Excellence. Always. If not excellence, what? If not excellence now, when?

Tom Peters’ EXCELLENCE. ALWAYS. Leadership. Muscat/03 August 2010

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Tom Peters’ EXCELLENCE. ALWAYS. Leadership. Muscat/03 August 2010

Excellence: The Leadership50


1. Leaders … serve.

  • Organizations exist to serve. Period.
  • Leaders live to
  • serve. Period.

The Basic Mechanism.

2. Leadership Is a … Mutual Discovery Process.

Organizing Genius / Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman “Groups become great only when everyone in them, leaders and members alike, is free to do his or her absolute best.” “The best thing a leader can do for a Great Group is to allow its members to discover their greatness.”

Leaders’ “Mt Everest Test” “free to do his or her absolute best” … “allow its members to discover their greatness.”

The Leadership Types.

3. Great Leaders on White Horses Are Important – but Great Talent Developers (Type I Leadership) are the Bedrock of Organizations that Perform Over the Long Haul.

Whoops: Jack didn’t have a vision!

4. But There Are Times When the “visionary” “Type” (Type II Leadership) Matters!

“A leader is a dealer in hope.” —Napoleon

5. Find the “Businesspeople”! (Type III Leadership)

I.P.M. (Inspired Profit Mechanic)

6. All Organizations Need … the Golden Leadership Triangle.

The Golden Leadership Triangle: (1) Talent Fanatic … (2) Visionary … (3) Inspired Profit Mechanic.

7. Leadership Mantra #1: IT ALL DEPENDS!

Renaissance Men are … a snare, a myth, a delusion!

8. The Leader Is Rarely/Never the Best Performer.

The Leadership Dance.

9. Leaders … SHOW UP!

“A body can pretend to care, but they can’t pretend to be there.” — Texas Bix Bender

10. Leaders … LOVE the MESS!

“If things seem under control, you’re just not going fast enough.” —Mario Andretti

11. Leaders DO!

“We have a ‘strategic’ plan. It’s called doing things.” — Herb Kelleher

12. Leaders Re-do.

  • “We made mistakes, of course. Most of them were omissions we didn’t think of when we initially wrote the software. We fixed them by doing it over and over, again and again. We do the same today. While our competitors are still sucking their thumbs trying to make the design perfect, we’re already on prototype version #5. By the time our rivals are
  • ready with wires and screws, we are on version
  • #10. It gets back to planning versus acting: We act from day one; others plan how to planfor months.” —Bloomberg by Bloomberg

13. BUTLeaders Know When to Wait.

Tex Schramm: The “too hard” box!

14. Leaders Are … Optimists.

Hackneyed but none the less true: LEADERS SEE CUPS AS “HALF FULL.”

Half-full Cups: “[Ronald Reagan] radiated an almost transcendent happiness.” —Lou Cannon

15. Leaders FOCUS!

Dennis, you need a … ‘To-don’t ’ List !”

16. Leaders … Send V-E-R-Y Clear Signals About What’s Important!

“Really Important Stuff”: Roger’s Rule of Three!

Danger: S.I.O. (Strategic Initiative Overload)

If It Ain’t Broke … Break It.

17. Leaders … FORGET!/ Leaders … DESTROY!

Forget>“Learn” “The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get the old ones out.” —Dee Hock

“I am often asked by would-be entrepreneurs seeking escape from life within huge corporate structures, ‘How do I build a small firm for myself?’ The answer seems obvious: Buy a very large one and just wait.” —Paul Ormerod, Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction and Economics

18. BUT … Leaders Have to Deliver, So They Worry About “Throwing the Baby Out with the Bathwater.”

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t, Just Plain Damned.” Subtitle in the chapter, “Own Up to the Great Paradox: Success Is the Product of Deep Grooves/ Deep Grooves Destroy Adaptivity,” Liberation Management (1992)


Saviors-in-Waiting Disgruntled Customers Upstart Competitors Rogue Employees Fringe Suppliers Source: Wayne Burkan, Wide Angle Vision

20. Leaders Make [Lots of] Mistakes – and MAKE NO BONES ABOUT IT!

“Fail faster. Succeed sooner.” —David Kelley/IDEO

“Fail . Fail again. Fail better.” —Samuel Beckett

  • “No man ever became great except through many and great mistakes.” —William Gladstone (from Timeless Wisdom, compiled by Gary Fenchuk)

21. Leaders Make … BIG MISTAKES!

Reward excellent failures. Punish mediocre successes.” —Phil Daniels



“Acquisitions are about buying market share. Our challenge is to create markets. There is a big difference.” —Peter Job, CEO, Reuters

23. Leaders … Make Their Mark / Leaders … Do Stuff That Matters

“I never, ever thought of myself as a businessman. I was interested in creating things I would be proud of.” —Richard Branson

24. Leaders Push Their Organizations … W-a-y Up the Value-added Chain.


“Every project we undertake starts with the same question: How can we do what has never been done before?’” —Stuart Hornery, Lend Lease

25. Leaders Push Past Service “Transactions” to … Scintillating Experiences.

“Experiences are as distinct from services as services are from goods.” —Joe Pine & Jim Gilmore, The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre & Every Business a Stage

Experience: “Rebel Lifestyle!” “What we sell is the ability for a 43-year-old accountant to dress in black leather, ride through small towns and have people be afraid of him.” Harley exec, quoted in Results-Based Leadership

26. Leaders LOVE the New Technology!

Power Tools For Power Strategies

27. Needed? Type IV Leadership: Technology Dreamer-True Believer

The Golden Leadership Quadrangle: (1) Talent Fanatic … (2) Visionary … (3) Inspired Profit Mechanic … (4) Technology Dreamer-True Believer.


28. Leaders … DO TALENT!

Brand = Talent.

29. When It Comes to TALENT … Leaders Always Go Berserk!

From “1, 2 or you’re out” [JW] to … Best Talent in each industry segment to build best proprietary intangibles” [EM] Source: Ed Michaels, War for Talent

30. Leaders Listen. Leaders Consult.


31. Leaders … “Sell” PASSION!

Gary Hamel: “Create a ‘cause,’ not a ‘business.’ ”


“Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm.” —Samuel Taylor Coleridge

  • “Swimmers and colleagues remember a man of almost boundless energy and passion, pointing to his preternatural cheerfulness at 6A.M. practices.”
  • Stanford magazine, on Richard Quick,
  • women’s swimming coach (13 NCAA championships,
  • the Olympic teams he coached won 59 medals)
  • “He’d look you in the eye and tell you that you could do it. He was so genuine and passionate that you’d start to believe it yourself.”
  • —Jessica Foschi, All American and NCAA champion

33. Leaders Are … in a Hurry

“We don’t sell insurance anymore. We sell speed.” Peter Lewis, Progressive

“Metabolic Management”

34. Leaders Focus on the SOFT STUFF!

“Hard” is “soft.” “Soft” Is “hard.”

Message: Leadership is all about love! [Passion, Enthusiasms, Appetite for Life, Engagement, Commitment, Great Causes & Determination to Make a Damn Difference, Shared Adventures, Bizarre Failures, Growth, Insatiable Appetite for Change.]

The “Job” of Leading.

35. Leaders Know It’s ALL SALES ALL THE TIME.

If you don’t LOVE SALES … find another life. (Don’t pretend you’re a “leader.”)

36. Leaders LOVE POLITICS.”

If you don’t LOVE POLITICS … find another life. (Don’t pretend you’re a “leader.”)

  • All success is a
  • Matter of implementation.
  • All implementation is
  • a matter of politics.

37. But … Leaders Also Break a Lot of China.

Characteristics of the “Also rans”* “Minimize risk” “Respect the chain of command” “Support the boss” “Make budget” *Fortune, “Most Admired Global Corporations”

38. Leaders Give … RESPECT!

  • “It was much later that I realized Dad’s secret. He gained respect by giving it. He talked and listened to the fourth-grade kids in Spring Valley who shined shoes the same way he talked and listened to a bishop or a college president. He was seriously interested in who you were and what you had to say.”
  • Source: Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Respect

Amen! “What creates trust, in the end, is the leader’s manifest respect for the followers.” — Jim O’Toole, Leading Change

39. Leaders Say “Thank You.”

“The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated.” William James


40. Leaders Are … Curious.

The Three Most Important Letters … WHY?

41. Leadership Is a … Performance.

“It is necessary for the President to be the nation’s No. 1 actor.” FDR

42. Leaders … Are The Brand

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Gandhi

“It’s always showtime.” —David D’Alessandro, Career Warfare

43. Leaders … Have a GREAT STORY!

“A key – perhaps the key – to leadership is the effective communication of a story.” Howard Gardner Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership

Leader Job 1 Paint Portraits of Excellence!


44. Leaders … Enjoy Leading.

“Tom, you left out one thing …”

45. Leaders LAUGH!

46. Leaders … KNOW THEMSELVES.

Individuals (would-be leaders) cannot engage in a liberating mutual discovery process unless they are comfortable with their own skin. (“Leaders” who are not comfortable with themselves become petty control freaks.)

Questions: What do others think of you? [Are you sure?] What do you think of you? [Are you sure?] What is your impact on others? [Are you sure?] What is your impact on others? [Are you sure?] What is your impact on others? [Are you sure?] What are the “little things” you (perhaps unconsciously) do that cause people to shrivel—or blossom? [Are you sure?] What do you want? [Are you sure?] Are you aware of your changing moods? [Are you sure?] How fragile is your ego? [Are you sure?] Do you have a true confidant? [Are you sure?] Do you perform brief or not-so-brief self-assessments? Do you talk too much? [Are you sure?] Do you know how to listen? [Are you sure?] Do you listen? [Are you sure?] What is your style of “hashing things out”? Are you perceived as (a) arrogant, (b) abrasive (c) attentive, (d) genuinely interested in people, (e) etc? [Are you sure?] Are you flexible? Have you changed your mind about anything important in a while? Are you comfortable-uncomfortable with folks on the front line? Do you think you’re “in touch with the pulse of things around here”? [Are You Sure?] Are you too emotional/intuitive? Are you too unemotional/rational? Do you spend much time with people who are new to you? [Do you think questions like this are “so much BS”?]

47. But … Leaders have MENTORS.

Upon having the Leadership Mantle placed upon one’s head, he/she shall never hear the unvarnished truth again!* (*Therefore, she/he needs one faithful compatriot to lay it on with no jelly.)

The End Game.

48. Leaders are … RELENTLESS.

“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.” —William Feather, author

49. Leaders ???:



50. Leaders Free the Lunatic Within!

“You can’t behave in a calm, rational manner. You’ve got to be out there on the lunatic fringe.” — Jack Welch

Kevin Roberts’ Credo 1. Ready. Fire! Aim. 2. If it ain’t broke ... Break it! 3. Hire crazies. 4. Ask dumb questions. 5. Pursue failure. 6. Lead, follow ... or get out of the way! 7. Spread confusion. 8. Ditch your office. 9. Read odd stuff. 10. Avoid moderation!

The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it. Michelangelo

51. Leaders Relentlessly Pursue … Excellence

  • “Excellence can be obtained if you:
  • ... care more than others think
  • is wise; ... risk more than others think
  • is safe; ... dream more than others think
  • is practical; ... expect more than others think
  • is possible.”
  • Source: Anon. (Posted @ tompeters.com by
  • K.Sriram, November 27, 2006 1:17 AM)
  • Excellence Is a Universal Striving.
  • If Not Excellence, What?

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