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CREDITS  .............................................................................................i

PREFACE ...........................................................................................ii

The Bottom Line  ...............................................................................1

Identifying Exceptional Potential  ....................................................3

Critical Skills of the Five Manager Types  .......................................5

Where Exceptionals Fail – or Succeed  ...........................................7

Their First Insight: Lasting Value  . ................................................12

Seven Key Management Skills  ......................................................14

Essential Practical Experiences ....................................................18

The Evolution of Exceptional Managers  ......................................20

Conclusion: Looking Ahead  ..........................................................24

© 1984 – Stevens Scheidler Stevens Vossler (parent company of The HR Chally Group)
As with any worthwhile effort, K.T. Moore, Principal Administrator Eddie Smith, Vice President of
many individuals were invaluable and internal source, Manager of Human Resources and Public Affairs
contributors to this project; not Training Department – Robbins & Myers
all can be listed. We are most – O&SG, E&D Sector of TRW, Inc.
appreciative of their efforts along David Leigh, Manager of
with those identified below. W. Ammons, Personnel Facilitator, Management Planning &
Director of Human Relations Development
Our first Management Develop­ – O&SG, E&D Sector of TRW, Inc. – Robbins & Myers
ment Group whose comments are
used throughout this report: Bernie Johnson, Sponsor, Vice
Other Key Contributors: President and General Manager
W. Bambrick, Sponsor, Information – Motors Division, TRW, Inc.
Development Services Director
Hugh Brady, Sponsor, Vice President – O&SG, E&D Sector of TRW, Inc. Richard Hannan, Sponsor, General
and General Manager Manager
– Operations and Support Group W. VanDeren, Personnel Facilitator, – Transportation Electronics Division,
(O&SG) Electronics and Defense Human Relations Manager TRW, Inc.
(E&D) Sector of TRW, Inc. – O&SG, E&D Sector of TRW, Inc.
Charles Kugler, Personnel Facilitator,
J.D. Hunt, Participant, Electronic D. Paulson, Personnel Facilitator, Human Relations Manager
Manufacturing Laboratory Manager Human Relations Manager – Transportation Electronics Division,
– O&SG, E&D Sector of TRW, Inc. – O&SG, E&D Sector of TRW, Inc. TRW, Inc.
C.J. Lazar, Participant, Production L. Williams, Personnel Facilitator, R. Douglas Brynildsen Ph.D.,
Operations Manager Human Relations Manager Sponsor, (formerly) Director of
– O&SG, E&D Sector, TRW, Inc. – O&SG, E&D Sector of TRW, Inc. Management Development and
P.A. Pavesi, Participant, Manager of Mike Korenich, Director of Employee – Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical
Manufacturing Technology Operations Relations & Development
– O&SG, E&E Sector of TRW, Inc. – O&SG, E&D Sector of TRW, Inc. James Sparkman, Vice President of
Primary Products
L.T. Petroni, Participant and later John Folkerth, President – Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical
sponsor of his own group, Director of – Shopsmith, Inc.
Business Management Walter Oliver, (formerly) Division
– O&SG, E&D Sector of TRW, Inc. Robert Sammons, Executive Vice Personnel Manager
President – Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical
J.H. Walker, III, Participant, Manager – Shopsmith, Inc.
of Engineering and Materials Roger Crawford, Division Personnel
Management Charles “Red” Scott, President Manager of Engineering
– O&SG, E&D Sector of TRW, Inc. – Intermark, Inc. – Formerly with Kaiser Aluminum &
Kraig Krammers, Group Vice Chemical
H.E. Cypert, Jr., Participant, Manager
of Material Operations President
– O&SG, E&D Sector of TRW, Inc. – Intermark, Inc.

J.M. Pulici, Participant, Director of Roy Linton, President (retired)

Information Technology – Standard Register Company
– O&SG, E&D Sector of TRW, Inc. Dan Moss, (formerly) Director of
K. Brown, Personnel Facilitator and Human Resources Administration
original visionary, (formerly) Human – Standard Register Company
Relations Manager of Manufacturing Fred Wall, President
Division, TRW, Inc. – Robbins & Myers

This is a summary report of a six-year research project by HR Chally that studied and sometimes installed management
development techniques in six very different American corporations. Though the specific findings varied from company to
company, enough similarities emerged to support the conclusions contained in the chapters which follow.

This report would not have been possible without the support and sponsorship of Critical Leaders and forward-thinking

Hugh Brady
Group Vice President & General Manager
O&SG, TRW, Inc.
(The major visionary and sponsor)

John Folkerth
President and C.E.O.
Shopsmith, Inc.

Charles “Red” Scott

President and C.E.O.
Intermark, Inc.

Fred Wall
President and C.E.O.
Robbins & Myers, Inc.

Roy Linton
President (now retired)
The Standard Register Company

R. Douglas Brynildsen, Ph.D.

(formerly) Director of Executive Development
Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical

Karen Brown
(formerly) Human Resources Manager
Manufacturing Division, TRW, Inc.
(The initial champion of this study)

Karen Trader-Moore
Manager of Training & Development
O&SG, E&D Sector, TRW, Inc.

ii Preface
The Bottom Line
T he search for managerial excel­
lence is not new; it is a hunt that
began with the inception of the first
be expressed in crisp, logical terms.
Key concepts and experiences can
be reduced to truisms, but they do not
toward clarifying those truisms we
hear so often and creating a workable,
replicable technology for the deliberate
modern business. Yet in our fast- represent the set of guidelines and development of exceptional managers.
paced, high-tech world, this pursuit for proofs necessary to lead successive Management development is often a
outstanding leadership has reached generations to similar success. vague and nebulous concept, but it is
nearly quest-like heights, spurring possible to focus on several concrete
countless publications and studies, Thus, management skills and the principles that directly affect the rate
all attempting to identify and measure intentional development of exceptional of a manager’s development. (See
the magical components of excellence managers have been difficult to trans- Figure 1) These principles emerged
within the corporate arena. fer. Those who capture excellence in from six years of applied research in
practice are the least likely to be able to six different corporations. They provide
Does this mean that exceptional communicate it to others. Exceptional the basic fundamentals for building
managers are mythical beings to be managers don’t have the time or the an individually tailored management
relegated to the ranks of the Tooth Fairy mission to translate their intuitive work- development program.
and Easter Bunny? No. Exceptional ing principles into practical examples.
managers do exist and often direct They are too busy managing. Hence,
highly successful, model corporations. we researchers write the books, but
Intentional Exceptional
However, if you ask an exceptional the practitioners set the real standards Development
manager what factors led to their suc- for success – which brings us to our Although management development
cess, they would probably credit talent study. is often used as a means of indirect
and luck rather than a specific cause or compensation, or a means of reward-
set of circumstances. This is because This report documents the knowledge ing managers, it can be a practical,
their practical knowledge and instincts and common sense skills shared by succession-driven focus meant to
- honed by experience - cannot easily exceptional managers. It is a step develop the few critically necessary

managers who will direct the corpo-
THE TOP TEN FINDINGS rate destiny.

• Identifiable and measurable factors predict exceptional Concrete Tools Measure

potential Intangibles
• Matching managers to the right corporate roles determines their During the research, tools were
success or failure developed which were utilized to iden-
tify exceptional potential early in a
• Toughest challenge: maintaining short-term results while still manager’s career. Softer and more
creating lasting value difficult to measure elements, such
• Seven primary skills are common to all managers as intelligence and motivation, were
• Six key types of experiences drive manager development accurately and concretely assessed in
conjunction with such obvious factors
• Direct intervention does make a difference as visible performance and observ-
• Four successive stages of development lead to full able behaviors. In unison, these two
management maturity approaches provided a means for tar-
• The process must be monitored and managed like any other geting and selecting managers with
function demonstrably higher potential.

• Organizational culture determines whether exceptional talent Ability vs. Poor Fit
should be “developed” or bought from the outside
All high-potential candidates were
• Exceptional management skills can only be developed in true not equally matched for, or capable
High Potentials of, filling every corporate need. For
Figure 1
example, corporations sometimes

 Bottom Line 
need innovation and growth-oriented approach of allowing the “cream” to
Project Managers; or they require Start with the cascade (succession) rise to the top represents a tacit eco-
stabilizing, profit-oriented Production process: Who do you have? Who’s nomic efficiency and a practical way
Managers; and finally, they need a few going to retire? Do you have a for managers to seek their own level of
Critical Leaders who are capable of set of backups? What’s going to comfort and ambition.
maintaining the necessary balance of happen to these people? Who are
both preceding modes. While it may sound contrary to the
your strong ones, and how are you American dream, it is far cheaper and
These three different profiles of excep- going to develop them? That gets far more valuable for the corporation
tional capability provide a guide­line of the problem out on the table. You to focus on, and invest solely in, the
which types of candidates per­form deal with it from several angles: few potential superstars for excep-
exceptionally in the three distinct cor- it’s obvious we have a bunch of tional manager development. Such
porate roles. Contrary to common vacancies that we have to develop manager’s potential, when increased
dogma, individual competence does people for; or, we have some people by ten percent, represents a far more
not always guarantee success, and who are really old and gray and significant payoff to the manager and
failure is often not due to incompe- aren’t going anywhere; or, we have the corporation in terms of short-term
tence. A mismatch between managers benefits and long-term profits. This
some people who are real ‘up and
and corporate roles, however, quite fre- process puts much less emphasis
comers’ and we’ve got to figure out
quently accounts for the sudden (and on developing or pressuring manag-
often permanent) stall experienced by how to provide them with a career. ers who are competent in their natural
many rising managers. Or, we have a very quiet situation niche, or who do not clearly feel that
so we use the normal process of the additional struggle to reach the top
Universal Skills developing people and making them is worth the eventual rewards.
While these three functional roles more enthusiastic. The important
are distinct, all exceptional manag- thing is to get the description of the The Bottom Line
ers routinely utilized seven identifiable problem out on the table so you can From a representative group of the
skills. (see page 14) Certain crucial figure out where you are. I would high potentials who have gone through
experiences provided the practical always start with the evaluation, this process, many have advanced
opportunity to apply and then master and go through that first. Then dramatically within their corporation.
these essential management skills. start working with people to solve Their salaries have increased an aver-
age of 100 percent over five years
Exceptional performance evolved the problem you have to deal with.
(after an adjustment for inflation). The
gradually, as the managers first tack- staffs they supervise have grown by
led, then conquered, a sequence of
Hugh Brady, Sponsor
500 percent and the average budget
progressively tougher barriers leading managed has expanded 300 percent
to management maturity. Exceptional Their unique needs determined the (also adjusted for inflation). There is
managers struggled to master these process itself: which elements, in what no hard evidence to suggest these
seven skills by applying them in spe- sequence, and at what pace were all managers would not have progressed
cific practical situations. They also tailored to provide the best possible without this program. However, many
fought to overcome the hurdles to fit. who participated do credit this process
reach management maturity. This was for a significant part of their growth
a universal challenge for all excep- Targeting Investment and consequent advancement. Their
tional managers. sponsor also rates the program as
Business vs. Altruism
Exceptional Development Can’t Not every good manager wants to be,
Be “Canned” or can be, an “exceptional” manager. The process described here focuses
The actual process consists of twelve The leadership benefit of increasing a on those exclusive few who represent
components which provide a guide- merely competent manager’s potential true exceptional management capac-
line for potential development. There by even ten percent is far exceeded ity. It provides a means for identifying
was no single correct pattern or fixed by the actual cost in terms of the time, what exceptional capacity is; how it is
formula. The various development money, and energy necessary to obtained; a means for speeding growth
components were flexible and fluid; ensure success. For both the individ- towards this objective; and finally, spe-
all or part of them may have sufficed. ual and the company, the fairly typical cific results illustrated by managers
who participated in the process.

 The Bottom Line

Identifying Exceptional Potential

If you (spread your resources) Prioritizing Critical Skills

across the whole skirmish line, you
Initiative 72%
are wasting them. You don’t have
enough time or money, so you have Decision-Making Efficiency 70%

to be selective. Leadership Potential 67%

Willingness to Take Appropriate Risks 67%

Hugh Brady, Sponsor
Decision-Making Accuracy 66%

Ability to Direct and Control Others 61%

O n a practical level, not everyone

can, nor should, be an exception-
al manager. For the corporation, this
Willingness to Accept Responsibility
or Accountability
Presentation Skills

43% Oral Communication Skills

means development investment must 42% Ability to Handle Stress
be aimed at the right audience.
41% Technical Competence in Specialty

Test results and performance data % OVERLAP

28% Technical Competence in Related Areas
from 250 managers tracked over a WITH OVERALL 28% Written Communication Skills
six-year period identified factors which
These percentages were derived by squaring the correlation between each skill rating and the estimate of overall
linked directly with actual promotions potential. Squaring the correlation approximates the percentage of the overall potential factor accounted for by each
individual skill or performance rating.
and performance evaluations. This
generates an approach that is both Figure 2
concrete and repeatable. Thus, the
development “skirmish line” can be
deliberately narrowed, while the po- potential as an exceptional manager.
tential for tangible, desirable results is (See Figure 2) The factors were found One of the biggest surprises was
optimized. by rating candidates on the thirteen the performance reviews. You had
performance factors. These ratings them with your boss over the years
The First Cut: Visible were then compared with measure- … but for the first time, we saw a
ments of a candidate’s overall compe-
Behaviors tence and potential.
list of 13 things that are considered
The performance factors used to as-
to be the more important attributes
sess development candidates evolved These four performance factors clear- of a manager. That was quite a
from a focused interview process. ly stood out among the various levels revelation.
Managers were interviewed using a of potential. It was, therefore, sufficient
to focus solely on these four factors P.A. Pavesi, Participant
structured interview format, generat-
ing a wide variety of responses. Similar when determining exceptional capac-
responses and concepts were then ity. Ranked by order of importance, 1. Initiative
grouped together and categorized, these factors were:
Active management was not enough;
leading to the identification of thirteen
focused, proactive management tac-
key performance factors. This process 1. Initiative tics were demanded. High perfor-
was repeated for each organization.
mance ratings went to those managers
Based on the findings, the legitimate 2. Decision-Making Efficiency who anticipated and tackled problems
selection factors could then be identi-
before they erupted. Buckling down
fied for each individual corporation.
3. Leadership Potential and doing the job thoroughly and sys-
tematically was essential. On any task
Performance 4. Willingness to Take assigned, aggressive manage­ment
Out of the thirteen, there were four key Appropriate Risks was expected from start-up all the way
performance factors that predicted through completion.

 Exceptional Potential 
2. Decision-Making Efficiency in developing managers. This surprised were sufficient criteria for the selection
The ability to distinguish and then fo- participants who had believed that of outside talent or the decision to pro-
cus energy on important issues was technical competence, communica- mote a manager.
a key quality. The best performers tion skills, and presentation skills were
more crucial to their success. These What’s more, these visible behaviors
delegated routine matters whenever were driven by, and linked to, the inter-
possible, while consistently moni- latter factors were not unimportant;
rather they were nondistinguishing. At nal factors of intelligence and motiva-
toring the delegate’s performance. tion. Neither initiative nor intelligence
Such managers insisted on being in- a high mid-management level, nearly
all those assessed had sufficient tech- could be created where it did not exist,
formed of all factors touching on their nor could such be taught. Therefore,
area of responsibility. They then used nical competence. Communication
and presentation skills simply did not when faced with a candidate with
their own intuitive knowledge to sort low initiative ratings and high techni-
through this information and formulate correlate closely with the likelihood of
executive success. cal competence, the choice became
a decision. Subsequent actions were clear. Technical deficiencies were cor-
timed carefully to balance known ob- These findings also surprised top- rectable; the lack of initiative was not.
stacles against favorable conditions level decision-makers. The process
to achieve the greatest potential for targeted the real factors behind their Yet, despite their effectiveness in pre-
success. Such managers recognized decisions to promote, while the indis- dicting actual promotion decisions,
that being 70 percent right today was tinct qualities they believed to be the these performance criteria could not
infinitely more valuable than being 100 foundation of such decisions, proved completely predict the future success
percent right when it was too late. to be less relevant. Their choices were of managers who were promoted.
predicted by the four prime perfor- Internal forces and qualities had a real
mance criteria, even if they had never impact on such potential. Thus, perfor-
3. Leadership Potential
consciously made a promotion based mance assessments were combined
Managers’ people skills were vital. with objective tests and measures to
on those four factors.
High performers continuously motivat- provide the most clear and accurate
ed sub­ordinates in the most efficient, identification of exceptional potential
effective way. Rewards and penalties Impact
were tied directly and clearly to both These performance factors intro-
the employee’s performance and per­ duced a means of controlling several
sonality. Such managers worked to hazy areas. Candidates for develop-
engender loyalty and commitment in ment could be more accurately identi-
their subordinates. Leadership status fied, and hence, more effectively de-
and power were earned instead of de- veloped. Succession plans could be
manded. evolved to target managers ready for
advancement when the opportunity
arose. Observable behaviors provided
4. Willingness to Take Appro­
documentation and factual anchors
priate Risks for such decisions. Equally important,
The ability to make decisions effec­ corporations that needed to “buy” tal-
tively was not sufficient. Highly rated ent from outside sources could utilize
performers made decisions even when these factors to measure potential
some influences were unknown. They candidates’ exist­ing abilities and pre-
avoided blind or impulsive risks by tak- dict their future success.
ing such actions only when tentative
data could be backed by sound as- These criteria served as the “first
sumptions. Such managers stretched cut” in the selection of high-potential
past comfortable performance levels exceptional managers. They were a
to seek both challenge and new suc- quick and useful, yet comparatively
cess horizons. inexpensive, tool. Furthermore, the
four key performance criteria proved
Refocused Thinking so significant that, practically speak-
ing, all of the other performance ele-
These four performance factors re- ments could safely be ignored. They
peatedly marked exceptional capacity

 Identifying Exceptional Potential

Critical Skills of the Five Manager Types
position will occasionally require a pro-
Corporate Line  Corporate Staff duction approach when the function’s
primary outputs are repetitive, and vol-
Manager Skills Manager Skills ume, quality, and consistency are the
major requirements.
1. Ability to Direct and 1. Initiative
Control Others 2. Willingness to Accept
2. Decision-Making Responsibility
Profit Center &
3. Profit Mentality
3. Decision-Making 4. Ability to Learn the
Entrepreneur Skills
Accuracy Business 1. Profit Mentality
4. Effective Written 5. Willingness to 2. Initiative
Communication Develop Technical 3. Willingness to Develop
5. Leadership Potential Competencies Technical Competencies
6. Practical Intelligence 6. Management Ambition 4. Willingness to Accept
7. Analytic Ability 7. Practical Intelligence Responsibility
Figure 3 8. Analytic Ability 5. Ability to Learn the
9. Willingness to Train/ Business
Corporate Line Managers Coach 6. Ability to Direct and
Top Line Managers usually have a Figure 4 Control Others
production approach that focuses on 7. Practical Intelligence
measurable and near-term results and Corporate Staff Managers
outputs. They emphasize efficiency, 8. Analytic Ability
profit improvement, cost control, and Top Staff Managers usually have a
Figure 5
the refinement of the processes and project approach and focus on inno-
procedures that produce incremental vative or creative solutions to specific
gain. These managers may be innova- needs. These managers see improve- Profit Center Managers and
tive, but avoid visionary or theoretical ment goals as a project or series of Entrepreneurs
changes that have not been thoroughly projects, each with distinct beginning
Profit Center Managers and Entrepre­
tested and proven. They minimize and and ending points. They are more
neurs (sometimes called intrapreneurs
control risk in order to optimize effi- concerned with major improvements
or entrepreneurs without portfolio) are
ciency, and approach problem-solv- than incremental refinements. Project-
distinguished by their close, hands-on
ing from a planning and scheduling oriented managers perform best in a
control of all the key functions that con-
perspective. Production-oriented Line start-up environment or in a true project
tribute to the bottom-line. They avoid
Managers usually step in after the capacity. They research, explore, and
layers of management between them
start-up phase and refine and maintain design new technology or build new
and the key actions or decisions that
the established systems at an efficient, applications for existing technology.
need to be made. They make a point
effective level. Top Line Managers are In problem-solving methods, Project
of knowing all their subordinates per-
usually not start-up or turnaround spe- Managers often opt for an intuitive or
sonally and motivate on a one-to-one
cialists. However, we know as a result deductive decision style and prefer to
basis. As a result, bureaucracy and
of our research, that a Line manage- test new solutions by trial and error.
red tape do not slow decision-making.
ment position will occasionally require They operate on a long-term basis
a project approach when a major but and prefer to function creatively within
short-term goal, such as an acquisi- the general parameters of a specified
tion or turn-around, is required. goal. However, a Staff management

 Skills of the Five Manager Types 
Strategic Account Sales Force
Manager Skills Manager Skills
1. Initiative 1. Willingness to Train/
2. Commits Time and Coach
Effort to Ensure 2. Willingness to Make
Success Joint Sales Calls
3. Provides Proactive 3. Ability to Direct and
Assistance/Support Control Others
4. Willingness to 4. Profit Mentality
Develop Technical 5. Initiative
6. Effective
5. Training Skills Communications
Figure 6 7. Focused on
Quantitative Results
Strategic Account Managers 8. Practical Intelligence
Strategic Account Managers are top-
ranked salespeople who can interact
9. Analytic Ability
effectively with all levels of large cor- Figure 7
porate customers. They manage sales
results more than subordinates, use a
team selling approach when neces- Sales Force Managers
sary, and function as a manager of Sales Force Managers are more
the overall relationship between their responsible for building the quality
company and their customers. They and productivity of their salespeople
are frequently more involved in their than for any one customer. The most
customers’ business strategy than effective have a narrow span of con-
they are in their own company. trol (4-5 people) with whom they work.
They coach and develop each of
them one-to-one on a regular (usually
weekly) basis. The least effective have
a large span of control and focus most
of their time on traditional administra-
tive tasks including sales projections
and facilitating problem resolution for

 Critical Skills of the Five Manager Types

Where Exceptionals Fail – or Succeed

U nderstanding where
managers can be used most

effectively proved vital. Describing

For example, a Project Manager filling
a Production need would often change
and innovate system breakthroughs
improving quality had to be compared
to the need for growth.

exceptional managers from three when system refinement, stability, Each manager contributed more sig-
perspectives or profiles helped clarify and predictable results were required. nificantly and more effectively in one
why some good managers failed and Such managers had ability, but their set of circumstances over the other.
others succeeded. areas of strength did not match the As corporate needs shifted, the bal-
demands of their role. ance of the Project Manager vs. the
These exceptional managers were: Production Manager also needed
changing. Critical Leaders con­tinuously
• Project Managers - who A Three-Part Team balanced and rebalanced, based on
innovated and initiated new
The skills, personal motivation, and the corporation’s needs. For example,
developments and growth
capacities of Project Managers and the Project Manager was vital when
• Production Managers - who Production Managers are quite dif- the need was to develop the corpora-
strived for stability, efficiency, ferent, and only a rare few Critical tion’s technical excellence or creative
and profit Leaders were capable of “switch-hit- capacity. The Production Manager, on
ting.” the other hand, remained focused on
• Critical Leaders - who retaining and improving quality, cost
Both the Project and Production
balanced growth and profits to effectiveness, and efficiency. Critical
Manager roles were crucial for the orga-
reach their vision of the future Leaders fully appreciated both ori-
nization. A comprehensive assess­­­ment
An accurate match between managers’ entations. By not over-committing to
of the corporation’s needs determined
innate talents and their organizational either, they could provide the neces-
which role was more essential at a
roles generally led to success. Failure sary direction to vary both.
specified time. The need to stabilize
was traced to good managers who operations had to be weighed against Each profile exhibited distinct and mea-
were operating in the wrong role. the need for innovation; the need for surable values, loyalties, motiva­tions,
and career orientations. (See Figure
8) Assessment tools were developed
Exceptional Manager Profiles which helped identify an individual
manager’s inclination for one role
over the others. These evaluations
Critical have helped to clarify and define the
Project Leader “hunches” that companies have often
Production relied on.
Manager Manager
Project Managers
Both Project Managers and Production
• New and unique • Standard and reliable
• Designs technology Directs the Balance • Applies technology
Managers maintained and improved
• Bored with repetition • Growth vs. profit • Frustrated with ongoing systems and implemented
• 90 percenter • Short-term vs. long- constant change new ones as the need arose. The
• Flexible term • 99 percenter
• Developmental vs.
Project Manager, however, performed
• Builds capability • Controlled
• Personal skills and maintenance needs • Builds results best in a start-up environment or in a
reputation • Process vs. results • Position and rank true project capacity with a beginning
• Creative motivator • Expert director and end.

The Project Manager researched,

Figure 8 explored, and designed new technology

 Exceptionals Fail – or Succeed 
or services. The most distinguishing project engineering, advertising, and and innovative, and tended to ignore
feature of the Project Manager was the product development. Due to their the stable or repetitive tasks critical to
need to design or invent. This creative innate project orientation, they tended profit and efficiency. They saw a need
aspect spilled over into problem-solv- to move to another position when the for continuous growth and further
ing methods. inventive possibilities of their current experimentation, but overlooked the
role were reduced. Project Managers need for attention to routine details,
Project Managers preferred an intui- also played an essential role during the methods, and sustained systems.
tive or deductive decision style. start-up phase of a production facility. Project Managers, quite simply, forgot
Creating by instinct or insight, they In spite of the apparent contradiction to feed the “cash cows.” They were too
tested new solutions by trial and error. in terms, a start-up was still a project, busy building and pursuing one great
They operated on a longer-term basis, and it required the special drive and dream after another.
and functioned innovatively to reach capacities of the Project Manager.
a specified goal (e.g., a new product
to be launched). They demonstrated
(See Figures 9 & 10) Production Managers
technical expertise and specialization Context
Flat Spots
in a field they greatly respected.
Unfortunately, the Project Manager The distinction between a Project
often stalled when a start-up moved Manager and a Production Manager
Organizational Niche
into a production stance. They were was marked. Project Managers tended
Project Managers were found in mar- reluctant to routinize, refine, or stick to to specialize in one area, and had lit-
ket research, project management, repetitive tasks. They enjoyed the new tle interest in dealing with pragmatic
issues. Production Managers had a
depth of practical experience but often
Primary Operating Methods lacked the technical expertise or skill
PROJECT PRODUCTION to tackle intricate areas of specializa-
tion in the business.
Personal Strengths • Creativity
Where• Reliability
• Innovation • Productivity
Fail • –Cost-awareness
or Succeed Focus
Standards • Excellence • Efficiency Production Managers focused on
• State-of-the-art • Practical standard of “good
practical applications, like efficiency,
rather than on innovation or technol-
Skill & Personal • Individual Capability • System effectiveness
• Education and training • Relevant on-the-job experience
ogy. Satisfied with a standard of “good
• People and control skills enough,” they achieved effectiveness
Psychological • Position and status from • Position and perks at a reasonable cost. They minimized
Rewards peers • Public or general business and controlled risks in order to opti-
• Professional recognition recognition mize efficiency, and approached
Loyalties • More loyal to profession • More loyal to practical goals problem-solving from a planning and
or field of expertise than and resuts than any particular scheduling perspective.
general results field or area of expertise
Breadth • More likely to be • More willing to be generalists Repetition was valued. It offered the
specialists opportunity to fine-tune the system,
Expectations from • Expect to be appreciated • Expect to be evaluated for their optimize profitability and efficiency,
Others for their skill or degree of results and refine the operational learning
effort curve. System capacity was the main
Political Style • Justify growth through the • Justify authority according to concern, and they evaluated perfor-
need to expand capability profitability mance on results.
• Rate self according • Rate self according to degree
to degree of growth/ of position/control acquired
capablity reached Organizational Niche
Preferred Climate • Opportunity to be on • Opportunity for increased Production Managers thrived in pro-
the cutting edge of compenstion
duction engineering, accounting, plant
technology • Authority with autonomy and
• Promotion of their field independence management, and sales manage­
ment. (See Figure 11) Such managers
Figure 9 found their production-based niche

 Where Exceptionals Fail – or Succeed

had one dream, to fine-tune the sys-
Primary Management Roles tem, and they saw no need to build
Distinguishing • Unknown design • Standard design
Feature • New technology • Standard technology Critical Leaders
• Pure (must invent) • Practical (must apply)
Planning Method • Trial and error • Contingency planning
• Systematic hypothesis • Flexible scheduling Critical Leaders understood and stood
• Testing • Prepared to apply new up for the bigger picture. They were
able to build a guiding vision and then
Purpose • Developmental • Maintenance & volume funnel money from the “cash cows” to
• Design, create • Quality production fund this dream. Such managers had
enough of an overview to go against
Time Constraints • Longer term • Shorter term
the logical arguments of good people,
on Payout from
who were correct at the moment, but
who could not conceptualize the long-
Driving Forces • Goal directed • Cost directed term requirements. Critical Leaders
• Costs spent as necessary • Efficiency
could envision, create, and maintain
• Profitability
systems which would provide long-
Elements • Process (how well it was • Results (whether it works) range value to the corporation.
Measured done) • Met goals
(Evaluation) Most simply, the Critical Leader was
the corporate advocate of the future.
Area of Respected • People capacity • System capacity & reliability
Resource • The expertise of highly • Consistency regardless of the They planned ahead without sacrificing
skilled specialists people manning the system the present. Decisions were grounded
in fact but based on intuition.
Example • New product development • Manufacturing
• New product campaigns • Accounting
• R&D • Assembly Line Focus
• Start-ups • Field Sales
Neither specialist nor generalist,
Figure 10 Critical Leaders were multifaceted in
outlook, breadth, and depth. There
and remained in their position as long and profit were still quite evident to was the specialist’s commitment to
as their output generated sufficient them. In contrast to the Project profile, innovation and growth, as well as the
rewards. Project Managers may have Production Managers always remem- practical need for stability and profit.
starred during the start-up phases of bered to feed the “cash cows.” They These two poles were not blended.
a production function, but Production
Managers were needed to refine and
maintain the established systems. Typical Focus of Positions
Results were the primary focus. They PROJECT RANGE PRODUCTION RANGE
were most comfortable with functions
that were concrete, measurable, and Job Shop
R & D Center
Advertising Manager Production Accounting Fast Food Production
Manager Executive Engineering Manager Chain Manager
Manager Manager
Planning Product
Manager Engineering

Flat Spots

Production Managers shone when a Market Labor

system or a function needed to be per-
Manager Manager
Research Negotiations Compensation
Manager Manager and Benefits
fected. However, they tended to resist Recruiting

change when the organization needed

Administrative Sales
creative expansion. They balked Manager Management

because the need for change was

not readily apparent. The opportunity
and need for continuous refinement Figure 11

 Exceptionals Fail – or Succeed 
During periods of stabilization and
maturity, they required fewer Project
Excellence Increases at the Managers and more Production
Extremes Managers to maintain profit-making
technologies and systems.
Exceptional Managers
Tend to Adopt the More Extreme Position In a mature company, division, or
department, the need for Production
Managers initially increased. They
reduced costs, streamlined systems,
Degree of Excellence

Degree of Excellence
and maintained quality standards until
a new and innovative change was
required. Those managers who were
lucky enough to be matched in profile
to the present needs of the organiza-
tion found their stars shining. Those
who weren’t, found their prospects had
dimmed, yet often they did not under-
stand why.
Project Production Hazards
Approach Approach Organizations that left a Project
Manager in a place too long suffered
Figure 12 the pains of too much growth and
change. Similarly, an organization that
relied on production efficiency too long
Rather, Critical Leaders leaned Contribution eventually lost a competitive edge.
strongly toward one orientation and Critical Leaders had the ability to cre-
only borrowed the core traits of the The inclination toward either a Project
ate visions and take risks. They took a or Production profile was firmly
other profiles. The perspectives of stance against the institutional tradition
the Production and Project orientation entrenched long before the managers
of the moment. Often, Critical Leaders came to the business arena. A role
were sufficiently balanced to optimize could not easily express the logic
excellence. (See Figure 12) could be tailored to fit the managers’
to justify a decision or vision, since inherent orientation or managers of the
it was based on a variety of factual alternate orientation could be brought
and intuitive knowledge. Therefore, in to replace them. With few excep-
they had to take responsibility for the tions, such managers could not alter
I think in the beginning I honestly
consequences of such decisions and their natural focus effectively enough
did not think much of participative have the strength to risk being proved
management. Here at the end, to be able to succeed in the opposite
wrong. The quality of their decisions role.
I have a better understanding and the ability to install systems of
of the pitfalls and the worth of lasting value were direct measures of
participative management. People the Critical Leaders’ capacity.
The Role of Critical Leaders
take one of those (management) At each stage of development, a
styles and promote it through their Balancing the Profiles Critical Leader was needed to inte-
lifetime or oppose it. Our process grate, guide, direct, and plan for the
forced us to sift out the right things Corporate Need corporate future. (See Figure 13)
Only two to five percent of all poten-
and reject the wrong things. You Different combinations of managers
tial top managers needed to be Critical
learn from it. were required during different phases
Leaders, but these few were essential.
of evolution. In a growth mode, an orga-
Hugh Brady, Sponsor They insisted on a high degree of facts
nization needed Project Managers to
and detail, yet understood the more
conceive and design the technologies
non-tangible and difficult-to-measure
and expertise the company marketed.
factors which impacted the corpo-

10 Where Exceptionals Fail – or Succeed

the qualities of innovation and flex-
ibility, plus a desire to explore new
$SJUJDBM-FBEFS%FDJTJPO1PJOUT avenues of technology application and
BOE"DUJPOT understanding. The exceptional man-
 ager who evolved from a Production
7 8
5* 5)
orientation contributed consistency,

*/ ( reliability, a high degree of cost con-
*$*& sciousness, and a results focus.
&'' 30'*5

6$ As a working unit or team, these two
/ 5*
5* )
7" 85
-& profiles were a powerful combination.
/ 30
*/ (
0 The strengths of one offset the short-
55 -0

/( comings of the other, and vice versa.
/$: /(
&'' 30'*5 Together they provided the essential
1 130
balance of management motivations
5* )
and capacities: innovation and growth,
7" 85
/ 30
plus sustained efficiency and profits.
*/ ( 5-
The obverse was also true. Where two
exceptional managers of like orienta-
tion were matched at top levels, each
manager exhibited similar strengths
and similar flat spots. Companies
lead by such combinations excelled in
Figure 13 either creating new products, services
and goods, or in maintaining exist-
ing systems and profit return. They
rate environment. The Critical Leader Pick a Winning Team rarely excelled at both essential per-
alone had the broad perspective nec- spectives. As a result, the company
Most successful corporations main­
essary to determine the proper blend often survived sufficiently during initial
tained a mix of the two manager
of Project Managers and Production growth spurts, but it lacked the core
profiles at top levels. (See Figure 14)
Managers. resiliency to prosper during severe
The exceptional manager who evolved
There was not a single path to becoming from a Project orientation contributed business fluctuations.
a Critical Leader. With enough effort,
both Project and Production Managers
could escape the restrictions of their
role. However, the transition was eas- Strong Organizations Typically
Develop Management Balance
ier for Project Managers because they
were often exposed to more functions Project Production
within the corporation. This diversity of Manager Manager
experience was an absolute prerequi-
site to Critical Leader capacity. Chief
Officer Chief
All Critical Leaders exhibited an incli- Operating
nation toward one focus over the other
but this leaning was balanced by an
appreciation of the other profile. Not Executive
all managers were willing or able to
undertake this challenge. At most, Manager

only five out of every one hundred Manager

exceptional managers became Critical

Figure 14

 Exceptionals Fail – or Succeed 11
Their First Insight: Lasting Value

T he tough management challenge

is to build a better system than
what existed. Exceptional managers
to all users. Only systems that are
comprehensive, stable, and resilient
enough to prosper through varied
term value. They routinely balanced
two distinct levels of accountability:
that of the doer/producer manager
ultimately measure success by the lon- business cycles can attain a degree of and that of the planner/builder man-
gevity of the systems they have built. It permanence. Such systems personify ager. The doer/producer manager
is the duration and dependability of the lasting value. In recent times, the con- role produced short-term results. The
light, not the intensity of the flash, that cept of lasting value has become trite. planner/builder manager created sys-
is the relevant standard of the lamp. Nonetheless, it is a vital and legitimate tems that produced greater long-term
part of exceptional capacity. Managers capacity. (See Figure 15)
Considering how much easier it is to who grew to understand lasting value
measure, feel good about, and get
rewarded for short-term outputs, it
stood apart from the crowd. Doing Protects Profit and
is not surprising that most emerging Such managers learned to distin- Survival
managers focus on what needs to guish between short-term functions, The doer/producer manager made
be done now. The intangible factors such as hands-on supervising, and decisions that produced short-term
that contribute to the overall worth of the broad-based, long-term ramifica- results. These efforts were valuable but
a corporation are much more difficult tions of managing. They differentiated consumable. Other than the immedi-
to measure. Nevertheless, managers between actually doing tasks and plan- ate profit generated, nothing of greater
who do gain the insight of creating last- ning and installing systems that can or residual value remained for their
ing value pass the first test of becoming perform such tasks effectively over the efforts. Their efforts were essentially
exceptional. long-run. an expense item for that company.
Realistically, business solutions or The doer/producer manager role
systems can only exhibit relative per-
Dual Accountability
protected and maintained existing sys-
manence. This permanence depends Only exceptional managers under­ tems which contributed to corporate
on well-designed, refined methods stood the need for and built, or further viability and profit. In times of crisis or
which are thoroughly communicated developed, systems that had long- instability, when cash flow was criti-

Management’s Dual Role


Focus Short-Term Results Long-Term Results

Benefits Generates Profits Builds Assets

Budget & Resource Efforts Are “Expensed” Efforts Are Invested


Purpose Protects Survival Stimulates Growth

Emphasis Solves Problems Builds Permanent Solutions

Maintains Capacity Improves Capability
Figure 15

12 Their First Insight: Lasting Value

cal, this role was particularly valuable. or redefined to provide expanded cor- Balancing Dual Roles
Managers who were primarily focused porate capacity. These systems could
The need and ability to create sys-
on short-term results merely fulfilled be either tangible or intangible but in
tems of lasting value distinguished
the most basic requirement for cor- either case, they became an additional
exceptional managers from all others.
porate survival. They did not actively asset to the corporation.
Nonetheless these exceptional man-
contribute to the corporation’s capac-
agers still retained some innate bias
ity to sustain long-run success. Integrating Accountability toward either growth or profit, project
The planner/builder role demanded or production. Few were able to over-
Building Creates Future discipline and conscious control. come this bias effectively enough to
Value Excessive short-run distractions were attain the optimum mix of both.
The exceptional manager was com- avoided or ignored so that the bulk
of the managers’ resources could be Those exceptional managers who best
mitted to the planner/builder manager
invested in key areas. Many managers blended these dual roles were Critical
role. While the doer/producer man-
settled into the doer/producer man- Leaders. “Critical” because they were
ager focused on short-term results,
ager role simply because it was easier able to achieve a balance between
the planner/builder manager cre-
and more comfortable. Hence, recog- growth and profit, which is the most
ated lasting value for the corporation.
nizing the concept of lasting value was difficult balance to achieve. “Leader”
Productive systems were constructed
not enough. The managers had to be because, unlike most managers, they
willing and able to make the necessary did not allow their natural bias to upset
commitment. this equilibrium. They successfully
The development programs are elicited the cooperation and effort of
immensely important. If nothing In times of crisis, greater empha- subordinates of both preferences.
else, it’s the productivity issue of sis was placed on the doer/producer
manager role. In times of growth, the The concept of lasting value was
having people perceive issues bigger
planner/builder manager mode pre- among the first, most difficult major
than just the rivets crossing their
vailed. For the exceptional manager, insights the young, high-potential man-
desk. agement candidates struggled with.
these shifts were automatic and intui-
H.E. Cypert, Jr., Participant tive. They instinctively acted in the role Commitment to lasting value marked
which would provide maximum value a turning point in their growth toward
to the corporation at that time. becoming exceptional managers.

 Their First Insight: Lasting Value 13

Seven Key Management Skills

E xceptional managers effectively

chose the one or two major contri-
butions which had the greatest impact
Exceptional managers determined
what actions would add the most value
to the corporation. They focused on You’re a manager, not to just sit
on corporate success. Seven skills factors which would contribute to con- and be romanced by your people.
formed the backbone of their plans for tinued growth or provide a guaranteed You’re there for a purpose, to make
building and then maintaining the key minimum return on an existing product sure what is the right way to go, or
systems. (See Figure 16) or service. to find a new way.
Exceptional managers who made the The analysis was practical and concise: Hugh Brady, Sponsor
most of these skills avoided failure What would best serve both corporate
and achieved personal and corporate goals and user needs? Could the cor-
goals. The process was planned and poration satisfy these needs? What
conscious, as well as unconscious alternatives were available to the user
and intuitive. The skills seemed simple or consumer? To the corporation? 2. Developing a Clear Vision of
yet were complex to apply. The seven How could the corporation become the the Goal
skills are outlined below: most durable and valuable supplier of
a particular good/service? What solution satisfies our com­
1. Developing an Overview pany’s and our customer’s needs
most competitively?
What added values are most Exceptional managers built a mental
basic, most desirable, and exceed Without this process, I think I blueprint which became the guiding
other alternatives? wouldn’t have nearly as much vision. Born from instinct, it was simple,
organizational sensitivity. I think I logically-grounded, and benefit-based.
would have probably become more The focus was adding lasting value.

THE SEVEN  and more isolated, more concerned The vision enhanced existing technol-
about my numbers, my output, ogies or corporate strengths instead
SKILLS and maybe less concerned about of displacing them. It defined the
the whole. But I have had, in fact, parameters for corporate goals. When
1. Developing an a chance to expand and broaden effectively communicated, it described
Overview the path for others to follow. It provided
through the process.
purpose and direction. When poorly
2. Creating a Vision H.E. Cypert, Jr., Participant conceived and articulated, the man-
ager could not fully implement change
3. Identifying Critical or add essential value to the corporate
Success Factors system. A competitive edge was often
The analysis encompassed the inter- lost.
4. Objective Self- ests of all concerned, from customers
and stockholders through all levels of 3. Identifying Critical Success
Assessment employees. Through this analysis, the Factors
exceptional managers identified poten-
5. Selecting Champions Exceptional managers focused on
tial areas for enhancing corporate
value and factors critical for success. the vital factors that could maintain
6. Establishing Monitoring their desired competitive stance. Their
It was the first step to installing selec-
& Follow-up Systems tive changes that provided real added decision-making was as likely to be
value to the corporation. Without this soft and instinctive as concrete and
7. Maintaining Leadership data-based. They evaluated specif-
analysis, incomplete or inappropri-
Focus ate systems were often implemented ics: What systems/technologies were
and corporate resources and energies needed to prevent negative results?
Figure 16
were misspent. What systems/technologies were

14 Seven Key Management Skills

needed to ensure that key benefits tinized to identify strengths that would 6. Establishing Monitoring and
were produced for the customer and support the critical success factors and Follow-Up Systems
the corporation? weaknesses that would obstruct them.
Strengths were then emphasized and Is the organization doing what we
For a company developing leading- weaknesses minimized. expect or what we inspect?
edge technology under government
contract, a critical success factor Likewise, exceptional managers ruth­ Monitoring systems ensured that
might have been installing a sophis- lessly evaluated their own capacity resources reached areas where they
ticated security system to ensure to contribute directly and actively to were most needed. Such systems pro-
privacy and confidentiality. This would the factors. As the vision creator, vided both feedback about progress
be a preventive critical success fac- the exceptional manager was the and served as a check and balance.
tor. Similarly, corporate divisions might nucleus for success. The knowledge The best systems were subject to
be restructured in order to increase or expertise of others was relied upon minimal interpretation or dilution from
efficiency in new product design and to supplement or complement the support staff. They were self-sufficient,
development. This would be a proac- manager’s shortcomings. When not producing their own data. Exceptional
tive critical success factor. Finally, the available internally, important informa- managers insisted that reporting man-
company might reinvest some profits tion and required talents were brought agers were guided by the data rather
back into the corporation. This could in from the outside. A comprehensive, than manipulating the data to coincide
serve as a preventive or proactive fac- skilled team was crucial to the vision. with projections or expectations.
tor – or both. Exceptional managers did not rely
5. Selecting Champions to Drive completely on staff or data input as
Once these few critical success fac-
the Critical Success Factors the sole barometer of progress. Thus,
tors were identified, the organization
could focus on the elements vital to Exceptional managers selected a monitoring systems were often as
the larger vision. This often led to a few key champions to manage exist- simple as the “walk around” check. In
reorientation in the corporate value ing systems and develop future ones. addition, these systems were designed
system, since critical success factors Their purpose was to guarantee or to be visible to all to whom they were
and existing values sometimes con- protect critical success factors. These pertinent, yet simultaneously pro-
flicted. champions were often given significant tect some areas of information. This
operational autonomy. was a particularly difficult balance to
Identifying the critical success factors achieve.
allowed the leader to concentrate on Exceptional managers determined
the pivotal elements that maintained which talents or traits would provide 7. Maintaining Leadership Focus
the corporation’s competitive edge. the optimum contribution to their vision/
Failure to carefully define critical suc- solution. Candidates who fit this model What is the focus and how do we
cess factors resulted in a diffused were developed for future contribution communicate and motivate all
focus. Energy and resources might to sustained success. Evolving corpo- toward that focus?
be expended on non-differentiat- rate needs for Production Managers
One key to effective leadership was
ing factors. Neither the manager nor vs. Project Managers were assessed
the creation of a common focus or
the corporation could succeed as a and the mix was balanced accordingly.
identity. Exceptional managers com-
result. If time permitted, such managers were
municated goals, directions, and ideas
groomed in-house; if not, the essential
clearly and concisely throughout the
4. Objective Self-Assessment skills and abilities were recruited else-
How good are we at the critical
The exceptional manager was the Then the whole group just sat down
nucleus of the vision, yet it was the and we talked about our weaknesses,
Exceptional managers applied the bulk champions who carried out the com-
of available resources to the critical suc- our strengths, our goals. Very open,
ponents that comprised that vision.
cess factors, and diverted resources At best, the absence of appropriate
very candid. That was the start of
away from less valuable areas. They champions constricted the potential the cohesiveness of the group getting
focused on the specific data and facts for success. At worst, corporate sur- together and finding direction.
needed to monitor capacity. System vival could be at risk.
and human performances were scru- J.D. Hunt, Participant

 Seven Key Management Skills 15

organization. Goals and themes could For example, the managers some-
become blurred without continued times failed to fully explore and then We used the information that we
attention. Thus, communications were integrate their boss’ perspective into were gathering about ourselves and
repetitive and consistent. A simple their initial overview. As a result, the
about what our process considered
idea would be heard 40-50 times to be managers’ focus was off target from
to be important attributes for
infused through all levels of the orga- the start. They would, on occasion,
nization. choose champions on the sole basis executives to help in our selection
of personal chemistry. By ignoring the of subordinates for our succession
Motivation and reward systems were special abilities these key champions plans. It gave us a process, some
installed or refined to maintain both possessed, developing managers tangibles that we could use to
direction and momentum. Where virtually guaranteed that their vision evaluate candidates for further
possible, rewards were directly tied would remain unrealized. development, as our replacements.
to individual contributions and per-
It helped us make our thinking
formance. Negative rewards were Such mistakes proved to be a very
instituted to direct poor performers practical developmental issue. Some more tangible, rather than just go
away from undesirable contributions or managers actively sought feedback by feel.
behaviors. Energies were thus chan- from a variety of observers (superi-
P.A. Pavesi, Participant
neled to the best effect, preventing the ors, peers, and service-users). These
fragmentation of the organizational managers were then able to focus cor-
identity. rective actions more precisely. Less
effective managers either did not solicit Few exceptional managers continued
to make these mistakes. The ability to
Common Mistakes such feedback, or they obtained it from
elicit essential feedback could clearly
well meaning, but less than candid,
Managers with exceptional potential hamper or hasten developing manag-
sources. These managers could not
developed at widely different rates. ers’ proficiency in the seven skills.
progress as fast as their peers.
At times, these managers became so
bogged down they never realized their
apparent full capacity. A number of
common mistakes were isolated that COMMON MISTAKES OF DEVELOPING MANAGERS
characterized such developing man- 1. Developing an • Not taking boss’ goals fully into account
agers’ stumbling points. (See Figure Overview • Assuming vs. asking what’s needed (too much of the wrong
17) kind of help)
• Failing to ask
• Relying on the perspective of their own discipline
2. Creating a Vision • Focusing only on short-term results (crisis management)
As a manager five years ago, I felt • Not finding true models of excellence to use as a frame of
my primary responsibility was to reference
• Forming a private vision incompatible with corporate
carry out a technical job. I was objectives
totally object oriented. Now I have 3. Identifying Critical • Not looking for underlying causes
that same responsibility, but I have Success Factors • Reading only intuitive issues
a much broader responsibility too. • Reading only data and hard issues
• Not willing to take a stand (risk taking)
As a manager, I have to develop
people to do those (technical jobs). 4. Objective Self- • Not creating an environment to get candid feedback
Assessment • Not verifying their own impressions of their skills
To help people find their way to • Not identifying the corporation’s standards of excellence
becoming better contributors to 5. Selecting • Not seeking and developing good mentor models
the company. To help provide a Champions • Selecting on chemistry alone
• Ignoring chemistry and the style of subordinates
continuity, a continuum for the
company so the enterprise goes on 6. Monitoring • Relying on the data that’s easiest to get
Systems • Putting too much confidence in thin evidence
without faltering. The right person • Not finding the time to establish and review controls
in the right job is the key. 7. Maintaining • Failing to reinforce one or two themes repetitively
Leadership • Expecting others to be self-motivated
P.A. Pavesi, Participant • Under or over utilizing negative motivators

Figure 17

16 Seven Key Management Skills

Mastering the Seven Skills least the second stage of self-devel-
Now I rely more upon my opment; i.e., prioritization. The degree
There is a logical sequence to the seven
subordinates, and I’ve developed a of mastery attained in the seven skills
skills, and the quality of each sets the
was interdependent with the manag-
limit for the next. In real life, exceptional sense of checks and balances that
ers’ actual degree of management
managers seldom used a step-by- have fed me information from
step approach. More frequently, each another (source). This verified that
component evolved at a different rate, what was supposed to happen in Neither Project nor Production Man­
and often several components were my operation was really happening. agers were as capable of addressing
addressed concurrently. This had to be done without getting divergent issues as the exceptional
my subordinates angry with me manager who had evolved to Critical
The mark of an emerging exceptional
because I was checking on them. Leader stature. Project Managers
manager was the capacity to effec-
tended to focus on intuitive or cre-
tively handle all these skills. They
C.J. Lazar, Participant ative success factors and neglect the
moved through four sequential learn-
essential systems which supported
ing curves as they grew. First, they
those factors. Conversely, Production
developed self-responsibility, then
overview or create the vision for their Managers often found such broad per-
prioritization, delegation, and finally
organization or work unit. The ability spectives to be too revolutionary or
leadership. These stages of self-
to develop a comprehensive overview just plainly unnecessary. They tended
development governed the managers’
was one of the last skills fully devel- to emphasize data and tangible, mea-
ability to integrate, balance and apply
oped, since it was closely linked with surable issues, sometimes to the
the seven skills. (See Figure 18)
the development of leadership capac- detriment of the larger perspective.
Managers who were still struggling ity. The managers’ ability to identify Only exceptional managers fully trans-
with the issue of self-responsibility had critical success factors or establish lated the seven skills into a unified and
fewer personal resources to contribute monitoring systems did not begin to workable whole.
when they were trying to develop an emerge until they had evolved to at

We all live in a particular time

.BTUFSJOHUIF4LJMMT that has its own dimensions. We’re
all in a company or group of
Hi-Potentials Evolve Leadership Skills in Stages from people that are of different styles.
weak to strong You have to figure out what you
have to deal with this time. In our
Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4 time, we needed to develop certain
Responsibility Prioritization Delegation Leadership kinds of people. The process evolved
1. Develop an Overview as we went, instead of being
predetermined from the beginning.
2. Create a Vision
You never fully understand the
3. Identify Critical
Success Factors world, it continues to change. You
have to allow a little bit of freedom
4. Self-Assessment
to define the problem and to work
5. Select Champions out the solutions. I think that I
6. Establishing Monitoring learned, rather than just growing
old. I think it (the process) changed
7. Leadership: a) Focus
me profoundly because I got to see
b) Communication results. I wasn’t working in a blind
c) Motivation
Hugh Brady, Sponsor

Figure 18

 Key Management Skills 17
Essential Practical Experiences
T he biographies of exceptional man-
agers who succeeded in their own
advancement and those who partici-
1. Rotation Through Key
By the time the manager was trans­
ferred to a third or fourth function (for
example, manufacturing or produc-
Most exceptional managers had an
pated in development programs were tion) the manager had become aware
opportunity to rotate through as many
analyzed. Six common critical expe- that neither accounting, nor marketing,
as five diverse assignments and job
riences were found. (See Figure 19) nor production provided a complete in-
functions within their corporation. This
Exceptional managers typically stum- terpretation of the environment. Each
exposure was crucial to their ability to
bled into these experiences by luck. provided both positive contributions
maintain an overview and comprehend
They were crucial to development, and liabilities as the manager learned
complex problems facing the corpora-
since they presented the opportunity to direct and plan for the total corpo-
tion. It reduced the natural bias toward
to both learn and apply practical skills. rate perspective.
one functional area or point of view,
They were the infamous “school of
and enabled them to conceptualize This rotation needed to occur rela­tively
hard knocks” to which so many suc-
the organization as a whole. early in a manager’s career in order to
cessful managers refer.
attain the variety and depth of experi-
For example, a manager who started
Once the experiences were identified, ence crucial to Critical Leader status.
in the accounting field initially believed
they could be consciously controlled. Otherwise, a narrow experience range
that the accounting function was an
Instead of waiting for luck or fate to would set the bias of sound excep-
effective way to explain the corpo-
step in, these experiences could be tional managers in either a Project or
rate world. Upon being transferred to
utilized to assess the readiness of can- Production orientation.
a different department, the manager
didates prior to a program. Likewise,
discovered that accounting was not
where certain critical experiences had 2. Guaranteed Initial Success
the sole factor for corporate success.
not occurred yet, the corporation could
The manager also learned that the Early failure was a lasting stig-
provide the opportunity.
new function (for example, marketing) ma. Exceptional managers had
had one or two valuable additions to ex­pe­rienced initial success in their
contribute. The successful manager work assignments. Such success had
Most Valuable Practical was now able to see how some con- two results. First, it instilled confidence
Experiences cepts of accounting could be usefully in the manager. Second, it provided
applied to a marketing problem. real experience within the corporate
1. Rotation through the environment, yet avoided tarnishing
key functions within the the new manager with the image of
From my perspective, the number failure.
one issue that’s come out of this
Initial success in first assignments was
2. Guaranteed initial success is that we all need growth and so vital that corporations not willing
in the first series of broadening. I have probably found to protect this element should prob-
assignments myself professionally stereotyped. ably forego developmental efforts.
One issue that’s come out loud Neophyte managers who failed were
3. Access to a mentor
and clear is that I’ve been aiming marked with the organization. Their
4. Availability of internal myself, focusing myself much, much potential was better realized if they
corporate sponsors too long – not only in the sense of went to another organization and
functional specialty, but also in started over.
5. Interaction with a “den the sense of the across the board
mother” orientation, within the company 3. Access to a Mentor
6. Previous work before or maybe even the industry. (I was) Nearly all exceptional managers estab­
coming to the organization much too narrow. lished relationships with a mentor.
Often, a consecutive series of mentor
H.E. Cypert, Jr., Participant relationships characterized their devel­
Figure 19 op­mental path.

18 Essential Practical Experiences

commonality was reduced, or the pro- 6. Previous Work Experience
It’s good to satisfy your boss, but it’s tégé began to outgrow the capacity of Exceptional managers rarely started
your boss’ boss who is going to make the original mentor to provide valuable and finished their careers with the
the decision to promote you. You insight and direction, the relationship same organization. The majority had
faded. at least one working experience in an-
really need that feedback, therefore.
other organization early in their career.
J.M. Pulici, Participant 4. Internal Corporate Sponsors Previous working experience pro-
Corporate sponsors played a different duced a base of maturity, confi­dence,
role from that of the mentor. The spon- and direction. It also illustrated an en-
Ideally, the mentor was two levels sor/protégé was less personal. The hanced real-world perspective, due to
or more above the manager in the sponsor was usually unknown to those the different exposures received in the
organization or even in a different being sponsored. Also, sponsors were alternate organization(s). Finally, man-
organization. This provided a neces­ generally several levels above the agers with such experience exhibited
sary degree of remoteness from the manager/protégé in the hierarchy. a level of self-responsibility and ac-
protégé during day-to-day operations. complishment that was often absent in
The mentor could remain passive and However, the sponsor acted as an ad- those who had no previous work expe-
understanding of errors, while still pro- vocate of activities and professional rience in another organization.
viding valuable insight and accurate endeavors pursued by the manager.
feedback. They provided the protégé (whether
Key Experiences
knowingly or unknowingly) with some­
A rewarding mentor relationship re- one who supported their achievements The most successful exceptional
quired extended periods of private time at top levels where they had no direct managers stumbled into most of
away from the job. The relationship access. these experiences by accident. But
generally occurred when the manager the strength of the planned develop-
and mentor discovered they shared 5. “Den Mother” ment process was that they could be
a vision or common goal. Mentor re- exposed more systematically to these
lationships evolved with different key The role of the den mother was both experiences.
managers over a period of time. When delicate and subtle. The den moth-
er was an individual (either female Some managers only needed one or
or male) who was familiar with the two of them. Through accident or sheer
unspoken, inner workings of the orga- initiative and drive they had already
Seldom is your boss the sole influence nization. Den mothers were mature, encountered several. No development
of the decision to promote you. experienced, and supportive sec- candidate lacked all six key experi-
Often it’s their boss or even others retaries or staffers who took a new ences. Those corporations which
in different functions who really manager “under wing.” Den mothers were fully committed to the integrated
influence the vote. provided support to the manager and process guaranteed the candidates
taught them tacit organizational rules. had these experiences, which formed
K. Brown, Facilitator High potential managers often could a practical laboratory for acquiring and
not thrive without them during the ini- applying the seven exceptional skills.
tial years in the organization.

 Essential Practical Experiences 19

The Evolution of Exceptional Managers
The four plateaus, therefore, repre­ formal education. “Management”
You’re trying to make them think sented the natural or incidental remained primarily a concept at this
in terms of the time when they evolu­tionary process. The rate of stage.
can’t just carp about how people maturity depended on both innate abil-
above them are managing things, ity and motivation and the experiential Plateau Two:
oppor­tunity to develop skills.
but rather they’ve got to figure out Learning to Prioritize
how they would do it themselves. At this level, managers began to
Plateau One:
Hugh Brady, Sponsor establish a focus. They learned that
Developing Self- key long-term priorities cannot be
Responsibility sacrificed for short-term results. They
Managers learned to accept responsi­ recognized that more than one or two

T he managers’ ability to provide

lasting value to the corporation
evolved over time. They navigated
bility not only for their job, but also
their own self-development efforts.
primary objectives could not be tackled
simultaneously without losing focus.
This marked a distinct commitment to They began to differentiate between
vigorous learning curves with several the tasks performed and also to the routine duties which contributed to
plateaus. They shifted from just doing overall goals of the company and/or day-to-day operations, and those few
or reacting to thinking, planning, and the boss. These commitments were major objectives which would also
building. They moved from applying demonstrated by observable levels of contribute to long-term goals.
known technology to planning and self-motivation and self-initiative.
envisioning future directions. They
switched from relying solely on logic At this plateau, they were totally Before I entered into this program, I
and data to trusting their intuition and involved in their job. Self-responsible was doing a job that had to be done
experience. managers assessed their own efforts
- and I was part of a cog in a big
from the vantage point of their boss,
At early levels of development, man­ seeking feedback and scrutinizing wheel. Now, it’s not just doing a day-
agers were capable of dealing with shortcomings. They initiated on-the- to-day job; I’m changing the course
predictable, easily measured ele- job learning experiences in order to of events in the corporation, at least
ments of their job. As they matured, optimize exposure to as many facets here. I could point to tangible things
the managers strived to build long- of the job and the corporation as pos- I have done, in dollars’ worth at
term systems, even in soft and more sible. Some managers even pursued least 10 times my yearly salary. But
difficult to measure areas, such as atti-
there are many intangible things
tudes toward quality or productivity.
that are probably worth more than
Both strong personal motivation and You’ve got to take advantage of that to the corporation.
innate intelligence proved to be pre- this unique opportunity. Taking
requisites. The further a manager advantage means you have to be P.A. Pavesi, Participant
progressed, the more exceptional a large participant and you have
the manager became. Sufficient time to be able to live with yourself
and experience were also important This was also the managers’ initial
relative to: 1) what you think you
factors. foray into a risk-taking mode. They
are going to get out of it; and 2)
When planning a development proc­ what you are going to put into learned to ignore short-term tactical
ess, it was important to determine what (but non-critical) interruptions in order
it to get something out. You can’t
level of maturity individual managers to maintain the primary focus on major
go and expect it all to just flow;
had attained. Managers at different priorities and objectives. They truly
in fact, you have to contribute began to manage their time. Lesser
levels of maturity could not be devel- heavily - above and beyond.
oped in the same group, since levels of activities and goals had to be relin-
capability and interest differed greatly. quished, since the list of “worthwhile”
H.E. Cypert, Jr., Participant
activities was invariably too long.

20 The Evolution of Exceptional Managers

Plateau Three: handle responsibilities at a higher
level. Progress through the plateaus
Learning to Delegate I couldn’t find enough time to indicated the motivation and rough
As managers moved from the second devote to the program when we first potential of management development
to the third plateau, efficiency became started - I finally began to get the candidates.
more crucial. The managers trained right people in the right jobs, and
others to perform the less exclusive was forced to delegate more; this Finding the Right Plateau
aspects of their jobs. This cemented had positive management benefits
the realization that the management Each plateau was more demanding
for me as well as my subordinates. – both in time and energy – than its
mission is to accomplish through
others. L.T. Petroni, Participant predecessor. Hence, few managers
completed all four stages. Many good
This stage represented a move to managers stopped at the second or
active management functions. The third phase. This was usually of their
managers monitored and assessed The leader actively and consistently own accord. For some, time had sim-
subordinates in order to optimize their differentiated among employees. They ply elapsed. They had started the
unit’s efficiency. Assessment took established systems that rewarded process too late or each stage had
place in two ways: 1) the subordinate’s those who performed effectively and consumed too much time. The organi-
talents were evaluated so tasks could limited the rewards of those who fell zation still benefited. These managers
be assigned most effectively; and short of expectations. often exceeded the doer/producer
2) strengths and shortcomings were role, even though they could not attain
assessed so rewards and controls This differentiation among employ- Critical Leader capacity. They served
could be most accurately applied. The ees was a distinguishing mark of the as important resources for the few who
managers retained overall accoun­ leader. Good performers were more did evolve through all four plateaus.
t­­­ability. They assigned tasks to the satisfied than poor or mediocre ones.
appropriate subordinates, monitored Through the effective use of reward All exceptional managers broached
progress, and developed the subor- differentiation and other motivational the fourth learning plateau. Few purely
dinate’s capacity to handle expanded techniques, subordinates could be Production or purely Project managers
duties in the future. influenced to focus on the appropriate integrated the last, most difficult stage
priorities. to become Critical Leaders.
The managers recognized the need
to prioritize the most productive appli- Leaders also understood the capaci- Critical Leaders effectively balanced
cation of their own energy without ties and limitations of the corporate the dual roles of managers. They
sacrificing lesser objectives. They environment. They were cognizant of developed the ability to constructively
acquired efficiency in both doing tasks how fast it could change and how far mesh a growth perspective with profit
through others and deciding which it could stretch. Therefore, they led and stability. They also created and
tasks should be tackled. others with an appropriate balance of built holistic systems that ensured last-
both urgency and patience. ing corporate value. Hence, Critical
Leaders were distinguished by the
Plateau Four:
Exceptional Capability breadth, depth, and intensity of their
Learning to Lead growth process and the degree to
Few managers completed all four
Leadership constituted genuine per­ which they had internalized the com-
plateaus prior to the age of forty-five.
sonal commitments from subordinates plex lessons of the four plateaus.
However, as they progressed, the
and peers. Managers at this level managers demonstrated an increased
learned to elicit cooperative energy ability to address pertinent corporate
from subordinates, colleagues, and issues.
even from superiors. Earlier, the
managers had learned to accurately The four plateaus represented a use-
assess an employee’s capacity. ful tool. For succession planning, the
Here, the managers began to under- characteristics determining readi-
stand the principles that influence all ness for promotion were more quickly
employees. identifiable. Observed strengths and
weaknesses clarified which man-
agers had evolved sufficiently to

 The Evolution of Exceptional Managers 21

Learning Curve
Breakthrough Points



• Does right things, not just does
things right
• Capable of ignoring low
PRIORITIZATION level interruption
• Sticks to building major
• Manages more than does tasks


• Sees self as champion in an DEFICIENCIES
area or project
SELF- • Initiates plans to boss for
-FBSOUP• Spends time on tactical
issues: risks long-term
RESPONSIBILITY • More expert on key facts 5BLF3JTLT goals to cover short-
term risks
than boss • Systems depend on
• Doesn’t depend on direction major personal effort:
entirely from boss won’t operate without it
(doer, not manager)

FROM THESE DEFICIENCIES • Focuses on problems

• Trying to be right rather than find out not solutions
what IS right • Doesn’t understand the
-FBSOUP5BLF • Tends to withdraw or get defensive difference between
*OJUJBUJWF • Hasn’t developed own vision plan or survival, maintenance,
and growth modes
• Reacts to input of others

22 The Evolution of Exceptional Managers

• Influences others to focus on priorities
• Elicits cooperative effort of others
(subordinates, peers, supervisors)
• Understands the rewards that influence


• Assigns critical but lower level • Doesn’t focus on 2-3 primary
priorities -FBSOUP organizational competitive strengths
• Reviews progress and • Doesn’t simply, clearly enhance the
accepts accountability for -FBE corporate focus on these strengths
results • Hasn’t developed champions
• Understands the capacity and • Is not the organization’s chief spokes-
limitations of others person, motivator, or salesperson


• Assigns tasks but abdicates
-FBSOUP.BLF responsibility
%FDJTJPOT • limitations
Doesn’t account for strengths and
of delegate
&GGJDJFOUMZ • Expects employees to be self-
motivated on manager priorities
• Managers step in and do it themselves

Figure 20

 The Evolution of Exceptional Managers 23

Conclusion: Looking Ahead

Is one to conclude that the future will bring a purely scientific approach to the identification and development of exceptional
managers? Certainly not. So long as managers rely on the intangible and, uniquely individual, qualities of instinct and
personal experience to guide their path, a universal set of instructions is nearly impossible to devise.

However, the process we have out­lined provides a means for optimizing the resources dedicated to key manage­­ment
development efforts. It aids in focusing on the few top quality candidates who have critical leader potential and ensuring
that, when needed, crucial managers will be ready and waiting. It acts as a supplement, not a replacement, to the often
sound, yet intuitive decisions of existing exceptional managers and provides added insurance when selecting the future
guardians of corporate success.

24 Conclusion: Looking Ahead