Transcript of Jack McGuinness' Guest Appearance on School for Startups Podcast

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Jim Beach:           We are back and as always, we really do appreciate you being with us. Very excited to introduce you to my next guest. His name is Jack McGuinness. He has over 25 years of experience working with leaderships, and organizations across multiple industries, and many different sizes.

Jim Beach:           He started off his career at some place called West Point and went into the United States Army's Airborne Ranger program. After that, he was a CEO for 13 years, and also the CEO of a packaging company where he developed even more of his leadership thoughts and processes. In 2009, he joined up with another West Point grad who created a company called Relationship Impact, which is a consulting firm that focuses on helping release the potential of your leadership teams. Is also an Instructor at John's Hopkins School of Business, very cool.

Jim Beach:           Jack, welcome to the show. How are you doing today?

Jim Beach:           Thanks so much for having me, Jim. I really liked the introduction, I appreciate it, thank you.

Jim Beach:           Well, thank you for your service also. We really do appreciate that. Can leadership be taught or are you born with it? George Patton was born a leader, I would argue.

Jim Beach:           Yeah, I think there's a little bit of both, right. I think there are some natural leaders, no question about it. But I think great leaders can evolve from other great leaders. I think that's been my experience. The greatest leaders we have seen are those that give back and develop those that work for them. So, I think it's a little bit of both. I think that some people are born with some innate capabilities. But I think it can be developed, no question about it.

Jim Beach:           So if you're lucky enough to work for Jack Welch and be around him, eventually you're going to ... Is he going to flat out teach it? Or do you just learn it through osmosis and being around him?

Jim Beach:           I think, yeah, if you look at Jack Welch ... and he did a little bit of both. There was a lot of on the job training or development under Jack Welch, but he put in crazy organized and developed leadership development systems in his organizations. So I think yeah, definitely a little osmosis, definitely a lot of weeding out, and a lot of accountability from a guy like that, so.

Jim Beach:           I would call it development a lot more than training. He focused really, really hard on developing the capabilities of not just the leaders of his organization, but the people in his organization.

Jim Beach:           All right, you're part of MBA programs and teaching the next round of our business leaders. Not necessarily your school, John's Hopkins there in Baltimore, but is the American school system, the MBA system good at teaching leadership? Do we have the appropriate classes in place that are pervasive across the entire curricula of the country?

Jim Beach:           I would like to speak with authority on that, but I really don't have it. My gut tells me, I'll just give you my gut feel, is I don't think so. I think our MBA programs are going through, from what I read in the paper and witness in some extent first hand, is going through sort of an evolution right now. I think that the ... what would you call it?

Jim Beach:           I think where we're at right now is that in the MBA programs have produced good Managers. Sort of mechanical leaders, good technical Managers. But I don't think it does a great job in building the capabilities and developing the foundation for great leaders, if that makes sense.

Jim Beach:           Oh, well what's the difference between a Manager and a leader, then? Is a Manager a Lieutenant and a leader is a General.

Jim Beach:           Man, you know, in my experience if you want to use the Military analogy, there are great leaders within the ranks. At a young age I had a platoon of about 35 people. While I was the formal leader, there were some great leaders even as Privates in the organization that emerged as people just wanted to follow them.

Jim Beach:           So let me give you my definition of the difference between a Manager and a leader. A Manager is capable of managing tasks, has good planning and organization skills, and can do the blocking and tackling of getting a group of people from one place to the next. I think great leaders have an ability to think strategically, to influence risks, to see the bigger picture, and model behaviors that they believe will get people to follow them.

Jim Beach:           So I had the privilege to work with some great Privates in my organization. My driver for example, I had a Mortar Platoon where we had seven trucks. My driver, I would say he's one of the best leaders in the organization because he led by his ability to think broadly and not just do. He led by his ability to influence the rest of the Privates in the organizations [inaudible 00:06:27], and in our platoon to do the right thing, and continue to learn, and be curious about the work that we were doing.

Jim Beach:           So I think leaders are not just idols, they're folks that emerged through the ranks of organization. We see it every day in the work that we do.

Jim Beach:           All right. How do I take my staff ... I have a company here, we sell Dental supplies, there are five of us. We're doing a million dollars a year and we're growing at 25 percent, we're pretty happy. Three millennials and a 50 year old.

Jim Beach:           Right.

Jim Beach:           How do I make them into leaders?

Jim Beach:           Yeah, so I think first thing you do is, you model. It's almost as simple as that. You model behaviors that a good leader should be modeling. There's some basic, simple blocking and tackling behaviors, right? The ability to take feedback well, to listen and really take feedback well is a great trait of a great leader. On the flip side of that, the ability to give constructive feedback.

Jim Beach:           Not just negative or positive but constructive feedback and direct. So the folks on the other side of the feedback really understand what it is that they're either doing well or need to work on. In our opinion, the ability to give and receive feedback is huge, really big.

Jim Beach:           The other thing is sometimes showing some vulnerability, right? So not having to be perfect, not having to be right all the time. The ability to hear other perspectives and views. The ability to admit when you screwed something up. We see a lot of leaders, particularly those of 50 and over including myself, grew up in a generation where you almost felt like you had to know everything.

Jim Beach:           When you moved up the ranks, you moved up the ranks and you had to know everything that everyone did and you had to know all the answers. I think with just the advent of technology and the information age, that's just not a reality anymore. So the ability to admit that you don't know everything and that you're wrong sometimes is huge. So feedback and vulnerability are two huge attributes of great leaders.

Jim Beach:           I guess the next one, obviously, is ... I listened to one of your Podcasts, a guy named ... I think his name is Mark [Sanderal 00:09:29].

Jim Beach:           Yes.

Jim Beach:           ... on accountability. I thought that was great. In fact, I just bought his book. But he talked about the power of individual accountability. I would agree a hundred percent with that. Great leaders model accountability, as well. Not just holding others accountable, but holding themselves accountable, and holding their teams accountable.

Jim Beach:           So those are three attributes, I would say, that if you really want to build great leaders. Yeah, you can you send them out to some training, can we get some basic blocking and tackling trainings, but yeah, sure. No question about it, there's some great training programs out there. But from a developmental perspective, leaders need to model behaviors. It's almost as simple as that.

Jim Beach:           We are speaking with Jack McGuinness about Relationship Impact, his business, and how to develop leaders. All right, Jack, I am not a good leader, you have decided. You have decided that I do not accept criticism well, that I will not admit my screw ups. What do you say to me fact to face in my annual review in the leadership portion of that review? Talk to me.

Jim Beach:           I'd tell you directly. Most importantly, it wouldn't be the first time in your annual review that you've heard it. It would be, if you're really trying to develop people, you can't wait until the annual review to develop people. You have to give people feedback pretty immediately, with emotion. But pretty immediately within a day or so of an incident for sure. But when you see a pattern, you have to call that pattern out and have a dialogue about what the challenges are.

Jim Beach:           Most importantly, I think too, is that you have to get that person to be self aware. There's two parts to self awareness. The first part is, how I see myself and how I think I show up at work or in the world. The most important part of self awareness is understanding how others see us. So, there's a great book by Tasha Eurich, young Organizational Psychologist who wrote a book called Insight on self awareness.

Jim Beach:           To me getting someone to be self aware is huge and it requires them to be asking others, their colleagues, their direct reports for feedback. How am I doing committing to being a better leader and listening more? Or being more accountable and following through. I'd like some feedback when I'm doing a good job with that and when I'm not.

Jim Beach:           That to me, developmentally, that's how you get someone that's not doing so great on the path to becoming a good leader to [inaudible 00:12:38] a bit.

Jim Beach:           All right. So as a new employee, would you recommend going to my boss and saying what you just said. I really want feedback all the time. Or even, let me ask you this, Jack. If I were in a job interview trying to get a job with you, working for you. I said, "I really respect feedback and I would love to get as much feedback from you as possible. Feel free, if I'm lucky enough to get hired, that you can give me feedback and I'm going to accept it in the positive vein that you presented it. I just wanted to let you know that, sir." Do you hire me just because I said that?

Jim Beach:           No, no, because ... you know [crosstalk 00:13:23]-

Jim Beach:           You know what I mean, does it come across really well to you, though?

Jim Beach:           Yeah, yeah, yeah. As long as it came across genuine, for sure, absolutely. There would be ... I would ask some other questions that would get at, do you really mean what you're saying, but yeah, for sure. If someone is open to getting constructive feedback or at least listening and hearing what other people have to say. Listen to other people's perspectives, absolutely. That would be a big check mark on my list of things when I'm evaluating someone, no question about it.

Jim Beach:           All right. How do you measure all of this? How do we actually ... I mean, could we put a number on it, a letter grade?

Jim Beach:           Yeah, you know, it's a great question. We work with executive teams, primarily of growing companies, to help their leaderships get in sync strategically, operationally, and culturally. From our perspective, there's two sets of things that make up a great leadership team. There are structural factors, like do we have the right people on the team, their roles clearly defined, do we meet well. Do we have a good rhythm, so we're talking about up strategic stuff, when we need to be talking about strategic stuff versus operational stuff.

Jim Beach:           Then, there's a whole bucket of stuff that we call relational [inaudible 00:14:50]. Like, is there is a sense of trust. It's not so much that people like each other, but there's this sense of trust on the team. Are they able to confront each other well, debate, challenge each other. Ultimately, are they able to hold each other accountable without the authority figure, the CEO, the General Manager, or whatever holding the team accountable. Is there a sense of strong accountability in the team.

Jim Beach:           So what we have is, we work with an organization called Team Coaching International that has a great diagnostic [inaudible 00:15:17] for teams that looks at the team as a system. So we have the team take that in the beginning of our engagements. We have the direct reports of the team take that same instrument. We often times have the Board take that, as well. At least several members of the Board take that.

Jim Beach:           So we have a sort of a 360 view of how well that team is doing on the structural factors and the relational factors associated with this team. Then we look at the results of that diagnostic and say, this is where the team is falling short. They don't confront each other well, for example. There's not a huge sense of accountability on this team. So we talk about those things.

Jim Beach:           We talk about, what are the individual commitments that the team members need to make and what are the collective commitments that the team needs to make to move the needle on this team. All that being said, those results are what get a team ... make a team effective or not. So what I'm talking about are more of a predictive set of metrics that help you build the foundation for a great team so they can get the results they're looking for.

Jim Beach:           Jack, we are out of time. Thank you so much for being with us. How can we find out more? Follow you online, all that stuff, please.

Jim Beach:           Yeah, sure. So there is a ... our website is For your listeners, we have a complimentary assessment under our services page that will enable a General Manager, a CEO, a COO to take an assessment and take a look at those structural and relational factors for their team. I'll get on the call for 30 minutes with you and debrief the assessment.

Jim Beach:           Awesome.

Jim Beach:           So those are ... yep.

Jim Beach:           Well, thank you very much, Jack. I appreciate it. I hope you have a fantastic all.

Jim Beach:           Thank you so much, Jim. I really appreciate the opportunity to be on your show.

Jim Beach:           Well, it is our pleasure. I hear that music, which means we are out of time. I want to thank you for being with us. Thank my guests today, have a fantastic business. Go out there, start a business, grow a business, just take control of your own destiny for me. We'll be back tomorrow with more great School for Startups Radio. Bye now.