Your Company Needs a Global Mentoring Program Now, Here’s Why

According to a survey conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership, the number one reason for the career success of Fortune 500 CEOs is very simple – having a mentor.

If having a mentor is the primary basis for the personal success of top executives, doesn’t it stand to reason that developing a mentoring program within your organization could have a positive impact on the results of your emerging talent as well?  In a recent university study on mentoring programs, the results were significant – mentees were promoted five times more frequently – and mentors, six times more often – than those who were not in mentoring programs.

Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems and Dell and many others are designing and implementing global mentoring programs because of these proven results:

–        Increased employee retention

–        Improved productivity and performance

–        Accelerated orientation and assimilation

–        Enhanced innovation and collaboration

–        Renewed enthusiasm for corporate culture initiatives

Could your company benefit from having a global mentoring program?  Click here to read about what our research revealed about mentoring.  You’ll discover why now is the best time to start building a global mentoring program for your organization.

Tom Pearce, President of iLead Consulting & Training can be reached at  972-569-8822

Can Successful People Be Nice?

Art Markman of the Harvard Business Review recently wrote an article, “Are Successful People Nice?”in which he discusses how emotional intelligence plays into successful leadership.

According to the study by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, the key is how agreeable you are. Specifically, being agreeable is defined as the extent to which you value getting along with others, and the degree to which you are willing to be critical of others.

So, does kindness equal weakness? Or does being dominant a trait that makes one worthy of being a leader?

Click here to read more about how being agreeable or disagreeable affects how others perceive your leadership abilities.

A Pediatric Practice Suffering from Growing Pains A Case Study in Organizational Development

By: Tom Pearce, President, iLead Training & Consultant

Our client, a private pediatric practice, has been recognized annually by the local paper as the best pediatrician practice in town.  The five physician practice served over 23,000 patients in 2011 and would be considered by all to be a model practice.

By late 2011, issues began to arise, mostly due to the rapid growth of the practice over the past three years.  Since its inception in 2002, the practice had grown from two providers to five. As a result of their growing pains, the principal doctor retained Tom Pearce of iLead Consulting & Training to help him smooth out some of the rough edges in his expanding practice.  There were several ongoing obstacles in the practice during this time:

  • Provider turnover:  Through no fault of their own, the practice experienced the turnover of four providers in six months.  There were resignations, terminations and people moving on to focus on different specialties.
  • Inconsistent hiring practices:  As the practice rapidly grew, people were hired for various reasons.  Some were a great fit for the practice, some were not.  This lack of consistency led to 100%  turnover of staff in 2011.  The constant training and retraining of staff took its toll on the morale of the group.
  • Inexperienced administrators in key roles:  Several administrators started in their positions when the practice was much smaller and open fewer hours during the week.  As the practice grew, the challenges become more complex.  One key player, despite her sunny disposition, skills and talents, found her confidence waning.  Facing burnout, she decided to leave the practice to pursue a totally different career path.

In order for the practice to retain its status as the best pediatric practice in town, the principal doctor recognized that the practice needed to change.  In addition, it was his goal for the practice to become an employer of choice by creating a healthy work environment.

The iLead team met with the doctor and his CFO, the group developed a four-point plan designed to transform and re-energize the practice.  The plan included the following steps:

  • Conduct an employee survey:  The entire staff was surveyed in order to identify the specific issues that needed to be addressed.  The results revealed that the top three issues within the practice were:  1. Provider and staff communications, 2. Customer service and 3. Employee turnover.
  • Conduct employee interviews: The next step was to interview each staff member looking for ways to improve in each of the three key areas.  Employees were encouraged to speak openly and honestly about issues which were holding them back from doing great work.
  • Make hard decisions: Once the interviews were completed, it became clear that the practice would not move forward until people who had very poor work-performance were separated from the organization.  Great care was taken to give notice and ultimately separate each of these employees.  As a result of these tough decisions, several staff members decided to follow suit.
  • Recruit right person, right fit, right time:  In order to quickly and efficiently find talent to replace the providers and other talent a process was created to recruit not only for the necessary skills, but also for the right fit for the practice.  The mantra became, “right person, right job, right time.”  The principal doctor and his team wanted to find people who would uplift the group and not bring the team down.  Within just a few months, all the critical positions were filled including the practice administrator as well as key provider openings.  Two top performers were promoted and one senior-level employee had her job refocused so that it was a better fit for her professional interests.
  • Create a meaningful rewards structure: Through a series of coaching sessions and discussions with the CFO, employees were hired and contracts were renewed with an eye toward rewarding the right behaviors.  Contracts were structured to encourage creativity and productivity.  Pay structures were designed to balance the needs of the practice with the needs of the individual to grow and develop.
  • Provide team-building and leadership training: Once the new team was in place, the iLead team began training with an eye toward improving customer service. The training included sessions on team building, improving customer service and effective communications.
  • Write performance reviews focused on building a positive work climate:  As of this writing, the focus continues on placing the right person into the right job at the right time.  Employee performance reviews are given in the spirit of compassion and tough love.  Ultimately, there will be more employee turnover, but it will be managed, thoughtful and respectful.  Those who stay and thrive will be given opportunity to increase their salary and their professional challenge.

Working together, the practice leadership and the iLead team re-energized and refocused this team.  In less than six months, the practice successfully transformed from experiencing an uncertain future into a thriving and healthy practice.  The results – better communications, more disciplined staffing processes and compensation practices which motivate desired performances and a positive work climate.  In March, 2012, the practice was once again recognized by the local paper as the best pediatrician practice in town.

For more information on how iLead Training and Consulting can turn your organization around, please contact Tom Pearce at


Creativity – Desired or Unappreciated Trait of Today’s Leaders

By:  Tom Pearce, iLead Consulting & Training, CEO

A couple of years ago, top management from one of my major clients made an unannounced visit to my leadership development class I was facilitating for their organization. The topic of discussion that afternoon was developing creative skills.

The immediate response from this group of executives was, “What is this ##$%?” According to this group of visitors to the class, we might as well have been burning incense and singing Kum-Ba-Yah.

Why did these administrators react this way? Simply stated, corporations are looking for bottom-line solutions that are useful, cost effective and have immediate impact to the organization. So why is creativity viewed in such a negative light and considered by some as a trait not worth the investment?

In the March 2011 issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, Wharton management professor, Jennifer Mueller and co-authors Jack A. Goncalo of Cornell and Dishan Kamdar of ISB published a study examining how creative people were viewed by their colleagues. In their findings, “creative” people were not viewed as leaders.

According to the research, people showing imagination were seen as dreamers because their ideas have not been proven. Leaders, according to the findings, are expected to maintain order and keep the company moving forward.

Yet in a recent survey of 1,500 CEOs by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, creativity was named the single most important attribute for success in leading large corporations in the future. This result does not surprise Mueller:

“Those individuals know how to recognize good ideas, are open to them and know how to get creative ideas through the company. Selecting creative leaders is the critical challenge organizations face.”

To further illustrate this point, compare and contrast the differences between Hewett-Packard and Apple.

In Adam Hartung’s article in the August 25, 2011 issue of Forbes, “Why Leo Apotheker is No Steve Jobs – Too Bad for HP,” it is very apparent that HP forgot about the importance of innovation and developing creative leaders. In the past, HP was a leader in patent applications, new product launches and being first with products engineers needed and wanted.

Then in 1999, HP hired Carly Fiorina from AT&T as the new CEO and she became the first CEO to utilize old-fashioned, industrial ideas by cutting “R&D and new product development in favor of seeking market share with largely undifferentiated products.” The company shifted from less innovation to spending large amounts of money to produce copy-cat products.

Compare to Steve Jobs’ actions at the same time. Per Hartung, Jobs “rapidly sought out new technologies, such as MP3, which could be used to fulfill the trend for ease of use and mobility and launched organic products that were differentiated from competitors such as Dell, HP and Sony.” Apple continues to be the innovator of new products meeting the needs of the public or better yet, creating technology that eliminates the demand for other products.

Conversely, HP purchased Palm around the same time Apple introduced the iPhone. Notwithstanding, the iPad revolutionized the way we access the Internet by making it more portable and the need to carry a laptop unnecessary. As Hartung points out, “while the latest HP CEO keeps doing acquisitions and reshuffling assets seeking a ‘transformation,’ Steve Jobs kept the Apple team focused on meeting emerging market needs.”

So the question remains, should we rethink the importance of creativity in our leaders? Just ask Apple.

Contact Tom Pearce directly at

The Need to Groom Leaders

By:  Tom Pearce, iLead Consulting & Training, CEO

Peter Burrows of Bloomberg News recently wrote an article titled, “CEO, the Least Popular Job in Silicon Valley” regarding the error and lack of foresight of many companies in grooming new leaders. Hewlett-Packard, for example, is now on their fourth CEO (Meg Whitman) in just over six years. According to Burrows, very few firms have done a good job of grooming the next generation of leaders.

In 1995, HP was one of the companies Jim Collins featured in his book, Built to Last as a leader in the industry and example to follow. What happened?? The answer is simple. HP forgot WHY Collins identified the company as a leader.

In his book, Collins distinguishes the link between homegrown management versus hiring outside for top positions. According to Collins:

  • Insiders understand and preserve the company core values in a way that outsiders usually cannot.
  • Home-grown leaders can also be change agents, building on the core values while moving the company in exciting new directions.
  • Only 2 of the 18 leading companies featured in Built to Last hired outside for top leadership.
  • Conversely, the LEAST successful organizations were six times more likely to hire outside for a CEO.

The previous HP leaders (Carly Firoina, Mark Hurd and Leo Apotheker) including Whitman, were all recruited from outside the organization and according to Burrows, operated on out-of-date business ideas.

John Thompson, vice chairman of Heidrick & Struggles points out, “this is the first time in tech history that you have this many companies with CEOs approaching 60 that don’t have any obvious successors.” Long-term CEO of Cisco, John Chambers and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer have both exhausted the leadership back-bench and the organizations are now faced with going outside the company for their next CEO. This dilemma is certainly a big challenge due to the fierce competition from companies such as Facebook.

According to Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, senior associate dean of the Yale University School of Management, “few companies give much attention to succession planning until a crisis hits. Most organizations are more concerned with near-term earnings over long-term risk-taking.”

The old trend is to weed out talent, recruit outside and pay top dollar or promote an executive that has a proven track record in one area of the business but fail to provide proper leadership development to understand a business’ full breadth.

There are a few exceptions. Intel and IBM both have apprentice programs and as a result, both companies have successfully succeeded at finding internal candidates for their top positions.

Recent surveys conducted by i4pc of top executives reveal the need for leadership development; however, few organizations actually provide programs to cultivate their leaders.

Among the many issues and gaps uncovered in i4pc’s study, talent management, performance management and innovation stood out as areas where the gap between importance and effectiveness was particularly wide. For example:

  • Only 25% of study’s respondents said leadership was effective at managing change, yet 74% said change management was important.
  • 76% of respondents said performance management is very important this year, but only 30% said their companies are effective at actually doing it.
  • 79% of respondents said aligning the workforce to business strategy was important; however, only 33% said they were effective at doing so.

The gap between importance and effectiveness provides a ready-made roadmap of issues organizations need to immediately prioritize as targets for improvement.

At the end of the day, which organization do you want to emulate? The HP identified in Collins’ Built to Last or today’s HP?

Contact Tom Pearce directly at