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The central challenge for growth companies is making the shift from "scrambling" to "scaling." Few organizations effectively navigate this transition due to what Stagen refers to as the performance paradox: the "winning formula" that created a company's initial success becomes the very thing that holds it back from getting to the next level. Additionally, typical entrepreneurial organizations are limited by a number of factors, including: executive leadership experience, infrastructure limitations, poor understanding of key financial drivers, an overemphasis on sales and top-line revenue growth, and a reliance on individual heroics to solve problems.
As illustrated in the table below, new competencies and a radically different mindset are required for an organization to make the move to scaling.
|Erratic results||Sustainable results|
|Don't have time to plan||Planning frees up time|
|Revenue focus||Profit focus|
|Higher variable cost, lower fixed cost||Higher fixed cost, lower variable cost|
|Great things accomplished through individual heroism||Great things accomplished by teams leveraging a powerful model|
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There comes a time when every mid-market CEO will choose to upgrade executive team talent, often resulting in the creation of new VP or C-level roles. Recruiting efforts typically target experienced executives from large companies with impressive credentials. These "super star" individuals are in high demand and they are often viewed as the best of the best. Stagen refers to this executive profile as the F-16 pilot.
One important distinction: F-16 pilots are top gun performers as long as they have one thing... an F-16.
Without the resources of an incredibly sophisticated machine, an F-16 pilot may struggle to get off the ground when transitioning into a smaller organization. Flying an F-16 is very different than building a mid-size prop plane. Bottom line: when capabilities don't translate, failure is inevitable.
Success requires mid-market CEOs to avoid the allure of impressive resumes and to focus on finding executives with a history of actually building planes, not just flying them. Once candidates are identified, the CEO must carefully assess the appropriate capabilities using practical testing (including scenario-based interviewing). Once a hire is made, the CEO should patiently commit at least 6 months to on-board his/her new direct report effectively.
Our members represent a broad geography spanning across North America. Hundreds of companies, dozens of industries, thousands of employees. Within all this diversity lies one unifying principle: a commitment to playing the long game. In a world consumed with exit strategies and short-term thinking, our members differentiate themselves by embracing the power of what’s possible through time.
It is our commitment at Stagen to attract the rare breed of leader who envisions the work to be done over a period of 10, 20, even 30 years. Those who think in decades, not years. Conscious Capitalists who recognize the power of indefinite time horizons and who feel called to use their organizational platforms for long-term positive impact.
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Stagen helps leaders to become more conscious by addressing three distinct dimensions of business: the individual ("I"), the team ("We"), and the organization ("It").
Building on the latest research in developmental theory, the below illustration represents the framework we use to expand client capacity at the current level and catalyze the move to the next level.
The path to increased capacity in the individual (employee and/or leader) dimension is the shift from "Socially Defined" to "Self-Authoring." The practice for individual vertical development is "Gamefilming" - a metaphor borrowed from sport that refers to the filming of an athletic performance for later review and performance improvement.
The path to increased capacity in the team dimension is the shift from "Compliance" to "Collaboration." The practice for team development is "Action Learning" - a method based on two fundamental principles: (1) Teams optimize learning by solving problems linked to their actual experiences and work situations; and (2) disciplined group analysis and reflection produce the greatest gains in ability in the shortest amount of time.
The path to increased capacity in the organizational dimension is the shift from "Scrambling" to "Scaling." The practice for organizational development is "Business Objectification" - a method for making previously implicit competencies explicit so that they can be documented, refined, and duplicated.
Stagen scholar practitioners have aggregated and synthesized hundreds of books, articles, theories, and best practices into ten self-directed Learning Modules. These modules are used to assemble a core curriculum suitable for the needs of high-potential leaders. Each module is enhanced by dozens of supplementary learning assets: white papers, articles, multimedia, audio and video presentations and numerous proprietary tools.
Learning is a critical imperative in cultivating and optimizing the talent that is key to significant and sustained competitive advantage. This module introduces two kinds of learning: acquired learning which occurs through training and experience that imparts new knowledge and skills to an existing meaning-making system (without changing any of the underlying fundamental assumptions or beliefs) and adaptive learning which transforms and expands the mind itself by helping it evolve to the next level of psychological complexity. The module also presents two crucial attitudes toward learning: the Knower and the Learner. "Knowers" generally have a closed mind because they assume that they already have the answers and are therefore incapable of any significant improvement. It is difficult (or even impossible) to seek and acquire new knowledge unless people are aware-and can admit-that they do not know. "Learners" are willing to admit that they don't know. This awareness allows them to approach situations with an open mind and a sense of ease and even enjoyment as they learn new ways of understanding and doing things. The module also introduces the "learning loop" which provides a predictable learning path for people to maximize the benefits from the feedback they receive from learning experiences. Deliberate practice is presented as a key to achieving mastery along with four orientations toward practice that can help or hinder one's progress toward expertise. Finally, a powerful learning technique called "gamefilming" (a metaphor borrowed from sports) helps people observe and effectively evaluate their performance objectively dramatically accelerating the learning process.
The most successful business people are not the ones that are the best time managers, but rather the ones who are the most focused. The Institute's proprietary Attention Management System is the industry's first comprehensive attention management solution. Executives who use this system achieve productivity increases surpassing 20% - 40% based upon metrics such as worker output per hour, percentage of missed deadlines, number of hours reclaimed, percentage of time and attention solving crises, and percentage of time and attention devoted to proactive and strategic projects.
Execution is a methodical way of prioritizing, planning, and implementing actions so that an organization achieves its goals. There are two fundamental yet very different types of execution: "in" the business and "on" the business. Executing in the business refers to the crucial day-to-day performance of every employee in the organization. These activities contribute to the successful achievement of the organization's monthly and quarterly milestones. Executing on the business refers to the type of execution that is directly and immediately linked to the organization's strategy (involving changing assumptions as the environment changes). This module presents four crucial aspects of execution that growth companies should understand. The first element is Deliberate Trade-offs which involves prioritizing and evaluating alternatives and making conscious choices and deliberate sacrifices. The second element is Disciplined Process which involves the activities associated with detailed project planning and disciplined project implementation. The third element is Personal Productivity which involves the attitudinal, behavioral, and systems influences on an individual's ability to perform at a consistently high level. The final element--which weaves together the other three--is referred to as Committed Action. This crucial piece of the puzzle includes the essential yet often overlooked interpersonal dimension of execution. It involves making and keeping commitments; accountability; and the communication skills necessary to identify, manage, and resolve breakdowns. As with other Stagen learning modules, execution is explored as it relates to the individual, team, and organizational dimensions of a company, with the intention of expanding key competencies and capacities associated with each.
Studies indicate that the single biggest complaint of American workers is poor communication with management. Two-thirds say that it prevents them from doing their best work. Conscious communication is about greater awareness, perspective, and choice. Effective communication requires the ability to see things from different vantage points. By increasing awareness and skill with the more subtle dynamics of communication, one can consciously choose the best mode of communication for a given circumstance. Greater versatility can expands a leader's effectiveness, power, and influence. Several specific practices are introduced to dramatically increase communication versatility. Presence--a key to conscious communication--is a quality of alert attention that allows you to connect deeply and authentically with yourself and others. Next, a model and specific practice is introduced that helps communicators accurately distinguish between facts and perceptions (what actually happened versus our "story" about what happened.) Another powerful practice is introduced that helps people balance the assertion of their own position (advocacy) with asking questions to understand others' perspectives (inquiry). The next key to effective communication is active listening. The module introduces the active listening mindset along with five specific practices that dramatically enhance one's communication ability. The final key to conscious communication is the ability to give both positive and critical feedback skillfully. Specific guidelines and practices are offered to engage this delicate communication activity successfully.
Leaders must understand their people, including values, needs, and motivations. This module introduces the Stagen Mindset Model which features four universal value systems leaders encounter. These mindset are also called "meaning making systems" and "worldviews." Participants will learn to quickly recognize, communicate with, motivate and influence followers who draw on one or a combination of these mindsets. This competency measurably increases the leader's ability to achieve desired results with followers.
In 370 B.C., Plato established the first university in the Western world — he called it the "Academy." He based it on the notion that each person had the potential for greatness born of self-knowledge. His Academy offered a diversity of specialized subjects in its curriculum, each being taught through a method Plato learned from his teacher Socrates. This groundbreaking approach, designed to cultivate independent thought, placed special emphasis on engaging and developing many different dimensions of the individual. Plato's Academy can be viewed as an early pioneering effort in "integral" education.
Inspired in part by the classical Greek approach to human development, Stagen's Leadership Academy designs and delivers elite programs for individuals who are prepared to make a serious, long-term commitment to their own personal and professional development. In collaboration with dozens of researchers, academics, and subject-matter experts, the Academy has aggregated hundreds of books, articles, theoretical frameworks, and best practices into a comprehensive blend of theory and application that represents the best thinking available for executive development.
The flagship Integral Leadership Program (ILP) is a 52 week learning intensive that seamlessly blends in-person workshops, self-directed modules (print, interactive, audio, and video), supplemental learning assets and leadership tools, peer support, phone-based teleclasses, and one-on-one executive coaching. Enrollment requires sponsorship by an Academy graduate followed by an application and interview process to ensure a candidate's cognitive, psychological, and emotional readiness.
Organizational learning has become a buzzword in the business world, and many leading companies aspire to be "learning organizations." As a result, there has been a popularization of terms like experiential learning, action learning, collaborative learning, participatory learning, and so forth. But what-if anything-unites each of these approaches? What does "learning" actually mean? The aspiration to learn something implies that there is something desirable to do or understand that is not within one's capability of doing or understanding. The simplest definition of learning (and one that unites the various learning schools and approaches) is "the process of closing the gap between our aspiration and our ability."
The Learning to Learn module provides a comprehensive overview of the latest learning theories and practices that will assist individuals and their organizations in the process of acquired learning (new knowledge and skills) and the task of significantly upgrading capability through adaptive learning (a transformation and expansion of the meaning-making system). The discussion begins in Attitudes Toward Learning with an investigation of the "nature vs. nurture" question (i.e. whether elite performers are born or made) and describes attitudes that can either promote or undermine development. The Feedback section explores the mechanics of how people learn from experience and suggests guidelines to anticipate and leverage efforts for maximum results. The next section, The Path to Mastery, explains acquired learning and the latest research behind "deliberate practice" leading to mastery. And finally, the module concludes with The Next Level, a presentation on adaptive learning, including practices that can help "upgrade" an individual's capabilities into the top tier of adult development.
We exist to help business be a force for good.
The Stagen Leadership Academy was established in 1999. We train leaders who are committed to long-term personal development and using their organizational platforms for positive impact. Our members have access to a training facility in Dallas, Texas, an online library of proprietary content and tools, and a faculty of psychologists, executive coaches, and experienced general management professionals.
In 387 BC, Plato established the first university in the Western world -- he called it the "Academy." He based it on the notion that each person has the potential for greatness born of self-knowledge. Inspired by this classical Greek approach, our training programs are designed to expand a leader's capacity for wisdom, compassion, and courage.
Next-level leaders see marketplaces in ways that allow them to change the rules of the game, outmaneuver competitors, and dominate entire industries. The authors use compelling corporate case studies, including those of Dell, Starbucks, Southwest Airlines, and Apple Computer, to provide an in-depth analysis of some of the last decade's most innovative business thinking. The paper documents how Apple Computer, one of the companies hardest hit in the 2000 computer technology industry meltdown, tripled its revenue, rocketed profits to a 28-year high, and expanded its market cap a staggering six-fold-all in only five short years. While providing a rare behind-the-scenes glimpse into the thinking and leadership responsible for these results, the authors show how CEO Steve Jobs, once ridiculed as a poor manager and weak competitor, quarterbacked one of the greatest corporate turnarounds in recent history.
The paper outlines evidence that next-level solutions are always a result of next-level leadership, and explores the reasons why some leaders possess the perspective and vision necessary to generate these solutions while others remain confined to a constricting vantage point. "Leadership versatility" is shown to be the key driver behind sustained high performance, not only in business, but also in athletics and in military Special Forces. The last section of the paper reveals the surprising result of a five-year research investigation into a crucial practice the authors term "gamefilming." Evidence strongly suggests that this little-known technique may be the single most reliable, effective, and efficient way for leaders to increase their versatility and their capacity to engineer the kind of breakthrough innovations and "next-level solutions" that can catapult their companies beyond their competitors.
Demonstrate passion and commitment. Take ownership, be consistent, and deliver results. Create value.
Engage stakeholders and build enduring partnerships. Compassionately support and challenge each other in service of our collective success. Rise together.
Faithfully pursue long-term impact over short-term gain. Accept responsibility, surrender attachments, and be willing to get messy. Lean in.
Recognize that the world needs demonstration more than it needs instruction. Get on the mat, practice, and maintain beginner’s mind. Deepen congruence.
Celebrate each other and connect. Have fun, share stories, and create memories. Spread the love.