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Transcript: Leadership Through The Lens Of Execution (EP31)


Intro (with music): Welcome to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. This is a podcast where we talk all things, culture, leadership and teamwork across business and sport.


Brendan Rogers: Hello, everybody. I'm Brendan Rogers, the host of The Culture of Things podcast. This is Episode 31. And today, I'm talking with Monte Pedersen.

Monte is the Principal of the CDA Group, which is a leadership training firm, specialising in strategy execution management. A completely operations-based system and process that helps leaders achieve their strategic initiatives and get better at it every single year.

Monte believes that most businesses excel at creating the plan for what they want to achieve, and that nobody understands or carries those aspirations better than the CEO’s, Senior Leaders and Business Owners.

Monte says, where problems arise is when the business fails to execute on the plan and team members don't understand what is expected of them.

That's why he created the CDA Group to help leaders execute on the plan and ensure team members know exactly what is expected of them. He is dedicated to the concept of “Execution Mastery” or the process of Clarifying, Deploying and Achieving organisational initiatives.

Monte is also a regular contributor in the LinkedIn community and writes regular thoughtful posts and articles covering culture, leadership, teamwork all wrapped up into managing execution.

The focus of our conversation today is ‘leadership through the lens of execution’.

Monte, welcome to The Culture of Things podcast.

Monte Pedersen: Thank you, Brendan. It's an honour to be here with you and I understand that I'm making history. So, I'm looking forward to this and certainly want to make it a good run for you.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, indeed, you are making history and you actually brought this to my attention. You are our first American guest on The Culture of Things podcast. What an honour.

Monte Pedersen: Absolutely. I'm a fan of the show. And I want to say that if I haven't listened to all 30 previous podcasts, then I'm pretty close. I mean, I work out in the mornings, queue this up and if there's a new one in the fryer, I mean it gets cooked, so.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, thank you so much. Really appreciate your support.

We're going to dive into this execution topic and leadership through the lens of execution, but, I first of all, I want to ask you a little bit about LinkedIn because you're one of those guys that I guess we got to know each other through LinkedIn. And really, from my perspective, the way I saw it through the posts that you put out initially, and the level of detail you had in your posts and just the thoughtfulness of your posts and how that made me think as a leader and how I was reflecting on certain things. You must put some real effort into that because they're fantastic and it's showing through your engagement levels.

Monte Pedersen: Thank you. I appreciate you saying that. It really is about trying to make people think at a level that they've never thought at before, because that's really what great execution is all about, where people are mindful and they're aware, and they're understanding things with such clarity that they can just turn that into, you know, great actions and behaviours that, you know, that benefit their organisation. So, there's a parallel thought in that, you know, in the posts and you know what we're trying to achieve.

Brendan Rogers: Just going into this topic of execution then. When somebody says ‘execution’, what does that mean to you in this business context that we live in?

Monte Pedersen: If it comes down to a base-level definition, and you described it aptly in the intro, it really is about clarifying, deploying and achieving organisational initiatives. Clarifying, because you can never communicate enough, right? I mean, you and I both ascribe to the Pat Lencioni School of Management and, you know, he always talks about being the Chief Repetitive Officer, right? You can never clarify enough, but that's really one of the three most important things that a leader does, right? Is they clarify things, and then they employ resources, they make sure that the people that are working with them, they’re doing the work, they are making things happen, they have the tools and the resources they need to get the job done. So that's equally important for a leader and then obviously, achieving outcomes. I mean, that's paramount to what a leader does and it’s embedded in execution, that when your team's having trouble, you remove barriers. When they're having problems, you pick them up and you help carry them over the finish line. And so, really, those three things are the most important things that a leader does and like everything else, they, you know, they're really at the heart of what execution is all about.

Brendan Rogers: And mate, before going into your consulting business and setting up the CDA Group, you had a pretty distinguished corporate career. What was it about that journey in your corporate career and going into developing the CDA Group that got you so interested, passionate about execution, and needing to help businesses and leaders with execution?

Monte Pedersen: Yeah, it's a great question because really, as I think about it, my passion and interest in execution was totally born out of my 35 plus year career in hospitality management. When it was all said and done, and as you shared, I had a great run, really enjoyed it, never thought I wanted to do anything else. Towards the end, you know, the business was changing, and I needed to leave. It was just time, but looking back on it, it was just the things that we did wrong, not only as an organisation, but me individually that drove me to want to do something that would be helpful to people. I mean, I saw, you know, what I did to some of my teams and how that impacted people. And it just didn't leave me with a real good feeling even after a long and successful career.

So, that's sort of how I happened on to execution. Another story, one of my accounts was using the system that I go to market with right now. I had inherited this account from a previous Vice President and when I took it over, I walked in and they were using an execution management system. And so, I got introduced to it. And the thing that I noticed about it was that that team, and they were in a very difficult business, but they seem to always make their plan. They hit their budget every year. Their customer satisfaction scores were always out of the roof. I mean, they were just very disciplined. I mean, they had some talented people on the team, but they really did things well. And it wasn't all completely due to execution management, but it was a big part of how I saw their success. So it was through that process that I got connected to the, you know, the owner of the system that I use. And so, I was actually a client of somebody who, you know, who had a system and did that for two and a half years. And when I left, there really was little doubt in my mind as to what I wanted to do.

Brendan Rogers: What are these, I guess what you refer to as these base elements of execution? Like, just frame that up for us a bit so that we know what are the components of this thing.

Monte Pedersen: There's really two things that leadership teams suffer from. The first is they really don't understand that they need a plan issue to their strategic plan. That's really, you know, a plan for execution. So, in that regard, you know, I always say that, “Execution is something that most leadership teams need to discover that they just haven't figured it out”. They think that execution comes inherent with the team, or you build the plan. You do a team rollout, you pass the assignments out and your Direct Report sort of take it from there. That's really how it happens in most organisations. So, just getting to the point where they understand that execution is a separate discipline.

And then, the second one is that, you know, everybody below them are really disconnected from the strategy. Again, they may have heard the plan. It may have been communicated in some rollout or town hall, but, you know, when it comes down to knowing how they contribute and what they do, they largely, you know, they get a little bit excited and they're interested, but basically, when it gets rolled out, they just applaud and say, “Okay, this is great. Let me know when you get there,” and they go back to work. I want to frame that up that way, because that's really what drives the, you know, the key elements of execution management. And there's five of them.

The first one is what I call foundation data, and everybody knows foundation data, right? It's the mission, the vision, the core behaviours, and the annual strategic initiatives of the organisation. It's how the organisation defines success. I'm sure you would agree that if you were a leader of an organisation, and you were achieving your mission and you were working towards your vision, you had strict adherence to your core behaviours from all your people, and you pitch your strategic initiatives. You'd call that a pretty successful year, I'm assuming. Those determine success for the organisation. So the nice thing about that is execution needs to be managed at two levels. It needs to be managed organisationally, and it needs to be managed individually. And you put those elements in place, and you obviously drive strict adherence, and even measure and monitor things like, you know, like the core behaviours. Once you get that in place, that models the culture. So the foundational elements are really, really tied to the culture of the organisation. You know, again, if you're doing all those things and you're having success, they're pretty easy to get behind.

So the second one is really how we manage on an individual level. And this is really the secret to quality execution management. It's being able to granularly get down to each individual and help them understand how they contribute, not only to their personal success, but how they contribute to the success of the organisation. And we do that through something that we call performance agreements and a performance agreement is nothing more than a collaboratively developed document between a Manager and a Direct Report that outlines the primary job responsibilities of that individual and the goals and tasks that they need to do.

And then, there's a third element called the progress meeting and the progress really kind of where all the execution actually occurs inside the organisation, because you're doing an every 30-day check-in with that Direct Report where you're talking about, “Okay, how are you doing on your primary responsibilities?” And, you know, you're rating them, you're ranking them, you're talking back and forth. And same thing with goals. You've got goals that are aligned with the initiatives of the organisation. And you're helping that Direct Report work towards that. So people look at progress and they tend to judge them as being like 12 performance reviews, you know, over the course of a year. And nothing could be farther from the truth. They're really meetings where you're just totally focused for 45 minutes to an hour on that Direct Report and the job that they're doing, and you're coaching, you're guiding, you're leading, you're mentoring.

It's all about that individual. And the reason that the Manager and the Direct Report both collaboratively develop that performance agreement is so they both have ownership so that when the Direct Report falls behind, the Manager fills the responsibility to get involved and help and make sure that they achieve the outcomes that they set out to do. So it's a really interesting process from the standpoint of you taking these key initiatives at the company level, and you're translating them effectively down throughout the organisation. And you're basically telling everybody on the team what they have to do in order to contribute and help achieve that.

So, yeah. So those five base elements - foundation data, performance agreements, primary job responsibilities, roles and tasks, and progress meetings are really the execution management in a nutshell.

Brendan Rogers: From a people that you work with and the people that you look to work with to help them, what frame of mind does the leader have in starting to think about, “You know what, I need some help in this area”?

Monte Pedersen: It's interesting because, like I shared, a lot of them don't understand that a tool like this exists. And so, for some, it's kind of, I mean, I always get positive feedback on execution management when I talk it, you know, with a prospective client or with, you know, with a current client. They're always very, very positive about it, but what's interesting is they often don't recognise and appreciate the amount of work that has to go into it. There's an awful lot of work upfront that needs to happen in order to, you know, to get this launched. I think that surprises them, and you probably know this from your business too, Brendan. You know, a lot of senior leaders, they look for a consultant to solve something, and solve it quickly, but they don't always expect somebody to stay there and physically embed it in, you know, in the pattern of management for their whole organisation.

So, I think there's a little bit of astonishment, but there's also an appreciation that's won over time from learning and getting better. And it's just one of those things where you can't possibly impart to someone everything there is to learn, you know, over the course of a year. I mean, I always spent extensive time with each client in a pilot process and that goes four or five weeks before the actual engagement with the team happens. And then, they're learning things through that period, through the first year and, well, into the second year. I think that's something that’s sort of unexpected from a client side, client perspective.

Brendan Rogers: And Monte, with the five elements that you referred to, is there any element of those five foundations that leaders struggle with more? And if so, what is that? And what is, where does the struggle sit?

Monte Pedersen: They struggle with the core behaviours. And it's not just confined to the leaders, it's everybody in the organisation. Inside of the process, the core behaviours, they're rated, there's an instrument, a rating instrument inside the system and the Manager and the Direct Report will basically rate themselves on all the core behaviours. And most of the time an organisation will have, you know, six to eight of these things. And they're what you would expect, right? There's things like exercises good judgment, you know, collaborates well across functions. So, core behaviours are really defined as the minimal behavioural standards for everybody on the team. And they're non-negotiable, right? If you're going to play on the team, you know, you're going to adhere to these. Why I see them as being neglected is I see the data coming in on how these Managers and Direct Reports rate each other.

‘Cause the way the rating system works, the Direct Report rates themselves, how they're doing in terms of adherence to the core behaviour. And then, the Manager rates the Direct Report on how, from their perspective, how they think that they're doing. You know, you just get a lot of parallel scores and no documentation or no notes. So, really, what that tells me is these are the difficult subjects, right? These are, I mean, you don't want to have to tell somebody that they're being disrespectful to a, you know, a teammate. Those are the hard conversations, right, that most people have, but, you know, in terms of importance and in terms from a cultural standpoint, they're probably the most important thing in the organisation. Because if you go down to the performance agreement and you tell someone they’re not living up to their job responsibilities and they're falling short on their goals, basically, that behaviour can probably trace back to the core behaviours.

Brendan Rogers: So, just in what you touched on there, Monte - element one of execution - and this is what we're talking about, culture and the importance of it, given that is the foundational piece, how do you help the leaders and the teams progress through this stage? And flowing on that, is it a point where you can say, “Well, you know, we need to get much better at this foundation piece before we can progress further”? Or are you working on all elements in parallel to some degree?

Monte Pedersen: We're working on the elements in parallel, but it's certainly something that you work on from the outset. And really, they're in kind of lies and embodies leadership through the lens of execution because you're teaching leadership development right along with sharing the system on how to execute. And what I mean by that is people need this because they've not had it, right? They're just not, they've not been trained. They, you know, they don't know anything about emotional intelligence. They don't have great self-awareness. They may have been elevated to a leadership role because there was nobody else to fill it. You don't know how they got there and you don't know their background. So, you'll see people, you know, are used to doing it and can do it effectively. And it happens. And you don't have to deal with those people. But I just find a lot of people, they just have a hard time having the hard conversation. And a lot of it's related to the fact that they just don't know how to have that open and honest conversation, you know, where they're stepping into the shoes of that person and showing empathy and trying to communicate to them in a way that they understand that you're just trying to help, that you're not trying to be critical or punitive.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, you and I both know how important culture and the cultural aspects of execution is. Can you maybe explain how getting that part right and the culture and the commitment around behaviours and having conversations around behaviours and open and honest conversations, how that has such a positive impact through the flow of execution?

Monte Pedersen: The definition that I love to use, John Eades wrote the book last year called “Building the Best”. And he talks about culture as being the shared values and beliefs that guide our thinking and behaviour. And the reason I like that is because if you're thinking about execution, if you're thinking about doing anything, but you're being mindful of what the company stands for, you stand for, that you’re to model the behaviours. And, you know, you have that constant thought process in the back of your mind that if we're going to be successful in developing a cultural framework for the organisation, you've got to do those things. And probably, the other thing that most affects it is, you know, most efforts at cultural change aren't linked to business outcome. I think you've probably read the statistics, where something like, you know, 70% of middle Managers and 90% of frontline Supervisors, and employees don't have any compensation tied to business outcomes.

And so, that sort of leaves how you rate somebody, how you get paid, how you get promoted. I mean, that's all kind of fuzzy and disconnected from operating reality. So really, you know, it's just that you're trying to change the beliefs and behaviours of your people in ways that are directly related to bottom line results. That makes it more meaningful. That makes it more relevant. And a lot of people don't tie culture back to it. It's one of the things that I think in execution, you can look at it and you can do the connection.

Brendan Rogers: There's another part of the elements that you talked about, and again, you talked about five, but we're not going to go through all of those five today. That wasn't the intent, but I want to pull out the coaching and guiding element that you mentioned around progress reports, and developing people. In your experience, how do you find leaders are with that side of the framework, coaching and guiding people?

Monte Pedersen: It's actually better than most because all of a sudden, things have been laid out for them in a way that tells them and demonstrates to the Direct Report that, “This is only a good thing. This is for your benefit. This is all about you and how we help you to succeed”. Because really, in, you know, in execution management, when you pair it down to brass tacks, if you will, it really is about helping that person be successful. And if they can't be successful, it may be that they're just not cut out for that role. So, you may look for another role in the company for them, or if they struggle, you may need to demote them to a different position or if in the last case consequences, if they can't do the work of any role, then obviously, you have a choice to separate with them.

When that's all laid out and both parties understand that, and they've built the performance agreement together, they're vested. So, the conversation happens quite willingly and people actually look very much forward to the progress meeting. I tell the Managers this specifically when I train them that you can't cancel a progress meeting. I mean, you can cancel it and reschedule it, but you can't cancel it and not have it because you're basically sending a message to that Direct Report that says they're not important, that you got better things to do than to worry about their career and their success in their role. When this is all laid out as part of strategy execution management is implemented, there was just this understanding and those meetings seem to work well.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, you raise a good point there. And I want to ask, leadership through the lens of execution, how important is it that the leader is progressing and always learning and developing for the betterment of the team and for the betterment of better execution?

Monte Pedersen: It's an expectation that the leaders will grow. And again, there's a lot of reasons for that. A lot of people, like I shared, end up their Managers and, you know, they become leaders. They may not have wanted to or they've wanted to become a leader for the wrong reasons. So, you have people that are kind of all over the map in terms of their abilities and where their focus is. But when you get into the framework and you realise the things you need to do, you're developing your leadership skills. You don't have any choice because you're, you know, you're expected to do this. And if you have five, six, seven, eight Direct Reports, you not only took on your job when you became a leader, but you took on the roles of those eight people that you support, because you're now on there, you know, you own their failures, you own their wins, their victories. That's all part of it.

And I think that's one thing that a lot of Managers who see leadership as something more glamorous or more benefits, or, you know, it's not about you anymore. When you get those people in there, then you’re in-charge. You own them. And when they screw up, your Boss is going to look at you and say, “You're own that mistake. Go back and fix that. Go back and develop them. Make sure they don't, you know, they do it the right way the next time.” And so, it's a pretty interesting dynamic, but it has a tendency to raise quality leaders if you stay with it.

Brendan Rogers: In your experience, have you ever had a situation where the leader hasn't developed in a way that you'd expect and therefore has had some detrimental impact on your engagement with the team and actual executing what they've planned to execute?

Monte Pedersen: Yeah. And fortunately, it hasn't been at the senior level. Like I told you, I go to great lengths to try and make sure that the senior leadership teams in their right frame of mind for what they need to do. But below that level, it happens all the time. And it's not uncommon to have functional areas or departments where the performance of one is really high. They get it and they're getting results and they're doing the system and things are well. And then, you look at another department and they struggle to have meetings. They struggle to communicate. They struggle to collaborate. They're behind on projects and work. It's interesting.

The system managing at an individual level is meant to build trust and respect between that Manager and the Direct Report. But it also normally has a halo effect across the organisation because everybody's doing the same thing right in there. They're all exercising the same practices and getting better together. And they're, you know, they're learning as leaders together, but there are leaders who still drop the ball and can't seem to pick it up. And really, those are the people that the senior leadership team needs to have the hard conversation with about whether they're cut out for it or whether this is something that they should be, or they want to be doing.

Brendan Rogers: And let's look at the other side of the coin, mate. Conversely, no doubt there's been situations where the clients, and you've worked with them, and you really felt a level of satisfaction that you've really been able to help the leader progress. Therefore, the team progress in achieving some really great outcomes. Can you maybe just share a little bit about what that looks like and how that experience evolved?

Monte Pedersen: Obviously, from my perspective as a trainer, as a leader in that regard, that's the best outcome that you could hope for because you're seeing not only the fruits of your labour, but you're seeing it translate into positive outcomes for the people. You're seeing people come into their own and you're seeing people learn things that they never thought they were probably ever going to be taught. And really, one of the more consistent comments that comes back, and this is true for some of the other colleagues, I know that do what I do. They've shared that people say they don't know how they ever managed before after they've been involved with strategy execution. I mean, it's reverse engineering success, right? It's taking everything that you're doing and breaking it down into manageable pieces and rethinking it, reworking it, and then, getting everybody to achieve it. Normally, that's where it all breaks down. You know, you may have one or two talented individuals that can carry the water for something and they get it done. But what's really scary about it is with most organisations, a lot of things happen that way, buy out and out chance and just some elbow grease and some brain power.

Brendan Rogers: I guess what I'm hearing mate, and just wrapping all that up into a package for me is that really getting clarity around what success looks like for this team, for this organisation. And then, breaking that down into manageable components from a team level, from a leader level and from an individual level, and then, just having conversations around that and tracking how you going. If you do that really, really well then, and people are committed to the cause, then how can you not succeed?

Monte Pedersen: That's exactly right. People, I think they surprise themselves. But once they see it and then they understand it, and I don’t want to paint the picture that this is all wine and roses from, you know, from day one. But, you know, they surprise themselves. And this is a good thing to see over time. But you know, the number one right of an employee at any organisation is to know where they stand with their Manager and the organisation at all times. That's the base level type of commitment that leadership needs to give to people. And it doesn't happen in a lot of organisations, but it happens here because they see it and they know it and they understand what it takes to succeed. And then, all of a sudden, you know, you talk about disengagement and the disengagement rates have been also out the roof here over the last five or six years.

They've just continued to go up. Even after investing large sums of money into training and development around engagement, but when they start to get it, it takes off. And then, all of a sudden, you know, you've just got people connected and then they're doing things again, it goes back to that idea of thinking at a level they've never thought at before. And then, all of a sudden they're writing better goals. They're coming up with their goals and they're completing goals. And they're going back to their Manager and saying, “I got this done. I think I can take this on now. Why don't we do this?” So, just things like that surprise you and they start to happen. And it's a great feeling for them, but it's really a cool thing to sit back and watch it happen.

Brendan Rogers: I think that word feeling takes us nicely into another area that I wanted to quiz you about a little bit, which is, on The Culture of Things podcasts, we love to talk about business and culture, leadership and teamwork in relation to business, but also in relation to sport. And you refer to that a little bit and going back to that, feeling. People can often relate execution and achieving stuff to sport and a team they're involved in in sport or a team they follow. How does sport and business compare in this whole execution management thing?

Monte Pedersen: You know, it's a very interesting dynamic. And I sort of hit myself over the head hard several times, trying to shake something loose to understand this, but you and I both know that in sport, these teams go through meticulous means. I mean, they, I mean, when you talk about managing execution from start to finish from the time that they've got a top pick in their sites to draft for their organisation, they've got that person. They've got their life mapped out right from where they're going to play and what they see them doing and how they fit into their organisation and what they're going to need to improve. And they just keep reams and reams of data and information on all these things. So, to me, that's very impressive from an execution standpoint, but then, I look at businesses and how do they do it?

It's like inside an organisation, the will to win, I think, is just as intense as it is in a sporting organisation or in a club. But leadership doesn't really know how to go about doing that. I mean, we work a 45- or a 50-hour work week here in the States. That's pretty common. And we write a plan with a bunch of people, and we put it out there and we basically let it sink or swim. We don't go the extra mile to understand how that execution occurs, how we can get it to happen. And if we took the same intensity that Owners and Coaches and Managers of sport did, they'd be looking at things completely differently. When something breaks, you know, they would tear it apart and view it eight ways to Sunday, and figure out how they were going to do it better the next time. And we just don't do that. I think you'd agree with that.

Brendan Rogers: Definitely. It's actually a topic or an element that's come up in a number of episodes. And more recently, the episode when we talked to Mark Bragg, who's an ex-NBL professional basketball Coach and player, and is very, very successful in the coaching and team performance space. And he made that comparison around, just that analysis that happens in sport. And we don't seem to have that level of analysis in business and debriefing. Taking that point and I guess that continued comparison with sport and business, what is it that you think, we, as business people, need to learn and need to bring across into business from the sporting side of execution? What's that most important thing that needs to come across for businesses to be better?

Monte Pedersen: Yeah, and if you don’t mind me taking liberty, I have a personal team example that I want to share that I think exhibits the answer to that question perfectly. And...

Brendan Rogers: You tell me the name of the team, and I'll let you know if I'll allow you to talk about them or not. (Laughing)

Monte Pedersen: (Laughing) Well, it's not West Ham, so…

Brendan Rogers: Okay. Continue, continue.

Monte Pedersen: So, in Major League Baseball, I'm from Illinois, and if anybody knows anything about professional baseball, the Chicago Cubs reside in Illinois. And I lived there for 20 years and I've been a closet Cubs fan when I was younger. Growing up and, you know, I was a Cubs fan. You know, up there now. But they had the distinction of being, in America, the franchise with the longest championship losing streak, it was 109 years. The Cubs won the world series in 1907 and 1908. And they'd made maybe one or two world series, but lost. And then, in 2016 they won. And so, you know, they ended what was the longest slump. And the thing about the Cubs was they were known as the lovable losers. And if any of your audience has been to Chicago, they know that, you know, Wrigley Field is an iconic stadium and it's a wonderful place to watch a ball game.

And, you know, the fans are fun and they have the bleacher bombs. And I mean, there's just a lot of history around Cubs fans. And that was kind of what drew people to the stadium. And it wasn't necessarily the quality of the baseball. So, the Chicago Tribune owned them up until 2008 when they sold the organisation to the Ricketts family. And Tom Ricketts was kind of the, he was sort of the lead. It was him and his brother and sister basically, but he took the lead role in the organisation. And the thing that he did with that organisation, he hated, he hated the fact that they were called the lovable losers. And he started with the front office. And he just sort of got them all, called them altogether and shook ‘em by the shoulders and said, “We're going to change the culture of the organisation, and it's going to start right here.”

He said he wanted to be the Cubs to be the best organisation on and off the field. He told them things like, “Think big. Don't cut corners. Hire the best. Don't settle for second in anything that you do, do things right. And do it that way always.” And then, he said this, which I thought was really excellent, was he said, “This is going to take time. So know that you're not on the clock.” Certainly enough, from 2009, the Cubs cleaned house on players and recruited some good, young talent. And he rebuilt the organisation and made them really competitive, like two years later, two or three years later. But it took them, you know, until 2016 to finally break the curse. Because, I mean, a lot of people thought that the Cubs were cursed, but he got them over the top.

So, that's a long example in a way of answering your question, but it just shows you the importance of culture and what that can do to an organisation. Because for years, the Cubs, they would sell out and they would routinely get 3 million visitors a season just by virtue of the fact that they had a great stadium and they were in a fun city. So, they didn't really have anything to work for. It's not like the TV cameras weren't running and the people weren't there. So he took, and he reset that foundation. And that was so instrumental in rebuilding the culture of the Cubs and transform them into, you know, into a winner.

Brendan Rogers: So what are they now called? They've scrapped the tag of lovable losers. What's their new name?

Monte Pedersen: Well, they're still the Cubbies. But the thing that they would tell you is they were World Series Champions. And I want to say they had something like 2 million people turn out for their parade when they did their ticker tape parade through downtown Chicago and did their celebration. So, it was a huge monkey off the back of, I mean, my grandmother was a Cubs fan and she went to bed every night, listening to the radio and, you know, listening to Harry Carey and the Cubs. And she left this world before she got to see a winner. And there were just millions of people that were like that. And I know soccer runs deep in your world. And you probably know people that have experienced that feeling too, but they sort of had the weight of a city on their shoulders. But in essence, they also had, they were a very popular team in America. So, you know, a lot of people followed the Cubs.

Brendan Rogers: I can relate to that very, very closely. Not 106 years, but 30 years since Liverpool Football Club, won the English Premier League, and we did that recently. So, I feel the pain, but now we're basking in the glory.

Monte Pedersen: That's right. Not that I want to, but I can go now. I've seen the Cubs win and that's something that I never thought was going to happen. In fact, the screensaver on my computer is a picture of Wrigley Field and it says, “Cubs win 2100 World Series.” And then, the byline under it was, “Hell freezes over.” (Laughing) And that's my screensaver on my computer. So you can kind of tell where my loyalties lie.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, what advice would you like to leave with leaders that want to improve their level of execution in their organisation?

Monte Pedersen: Yeah, there's a long list here, Brendan. But I'll try and distill this down to three or four things.

The first thing I think is understand that execution is something that needs to be discovered. You've got to figure out how it fits into your organisation and the impact that it's going to have. You're not familiar with it. So find somebody, a coach or somebody, or look at, there are multiple systems out there, none better than the one I use, of course. But I would also say, own the responsibility and the goals of the people that you lead. It's no longer about you. I mean, your fortunes are tied to the people that are going to do the work and that are going to make the things happen that make the organisation successful.

And so, you know, you've got to invest in your people and you've got to understand that this is about getting things to their level, so that it's translated effectively. So they know how they can impact organisational success. And that really relates to just build great initiatives. You know, when you build organisational initiatives, you've got to make sure that they can be effectively translated and get down to those people. And you need to be able to have people that can write effective goals, track, and measure, and monitor. And again, that's the beauty of execution management. There's generally a software platform that supports it, that aggregates data. It makes it really, really easy to record and document things and track progress, provide feedback because realistically, you want all that information going into the system this year, because you're going to have all that data and information when you start to build next year's plan. And that's the whole logic behind getting better is that, you know, “We did all these things this year. We did these things well. We got off track here and there, but we pulled it together. And next year, we really know how we can handle this.”

And then, the last thing I would just say, look at investing in an execution management system; it's probably one of the best investments, you know, you could make in your organisation for your people, and hire a coach who can help to embed it into your team's daily pattern of management. Nothing will make more of a difference than having a champion on board who's there making sure the system’s embedded into your business while you continue to run the business. And again, that's another misnomer that leaders get this, that they think that it's going to be too much work, you know. “I have to do this and I don’t have time to do this.” And none of that holds water because if you do it right, and you know, you hire the right person, they're going to do that for you and make sure that your people get it and make sure they have the support and the resources they need when they get stuck or come up against a challenge.

Brendan Rogers: Mate, brilliant advice. And thank you for sharing. How can we get hold of you?

Monte Pedersen: Probably, the fastest and easiest way is to just, you know, reach out on LinkedIn. But my website is www.clarifydeployachieve.com. Those are probably the two best ways, and my contact email and all that's embedded in both of those. So you can get to me directly by phone or by email after that.

Brendan Rogers: Excellent, mate. Congratulations on being our first US guest. It's been an honour.

Mate, we've had a number of conversations, sort of over the recent months, got to know each other a little bit more. We've had lots of engagement over LinkedIn together, and I love the way you think. I love the mindset. I love your thoughtful approach to what you're doing and how you're supporting leaders through this process of culture and clarity and execution and all these things that we've spoken about today. So, well done on the work you're doing. Keep doing it. Leaders need more support and more help from people like you. Thanks for being a guest on The Culture of Things podcast.

Monte Pedersen: Thank you. It's about breaking barriers. That's what I know you're going to do every time you set out to do this. So, congratulations to you as well.

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Brendan Rogers: If you aren't already connected to Monte Pedersen on LinkedIn, make sure you get connected. Monte is a deep thinker. He puts a lot of effort into his posts, and they definitely make you reflect and challenge your perspective on all sorts of matters around culture, leadership, and teamwork. His calming and practical approach lends itself to the discipline required to guide leaders on the journey of strategy execution. I know his clients value his guidance and many in the LinkedIn community, including me, value his friendship and insight.

These were my three key takeaways from my conversation with Monte.

My first key takeaway. Clarify, deploy, achieve are foundations of leadership. Ultimately, leaders and their teams are talked about as high-performing only if they achieve results. In order to achieve results, leaders must help the team get clarity on what success looks like. Deploy people with the right behaviours and skill sets and guide each person to help the team achieve success. As a leader, get clarity, deploy people, and achieve results, and you will succeed anywhere.

My second key takeaway. Good behaviours drive good performance. It's such a simple formula. The other simple formula is poor behaviours drive poor performance. Make sure you have a behavioural standard for your team. Keep yourself and your team accountable to the standard, and the overall team performance will improve. Given that’s the case, I can't believe that leaders wouldn't do it.

My third key takeaway. Leaders inspire people to dream and achieve. I love the story Monte shared about the Chicago Cubs and their owner, Tom Ricketts. Ricketts had a vision of the Chicago Cubs being the best organisation on and off the field. He shared this vision and set expectations like, “Think big, don't cut corners, hire the best, don't settle for second in anything that you do, and do things right, and do it that way always.” He knew it would take time, but with dedication, commitment, and focus, they would achieve their dream.

So in summary, my three key takeaways were: clarify, deploy, achieve are foundations of leadership; good behaviours drive good performance; leaders inspire people to dream and achieve.

If you have any questions or feedback about this episode, please feel free to send me a message at brendan@brendanrogers.com.au.

Thank you for listening. Stay safe. Until next time. 


Outtro (music): Thank you for listening to The Culture of Things podcast with Brendan Rogers. Please visit brendanrogers.com.au to access the show notes. If you love The Culture of Things podcast, please subscribe, rate and give a review on Apple podcasts and remember a healthy culture is your competitive advantage.