Posts Tagged ‘management’

In Management, One Size and Color Does Not Fit All

February 2nd, 2011

Last year, Michael Dell, the (Green/Orange or Orange/Green) founder of Dell Computers, stepped back into the role of CEO.

It’s not the first time, and won’t be the last time, that a founder builds the vision and huge success of his company, then steps aside when the company has grown, stabilized, and become successful. At that point, these founders often want to be able to go play, get some fun back into their lives, or find a new challenge or adventure. (Think Steve Jobs, Mark Cuban, and a previous newsletter story on Starbuck’s founder Howard Schultz)

For Michael Dell, the original impetus for allowing someone else to manage the company was, by all accounts, to take the company to the next phase of maintenance, stability, cost controls, better systems, and an increased focus on the internal workings of the company. This “Gold-type” management was quite different than the more high-risk, innovative, and growth-oriented approach of Michael Dell.

The logic was sound enough. After all, Dell was founded on doing what others were doing, just cheaper, more efficiently, and more customized. So cost control obviously needed to be a major focus once a certain level of success had been reached.

Most experts agree that former CEO Kevin Rollins was an excellent manager, very tough, hardnosed, a good leader, and very cost focused. But was a Gold management team, or management style, the most effective in the technology field where everything new today is a doorstopper in a year or two? I don’t know. But ask most Greens for feedback on Dell, and they’ll readily share that the company went from THE go-to place for computers, to the number one company to avoid.

Dell had stopped growing, stopped innovating, and certainly stopped offering exceptional (or any?) customer service. As other companies caught on, and caught up, was Rollin’s leadership style still the most effective?

When Michael Dell stepped back into the role of CEO, his first plan of attack was to take some significant steps in reducing the bureaucracy. Did a high Gold create layers of extra management and controls? Or did a high Orange just think anything more than two layers of people before they reached a front-line salesperson, or someone on the production floor, were too many already?

Whether you’re the CEO, someone who leads a team, or a manager, there isn’t a good, better, or best way to manage your team. There is, however, a huge need to understand people, as well as the industry you’re working in. Sorry, one size – or one Color – doesn’t fit all.

An Internet Company with an Orange CEO?

January 4th, 2011

Yahoo has certainly had its share of problems over the past decade, especially in the intense competition from Google. After rejecting a buyout offer from Microsoft last year, high Green co-founder Jerry Yang needed a new approach, and a new CEO.

When Yang first talked to Carol Bartz (the retired CEO of software maker Autodesk) she really didn’t have any interest in the position. But she did agree to meet with Yang, and asked him to draw an organizational chart for Yahoo. When lines went in every direction, everywhere, even Bartz couldn’t visualize any of it, and told Yang: You need a manager!

But is a typical Green culture company like Yahoo ready for a huge shakeup from an Orange CEO? What are the Orange clues about Bartz?

-At a meeting with investors she bluntly stated that she uses Google maps, not her own Yahoo product, because it’s better

-She absolutely thrives under pressure

-Bartz took up the challenge of Yahoo CEO, as she was getting bored in retirement, and missed the thrill and stress of the job

-She is a self-admitted crisis junkie

-At her instance, new software and applications only get developed based on customer feedback

-Bartz told employees she would “drop-kick to f*&%% Mars” anyone who leaked information

-She personally goes out to solicit direct customer feedback

With her knowledge of the tech field, her love of science and math, her computer science degree, and her programming, sales, and marketing work at 3M, it would be a fair guess that Bartz is Orange/Green. It may be an uphill fight, but don’t bet against any Orange that wants his or her way, and to become successful. Right now, I would just love to be in on some of her management meetings with (likely) a ton of Greens. It’s the right now vs. right – period.

Working Hard or Working Smart?

July 12th, 2010

The training firm Leadership IQ did a study some years ago of more than 5,000 hiring managers from a wide variety of industries. Some of the findings are quite eye-opening.

The bottom line, according to Leadership IQ, is that most companies fixate on hiring criteria which is based on technical competence. Yet, it is one of the last reasons for anyone to actually lose their job. Here are the top five areas of failure, according to the study:

26% Coachability – our ability (and willingness) to accept and implement feedback

23% Emotional IQ – the ability to manage and understand our own emotions, or put another way: our interpersonal skills

17% Motivation – the drive and desire to reach our full potential

15% Temperament – the personality type and attitude suited to fit the job

11% Technical competence – the functional skills, training, experience, and education required for the job

Ironically, the first four areas outlined in the study are directly related to understanding Colors! If only companies knew the tools and insights, imagine how turnover would be reduced, employee satisfaction in their jobs would grow, and employees would be set up in a win-win situation from their first month on.

Advice For Your Color

April 1st, 2009

Fortune Magazine runs an annual “Best Advice I Ever Got” story and this past edition had some great feedback for all of our Colors. The advice isn’t necessarily about that person’s Colors, but it sure gives us all some great food for thought:

  • First, always ask for the order, and second, when the customer says yes, stop talking. Michael Bloomberg, New York City Mayor
  • Focus on the substance. There’s just no way to disguise poor performance. Mark Hurd, CEO of Hewlett-Packard
  • Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsico
  • Some of the most effective leaders don’t make themselves the center of attention. Sam Palmisano, CEO of IBM
  • Experiencing that not everyone saw the world the same way was good preparation. Gen. David Patraeus, US General
  • Don’t spend your time on things you can’t control. Instead, spend your time thinking about what you can. Thomas Murphy, former CEO of Capital Cities/ABC
  • I had a manager who told me that aside from my technical knowledge, my sense of humor was my saving grace. Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist
  • You have to be wary of emotion clouding your decision-making that you’ll regret later. Elon Musk, founder of Spacex
  • As much as it makes me super-sleepy, when my business manager talks about taxes, etc. I listen! Tina Fey, actress
  • My experience is that when people are trying ambitious things, they’re all worried about failing when they start. Larry Page, founder of Google

©George Boelcke, CCP

Where Are the Blues?

January 1st, 2009

According to well-known behavior psychologist Dr. David Keirsey, in his “Presidential Temperaments,” there has never been a primary Blue President of the United States. And the recent election didn’t change that. Are you surprised? With the awesome traits they would contribute, most wouldn’t be interested.  This ultimate position of leadership forces constant compromise and almost all decisions will offend and affect vast groups of people.

How sad, but these are two huge drawbacks for a group that readily admits one of their biggest stresses, even in management, is doing staff reviews. They’ll rarely even watch the news as most of it is negative or violent — two things to be avoided at all costs. But then, the Blues in the United States are also less than half of what they are in Canada or even the U.K. It does show – in many, many ways in society, charities and measurably in companies of all sizes.

The largest number of Presidents have been Gold. But in the interest of fairness, here are four from the other three Color groups:


George Washington, Jimmy Carter and outgoing President Bush, as well as his father (and Margaret Thatcher in the U.K.)


Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Herbert Hoover and Dwight Eisenhower


Theodore Roosevelt, John Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton

Goal Setting: Does Close Count?

July 1st, 2008

In sales, management, recruiting or many other areas, should goals always be realistic and achievable, or is it OK to set the bar quite high and make your best effort to get close?

Your answer will be a big clue of a Gold versus an Orange or Blue mindset. The former certainly applies to Golds, while Oranges will shoot for the moon and coming close definitely counts as a win. In fact, high Oranges and Blues will generally feel that achieving their goals meant the bar was set too low in the first place.

Two large seminars recently made that very clear with the response to a seemingly simple question: Would you rather set a goal of $100,000 income next year and reach $80,000, or a “realistic” goal of making $60,000 and achieving it?

Almost every Gold attendee chose the $60,000 realistic goal. After all, few things are more important to Golds than keeping their word – and this would be an integral part of that.

Yet every Orange attendee chose the $100,000 goal and falling short. Why? “We want to keep pushing ourselves, the higher the goal the better, anybody can reach $60,000” and more comments along those lines.

So what’s better? A goal you can take to the bank, or one that’s seemingly impossible and getting close? If it sounds silly, you don’t understand the mindset of Golds. A better question would be one that goes to their mindset: What would be more satisfying, what makes you feel successful, what creates less stress, or how do you believe others will judge you if you don’t reach your goal and keep your word?

At the end of the year, with this example, the Orange person has an extra $20,000 in their pocket AND feels like a winner. Seems like a no-brainer… And Golds can do that, too. But it takes some practice and courage to commit to a higher, more challenging goal. If Golds have committed to their goal out loud and make the promise public – you know they will do whatever it takes to keep it.

So with the tools of Colors, an open mind, and a little “living on the edge” commitment, they WILL be hugely stressed, but I’d bet money they’ll also reach the $100,000, and then who’d look like the winner? But that takes courage, stepping out of their comfort zone and taking a chance. That’s the place where Oranges and Blues have a huge head start…