Far too many organizations do a poor job of translating their well-formulated strategies into their anticipated results. Whether related to unclear goals, lack of accountability or undertaking activities irrelevant to results, the inability to deliver comes from poor execution. To actively manage your organization so that everyone is working toward a common vision, strategy and set of priorities requires aligning “seven gears of execution” to alleviate the friction that’s slowing you down. These involve ensuring you have the right people in the right roles with the right capabilities; you align your organizational architecture in the direction of your strategy; you promote a culture of communication; and more.

Meet Sean

Sean Ryan is a world-renowned business consultant, speaker, trainer and executive coach. As the founder of Whitewater International Consulting, he has worked internationally with companies such as Disney, Nucor Steel, FedEx and Nestle Waters North America/Perrier Group of America. With more than two decades of industry experience, Sean is highly regarded for his ability to guide organizations through complex transformational change in what he describes as “a world of perpetual whitewater”.

Timestamped Overview

05:43 Gaining success by improving client strategies.
09:24 Discussion highlights shared leadership principles and experiences.
10:39 Most organizations struggle to achieve desired results.
14:00 Gear 2 aligns architecture, systems, culture for success.
20:32 People want to win, avoid keeping score.
21:46 Food costs were consistently 37% of revenue.
24:52 Team worked together, improved business, cared for each other.
29:55 Gaining clarity leads to better performance in organizations.
31:21 Organizational goals often mismatch between bosses, employees.
35:29 Emphasizing the importance of effective communication.
40:10 Share the podcast and spread the word.
41:45 “Respect boundaries. Appreciate. Stay well.”

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The following is an AI generated transcript which should be used for reference purposes only. It has not been verified or edited to reflect what was actually said in the podcast episode. 


Scott McCarthy [00:00:00]:
Today in episode 154 of the Moving Forward Leadership podcast, we speak to strategy expert Sean Ryan, and he’s gonna tell you how you can get your business strategy aligned in just 7 simple steps. That’s right, folks. It’s all business strategy today. Are you ready for this? Alright. Let’s do it. Welcome to the Moving Forward Leadership podcast. This is your host, Scott McCarthy, and welcome to the weekly podcast where we focus on the 3 domains of leadership. Leading yourself so that you can be the best leader possible, leading your team so you can build those high performing teams and leading your organization so you can drive that organizational output through the roof.

Scott McCarthy [00:00:47]:
Here at this show, we go and speak to rule leading leadership experts across those 3 domains and unlock their secrets, their tips, their tricks, and everything else in between while coupling it with my 20 years of military experience as a senior army officer in the Canadian Armed Forces to bring you the most complete leadership podcast going. You can find out more everything moving forward leadership at moving forward leadership .com. Now let’s get to the show. Yes. Welcome to the show. It’s so great to have you here for yet another outstanding episode lined up here at Moving Forward Leadership podcast. We’re gonna be looking at business strategy today, and reality is no matter what type of organization you lead. You need to worry about strategy.

Scott McCarthy [00:01:48]:
Why? Because it’s one of the things that’s gonna drive you and drive your organization towards your goals for the future. A poor aligned strategy is a equals failure, absolute failure. So don’t fail. Make sure you lead and succeed at leading. But before we get into the show and Sean, I just got one quick announcement, and that is I’m running a survey right now, and I want to know how this show can get better for you. But there’s only one way for me to find out, and that is if you tell me. So go to moving forward leadership.comforward/survey. Just Take 2 minutes and quickly fill out a survey for me.

Scott McCarthy [00:02:33]:
It will help me immensely. You have no idea. It’s like gold, and I want to say thank you. So for all those who filled the survey, I am going to select 1 person, and they’re gonna get an opportunity to get a free book from the moving forward leadership resources page, all expenses paid by me, shipped to your door, but, again, you got to fill up the survey to get that. So check it out, movingforwardleadership.comforward/survey. The link’s in the show notes. I’m here for you. Can you be here for me and just do this one little thing? Seriously, it will just take 2 minutes of your time.

Scott McCarthy [00:03:13]:
Alright. So let’s dive into today’s topic and, more importantly, the guest who’s going to be talking about the topic at hand. Sean Ryan’s a world renowned business consultant. He has literally worked with businesses all around the world like Disney, FedEx, Nestle Waters, and North America Perrier Group. So just to give you an idea, he’s got more than 2 decades of industry experience, and he’s also basically world known as a transformational change agent. He believes in his 7 gears of execution, which drives organization’s strategy and make sure that they’re aligned so that you get the results that you’re looking for. Too many businesses and too many organizations out there have poor line strategy, which in turn allows the business to, unfortunately, go in all kinds of different directions. Does that sound familiar? It probably does.

Scott McCarthy [00:04:13]:
We’ve all been in those companies and those organizations where the strategy and the tactics at the ground level just weren’t lined up and you can feel it. You know, you felt like you were spinning your tires at 10,000 RPMs, but you’re going nowhere. So let’s find out how we can fix that, shall we? Alright, ladies and gentlemen. You sit back, relax, and listen to my podcast about how you can get your business strategy in gear with Sean Ryan. Sean, welcome to the podcast, man. It’s so great to have you here today.

Sean Ryan [00:04:58]:
Scott, thanks a bunch. Looking forward to it.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:00]:
Now, we’re just having a good chat there before I hit record. Got a copy of the book here. Excited to talk to not only a fellow Canadian, a fellow East Coaster. I don’t get many people from from Canada, let alone the East Coast on the show. So it’s always good to have another one here.

Sean Ryan [00:05:16]:
Glad to be here. We’ll, you know, do, try to do Canada proud here today.

Scott McCarthy [00:05:20]:
We will. So, listen, I gotta know, first thing in the back of my mind is, why this book, what was the inspiration, and the thing that drove you to, I guess, getting gear to write a book about strategy, execution, organization, you know, organizational behavior culture and those things.

Sean Ryan [00:05:43]:
Yeah. It’s, It’s kind of a torturous road, but but simply, we we had a lot of clients that were really struggling getting the results from their strategy that they wanted. And I thought it was just my experience over 30 years of consulting. I kept Running into organizations that were weren’t performing the way they wanted to, and we began to outline the things that we had to do for them To help them be successful and and achieve better results than they were getting. And then very specifically in about 2012, a client came to me, and it was an organization that had a pretty good strategy. They had thought through through things well, but they weren’t getting the results. And and he said, Sean, help us figure this out. And so that was the point at which I I took a lot of the things that we’ve been doing over the years and put them in the to the beginning of the construct That led to the book, Getting Gear.

Sean Ryan [00:06:39]:
And we at at that point, we identified 4 of the 7 gears that we outlined in the book. The ones that really talk about individuals and teams performing the best they possibly can, taking the strategy, translating in it into the goals they have and then and then generating individual and team results that align to the strategy. And then and then a little bit later, you know, I’d always thought I was gonna write a book. I thought I’m, I’ve had thoughts in my head about several books. I never thought Getting the Year was gonna be the 1st book. I thought that, a book just specifically around leadership was gonna be the 1st book, But then I got ready to start riding, and it struck me. Now we’re we’re getting a lot of success with the things that we’re doing, around the concepts that Got embedded in getting gear, and so then it began to to accumulate into hey. I’m gonna I’m gonna go ahead and write a book, and it’s gonna be around driving strategy to results, not just specifically leadership, and then boom, the book was born.

Scott McCarthy [00:07:41]:
That’s cool. That’s neat. It’s pretty common, actually, of all the authors. Very similar. People are like, oh, I wasn’t planning on writing it, but, it kinda just happened because this is what I’ve been working on for months upon years. It’s interesting, though. You say that you’re looking at writing a book with specifically on leadership. I find all these things part of leadership.

Scott McCarthy [00:08:01]:
And and and the podcast here is very comprehensive in that, we have a wide range because I talk about 3 domains of leadership. First one being leading yourself. So how do you, as a leader, become better. How do you operate at your peak performance? How do you, you know, take care of yourself physically, mentally, all those things? Next thing is leading your team. So how do you take care Jill, Joe, John, how do you build a high performing team in a collaborative workspace? And then finally is leading organization, which is exactly what we’re talking about here in organizational culture, optimization, strategy, all those different things. So of my 3 domains, you know, we’re talking about the third one, but, of course, that always impacts the other 3 because if your organization isn’t successful or your business is not successful, then you can’t take care of your people as well. You can’t give them the benefits that you wanna give them. You can’t you know, you can you can’t raise their salaries as quick.

Scott McCarthy [00:08:55]:
You can’t do all this stuff. You lose people. So your team aspect starts starts failing. And then when once all that happens, you start getting stress that as a leader than yourself, you know, then there’s issues that pop up with yourself. So I think a lot of people discount this, this aspect in leadership and in its importance because it really is. And being able to lead your organization and push it forward has an impact, and it is part of leadership to me. So it’s great.

Sean Ryan [00:09:24]:
Yeah. That’s fascinating. And and, actually, as I was looking at, your website and some of the things that you’ve done, And you talked about your 3 domains of leadership. It it actually overlays perfectly. It it’s almost like you and I were drinking from the the same cup tea or the same pot of tea, because that’s that’s exactly how we think about it is, you know, leading yourself, leading others, Leading leading an organization and then ultimately leading an enterprise, and and we’ve actually built a lot of our things, run it. And and to your point, that the idea of part of what’s embedded in getting gear and the idea of of driving strategy to results Is is this, as I as I mentioned at the top, I I thought it was my experience, right, 30 some odd years of of consulting with different organizations in different places and and all and everybody struggling at some level In getting the results that they wanted from their strategy, really being able to perform at the level that they wanted to perform at. When I started researching for the book, What I found was my experience was not unique. It’s not like I was just stumbling and fumbling and bumbling upon those, you know, Few 100 organizations that were struggling.

Sean Ryan [00:10:39]:
It turns out that an enormous number of organizations struggle. The the research would be something like 75 to 90% of organizations fall short of getting the results they want from their strategy. So what I began to realize was, man, this is really a universal truth. And and then to your point about is if if you’re leading an organization, you have to deliver the results that you Expect, what what we found, especially, we knew this before, but then with COVID, It becomes it becomes almost an exclamation point. The idea that you’re really managing, I I call it 3 balance sheets. You’re managing the balance sheet for the organization. You gotta take care of it financially. You’re managing the balance sheet for and with your team, and you’re managing the balance sheet with The relationship that you’ve got with your customers.

Sean Ryan [00:11:31]:
And if if you don’t perform well, if you don’t deliver the results that you expect, you’re not serving any one of those balance sheets well. Financially, you put your organization at risk. You can’t create the environment where you can keep your team and keep people employed and keep them Fully engaged in the organization, and and you’re certainly not gonna perform well for your customers if you’re struggling merely to survive. So, I think it’s really critical from a leadership perspective to think about what do we do to deliver the best results we possibly can so that we can preserve all 3 of those balance sheets.

Scott McCarthy [00:12:03]:
Yeah. I definitely like that concept for sure, and, works well, especially in the business organization, those balance sheets concept. So let’s talk a bit about more in-depth about the book so that the audience can get a taste of it, a flavor for what you’re what you’re talking about in it. So what are these 7 different gears that we we talk about? What really you know, how does one drive into the next as we go through them?

Sean Ryan [00:12:29]:
Sure. I’ll, I’ll go over them quickly, then we can figure out if you wanna dive into, any

Scott McCarthy [00:12:34]:
We’ll dive into a couple for sure. Okay. Great.

Sean Ryan [00:12:36]:
I figured you might. So, the 7. So we got this this strategy to execution the results gap. 85% of organizations, let’s say, come short, And and they’re leaving as much as 50% of the results that they wanna get on the table, whether that’s for their customers, how they deliver, whether that’s for their team, the environment they create, and certainly financially for the organization. So they’re they’re leaving a lot on the table. So we we looked at, you know, what are all of the things that that connect Strategy to resolve. And we identified these 7. And we’ve broken them into 2 categories.

Sean Ryan [00:13:12]:
The the first category, the first three are what I call the foundation or environmental gears. They have to have to happen across the whole organization. And then the The last 4 are the performance gears, and those are the ones that really connect regardless of whether you’ve got 2 people working in a garage, You’re a solopreneur, you know, working out of your own bedroom, or you’re running a 50,000 person global organization. These the the performance gears connect performance from the top of the organization all the way to the frontline team members Throughout the organization. So we’ll take them in order. The first 3, the foundation gears. The first is what we call right, right, right. Having the right people in the right roles with the right capabilities to be able to execute on your strategy.

Sean Ryan [00:14:00]:
Then Gear 2 is aligning the architecture, and the architect by architecture, we mean the systems, the structures, the processes, and the culture that it takes to create what we call organizational gravity. The the system structures, processes, culture pull people in the direction you wanna go Instead of having to try to push, cajole people, it just creates this this kind of hidden, un unseen force that gets people doing the right thing. Just think about it simply if people do what they tend to get paid for, or they do, what they think is the norm within the culture, or they do what Others in the organization are getting promoted for. When promotions and compensation and culture aligned to the strategy, you get better performance. If they’re not aligned for whatever reason, then trying to make change, trying to get the results you want becomes you’re like running in mud or molasses. K? Then the the 3rd gear is creating a culture of communications. So up, down, sideways, diagonally, Everybody’s connected. We can talk about the things we need to talk about.

Sean Ryan [00:15:04]:
We deal with conflict. We can provide people the tough feedback. But generally, everybody is it’s the communications that keep everybody on the same page of the playbook, understanding what’s working, what’s not working, what do we got to do to be better? So those are the foundation gears. And then and then the performance gears, there’s there’s a lot of logic to this. It’s not like there’s a there’s, like, this super secret here. It’s things that we know, but we don’t necessarily execute on these things well every day. So gear 4 is the idea of setting start end time frame result oriented goals. So having people deliver specific results instead of just mindlessly going through activity day in and day out.

Sean Ryan [00:15:50]:
Gear 5 is everybody has visible scorecards, so they know how they’re performing relative to those goals. That in DEAR 6, there is activity. We call them the performance drivers, which are one of the things people do day in and day out the decisions, the tasks, the behaviors that are aligned to hitting their goals. So you have to do stuff. We just don’t want mindless activity. We want activity that’s targeted to specific outcomes that you’re trying to generate. And and what we know is in almost all walks of life, almost anything anybody does, there are 2 or 3 things, critical behaviors that separate great performers From mediocre or even good performers. So identifying those critical performance drivers.

Sean Ryan [00:16:38]:
And then Gear 7 is the gear that it’s the glue. As a friend of mine said, it’s the glue that holds everything together. We call it follow-up follow through, And, within follow-up follow through, there there are 2 concepts. The first is the idea of generating learning. So if we’re not on track with our goals, if we’re not performing the way we want, Why not? What’s misaligned? What of the other 7 gears is misaligned, or is it really I’m just not performing and I need to perform better? Maybe I need different skills, different capabilities, but but first generating learning, but then ultimately creating accountability for performance. You know, individuals and teams ultimately have to be accountable. And so if everything else is well aligned and you’re still not getting performance, Ultimately, we have to create some level of accountability or accountability on the positive side. When when we hit goals and we accomplish what we want to accomplish, there need to be positive outcomes, positive consequences for that.

Scott McCarthy [00:17:34]:
Now I really love 2 things. 1 was the transparency, the open scorecards and then and to the the whole accountability bit. And I guess my question for you on those is, do you get you must get pushback on that because especially on the, transparent scorecards because everyone’s so guarded. Like, oh, like, my my peers should know how I’m performing. That’s that’s between me and my supervisor. But I like it because it helps promote that health healthy competition. So yesterday, I was on a call with a former US Navy SEAL commander, John McCaskill, who, he was on he’s, he was on the show episode 142 dot, 2, Remembrance Day special. Great great guy.

Scott McCarthy [00:18:19]:
And on this call, a different call is on with him. He was talking about how in the Navy SEALs, there’s always healthy competition. There’s always, you know, every time they went to the range, they would take score just so that you know how you’re shooting, but it’s like, oh, you know, I’m gonna have to shoot better than the guy next to me. To go for a run, like, you know, I gotta try to beat the guys to then, and, and it’s always just driving that, that performance trying to get to the top of their game, their individual game. So, collectively, they can be better. However, I feel like in in the corporate world, it’s like, no. No. No.

Scott McCarthy [00:18:54]:
You don’t need to know how I’m doing. That’s none of your business. So do you get a lot of pushback on that, or it does it come with, open arms?

Sean Ryan [00:19:02]:
I think it’s it’s kind of a combination of both. There is pushback. Right? Because sometimes we use scorecards to punish people, to beat people up. And when you do that, people look. I I don’t want you to keep score on me if it means I’m gonna randomly get beaten up for it. On the other hand and here’s the analogy that we use in the book. If you if you’re driving down the street and you got kids playing Soccer or basketball on on 2 2 fields or 2 courts right next to each other. And on, Let’s let’s say a basketball.

Sean Ryan [00:19:35]:
On 1 court, the kids are keeping score, and on the other court, the kids are they’re just playing for fun and and they’re not keeping score at all. Now kids on both courts are probably having fun, but from a 100 yards away, how quickly would you be able to tell which court people are keeping score on and which ones they’re not keeping score on. And and for most people, that answer is less than about 3 seconds. And and why is that? Well, when we keep score, we tend to play more intensively. We tend to give each other better feedback. We tend to coordinate our activities better if we’re all oriented on the goal. Now that that might be Scott, you’re the best score on the team, and so we all make sure you get the ball as often as you possibly can because we wanna win the game and keep Keep keep the court, you know, on who’s got next. Right? And and so keeping score creates a level of intensity.

Sean Ryan [00:20:32]:
People want To win, they wanna be their best. On the other hand, if we’re just gonna randomly beat them up for keeping score, then in that case, I don’t want you to keep score, because I I don’t want, you know, to beat me up over it. I did a I I let a turnaround on a resort. We we tell this story in the book, and, you know, it’s it’s what happens when scorecards go bad. And I was bleeding turnaround on on this resort. We had 11 food and beverage operations, and one of the things we started doing with the leaders was once a week, we’d sit down And we’d have a profit loss review. And and those 11 food and beverage operations ranged from nacho stands at a at a at a beach that we had to, what was supposed to be a a a 5 star white table cloth fine dining experience. And it was sit down in the 1st month, and we’re looking at the the profit loss statements for each of these 11 operations, and I was struck by the fact that in every one of those operations, The the percentage food cost to revenue was exactly the same.

Sean Ryan [00:21:46]:
It was 37%, And it didn’t matter so the our food costs were 37% of our revenue regardless of whether it was the nacho stand or the fine dining restaurant. Now I didn’t have a huge amount of food and beverage experience, but I’m looking at that, and I’m like, what are what are the odds? Right. What are the odds that that could happen? And it’s the 1st month, and I’m kind of the rookie. And I’m trying to get the team in reengaged, and so I didn’t Completely lose my mind the 1st month. And so we had a conversation about it, and and everybody’s got, bye. You know? And then they’re kinda checking their shoes to see how well shine they are because they don’t wanna look me in the eye. Right? I’m like, okay. Look.

Sean Ryan [00:22:28]:
I’m gonna let this go. But next month when we come back, I’m gonna expect these numbers to be different. So we get back together the next month, and they were better. They they took it from 37% to 36%, but, again, it was 36% In the nacho stand, it was 36% at the, coffee shop attached to the golf course. It was 36% In our, wine our fine dining restaurant, 36% across the board. I’m like, okay. And and by then, I got myself educated, And I knew that the food cost in the nacho stand was probably supposed to be 20%. And in the fine dining restaurant, it was probably supposed to be, know, 40% or 45%.

Sean Ryan [00:23:11]:
It costs a lot to put a stake on a table. They make a lot of money off it, but it costs a lot put a stake on the table. So I knew there was supposed to be a difference, and by then, I knew kinda what the difference was supposed to be. So I I well, we looked at him and I said, hey. What’s going on? Now nobody is looking up. Everybody’s checking their shoes to see see how well shined they were. Nobody wants to even talk. So I just stood up, went over, locked the door, symbolically stupid because they can all stand up and unlock the door and leave.

Sean Ryan [00:23:40]:
I said, like, I’m I’m not leaving here Until we understand what’s going on. And so finally, after 2 or 3 minutes of really uncomfortable silence, one of 1 of the leaders broke and said, okay. Yeah. Well, you’re right. We’re manipulating the numbers. Why you manipulating the numbers. And they they said, well, because under under the old leadership, if you were different, even if it was legitimate and explainable, If your numbers were worse than somebody else’s numbers, you you just got beat up. You got thrashed.

Sean Ryan [00:24:12]:
And then they they gave me multiple examples of of the previous leadership team just beating these people psychologically. Well, it’s no wonder they were doing what they were doing. Right? I wouldn’t want a visible scorecard under those circumstances if you’re just gonna beat me up. Well, we it was really interesting though, Scott. We We plumb deeper into it, and I was fascinated when they told me I said, so how do you all do this? Well, the the only way To manipulate the numbers is to move inventory around at the end of the month. So what what they were doing was they they were at at, like, 10 o’clock on the last day of the month, 10 PM. They’re all getting their numbers together. They got on a conference call.

Sean Ryan [00:24:52]:
They talked about what their numbers were. They figured out who was higher, who was lower, and then they spent the next 2 hours or 3 hours moving inventory around the resort from place to place to place, recalculating their numbers, and making sure that their their p and l’s were gonna foot out to the same and so I learned a lot about the team. First of all, they were taking care of each other. Secondly, they really understood their business extremely well because they were able to manipulate the numbers that way. They were awesome. They had just been in a really horrible environment. So to your point, are people gonna shirk from a visible scorecard? They might If they’re in an environment where they’re gonna get beat up for it, instead of going kind kinda hopping over to the accountability side to the gear seven side, instead of generating learning, let’s understand what the difference in the numbers is and then use it to be better versus Beat the heck out of people.

Scott McCarthy [00:25:52]:
It’s tough being alone as a leader. You’re often in situations where you’re not sure where to go. You’re not sure what’s the best decision yet. As Colin Powell once said, it’s lonely at the top. And reality is it takes time. Sure. You’re gonna read books and listen to podcasts such as this one, but nothing beats experience. But who has time for experience when you’re at a situation right now that requires experience to lead yourself, your team, your organization through.

Scott McCarthy [00:26:28]:
That’s where coaching comes in. You see, coaching enables you unlock the experience in others. Right here, right now, you have 20 years of military service plus a 150 plus episodes of interviews and topics and research just sitting at your disposal. So what are you waiting for? Are you ready to level up your game? Become that leader that you know you’re meant to be. Are you ready to go to the next level? If so, drop me in a line, scott@movingforwardleadership.com or swing by the website and book a discovery call through moving forward leadership .comforward/book. Let’s get you moving in the right direction, leading better, leading more effectively today right here, right now. Starting off with leading yourself. And then let’s focus on how you can build your high performing team to drive your organization’s at work.

Scott McCarthy [00:27:39]:
Higher, faster, harder today. Not next week, not next month, but today. Alright, folks. That’s it. Now let’s get back to the show. That’s an incredible story.

Sean Ryan [00:28:00]:
I like to

Scott McCarthy [00:28:01]:
refer to it as ostriching. You know, the old cartoons where you take the ostrich, takes its head, and dumps it into the sand? Because reality is you don’t actually have any idea of how your business is operating when when you get things like that happening. But you’re absolutely right. One, what an incredible team. Holy cow. They’re taking care of themselves. So I was kinda defaulting to the leadership or well, I like to refer to people, like, in this scenario, the boss’ stance and not, you know, trying to take each other out and go cutthroat.

Sean Ryan [00:28:31]:

Scott McCarthy [00:28:33]:
But at the same time, it’s, like, it’s just a matter of managing expectations and having understanding. It’s like, okay. Nachos, we should you know, the goal is 20%. Alright. Let you know, how close are you to 20%, and, you know, fine dining, 40%, as you said, okay. How close? Are you over? Are you under? Why? But instead, it’s like, no. I’m just gonna destroy you. So I I hate I hate that mentality.

Scott McCarthy [00:28:58]:
That’s one of the reasons why the podcast exists. The the hash the the the, tagline for the show is lead, don’t boss, and that’s unfortunately well, they were getting the ladder of that one, but still, that’s a great, great story, and I love it. I love I love, so many aspects of it, and I’m sure that they’re much better today than what they are than what back then.

Sean Ryan [00:29:20]:
We got it was really interesting how Quickly, once we got the visible got the numbers out into the light, how quickly we got better at what we were trying to do. Right. As soon as we could start having real conversations about what’s really going on here, how do we get better? When you take all that energy That was going in well, first of all, that was avoiding the thrashings, but then was going into, like, moving inventory around and trying to about how do we keep ourselves from getting beat up as soon as you start channeling that energy and, hey, let’s go perform better. It was it was magical how quickly if they they all those units start

Scott McCarthy [00:29:55]:
to perform better. Absolutely. Oh, I I can only imagine. You know, once you take your head out of the sand and you actually have a clear picture of what’s actually going on, it’s so easy to turn things around. Now the my follow-up question is, obviously, you got the 7 gears. We you know, I’d love to go into all of them, but, we’d probably do a day long podcast. What I’m interested to know, though, with your experience as a consultant and your experience applying this this theory, this framework to, your the work that you do. Do you find that there’s 1 or 2 common gears where organizations are, like that’s where they’re really grinding as in not working well.

Scott McCarthy [00:30:39]:
Is there a common area, or is there little bits sprinkled right through the whole process.

Sean Ryan [00:30:44]:
They’re a little bit sprinkled right through. The one that we always advocate people start with Is, gear 4, setting result oriented goals. And and here’s why. We we always start When when we’re working with organizations on these kind of things, we always start with a really, simple exercise. We ask Performers, frontline team members, or anybody at any level of the organization to write down what what they believe their top 5 goals are. And then we ask their bosses, their leaders to write down what they think those performers’

Scott McCarthy [00:31:20]:

Sean Ryan [00:31:21]:
5 goals are and we’ve done this with frontline teams. We’ve done it with executive teams. The results are almost always the same over literally probably 20,000 repetitions now over 30 years. What we find is that on average so now we’ve got we’ve got the performers At any level of the organization write down their top 5 goals, we’ve got their bosses writing down what they think the top 5 goals of are those performers, the next level down. Theoretically, we’ve got 2 lists that should match 5 on 5. On average, what we find is it’s about 2. 2 out of the 5 actually match, which means maybe 40% of the time, people are forming on what they their bosses think is important. 60% of the time, it’s crapshoot.

Sean Ryan [00:32:09]:
Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. So it it’s a great place to start because the first thing we gotta do is we gotta get alignment on those 5 things. What are they? And then making sure that whether I’m in sales or I’m in customer service or I’m in production or wherever I might be in the organization, that my goals are aligned to the strategy of the organization. So that’s a that’s a great place to start because we know that that’s often broken. And then from there, we can start talking about, okay, what other gear is most getting in the way of somebody being able to achieve the goals that they that they ought to have. Makes

Scott McCarthy [00:32:50]:
yeah. I can totally see how that would happen. Is that whole communication thing, right, that, leadership doesn’t necessarily get right all the time or the does that that they don’t necessarily follow-up. Often, I find with some of my clients that I’ve worked with, it’s like, oh, one and done. You know? Like, oh, I let them know what it is. Like, no. Like, no. No.

Scott McCarthy [00:33:10]:
No. No. It’s not a one and done thing. This is not a precision strike. This is a constant bombardment of what the vision is, what the goal is, or what the mission are. And I’m like, why? I’m like, because people forget. People, you know, perceive things differently at different times. There’s so many factors come to play.

Scott McCarthy [00:33:28]:
You can’t just one and done this and expect to have the same results. And then, of course, it’s like, you know, you if it’s a very layered organization, you’re you know, you’re as the leader speaking to your management team, and they go turn around and tell talk to their people. Like, how does the telephone game Oh,

Sean Ryan [00:33:47]:
yeah. Right.

Scott McCarthy [00:33:47]:
And you right? You as a leader, you need to get away and get out and check with the ground level folks to make sure that the message that you’ve said has been clearly passed to the floor. And I can tell you from experience, it does not happen whatsoever. And that’s not by and that’s not, done maliciously. It’s just done due to human nature. So I commanded a squadron of 200 military members, and, we’re divided into 3 different troops, maintenance, supply, and transport. And I would walk around every Friday. I would pick 1 of the troops, and we were spread across 9 different buildings. So myself and my right hand man, my sergeant major, we get it.

Scott McCarthy [00:34:27]:
You know, every Friday morning, we’d leave our office. We go walk around through a couple of the buildings and just talk to the people, see how they’re doing, and get a feel of, okay, are the messages getting through? And I can tell you a lot of the times, no. But it’s just a matter of, you know, continuously, you know, saying what the goals are and what the vision is and what the mission is to get people to understand and and really get it drive driven in.

Sean Ryan [00:34:52]:
Couldn’t I couldn’t agree more. It it’s almost like you wrote the culture of communications chapter. You you know, a couple couple things you talked about. I I told him once. Do I really have to tell him again? One of the one of the subparts of creating a culture of communications, we call it communicate, communicate, communicate. And and as I wrote it, I actually at the at the end of that section of the book, I I I talked about the fact that maybe I should have actually called that chapter communicate, communicate, communicate because that’s so common. I told him once, I don’t understand why they don’t get it. Well, look, they they just don’t get it.

Sean Ryan [00:35:29]:
Okay? You know, you gotta tell them 7, 8, 10 times or more times. You gotta check for understanding. You gotta get them to pair it back in their language to make sure that right. And so all those kind of things. You know, we talk about in the book, the and and well, first of all, we talk about in my experience over 30 some odd years, The idea of a place where communications is awesome, is excellent, and everybody’s bubbling about it, we we call those unicorns Because they are in in spite of the hundreds, thousands of organizations that we’ve worked with, we’ve crossed paths with the uniform with the unicorn 2 or 3 times, 5 times maybe. Now you’ll see it in some parts of organizations, but across large organizations, it’s an it’s Just incredibly rare to find a place where we communicate up, down, sideways, diagonally all the time because it is hard. There’s just this inertia that keeps Information from penetrating. And then and then I love the story about you and your sergeant major because it’s it’s a great example of what we talk about in the book Of practicing 2 up, 2 down communications.

Sean Ryan [00:36:35]:
What do we mean by that? Yeah. Communicating 2 levels up and 2 levels down. Because that way, As you’re out walking around, you’re finding out what messages were penetrating down to your troops. Right? And they’re able to communicate With you directly, you’re finding out what’s what’s penetrating back to you. And, again, to your point, nobody intentionally rarely. We there are rare cases, but But most of the time, we’re not intentionally withholding information. We’re not intentionally filtering it. We just do.

Sean Ryan [00:37:06]:
It’s the inertia of the organization. It’s the marshmallow there in the organization. So when you go practice 2 up, 2 down communications like you did, you kinda punch through the you punch through that marshmallow there.

Scott McCarthy [00:37:19]:
Oh, absolutely. And, you know, sometimes you do find things that, that were wrongly done as I did once that, we won’t necessarily go into that story today. It didn’t end well for it didn’t end well end well for a certain individual. But, no, this has been great, Sean. I I’ve truly and I appreciate your time. I appreciate the the book and and everything that we, that we’ve discussed today. Before we wrap up, I do got a couple last questions for you. 1, a question I ask all of the, guests here at Moving Forward Leadership, and that is according to you, Sean Ryan, what makes a great leader.

Sean Ryan [00:37:58]:
This is gonna be a different answer than what you probably get. The the best leaders I’ve seen, we we talk about it in terms of thinking action outcomes. As leaders, we take action all the time. The best leaders we’ve seen are the ones who can challenge their own fundamental assumptions, beliefs, perceptions, and Hold them up for examination and decide, are these the is my thinking, my assumptions about the people that work for me, the situation I’m in, my beliefs? Are are they helping me engage my team to deliver the results that I need to deliver as a leader, or are they getting in the way? And, so the the the greatest leaders can self examine and can challenge their own thinking and and change it to generate better outcomes for themselves, their teams, their organizations.

Scott McCarthy [00:38:46]:
That’s awesome. Continuous self improvement. Right? That’s that’s the name of the game. Final question is, how can people find you? How can they follow you? Feel free to give yourself a shameless plug. It’s all about you right now.

Sean Ryan [00:38:58]:
Great. The easiest way to get to us is, our website, wwici.com. Again, it’s wwici.com. Go to the website. You get the opportunity to become a gearhead. You can, get access to the book and the the, the gearhead environment that we’ve set up, and come join us And, help become part of the community to help organizations and individuals perform better.

Scott McCarthy [00:39:21]:
That’s awesome. As as a auto enthusiast, I don’t know if I would consider you a gear head, because I consider me a gear head. But, still, regardless for the listener out there, the links are on the show notes, Sean’s website where you can grab the book, all the social media profiles. So just go to moving forward leadership.comforward/15 4154, and they’re all there. Sean, again, thanks for taking time in your busy schedule, man, to talk to me, but most importantly, the audience on on such a great topic for sure.

Sean Ryan [00:39:50]:
Scott, it’s been a treat. Much much enjoyed it.

Scott McCarthy [00:40:10]:
And that’s it for this episode today. And if you listen to it to this far, wow. You’re a super fan. Thanks for listening. But before we close out, I got 2 things I wanted to let you know. First being, did you know that it’s easy to share the Moving Forward Leadership podcast? You see, regardless of what app you’re using to listen to this show right now, whether that’s on your phone, be an Android or iOS or it’s on your computer through the website, there’s a share button right there. So why don’t you take a moment and share this episode? That’s all I ask. Don’t even care about rating and review anymore, but rather, I would need to share it with someone because you know what? They’d probably get something out of this episode as well.

Scott McCarthy [00:41:04]:
And finally, if you really enjoy the podcast and you feel like throwing me a bone, well, I’m a borderline coffeeaholic. So how about you just buy me a cup of coffee? And you can easily do that with going to moving forward leadership .comforward/coffee. And feel free to throw me a dollar or 2 for a cup of coffee. I don’t need anything fancy. Good old Tim Hortons here in Canada works just fine for me. But as always, ladies and gentlemen, thanks for listening. It’s an honor to serve you day in, day out with this podcast. And as always, lead.

Scott McCarthy [00:41:45]:
Don’t boss. Thanks, and take care.

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