Transcript of Jack McGuinness' Guest Appearance on Entrepreneur Effect Podcast

Click here to listen to the podcast.


Announcer:                   Want to learn how to be an entrepreneur?

Announcer:                   You are dedicated and devoted to a life of developing new ideas, and innovations. Willing to take calculated career risks, achieving independent wealth and success? Then you are ready to experience the Entrepreneur Effect. We'll highlight opportunities for entrepreneurs in digital marketing through interesting, practical, and thought provoking interviews, and monologues. Increase your income, and be your own boss by listening to the Entrepreneur Effect. Please welcome your host, a 25 year veteran in sales, management, and business development, Dush Ramachandran.

Dush R.:                        Hi, and welcome to Entrepreneur Effect, this is Dush Ramachandran. My guest today is Jack McGuinness, who is the co founder of Relationship Impact, which is a consulting firm focused on working with CEO's to unlock the potential of their leadership teams. And Jack also serves as a senior professional instructor at John's Hopkins Carey School of Business, where he teaches courses on strategic management, and human capital. And he's also written for multiple magazines and so on. Before I welcome Jack, I just have one quick thing for our listeners here.

Dush R.:                        Now we've been doing more than 100 episodes, I think we're about 100 and something episodes. And we've had the good fortune of being able to interview some amazing people like Jack. But one thing that I would love to know from you, our listener, is what other topics would you like to hear about? Are there any particular personalities that you would like to us to interview? If you can do me a favor, just go to, and just put in either the name of someone that you would like to have us interview, or a topic that you would like us to cover, and we'll do that in a future episode. Okay? All right, wonderful. So let's get started. Welcome Jack, thank you for taking the time to stop by.

Jack McGuinness:          Thank you so much for having me, Dush, I appreciate it.

Dush R.:                        That's a pleasure. So now you have done a lot of work in the area of building leadership teams, and you advise and consult with CEO's of very large companies on how to build really great leadership teams. So tell us, I mean first of all, what are some of the key characteristics that distinguish a good leadership team?

Jack McGuinness:          So we think there's a few things that really distinguish the great leadership teams that we've worked with. The first is obviously a laser focus on the business world results that the leadership team is comprised to execute on. So a laser focus on results, absolutely number one. Number two is the teams ability to learn, and grow, and be open to dealing with more complex challenges over time that they face. So as they continue to face the complexities of the environment that they're working in, their ability to learn from each other, and learn from the environments that they're working in grows, and their capacity grows to be able to do that.

Jack McGuinness:          The third thing is an ability to be resilient, or to lift themselves back up when inevitable challenges, pitfalls happen, or failures happen. And then there's intangible characteristic that we see, is that we call it a force multiplier effect. Or when there's real strong synergy among the teammates, and they have each other's backs, and there's a sense of we're better together than we are as individuals. And that's more of an intangible kind of feel characteristic. But the first three are really, really important from our perspective, in terms of building a great team. And it's what a good team looks like from our perspective.

Dush R.:                        Sure. And as I'm sure you've found, there are some CEO's that have the good fortune, or the opportunity to pick their own teams.

Jack McGuinness:          Yeah.

Dush R.:                        They put their team together based on people they've worked with in the past, the people they trust. People that they know are competent, and can do a great job. And so the team comes together in a very cohesive way. But not everybody has that opportunity. Sometimes CEO's are parachuted into a company. Either as part of a turnaround, or as part of an acquisition, or a merger, or something like that. And they have to work with a team that's already in place. Obviously, it's hugely disruptive once you get into a company as a CEO, to just go around firing everyone, and hiring a brand new team. Because-

Jack McGuinness:          Exactly.

Dush R.:                        That team takes a lot of time to get embedded together, and start to focus, and [congealize 00:05:52] a team, and then start to work, start to move forward.

Jack McGuinness:          Right.

Dush R.:                        So what suggestions can you give to a CEO who has not had the opportunity to build his own team, or hand pick his team members? But rather, has inherited a team that he needs to work with, and the circumstances are such that he doesn't have the opportunity to replace the team. They're all good people, he just doesn't know them, they may not be working all that well together. What can he or she do to bring that team together, and make that a winning team?

Jack McGuinness:          So the first thing I would suggest is as advice to the CEO, is don't assume that how you built a previous team is going to work in the new environment. And that's one of the pitfalls we see of many of the CEO's that follow the script that you just laid out. Yeah, every team is different. Every organization is different. The environments that are challenging the organization are different, and so therefore the opportunity to build a team that is able to confront and deal with those challenges well is likely to be different as well. So the first thing is don't assume that the way you operated a team in the past is going to lead to the same type of results, that's number one.

Jack McGuinness:          The second thing I would offer is that I think it's very important, rather than to do what is very natural for most business people, the first step for most business people is to attack the structural, what we call the structural, or the infrastructure challenges around how the team operates. So you mentioned if someone, a couple folks aren't working well together, firing one of them, right? That's an easy solution, somewhat easy solution. It's an easy thing to say, "Well okay, well if this isn't working, I'll fire one of them," right?

Jack McGuinness:          Number two, attack it by restructuring the team in some way, changing reporting relationships. I'm not suggesting that the structural ideas are bad ones all the time, but they often leave out the fact that there's a whole relational side of a team's dynamics that come into play. And so what we often see is a structural solution being put in place without a lot of thought given to the relational dynamics, and the relational challenges that the team has, or has the potential to have. And the same dynamics are recreated, even though new structural solutions are put in place.

Dush R.:                        Sure. So basically, you might think that you have a solution by trying to attack the structure. When you change the structure, you change the reporting relationships, you change the dynamics. You fire one of the people, or more of the people, whatever. But you find the problem hasn't gone away. I mean the problem still persists.

Jack McGuinness:          Exactly.

Dush R.:                        And so that, you suggest, is because you've not addressed the root of the problem.

Jack McGuinness:          And often, the root of the problem, and often people ask us, "What's the number one thing you see getting in the ways of leadership teams working well?" And the number one thing is what we call productive dialogue, or the ability of teams to challenge, debate, confront each other well in a manner that moves important issues forward, and leaves minimal relational scars. Right? And so if you just, to repeat, if you attack a challenge of the team's not working well, with a structural change, that is not necessarily attacking the root of the problem.

Jack McGuinness:          That may be not always, but maybe a relational issue. That's getting in the way of people being able to confront each other well, and there's lots of reasons why people don't confront each other well. But the symbiotic relationship between a team's structural dynamics, and its relational dynamics are sort of ... They're just inextricably linked, so addressing one without the other is really, really ... we see can cause some serious problems.

Dush R.:                        Okay, yeah, that makes sense. Okay, we're going to take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with Jack McGuinness. Stay tuned, we'll be right back.

Speaker 2:                    Stay tuned for more of the Entrepreneur Effect when we return.

Advertisement 1:          Ready to do a podcast for your business? Make that podcast elevate to enterprise level. Let Web Master expedite and execute your podcast to build your brand, and broaden your customer base. Web Master has worked with the world's biggest tech brands. Google, Yahoo, and Bing, and have worked with fast growing brands like ShipStation, and GoDaddy. Now it's your turn. Contact BRASCO at, and rush your enterprise level podcast into production at a very reasonable rate. Email B-R-A-S-C-O at

Advertisement 2:          Are you looking for the best in Word Press speed, security, and scalability? WP engine is a digital experience platform for Word Press, powering digital experiences for large brands around the world. With easy to use site management tools, and powerful do it your way development features, WP Engine gives you the flexibility to build it your way, improve your SEO, and conversion rates with the faster site on WP Engine. Learn more on WP

Advertisement 3:          Do you look at the task of ranking your site to the top of the search engines like you would climbing the top of Mt. Everest? It doesn't have to be. Top SEO' knows how hard that climb can be, and they can make top ranking a reality. Top SEO's sends you to only the right search vendors and agencies that they know will work for you. Since 2002, Top SEO' has reviewed and researched the best search engine marketing agencies and solutions providers. Don't risk the cost of falling off the proverbial peak of search rankings, let Top SEO's give you peace of mind. Top SEO', the independent authority on search vendors.

Speaker 2:                    You are experiencing the Entrepreneur Effect, only on Web Master Here's Dush Ramachandran.

Dush R.:                        And welcome back, this is Dush Ramachandran with Entrepreneur Effect. My guest today is Jack McGuinness, who is the co founder of Relationship Impact, a consulting firm that's focused on working with CEO's to unlock the potential of their leadership teams. And Jack also has, he's senior professional instructor at the John's Hopkins Carey School of Business, where he teaches courses on strategic management, human capital, and so on, and he's written for a number of magazines. So Jack, before the break, we were talking about what makes a team a winning team, and how you can have a great leadership team.

Dush R.:                        Now one of the points that you mentioned, which I thought was very significant, was this notion of team members being able to confront each other in a way that doesn't break the team. That doesn't break the team dynamic. Now often we're led to believe that the best teams are ones where there is no confrontation at all. Where everybody gets along really great, they're all best buddies, and they all go out and have a drink at the end of the working day, and they come in the morning and they're smiling at each other, and everybody's having a wonderful time. They're all the best friends. But we know from reality that that rarely ever happens.

Dush R.:                        There are personalities, personalities sometimes don't get along with one another. So what are some ways in which, and you might even have people that hold different views on how a particular issue should be handled within the company. They might have different views on the best way to move forward. How best to grow the company, et cetera, et cetera. So in those types of situations, where people are bound to disagree with one another, how can we make sure, what ways would you suggest, where confrontation can be healthy? And how do you keep that confrontation from breaking the team dynamic?

Jack McGuinness:          So ultimately, what you want to get to is where people on a team see disagreement in a different shape, right? The paradigm of disagreement becomes disagreement is a bad thing, to disagreement can be very productive, and help our team be more innovative, push issues forward in a more efficient fashion. Whatever they might be, so changing that paradigm of disagreement as a bad thing to disagreement as a productive thing is important. So how do you do that? From our perspective, it really does, the whole relational dynamics, a lot depends on the CEO's, or the formal team leaders. The way they model on how they deal with confrontation and disagreement.

Jack McGuinness:          So we spend in our engagements, we spend a considerable amount of time up front with the CEO on a couple of basic blocking and tackling things. Number one is to help a CEO prepare to receive feedback that he or she may not have heard before, that may not appreciate, may not like. Right? Because getting feedback, when team members see a CEO or the formal leader receiving feedback with an open mind, with curiosity, with a lack of defensiveness, it opens up a little bit of a different dynamic for the team to say, "Wow, what's that all about?" Right? "Where is he or she coming from?" Right?

Jack McGuinness:          And so feedback, getting the leader to model feedback, both giving feedback in a constructive way, but most importantly, getting feedback from the team, from their team in a productive way is really important. And so that's one element of it. And so how do you tap into the collective wisdom and strengths of each individual team member? It's really important too, and this is an overused term, that takes a long time to build, and an even longer time to repair, is building a sense of trust among the teammates is really important. And trust has a number of facets to it, as a belief that people are competent, a belief that people's intentions are good. A belief that they're not going to be judged, there's some psychological safety around that.

Jack McGuinness:          And so taking some time to build trust, and creating an environment where folks can be vulnerable with each other, is ... I know it sounds like the soft stuff, and sounds touchy feely. But I'm telling you, if you're really trying to build a team that can confront each other well, and can view disagreement productively, building trust is huge.

Dush R.:                        Absolutely. That makes sense. Let's talk a little bit about startup games.

Jack McGuinness:          Sure.

Dush R.:                        Now many of our listeners are business owners, they are primarily in smaller startup companies, and they don't necessarily have the same challenges that might face a fortune 500 CEO. However, their challenges are every bit as real to them, as a public company CEO might face. So one of the big challenges within the startup community, is you're building a team as you go along. So you might start with the two founders, or the founder and the co founder, and then you might add key members of the team as you go along. What are some of the ways in which startup founders can build a team in the right way from the beginning?

Dush R.:                        Making sure that everybody that you hire has kind of a culture fit, has the right views, has the same sort of aspirations as the rest of the team, so that there's no need for conflict resolution at a later point. Because there isn't that much of conflict. There may be some minor disagreements, but nothing in the way of serious conflict. So how do startup, I mean what would you suggest is the best way for startup CEO's to build their teams in such a way that they can be a winning team right out of the gate?

Jack McGuinness:          So I'm about to say something that is ... I know if I was sitting in their shoes, they're going to say, "Oh my God, how am I going to do that?" Right? And so I'm sorry in advance for saying this. But taking the time, and I know you don't have a lot of time, but taking the time to ... at least some time to make sure that the structural dynamics on your team are set up to deal with the challenges you're facing right now. Right? They may change six months from now.

Jack McGuinness:          And the structural dynamics just means do we have a sense for, if there's three of us that are moving the ball, we're kind of leading the organization, even in the startup phase, do we have a sense for what each other's responsibilities and accountabilities are? Because what I see often times in younger organizations, that they have great intentions, everyone's rolling up their sleeves doing the right things. But we trip over each other unintentionally, right?And so just taking some time to step back and say, "You got that, I got this, when we're overlapping, I'll take responsibility for this," right? And so that's just clarifying, and spending a little bit of time on role clarity, right?

Jack McGuinness:          Secondly, making sure that you do take time out to meet well. To step back, and meet on making sure we're keeping track of the strategic outcomes we're looking for separate from the day to day blocking and tackling of getting one piece of a project done. So just stepping back and making sure we're taking ... spending some time to deal with the long and the short term, not just the short term. So that's a little bit, so taking a step back and making sure that we're structured right at this point as a team to move our organization forward. And then six months later as we're adding people, and our challenges become different and broader, doing the same thing, sort of recalibrating.

Jack McGuinness:          So that's on the structural side. Now on the relational side, it's just making sure as a leader, that we are modeling the behaviors that make sense for the team at a particular junction, juncture, right? And so from our perspective, being open to other people's perspectives, being able to receive feedback well, are two fundamental characteristics of a good leader. And if you're not modeling those things, begin to model them, because they're going to be important as you begin to grow your team.

Jack McGuinness:          And define what is important, how do you guys expect each other to behave with each other? You don't have to write them up, put them up on a poster or anything like that. You just have to talk about them a little bit. And so these are things that fast paced organizations often times don't step back to take a look at. The structural and relational dynamics of how the team is operating. And they cause some chaos down the road, because they haven't been defined.

Dush R.:                        Absolutely. Yeah, I think that's good advice. Let's take a short break, we come back, we'll continue our conversation with Jack McGuinness.

Speaker 2:                    Stay tuned for more of the Entrepreneur Effect when we return.

Advertisement 3:          Do you look at the task of ranking your site to the top of the search engines like you would climbing the top of Mt. Everest? It doesn't have to be. Top SEO' knows how hard that climb can be, and they can make top ranking a reality. Top SEO's sends you to only the right search vendors and agencies that they know will work for you. Since 2002, Top SEO' has reviewed and researched the best search engine marketing agencies and solutions providers. Don't risk the cost of falling off the proverbial peak of search rankings, let Top SEO's give you peace of mind. Top SEO', the independent authority on search vendors.

Advertisement 4:          Celebrating the best in online advertising, the Web Marketing Association presents the 2018 Internet Advertising Competition Awards. Submit your banner ads, email ads, rich media, online newsletters, websites, and social media campaigns now, by going to Deadline for entries is January 31st, 2019. All winners will have their entry highlighted on the Internet Advertising Competition website, as well as receive a handsome trophy to display, or a personalized certificate of achievement. Be honored among your online advertising peers by submitting your entry into the Web Marketing Association's 2018 Internet Advertising Competition Awards. Go to now.

Advertisement 5:          There are over 70 million active podcast listeners in the US. Web Master reaches them all, with the largest global distribution of any online business to business podcast network. We can target and place your message in front of those active listeners immediately. Now your message can be delivered with less commitment and investment on over 20 hours of weekly original content. Hosted by the most respected names in digital marketing. Thanks to an exclusive private offer, available for a very limited number of companies. But you must act fast, email B-R-A-S-C-O at, and get your message delivered now.

Speaker 2:                    You are experiencing the Entrepreneur Effect, only on Web Master Here's Dush Ramachandran.

Dush R.:                        Welcome back. This is Dush Ramachandran with Entrepreneur Effect, and my guest today is Jack McGuinness, who is the co founder of Relationship Impact, which is a consulting firm focused on working with CEO's to unlock the potential of their leadership teams. Jack, now before the break, in the last two segments, we talked about how CEO's can build winning teams. How a startup CEO might be able to put a really good team together from the ground up. If there are people listening to the show right now who are startup CEO's, what are three things they can do to make sure that when they're interviewing that next key position ... It's easy to say, "Make sure there's a structural fit, and make sure there's a fit." But what specifically, boiling it down to action items-

Jack McGuinness:          Sure.

Dush R.:                        What are the trouble signs to look for, what are the red flags? Could you give us a little bit of a handle on what as a startup CEO, what I should be looking at if I was going to go out and hire a CFO, for example? We've had a bookkeeper, we've had an accountant, never had a CFO. We're growing, we need to have a CFO, so this is going to be a major key hire. So what things am I looking for? Is it just that he likes to drink the same kind of beer as I do? Or what is it?

Jack McGuinness:          Yeah, no, I would say yeah, that's down the list about 25 on the list.

Dush R.:                        Okay.

Jack McGuinness:          And so I'd say the number one thing is get a sense for ... I see this all the time. A CFO that worked for a big company that has great pedigree, and now may be in the later stages of his or her life, and wants to move to become the CFO of a startup. They're two different animals, and being able to roll up your sleeves, versus having a staff of people that you're used to directing, are two different things. So making sure that the person you're hiring has the characteristics of a startup person. Right? A startup leader. And that is rolling up your sleeves, and doing some of the work while you're helping to grow and lead others.

Jack McGuinness:          And I would say in any situation, it's do we have a set of ... I hesitate to call them norms, or values, or whatever. That we believe that we operate from, right? And so there's a founder and a co founder. And so what are those norms of behavior that they expect from each other that have been working to this point? Right? And so just taking a step back and thinking about what they might be, right? And then making sure that the person you're hiring has a good fit with those types of norms. So they could be the one I just mentioned, that is willing to roll up his or her sleeves.

Jack McGuinness:          Number two is that they have an ability to listen, and listen to other people's perspectives, and not assume that they're right all the time, right? I think that's often what slows down organizations, fighting over being right, right? And so I think that's another one. I think the third one is the ability to listen to constructive feedback, or criticism, and hear it in a way that's progressing an issue, or a challenge. Versus hearing it in a way where I've got my back up, and I'm being defensive. So those are just a few examples from our perspective, from what we've seen that would be helpful. But really kind of defining what it is that's most important to you as an organization, based on where you're at right now, and making sure you're not just hiring to pedigree. Because in hiring to pedigree in a startup can be a recipe for disaster.

Dush R.:                        Absolutely. Absolutely. Great. Now I'm sure a lot of our listeners would love to engage with you. Do you work with clients on an individual basis? Or do you only work with very large companies?

Jack McGuinness:          No, no, we market to primarily organizations that are anywhere from 10 to $150 million in sales. And often, we'll often work based on our previous network, we work for larger fortune 100 to 500 companies as well. But we really love working with growing organizations that are continuing to meet the next hurtle in their journey to become a going concern. So yeah, we work with smaller companies. We don't typically work with startups that don't really have defined teams in place. But we sometimes do one on one coaching with a CEO that's got some challenges in building their team.

Dush R.:                        Great, and how might somebody engage with you?

Jack McGuinness:          So we put a lot of time into developing our website, and we believe we have some good content on there that folks ... It's all around building a great leadership team. So it's, and you'll get on there, and the first thing you'll see is a free what's called a quiz, that leaders can take a look at to see how effective their leadership teams are.

Dush R.:                        Wonderful. Well, Jack, thank you so much for your time, this has been great, it's been really informative. And yeah, I'd encourage our listeners to go checkout, and that way you can engage with Jack's company, and see how that might be able to help you build a real winning team. And for those of you that might have missed what I had said earlier on, if you'd like to hear other topics, or other ... If you want us to interview some specific people, if you can go to Entrepreneur Effect, and put in the name of somebody that you'd like to have interviewed, or a topic that you'd like to hear about, we'd love to go and check that out. Thank you very much, Jack, thank you, appreciate it.

Jack McGuinness:          Thank you so much Dush, I appreciate your time.

Announcer:                  The opinions expressed on this program are those of the guests, and hosts, and do not necessarily reflect those of Web Master's management, or sponsors. Any re-broadcast or re-distribution without authorized consent of Web Master is prohibited.