Thursday, October 27, 2005

How to Delegate: One Key Step Towards Leadership

You've made an unusual discovery - there's not enough time left at the end of the day. The corollary, of course, is your list of important things to do never gets smaller. In any company, the CEO's to-do list has the potential to grow infinitely.

What's a senior executive to do?

This is not simply a personal problem. Your company's future depends on what you do next. As you drive your organization beyond its current plateau, you must change the way you relate to your work. There are three stages to making the transition from chief-cook-and-bottle-washer (CC&BW) to CEO (source of the management and direction of the business). They are:

* Understanding your highest value contribution to your company and focusing on that role.
* Recognizing your position as a leader and owning the job.
* Delegating everything else, and holding others accountable.

Previous articles, Time Well Spent, deals with transition one; Visions of Leadership addresses transition two. This article examines the problem of delegation - giving the work away.

The Issue

You have doubtlessly concluded your next level of company performance requires a managerial change. And hopefully, you have realized the changes necessary are with you. As CEO (or, on a divisional or departmental level - senior executive) your jobs include holding the vision; inspiring your senior management and your staff; fostering key relationships with customers, vendors, investors and the public, etc.

You now need to let go of some cherished things like product design, hiring, perhaps day-to-day sales - many things you handled in the past, often out of necessity - and focus yourself on your role as CEO. What about all these things you used to do? Delegate them. Assign the job to someone else. This doesn't sound like a big deal, why write a whole article on it?

Do you delegate? Of course you do. But do you delegate the important things? The things you "know" you could do better? The things you are "best" at? Probably not. The question is, should you?

Your highest value contribution

Think about your highest value contribution to your company. Which of your activities generate the most revenue, profit, market share, etc.? Where do you get the most bang for the buck? Like most chief executives, your greatest leverage is in mobilizing the forces around you - your senior staff and your employees, plus key customers, prospects and vendors. Everything else becomes secondary to that in terms of impact.

So the answer is yes. You should give away even the things you are "best" at. And then make sure they are done right. Make sure they are up to spec and delivered on time.

The cost of holding on

Now, the thorny part. Many executives refrain from delegating responsibilities they've labeled "critical". They fear the job won't be done correctly. Or no one else can do it as quickly, and it won't get done on time. Or the right attention won't be paid. Or something. Or something else.

Give it up! The growth of your organization will be stifled to the extent that you hold on to critical functions. Your company will suffer in the exact areas where you think you are the expert!

Product design? You hold up the development of a key component, because you are the expert, yet you are away at a customer meeting. Staffing? Two engineers can't be hired because you haven't signed off and are out of town at a meeting with investment bankers. Sales? Negotiations on an important deal are held up because you are in Asia meeting with a vendor.

You become the choke point on each of these vital functions. And you feel - of course - "I have to be involved." No you don't. To the exact degree you have not developed your staff to assume these functions, the growth of your company will be retarded.

Aside from fear the job won't be done as well, there is another, more insidious reason senior executives (particularly entrepreneurs) do not delegate. If you aren't doing the "important" stuff, you become redundant. Dead weight. Overhead. If you have a great VP of Sales, or a Chief Technologist, what will you do?

You feel this way because you haven't completed transitions one and two: you haven't taken the trouble of understanding how you personally create value in your company, and you haven't fully assumed the role of leader. Once you make these transitions, you won't have time for the rest. Delegation, not abdication.

Many executives delegate like this. They say, "John, would you take on this project? It has to be done by next Thursday. Thanks." That's it. Then, when the job comes back incomplete, they are infuriated. What happened? They left out accountability. They neglected the structure for making sure things happened according to plan.

There are five components to successful delegation.

1. Give the job to someone who can get it done.

This doesn't mean that person has all the skills for execution, but that they are able to martial the right resources. Sometimes the first step in the project will be education. Maybe your delegate has to attend a seminar or take a course to get up to speed.

2. Communicate precise conditions of satisfaction.

Timeframe, outcomes, budget constraints, etc.; all must be spelled out. Anything less creates conditions for failure. It's like the old story about basketball - without nets the players don't know where to shoot the ball.

3. Work out a plan.

Depending on the project's complexity, the first step may be creation of a plan. The plan should include resources, approach or methodology, timeline, measures and milestones. Even simple projects require a plan.

4. Set up a structure for accountability.

If the project is to take place over the next six weeks, schedule an interim meeting two weeks from now. Or establish a weekly conference call, or an e-mailed status report. Provide some mechanism where you can jointly evaluate progress and make mid-course corrections. This helps keep the project, and the people, on track.

5. Get buy in.

Often timeframes are dictated by external circumstances. Still, your delegate must sign on for the task at hand. If you say, "This must be done by next Tuesday," they have to agree that it is possible. Ask instead. "Can you have this by Tuesday?" To you this may seem a bit remedial, but the step is often overlooked. Whenever possible, have your delegate set the timeline and create the plan. You need only provide guidance and sign off. As General Patton said, "Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity."

If you skip any one of the above steps, you dramatically reduce the likelihood things will turn out the way you want them to. On the other hand, if you rigorously follow the steps, you greatly increase the odds in your favor. Isn't this more work than doing it myself, you ask. No - it isn't.

The time it takes to

1) establish the goals,
2) review the plan, and
3) monitor the progress,

is not equal to the time it takes to execute. That is how you gain leverage. This is how you multiply your efforts.

(Occasionally it does take longer to communicate something than to do it yourself. Delegate it anyway. The next time will be easier.)

Above, I've referred to projects. This is not to say delegation is reserved for discrete tasks and problems. You also delegate ongoing functions. The process is the same in each case.

As an exercise, ask yourself, what am I unwilling to delegate? Make a list of the reasons why not. (Use our worksheet to identify projects and functions to delegate. E-mail for a free copy.) Identify the best person in your organization - not you - to take on this project or function. Then call a meeting. Begin the meeting with step one, above.

If there is no one to whom you can give away key functions, you have to look carefully at your staff situation. It may be time to hire the right people. If you don't have the revenues to support the staff additions, consider what is restraining your growth.

Review your relationship with your assistant or secretary. Have you let them take on there fair share of the workload? Are you giving them sufficiently sophisticated work to do? Are they ready to upgrade?

Some situations call for you to dive back in. Perhaps you are the only one in your company with some particular technical knowledge, or your insight will accelerate the design process, or you have the long-standing relationship with a vendor or customer. Go ahead, dive. Do your thing - briefly, complete the project and resume your leadership position.

Oh, one more thing.

The only point to delegating something is if it frees you for things which create greater value for your company. Don't give away the hiring function if you are spending your time fiddling with the corporate web site. Don't hire a Sales VP, if you are spending your time on purchasing. The greatest leverage you have is in leading your company. Lavish your time on that.

Paul Lemberg is the President of Quantum Growth Coaching, the world's only business coaching franchise system built from the ground up to rapidly create more profits and more life for entrepreneurs. ( Paul is also Executive Director of the Stratamax Research Institute , a business coaching and consulting firm specializing in helping entrepreneurial companies quickly increase short term profits for sustainable long term growth.

18 Ways to Take Charge -- Fast

There are few career moments as exciting -- and these days, as perilous -- as taking over the top job at a company, business unit, or department. But what exactly do you do once you're in charge? This online guide provides 18 tactics -- and case studies -- to help you take the reigns running.

From: By: Fast Company

This online guide is based on the September 2002 article, "Sudden Impact" But why stop at 18? Don't forget to share your own experiences and advice using our Sound Off! feature below.

1. Begin your transition before you start the job. Use the interview process to get an early jump on learning about the organization. Ask critical questions: How are decisions made? What are the key challenges? Which functions are strong, and which ones need to be overhauled? Use that information to build some initial hypotheses about how you would change things for the better.

Take your cue from Steve Bennett who took over the CEO spot at Intuit Corp. "The interview process is where you start," he says. "That's where you ask all of the questions about what it takes to be successful."

2. Travel widely within your organization, listen carefully, and look for patterns in everything you see and hear. Bruce Patton, co-author of "Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most" and a partner with Vantage Partners, a Boston-based relationship management consulting firm, advises new leaders to spend a lot of time listening and asking questions. Talk to employees up and down the hierarchy. "Soon you'll start to see a pattern about what's going on," he says.

Within his first month on the job, Steve Bennett hit the road and tested the hypotheses that he had formed during his interviews. In 30 days, he visited dozens of locations and talked to hundreds of people, gathering feedback and insight on what was right - and wrong - with the firm's operations.

3. As you ask questions, look for the rising stars whom you want as part of your team. Your listening tour may help you identify the key players whose skills you need as part of your management team. "If you're engaging in high quality inquiry, you'll want to keep people who had good answers," Patton says.

Asking tough questions is a critical skill, but not necessarily a pleasant experience. Patton offers other strategies and scripts for handling tough conversations:

4. Identify the kind of people who will flourish in the environment you want to establish. Even before interviewing people to assemble your team, take the time to identify the challenges ahead -- and the kind of people who are motivated by those situations.

When Scott Lutz was tapped to lead 8th Continent, a soy-milk company borne of a 50-50 joint venture between two corporate giants, DuPont and General Mills, he knew he needed to assemble a team of renegades - people with "the right mix of passion and courage," Lutz describes. "They had to be willing to do things that hadn't been done before."

5. After you've identified the ideal individual, identify the ideal group. Don't stop at finding the type of person you need. Envision how this person will interact with others to get the goals accomplished. Assemble the ideal team. In some cases, literally.

When Pat Gillick took over a mediocre Seattle Mariners club in 1999, he was keenly aware of the kind of group it would take to win a World Series. "Chemistry is unbelievably critical," Gillick says. "If you come into a workplace, and there is inconsistency, there are disruptive employees, or you don't know what to expect, then you won't be a motivated employee." The Mariners' quest for a happy clubhouse includes paying close attention to the wives and kids of the players. Gillick meets with wives early in the season to work out everything from ticketing to security to the potentially inflammatory problem of who sits where.

6. Acknowledge what you don't know. Identify those around you are the experts and don't be afraid to lean on them. No one expects an incoming leader to know everything. And perhaps there is nothing more off-putting to a future team than someone who mistakenly thinks he or she does.

After 15 years as a manufacturing engineer at Boeing, Bruce Moravec had mastered his technical discipline. But when he was promoted to run the 757 Stretch Program, an ambitious mandate to stretch the plane by 24 feet, add functionality, and do it in less than two years, he understood he'd have to gain the confidence of people who worked in areas he knew little about. "I had lots of credibility as a manufacturing engineer and second-level manager. But suddenly I was responsible for tool design, fuselage definition, all kinds of areas that weren't in my background."

7. Don't be afraid to listen to people who disagree. Listen, actively, to the people around you, especially those who challenge your assumptions.

Take it from Carlos Ghosn, Nissan's president and CEO and the engineer of the company's dramatic turnaround. "When I came to Nissan, I engaged in what I call 'active listening' with as many people as I could. I also got a lot of advice from outside the company, most of which was very conservative. People told me, 'You can't go fast in Japan. You can't close plants in Japan. You can't reduce head count.' I listened carefully, even to the opinions that totally contradicted my own beliefs, to make sure that when I made my decisions, I hadn't missed anything."

8. But clean house if you have to. Depending on the situation you step into, no matter how clear your vision is, and how evangelical you are, acknowledge that there may be people - some of whom may have already seen your predecessors come and go -- who are too jaded to follow.

Take Dale Fuller's experience. When he took over an ailing Borland Software, which at one time was a pioneer in developing developer tools, five different CEOs had already come and go in the preceding three years. Skeptics assumed that Fuller was the latest in a series of short-term custodians. Rather than embrace the new direction, they figured that they'd just wait Fuller out. Fuller had other ideas. Within six months, he fired about 400 people, including 60 of his top managers.

9. Establish a way to communicate with -- and listen to -- your entire team. Your strategic course of action is only as effective as your ability to communicate it. Have the pipeline and protocol set up to get your message out there, and don't forget that communication goes both ways.

Dick Brown took over EDS in 1999 and moved swiftly to change old beliefs and behaviors, unleashing a set of practices -- dubbed "operating mechanisms" -- that were designed to create a company-wide culture based on instant feedback and direct, unfiltered communication. One of these practices is the "monthly performance call." At the beginning of each month, 125 of the company's top worldwide executives punch into a conference call that begins promptly at 7 AM central daylight time. Participation is not optional.

10. Don't trash your predecessor, but don't be shy about promoting your own agenda. Do not assume that the prior administration screwed up or lost sight of the big picture. There's probably an element of truth in that. But it's almost certainly true that they had a different disaster that they were working to avoid, Patton says. If you've got a clear vision of what needs to be fixed, by all means, implement it. Then ask yourself what led those really smart people to do what they did in such a way that it made sense to them?

Talk about a predecessor: when Melvin Wearing took over the role of chief of police for New Haven, Connecticut, he filled the controversial shoes of someone who resigned after fathering an illegitimate child with a convicted prostitute. On February 24, 1997, his first day on the job, Wearing moved quickly to telegraph the changing of the guard. First up: a visit to each of the day's four lineups (the roll call of officers that begins each shift) -- a practice that his predecessor had shunned

11. Settle on a few major priorities. You can't fix everything at once. "Typically, you can't do everything you want to do, so you need to make some strategic choices," Patton says. "This is where you begin to align the organization around a common vision for the future."

Perhaps Wearing's most far-reaching legacy will be his focus on quality-of-life crimes -- the so-called broken-windows approach to policing. Just as Rudy Giuliani cracked down on New York's squeegee men, Wearing declared war on New Haven's vagrants and hookers, street-corner dealers, and boom-box blasters. By nipping misdemeanors in the bud, Wearing argues, police may deter more-serious crimes. His approach seems to be working. In 1997, New Haven logged 13,950 major crimes; in 2001, the city had a total of 9,322.

12. Meet the customers. Balance the big picture vision with-front line views. There is no reconnaissance more important than scouting out the territory where your products and services meet their customers. Seeing the customers actually interact provides some invaluable information.

When Gary Kusin took over as CEO of Kinko's Inc., he went into every single one of its 24 markets in the United States, visited more than 200 stores, and met with more than 2,500 team members.

13. Target a few early wins. Momentum counts, and nothing succeeds like success. It's critical for a new leader to create momentum during the transition, say Dan Ciampa and Michael Watkins in their book, "Right from the Start: Taking Charge in a New Leadership Role." Pick some problems the organization has not been able to address and figure out a way to fix them quickly to establish a new direction.

When Jim Berra was promoted to head the Starwood Hotels & Resorts Guest program in July 2001, and like any newcomer to a job, Berra was keen to have a few big wins to energize his new team. "I didn't want to solve world hunger in the first three months, but I was looking for a couple of things that would pay immediate dividends," he says. So he focused on three priorities: First, he had to build better awareness of the company's Preferred Guest program, which lagged behind Hilton and Marriott in visibility despite its unprecedented policies of having no blackout dates and no limit on free rooms. Second, he had to find a way to measure the program's performance. And finally, he had to research customer segmentation for future promotions.

14. Keep an eye on the clock. Faster is almost always better. "Make sure your time is used to its best advantage," says Patton. "When you're new to an organization, many people will want your attention. While it's pleasant to swap stories about each other's golf game, you're better off saving them for the fairway, and using the time in the office to engage in a learning-oriented conversation."

Here's a tip: Create a "Stop Doing" List. Take a look at your desk. If you're like most hard-charging leaders, you've got a well-articulated to-do list. Now take another look: Where's your stop-doing list? We've all been told that leaders make things happen -- and that's true. But it's also true that great leaders distinguish themselves by their unyielding discipline to stop doing anything and everything that doesn't fit.

15. Don't be afraid to make mistakes but be sure to fix them faster than you make them. Any new situation is fraught with hazards, but taking over a top job exposes a new leader to pitfalls ranging from the personal to the organizational. Accept that you can't know everything in your first six months, and even an extensive professional background can't insulate you from making mistakes in an unfamiliar company and culture. The key is to assess yourself and your progress as rigorously as you do your new colleagues and workplace, and to be prepared to make your own course corrections as you go along.

Last year, Lydia Shire and Paul Licari took over Locke-Ober, a Boston restaurant and Brahmin institution founded in 1875. The entire city was watching, and everybody had an opinion. And the first 10 days were a disaster. "You could have put me in front of a firing squad and it would have felt better," Licari shares.

16. Be wary of reckless re-engineering. If you're assuming leadership of a large organization or department, take the time to understand its current trajectory. Making too drastic and immediate a change can derail both confidence and long-term strategy. Stanford Business School Professor, Jim Collins, warns leaders to be cautious. "Why do overhyped change programs ultimately fail? Because they lack accountability, they fail to achieve credibility, and they have no authenticity."

Consider the Warner-Lambert Co. in the early 1980s. In 1979, Warner-Lambert told Business Week that it aimed to be a leading consumer-products company. One year later, it did an abrupt about-face and turned its sights on health care. In 1981, the company reversed course again and returned to diversification and consumer goods. Then in 1987, Warner-Lambert made another U-turn, away from consumer goods, and announced that it wanted to compete with Merck. Then in the early 1990s, the company responded to government announcements of pending health-care reform and re-embraced diversification and consumer brands. Between 1979 and 1998, Warner-Lambert underwent three major restructurings -- one per CEO. Each new CEO arrived with his own program; each CEO halted the momentum of his predecessor.

17. Don't be afraid to look for ideas in unusual places. Don't just read your own industry's trade journals. Cast a wide net for insights -- sometimes the breakthrough idea lies in the triumphs of a completely different industry.

When Rob McEwen, took over an underperforming gold mine in northwestern Ontario, he assumed a tough situation: The gold market was depressed, the mine's operating costs were high, and miners were on strike. His breakthrough - an unprecedented move to make his company's proprietary information public and launching a contest to develop the mine over the Internet - came from learning about the Linux operating system and the open-source revolution.

18. Finally, ask yourself who do you really want to prevail, you or your organization? You'd be surprised by the difference.

Consider this: Jim Collins and his team at Stanford Graduate School of Business and asked, what makes a good company great? They started with 1,435 good companies, examined their performance over 40 years, and then identified 11 companies that became great.

Here's one thing they found: The CEOs who took their companies from good to great were largely anonymous -- a far cry from the celebrity CEOs we read about. Collins believes this is more a matter of cause and effect than an accident. There is something directly related between the absence of celebrity and the presence of good-to-great results. Why? First, when you have a celebrity, the company turns into "the one genius with 1,000 helpers." It creates a sense that the whole thing is really about the CEO. And that leads to all sorts of problems - especially if the person goes away or if the person turns out not to be a genius after all.

Story source:

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

IBM's Management Makeover

As its world changes, IBM is studying its top-performing leaders. What do they do differently, and can everyone do it?

From: Success Magazine Issue 88| November 2004 | Page 112 By: Linda Tischler Photographs by: Henry Leutwyler

It was at a client meeting in San Francisco in October 2002 that Sam Palmisano, IBM's new CEO, first unveiled the initiative he hoped would transform his company. His idea: The Internet really did change everything (the crash of the New Economy notwithstanding). In a hyperconnected world, IBM's clients needed to become "on-demand" companies, their every business process exquisitely calibrated to respond instantly to whatever got thrown at them. And to help them, IBM would have to do exactly the same thing.

When she heard about the new strategy, Donna Riley, IBM's vice president of global talent, remembers wondering whether the company had the right managers for its new direction. "If leadership is stuck in the past, and the business has changed, we have a problem," she says. By the spring of 2003, Palmisano and his leadership development team realized the strategy would indeed demand a new breed of boss -- leaders who were as sensitive to changes in their environment as Indian scouts.

For help, Riley turned to the Hay Group, a consultancy that specializes in executive development. Hay had done work for IBM before, most notably in 1994 when, at former CEO Lou Gerstner's behest, the firm had interviewed a group of the company's top managers. As part of his turnaround strategy for the troubled company, Gerstner wanted to develop a new style of leader who could help transform its failed culture. Ultimately, Hay distilled 11 competencies from the interviews that would guide IBMers' performance as they pulled off one of the most remarkable corporate rebounds in history.

In the summer of 2003, Hay Group returned to conduct another set of interviews with 33 executives who had been identified as outstanding leaders in the new on-demand era -- the folks who really got the new strategy and who were on the cutting edge in a high-performance culture. They were drawn from every division of the business, every part of the world, united by their extraordinary ability to get the job done. The plan was to put these top players under a microscope, to divine how they thought about their jobs and the company; how they interacted with clients, peers, and subordinates; how they set goals and went about meeting them -- in short, to extract the best practices from the best leaders to see if they could be duplicated.

In a series of three-and-a-half-hour interviews, the managers discussed circumstances in which they had been successful -- or not. The interviews were supplemented by surveys of the people they worked with. Researchers then combed through the stories and accompanying data, looking for characteristics and qualities that distinguished these high performers.

The results were stunning. "The experts predicted maybe a third of the competencies would be the same, a third would be slightly different, and a third would be brand new," says Riley. "Much to their surprise -- and ours -- we found it truly is a new book," requiring all new skills.

To begin with, the best executives no longer thought of the folks to whom they sold stuff as customers; they saw them as clients. The difference? "A customer is transactional," says Harris Ginsberg, IBM's director of global executive and organization capability. "A client is somebody with whom you have a longstanding relationship and a personal investment." It's no longer enough to sell a customer a server. An IBMer should be so focused on becoming a long-term trusted partner that she might even discourage a client from buying some new piece of hardware if it's in the client's best interest to hold off.

The 33 leaders were also adept at a skill IBM calls "collaborative influence." In a highly complex world, where multiple groups might need to unite to solve a client's problems, old-style siloed thinking just won't cut it, and command-and-control leadership doesn't work. "It's really about winning hearts and minds -- and getting people whose pay you don't control to do stuff," says Mary Fontaine, vice president and general manager of Hay's McClelland Center for Research and Innovation.

For example, Frank Squillante, an IBM vice president, has only four direct reports. To do his job -- devising the strategy for the company's intranet, and then developing and deploying applications for 325,000 people and 100,000 business partners -- he must be a master at cajoling people over whom he has no real power. "I use 'collaborative influence' every minute of every day," he says. "If I tried to pull one of these, 'I'm in charge so you have to do this' maneuvers, the whole thing would break down."

Riley's team is now training IBM's executives in the new competencies. This year, only top management will be assessed against them. The next group -- some 4,000 executives -- will have a year to study the goals before being held accountable. But the new approach has already spurred some more flexible, collaborative efforts. Cross-functional teams from IBM's global services, software, and systems groups have helped Mobil Travel Guides transform itself from a travel content provider to a real-time, customized travel-planning service; a team of staffers from Big Blue's research, software, and consulting services helped Nextel dramatically improve its customer-care services.

In an interconnected world, such horizontal, collaborative networks of people clearly make more sense than rigid hierarchies. And leading in such a challenging environment is an acquired skill. "Leadership is a personal journey for each person," says Riley, "but I think having a culture that says this stuff matters -- particularly when it's linked to your business strategy -- is a very powerful combination."
IBM's New Leadership Traits

If you were a leader at IBM, here's what you would be graded on.
Innovation that matters -- for our company and for the world

Thinking horizontally: Leverages IBM's enterprise capability to address client or market opportunities in new ways.

Informed judgment: Synthesizes disparate sources of information to make an informed judgment regarding a strategic decision with both immediate and long-term implications.

Strategic risk-taking: Innovates to create exponential growth, using multiple resources from around IBM.
Dedication to every client's success

Building client partnerships: Builds ongoing, collegial relationships with key clients based on mutual strategic interests.

Collaborative influence: Creates interdependence, building genuine commitment across organizational boundaries to a common purpose.

Embracing challenge: Proactively builds in others the belief that they can innovate and grow the business.
Trust and personal responsibility in all relationships

Earning trust: Does what is right for the long-term good of relationships inside and outside of IBM.

Enabling growth: Changes systems or processes that impede growth and performance.

Passion for IBM's future: Gets others energized to realize IBM's unique potential.

Developing IBM people and community: Takes accountability for investing in the future leadership of IBM.

Linda Tischler is a Fast Company senior writer.

Leadership Lessons from The Apprentice

Make-or-break leadership lessons from The Apprentice: sure, it's "reality" TV. But smart viewers of NBC's hit show learned important rules of business success. Here are four, for starters
Alfred A. Edmond, Jr.

KWAME AND OMAROSA--NO LAST NAMES REQUIRED. Every African American professional knows the Harvard H.B.A. Wall Street investment adviser and the up-from-the-projects former White House appointee who were among the competitors on The Apprentice, NBC-TV's hit reality show. Beginning in January, the show followed the exploits of 16 young entrepreneurs and professionals as they engaged in a "13-week job interview" to get a one-year, $250,000 job with The Trump Organization, and an apprenticeship with the show's executive producer and company chairman Donald Trump. Each week, the group, divided into two teams, competed on a business task assigned by Tromp--selling fine art to renovating and leasing apartments--designed to test the talents and business savvy of each candidate. The winners moved on to the next task. The losers faced Trump and his lieutenants in the infamous boardroom. And as every fan of the show knows: "Somebody's gonna get fired."

At press time, the winner of the competition had not been selected. BLACK ENTERPRISE subscribers will receive this issue as the program's April 15 live finale airs. If Kwame Jackson is still in contention, as he was at this writing (Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth participated in nine tasks before falling to Trump's ax), you can bet that the show's final episode will become must-see TV for African Americans. Jackson and Stallworth represented a study in the duality faced by black professionals in a still white-male-dominated corporate America. African Americans who took pride in Jackson's Harvard M.B.A. pedigree and gracious, earnest professionalism, became increasingly frustrated by his apparent inability to do more than be an affable teammate, and to actually put up a "W" on the scoreboard. (Through Episode 10 of the show, Jackson was the only survivor who hadn't tasted victory as a project leader.) And black professionals--particularly African American women--"who were initially encouraged by Stallworth's assertive brand of professionalism, later became appalled by her transformation into the most negative stereotype of the combative, passive-aggressive, black female co-worker.

Unlike mindless reality shows in which contestants munch on worms or compete to marry a fake millionaire, The Apprentice is a show you can actually learn from. For the last three months, I was among the millions of viewers who tuned in every week to The Apprentice. My job: to identify key business and career success strategies illustrated by Trump and the 16 young professionals vying to be his apprentice on the first hit TV show focusing on competition and collaboration in the world of business. (See our weekly analysis of The Apprentice at Here are just four of the valuable lessons you can apply to your own business and career.


In business, as in chess, the person who thinks the furthest ahead has the most control over the outcome. As Law 29 of The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene and Joost Elffers (Viking Press: $24.95) states: "The ending is everything. Plan all the way to it, taking into account all the possible consequences, obstacles, and twists of fortune that might reverse your hard work and give the glory to others. By planning to the end, you will not be overwhelmed by circumstances and you will know when to stop. Gently guide fortune and help determine the future by thinking far ahead."

Who got it wrong: Jackson consistently failed to follow plausible strategies with a well-thought-out and executable plan. In fact, in at least one case, he failed to plan at all.

In Jackson's first stint as a project leader for the then all-male Versacorp, both teams were charged with managing the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Manhattan's Times Square on consecutive nights. The victor would be the team that generated the largest revenue increase over the same night the previous year. The opposing, all-female Protege Corporation, led by real estate agent Katrina Campins, was assigned the first night of restaurant operations, giving Jackson's team an obvious advantage--an extra 24 hours to come up with a plan to profitably manage the restaurant the following evening. Did Jackson and his team spend the day visiting restaurants and talking to restaurant managers, reading books or visiting Websites devoted to the restaurant business? No. They focused on team bonding by playing basketball and the Donald Trump board game.

As a result, Jackson's Versacorp team failed to deduce in more than a day what Protege took minutes to discover: Planet Hollywood's bar accounts for 25% of its business. Protege, exploiting this information with a plan focused on generating as much bar business as possible, increased restaurant revenues by more than 31%. Jackson's team managed less than 7% in defeat, proving that the old adage is still true--failing to plan, is planning to fail.

Who got it right: When Protege and Versacorp were charged with running a fleet of rickshaw cabs for a one-day shift in Manhattan, contestant Amy Henry not only came up with the big idea, she followed through with a scheme to ensure its success. Her big idea for Versacorp: selling advertising space on the rickshaws. But she didn't stop there. Once she sold Bill Rancic, her project leader for this task, on the strategy, Henry boosted the odds of success by contacting companies she had already established positive relationships with during the competition (such as Marquis Jet, an advertising client from Week 2) to sell ads.

The result? Versacorp destroyed Protege, delivering $3,680 in profits against a measly $382.68. The difference: Henry's team generated $3,450 in advertising revenue.
Conclusion: A good strategy, is just the beginning. To get the results you want you have to think things through and come up with ways to test and exploit that stratagem. Good leaders plan the work, and then work the plan--not halfway, but all the way to the desired result.


A major key to negotiating, whether with colleagues, customers, subordinates, or superiors, is the sincere willingness to gain a clear understanding of what the other party wants. It sounds simple enough. Never assume that what's important to you is what's most important to those with whom you must deal. In business, you have to give to get.

Who got it wrong: When contestant Nick Warnock approached a potential buyer, determined to show off his prowess as a salesman, he focused on his own goal: to lead the Versacorp team to victory by single-handedly selling a truckload of Trump Ice. The target of the sales pitch was obviously insulted by Warnock's hard sell. He had to be thinking: "Where am I supposed to store all of this water? Who does this guy think he is?" Clearly, the needs of the customer were secondary, at best, to Warnock's desire to make the big sale. Warnock couldn't convince the client to buy even a case of bottled water, much less a truckload.

Who got it right: Contrast Warnock's approach with the pitch of another job candidate, Troy McClain. He focused on addressing the customers' problem of limited inventory space. Instead of trying to get customers to buy, say, 80 cases of Trump Ice at once, he and his Protege teammates convinced them to order 80 cases, but to take delivery on 20 cases a week, over a four-week period. As a result, Protege was able to place large orders with two distributors for a total of $3,400, earning them a victory over Versacorp.

Conclusion: The cornerstone of all successful careers and profitable businesses is a sincere interest in solving problems and meeting the needs of others--whether they are customers, employers, or colleagues. Those who can achieve this feat will reap huge rewards.


Too many people believe that all it takes to be a leader is a superior position: a bigger title, more experience, better credentials, a higher I.Q.--or simply being louder, tougher, and more aggressive than the rest of the group. But without the ability to get people to follow you, all the official authority and superior qualifications in the world won't make you an effective leader. As the often repeated adage goes: If you think you are leading, but no one is following, then you are simply taking a walk.

Who got it wrong: All during the competition, would-be apprentices Stallworth, Sam Solovey, Jason Curis, Erika Vetrini, and Heidi Bressler proclaimed they were born leaders--some most loudly and persistently right before Trump dropped the ax on them.

Having to say that you're the leader is usually the first sign that you are not one. It usually means that you can't get people to follow you without some form of coercion. On The Apprentice, the reasons were varied. Solovey was a basket case who freaked out under pressure. Vetrini was an emotional wreck prone to crying and throwing tantrums. Curis ignored the input and expertise of his troops. And Stallworth assumed an air of unearned superiority, constantly pointing to her resume while denigrating those she would lead. All tended to blame others for their failures and evaluate others based on their personalities as opposed to their performance. These are not attributes that inspire loyalty and respect.

Who got it right: Versacorp's Troy McClain and Protege's Amy Henry provided great examples of leading by action, not by proclamation. In fact, they often demonstrated leadership even when they were not the designated project managers of their teams, proving that leadership is about more than having the title.

The most telling demonstration of this was Henry and McClain's respective roles in raising money for the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation by negotiating with celebrities for donations. For example, when Jackson and project manager Stallworth's negotiations with hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons were going up in flames, McClain saved the day by "keeping it real" (as in real country), delighting Simmons with his hick-from-the-sticks persona. Henry was just as impressive: Despite the constant disruption of teammate Tammy Lee, Henry stayed focused on coming up with ideas that were enthusiastically received by celebrities, such as television personalities Regis Philbin and Carson Daly.

Conclusion: Henry's Versacorp team defeated McClain's Protege team, raising $40,000 against Protege's $35.000, in the most tightly contested of The Apprentice assignments. Even though Rancic and Stallworth were the project managers of the respective teams on this project, the leadership skills of Henry and McClain were the keys to these successful campaigns.


Like her or not, Stallworth was always clear on where she stood in relation to her fellow would-be apprentices: "I didn't come here to make friends. "True, but you don't want to make enemies either, unless it's absolutely unavoidable. Good leaders don't think in terms of friends and enemies; they operate in a world of allies and opponents, knowing that anyone they encounter can be one or the other on any given day, and sometimes both at the same time.

Who got it wrong: Think about the way Stallworth treated her colleagues, in victory and in defeat, during her tenure on The Apprentice. Did she say one positive thing, publicly or privately, about anyone on either team? Had she deemed any person she met worthy of her respect, and treated them thusly? Is she the type of person you'd want as a boss or colleague?

One of the most memorable examples of Stallworth's persistent negativity toward her teammates occurred as she (as project leader), Bressler, and another contestant, Jessie Connors, faced Trump's firing squad after their defeat in the competition to raise money for the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation. "Heidi was fantastic," she responded when Trump asked her to assess Bressler's performance. But Stallworth didn't stop there: "And I will tell you I haven't always been a fan of Heidi. I haven't always felt that she was professional, nor does she have much class or finesse." And that was intended as a compliment.

Who got it right: Stallworth's approach was in contrast to Jackson's, whose behavior was consistent in victory and defeat. He was positive, upbeat, and supportive of his teammates. When Jackson made criticisms, he was direct and to the point, limiting his comments to assessments of performance, not personal attacks.

Most importantly, Jackson never played the victim. When he failed, he held himself accountable, resisting invitations to blame others when facing Trump in the boardroom. While confident in his evaluation of a given situation, he remained open to the idea that he could be wrong, and that others, even a subordinate, could be right. As a result, even after crashing defeats as project leader, Jackson was still embraced as a team member by his fellow would-be apprentices, and he never lost the respect of Trump and his lieutenants. Is it any surprise that Jackson was able to consistently avoid the ax?

Conclusion: The best leaders make people want to be a round them. How? By being as quick with compliments as they are with criticisms. They focus on performance and not personalities, and realize they can't succeed without the support of colleagues, customers, and clients--even those they don't like, or those who don't like them.
The best leaders don't talk about it--they are about it. Those who followed these precepts experienced consistent success on The Apprentice. Those who violated them were doomed to failure--and an elevator ride to the street.