:13:55) – Do they look out the window and say, what a great job the team has done. That’s humility. Right. But equally an opposite. If there’s a failure or a problem, do they look outside the window and say what a failure the team has done, or do they look in the mirror and say, what a failure I’ve done.

Kevin (00:14:15) – Yeah. I love that. And as you, uh, you just reminded me of, um, a great example of that. Oh, it’ll come back. It was related to the window and the mirror. Ah, we got lots of great examples. The key here is, you know, are you yourself, oh, boxer, here’s the, here’s the, this is what it’s, it was a question to understand if someone is a level five leader or not. Mm. I don’t remember. Jim shared it or somebody else shared it. But the question is, Hey, tell me about your team. Yeah. A level five leader is gonna go off talking about them like it’s their children and that they love them deeply and be impressed and, and go going on and on about them. And that will be the complete answer to the question.

Brad (00:15:06) – Yeah.

Kevin (00:15:08) – A level four, which are really effective executives, um, or lower levels, uh, will answer it quick, short, and then fairly quickly bring ’em back to themselves.

Brad (00:15:21) – Yeah.

Kevin (00:15:22) – Level five, it will only be about the team. The other ones, it comes back to themself pretty damn quickly and they’ll start to brag about themselves. Mm

Brad (00:15:30) – Mm

Kevin (00:15:31) – Interesting. So here’s the question. On a scale of zero to 10, how were you in terms of being a level five leader personally? And again, we can always improve, but generally, and think about your direct reports, the people that report to you in New York, how are they in terms of being level five? Just think about that and maybe there’s something you wanna do to tweak it a bit. By the way, final thought, Jim passionately said in one of our sessions, frothing at the mouth practically never promotes someone who’s not a level five into an executive or senior roles. As you’re farther down your organization, it’s different. But at the top of an org never promote someone who’s not level five

Brad (00:16:21) – Brick bicycles. T R E K. Yeah. Uh, they, uh, advent, uh, they’re amazing fans of Jim Collins. They’ve got a, a culture book that’s like 250 pages long. Mm-hmm. Yep. In when they were interviewed, they said it was some, I’m gonna get his number wrong, but it was something like, uh, we’ve got 5,000 employees and about 160 level five leaders. We’ve got a long way to go. I just,

Kevin (00:16:51) – I Sweet. I saw that.

Brad (00:16:52) – Yeah. I just love that, that clarity and that that definition. Um, so zero being we’re not really focused or we don’t think about level five leadership at all, and 10 being we just simply couldn’t do any better on it. So give yourself a number from zero to 10. Maybe you’ve got a four, maybe you’ve got a seven, and it’s about you as the leader or executive, the others in the leadership team. And then as you begin to think about the other layers of level, uh, or leadership in the business. So let’s maybe move to number two. Yeah. Let’s

Kevin (00:17:26) – Move on to two.

Brad (00:17:27) – But number one, again, was level five leadership. Number two first, who then what,

Kevin (00:17:34) – Which interestingly is very natural for a level five. Sorry. Continue on, Brad. This is a behavior, a key behavior of a level five outside. Well, it’s related to their humility, but go ahead, Brad. Sorry. Well,

Brad (00:17:47) – It’s related to their humility. It, it’s, it just flows on so good from building a group of level five leaders. So if you think deeply enough about point number one, then point number two becomes every problem is actually a people problem or a who problem. So any problem, who do we have the right people? This is the phrase, right? Do we have the right people on the bus doing the right things the right way? That’s the essence of this.

Kevin (00:18:21) – Yeah. And it’s a mindset because level four leaders will try and figure stuff out and then get people to do the work. Level five leaders embrace this principle and say, well, I just need to get the right person. They will figure it out, and then they will go and do the work or just confirm with me before they go and do the work. You know, this is really like, if I’m gonna go and build a new house, I go get an architect first, and then we work on the design versus I design it. And when it’s pretty close, I take it to an architect. That’s all that it is. And the difference is, is that these people with first two, then what? Think about everything as in finding the architect, that’s just their way of being and, and said differently. As one of my clients says, yeah, he calls it, well, it’s like, I just like to buy the answers to the exam.

Kevin (00:19:18) – Now, he didn’t say he did that in university , but he said, in life, I just wanna go buy the answers. I wanna buy the answers to the exam. So I go find someone who’s an expert. And in his world, we’ve had meetings where, you know, he went and asked someone else, like who would be the best coach for him to hire, which, um, connected us. And he loves to tell that story. I’m not brag. He, he, he tells it again and again and again how he found me. We, I’ve helped him find best inve investment bankers and, and best firms to help him recruit executive. Like he, he cons, his thing is, and what he does, who is the best that we can hire? Let’s go get them on everything. That’s

Brad (00:19:57) – So funny. That’s, sorry. That’s so funny because we get that all, all the time as well. Who is the best coach that we can hire? Like, and that’s that, uh, uh, people say, that’s why we come to you because we, we heard that you were the best and that’s why. Yeah. Yeah. But that’s the mindset. My point is, is not to plug an advert in the middle here. My, my point is that’s the mindset. Who is the best sales manager that we could find? Or c f o or investment banker or whatever it is. Yeah.

Kevin (00:20:28) – So the telltale sign here is that when we have problems, we actually, as a senior leader, try to believe it’s our job to figure it out. When really, if it’s first two, then what, who is the best person to either figure it out or help me figure it out, but not trying to do things on your own. That’s the sign of, of a level four or lower and missing the principle. Uh, it’s, it’s, um, there’s another example I was thinking about, um, of a client with First tooth and what, and we’re just talking about it last week. It’ll,

Brad (00:21:00) – It’s okay. You think about it. We’ll put some music on in the background while everybody Exactly.

Kevin (00:21:03) – Well, there’s, I gotta, you know what I’m thinking there, there’s so many things in my brain about these principles.

Brad (00:21:09) – Yeah.

Kevin (00:21:11) – It’s just, so the, the root of it is, um, I’ll give you an example. So one of the companies I was working with, and this was the telltale sign, the CEO o was stuck at level four. Yeah. There was a mess in a department and it, and, and it wasn’t functioning properly. And at the end of the day, the CEO was like, you know, I just need to go and dig into it and figure out the root of it and, and kind of get these systems in place. And once we get the systems fixed and everything dialed in, you know, then we’ll go, we’ll go hire someone to come and run it. Hmm. And that is, it sounds noble and it sounds good. And the CEOs learn all kinds of stuff when they drop into a part of the business that’s that’s, that’s not first two, then what, that’s first what then who Yeah. Let’s get it figured out and then go find someone. Which really, psychologically you’re discounting the brains and capabilities of other humans versus your own. Yeah. And you probably do know your business best, but if you’re basically, you’re, you’re over-relying, and I could do this myself, but you’re over-relying on yourself as a subject matter expert versus going and finding them and letting ’em run with it.

Brad (00:22:16) – Well, that’s the right people. You gotta get the right people. Yes. Doing the right things in the right way and not doing it for them.

Kevin (00:22:25) – Exactly. And this is why we use the talent reviews so much in companies. We go through our key leaders regularly, ideally, quarterly, and make decisions to continue to grow and develop them or change their rules, or if they’re toxic and shouldn’t be there, you know, to give ’em a last chance and get ’em out. But it’s all about this because most business problems are because you didn’t have the right person in a job. There’s, there’s, there’s root of it journaling you and you knew it. And generally we let people underperform for too long and then it bites us.

Brad (00:23:01) – Yeah, yeah, yeah. Bureaucracies are built to, to protect the company against the small percentage of people who aren’t doing the right thing.

Kevin (00:23:10) – Yep. You got it.

Brad (00:23:12) – Yeah. Uh, so if we are happy with that first, who, then what? Then we ask the question, how do you rate your firm on this principle? Remember, zero being we don’t really think or focus on it at all. 10 being there’s no work left to do here. We couldn’t do any better at it at all. First who than what are we focusing on? Um, first of all, getting the right person in the job, doing the right things the right way.

Kevin (00:23:46) – Yeah. And you could measure it by the percentage of people who are high performing in their rules. You could also measure it with your own thought process and how often do you go to who versus trying to solve things or, or does your team go to finding a who versus trying to fix it themselves?

Brad (00:24:05) – Yeah. Yeah. Good.

Kevin (00:24:06) – Wonderful. Let’s move to three.

Brad (00:24:10) – Let’s move to three. So first one, level five leadership. Second one, first, who then what third principle from Jim Collins confront the brutal facts. Confront the brutal facts. Many companies have elephants or brutal facts that are just sitting there that people don’t want to deal with. That can be quite expensive. Uh, and the first thing that comes to mind is someone like Kodak or Blockbuster where they weren’t prepared to confront the brutal facts. And after years and years and years, they went outta business. Now that’s an extreme example, but we Yeah. Always need to confront the brutal facts. I don’t know if it was you that told me once, Kev, but it could have been when I was watching Jim Collins. Um, he, uh, goes into a room in his lab tree, uh, with a group of executives at precisely eight 30. And he says, what are the brutal facts that we must confront? Facts not opinions. Yes.

Kevin (00:25:14) – Because

Brad (00:25:15) – Everyone’s prepared to bring out opinions, like there’s no tomorrow, but the facts are indisputable. And then they talk about those facts.

Kevin (00:25:26) – Yes. That was an example he shared in one of the sessions. And, uh, and it’s a discipline. So in most companies that we work with, we have it built into the operating system of our quarterly meetings. Yeah. It’s a section on the agenda every quarter. Cuz you know, people don’t want to talk about them, so, but you need to make a space to talk about them. It’s kind of like, if you don’t want to do it, you still gotta do it. And, and this is one that basically it keeps us from hurting ourselves. Keep us, you know, there’s the metaphor of the ostrich sticking its head in the sand is keeping us from doing that winter’s issues. So in these quarterly meetings, we have a very disciplined process, but we do a survey in advance of the people attending and often their direct reports. We ask about brutal facts as one, we, we check on a pulse on engagement. And what are the opportunities, uh, very, very stock, all like what are the biggest opportunities and, and brutal facts. But we, we ask people about it because what I know is sometimes people won’t say it in the room, but they will say it in the survey.

Brad (00:26:26) – Mm-hmm. .

Kevin (00:26:27) – So recall with the CEO review survey results, and in the meeting we ask the executives to look at the surveys and come and present the top three or four brutal facts that must be addressed and why. So we’ve got a good poll, pull poll on different sources to get them. And then we have bump on the flip chart. These are things we need to address in this meeting. Many of them will turn into an action. Some of them turn into a goal for the quarter or integrated into part of a goal. But, you know, we, we have this process and it’s very, very good because it becomes very natural to talk about them. But this one CEO took it up a notch. His actually’s name is Kirk. He’s a great CEO at Vancouver. And Kirk says like, Hey, I wanna make sure every single one of them is either handled in the meeting or it’s actioned or it’s not needed.

Brad (00:27:20) – So he, his idea was at the end of the meeting, we go through every single one to make sure it’s handled to our satisfaction. Mm-hmm. , which is a, which is a disciplined thought, you know, it’s a very disciplined approach, which gets into one of the later, um, pieces of it. So it’s very, very powerful. But getting back to what you’re saying about, you know, Jim Collins’s technique, he says, you know, and an exercise that we do, depending on what they are, is you take the number one brutal fact and then you list all the facts about the brutal fact. Yeah. And so we had a situation where, uh, a finance function was dramatically underperforming in a business and the CFOs in the room and one of his VP of finance is also in the room. And so then we, we broke out into breakout groups with flip charts and then people list all the facts. We had three pages of facts

Kevin (00:28:11) – Mm-hmm.

Kevin (00:28:11) – like ap, uh, increasing ar, increasing, um, getting penalties from suppliers, getting cut off from suppliers and reports having issues and bad decisions being made. But it was really interesting cuz you took a very sensitive situation, Hey, c f o, you’re not doing your job. Basically you and your team are underperforming to be talked about the specific facts. So it took the judgment and opinion out and then we were able to work on actions to solve it. But it didn’t become a finger pointing, uh, opinion fest. So incredibly, incredibly powerful. But it’s just built, it needs to be built into the DNA n a otherwise people will hide them and they will rise up and uh,

Brad (00:29:00) – And they can sit there for years, years,

Kevin (00:29:03) – Years until something blows up.

Brad (00:29:06) – Yeah.

Kevin (00:29:06) – And a thousand dollars problem becomes a hundred thousand dollars lawsuit or a million dollar, who knows what the numbers are.

Brad (00:29:11) – But yes, I do the same thing, Kev. I of course you do. Yeah. We, we, um, we have it as a standing item on our agenda every single time. We call it the elephants. Uh, and the, there can be some, some crackers that come through. I tell you, we had one Sydney client in the last couple of months and we started at about 10:00 AM I think it was maybe just after 10:00 AM and, uh, through the brutal facts exercise. And we finished at 5:00 PM that day. And it was a one day meeting. Uh, wow. It, yeah, it was, uh, they had some stuff to work through, there’s no doubt at it. But the c e o at the end when we were wrapping up, he said we needed to do it. Yeah. We needed to get that stuff through and we needed to argue and debate and discuss Yes. And agree on the right priorities to move this business forward.

Kevin (00:30:08) – Yeah. Cause if you don’t deal with the brutal facts, you’re coming up with entertaining goals versus the real one. And Brad, you know, it’s a great example. We had one recently too. We had a two day session and one of the brutal facts is that we are notably overstaffed. And so we spent the rest of that day and part of the next day working through how to fix a notably overstaffed issue on a reasonable sized company. It wasn’t fun. And it was interesting. I had a conversation with a ceo. I said, Hey, you want to do this in a room with me? I’ve worked with this company for a decade so I know them well. Yeah. Or do you want me to leave it to you guys to do on your own next week? You say, no, we’re doing it now.

Brad (00:30:53) – Yeah.

Kevin (00:30:53) – Because nobody, because cuz even doing the work within a brutal fact is, is it’s, it’s kind of like dropping, dropping in and trying to do your, your email from the, the, the, the city sewer system inside of the city sewer system. It’s horrible. It’s not, it’s it’s excruciating. And so the reality is we, you know, we, we we pushed through in the room because we needed almost the strength of the team to do it in the room at that moment. Yeah. Because it was the most important thing. Yeah. And that’s what the brutal facts are meant to flag.

Brad (00:31:27) – Yeah. Yeah.

Kevin (00:31:29) – Okay. It’s interesting because, because you know, some CEOs shy away though.

Brad (00:31:34) – Hmm.

Kevin (00:31:35) – Because they think they’re supposed to be the inspiring positive leadership and they don’t want to talk about the bad things

Brad (00:31:45) – And y Yeah. And they don’t want to talk about the bad things. That’s such a, that’s such a true statement there because they want to empower or, or motivate the team. And if they talk about whatever the big problem is, for example, we’ve got too many people, then we’re gonna have to deal with it. And that’s gonna be demotivating and then that’s gonna create other problems. But if you can build it as a habit, it’s so valuable. It really is.

Kevin (00:32:18) – Yeah. And Brad, do you want, when we talked about the Stockdale paradox, admirable Stockdale and that’s Know his story, which you can read in Good to Great. And it, you need to read it, I if you have it or reread it, but you wanna share one or do you want me to cover that one? Yeah,

Brad (00:32:36) – Look very brief for the, uh, Admiral Stockdale was a prisoner of war in the Vietnam War. Um, and uh, uh, his story with the valuable time that we’ve got basically was that he’s in this prisoner of war camp with many other prisoners. Some of the, some, some of the prisoners had a positive or a negative attitude. Uh, and the first ones to die were the ones with a positive attitude because they thought to themselves, we’re gonna be out of here by Christmas. They’ll be, you know, they’ll be, uh, and then we’ll be back home and we’ll be having, we’ll be having Christmas dinner with our family back in, uh, the United States. And of course Christmas came and went and then they lost all hope. Uh, and then there’s the negative people, um, who thought, we’re never gonna get out of here, we’re never gonna get out of here. And they eventually passed. But the ones that that survived, um, were the ones that retained the faith that they would prevail in the end regardless of the difficulties. So they confronted the brutal facts, the brutal facts of the situation. This is where our current reality sits. Um, we will prevail, but we’ve gotta face what’s here and now today.

Kevin (00:33:55) – Yeah. And, and, and, and I love that example is that cuz it’s, it’s the combination of optimism and, and pessimism, optimism and realism. Yeah. That makes people successful. Not pure optimists. Obviously we know purely negative doesn’t, you’re not gonna win anything. But sometimes there’s a mistaken belief that the pure osto optimist do the best They don’t. Yeah. Because they end up missing the brutal facts and they get swiped outta the game. Yeah. So it’s the balancing of those two in the right proportion.

Brad (00:34:24) – Indeed. Awesome.

Kevin (00:34:25) – So zero to 10 thinking about yourself and think of you and your team, how good are you at confronting the brutal facts that’s not only getting ’em on the table, but it’s discussing ’em and getting them handled so that they don’t slow you down or take you out or, or hurt your organization. Zero to 10. How effective are you, you and your team at doing that?

Brad (00:34:49) – Cleaning ’em up? So let’s just wrap, working through them, through breath. Yep. Cleaning them up, working them through them. Zero to 10. Yeah,

Kevin (00:34:56) – Exactly. So wrap it up. So wrap up. We we’re, yeah, we’re covering the first three of the seven principles from good to grade, just to rate yourself number one, level five leadership. That’s that powerful mixture of incredible will, indomitable will and personal humility. Number two, first, who then what? Get the right person. Basically. Let them figure out the what and how. And number three, confront the brutal facts. Deal with the ugly issues early. Have a client, uh, film minors. A guy I worked with in the US he calls it down Texas. They called Chuck and Nira on the table, you have your elephants, he called it Chucking the rat, which in northern Canada they called putting the dead moose on the table. Everyone’s got their animal, but it’s, you know, confronting those issues and let’s, uh, deal with that. So that’s, thanks for listening. That’s been this week’s episode of The Growth Whisperers.

Kevin (00:35:45) – We’ll get more next week around the, the Good to great principles. Uh, I’m Kevin Lawrence here in Vancouver, Canada, along with my amazing co-host Brad Giles in Perth, Australia. Subscribe, uh, wherever you listen to your podcasts and please give us a, a rating. Uh, we appreciate it, uh, for the video version to see our happy smiley faces and, uh, if you’d like to watch videos, youtube.com, search dot growth whispers. Uh, for myself and my team at Lawrence and Company, uh, we have our weekly newsletter and lots of resources. And here to help. Uh, let’s just go to lawrenceandco.com. That’s a ndco.com. And for Brad and his team at e Evolution partners, evolutionpartners.com.au. He also has a great weekly newsletter and lots of great content and resources for you. Have a great week. See you next week. See ya.