If you ask Todd Brand what he has learned from Mark Thom, founder of THOM Leadership, he’ll tell you rhythm and pace. While that may sound like great advice to keep the business operation humming for today, it’s really about growing for tomorrow.
Brand is the president and CEO of Brand Asset Management Group, a financial consultant and wealth adviser who has seen his firm grow from 67 clients in 1992 with $24 million under management to 140 clients and $550 million today.
Growth and pace
That growth, he says, is attributable to establishing the rhythm and pacing that Thom espoused.
“His job as leader wasn’t to do the work, it was to tell Phil Daniels (executive vice president) and myself — ‘You do it. Let me review it,’ Brand says. “And it resulted in an entirely different compensation, incentive-based, merit-based company.
“We didn’t have a client advisory board. We didn’t have an institutional director, nor a plan to go there. We didn’t have the right people at the time. I mean I had the sweetest people in the world — I would give them all kidneys if I could. But we didn’t have the right combination of people to do what we were going to do.”
Brand did not fire anybody as a result of that, but there was some natural turnover and as he added employees, it became much more specific.
“I mean this is embarrassing; we didn’t have an incentive-based compensation plan.”
Visualize the goals
One of Thom’s first recommendations was for Brand to begin to tell his employees exactly what he expected of them and where he thought the company was going.
“And you’re going to ask them to join you in that direction,” Brand says, quoting Thom.
Brand was to avoid communicating a vague goal and simply hope it would happen.
“I said, ‘We are going to establish a mosaic relationship with an accounting
firm and with a law firm locally. We are going to establish a risk management business where none exists. We are going to establish an institutional business where none exist.’”
The goals didn’t all happen on the same day, but over the course of four years.
“We were going to follow in a very rhythmic way the steps necessary so that at the end of that process in effect, we did those things!
“Rhythm and pace is the way in which you maintain momentum. If you need to break down a wall and you know where the wall is, then you’re going to set the schedule of what needs to happen next, and then you set the next schedule, and go on.”
How to reach: Brand Asset Management Group, (636) 532-7333 or www.brandamg.com
In his own words, how to get rhythm and pace
By MARK THOM, FOUNDER, THOM LEADERSHIP
A passion for teaching, coaching and pouring into other business leaders has led me to create Thom Leadership LLC, a company dedicated to shepherding business executives through their journey toward personal growth and transformation.
Most businesses are operating at a relatively fast pace. You have lots of heads down activity dedicated to transacting today’s services. It’s difficult for leaders focused completely on today to do the requisite planning for growth for tomorrow. Leaders tell me this all the time.
Well-structured meeting rhythms are like good timeouts in sports. They give the leader and the team time to reflect on results, get aligned about the clear expectations for growth moving forward, and establish the small number of key strategies and related priorities that are material to delivering that growth.
These are my tips for all the leaders I work with in terms of establishing rhythms and pacing that support growth:
Tip 1. In many organizations, I encourage rhythms for sales, operations/client delivery and finance/P&L management to be held monthly for two to three hours each. These three meetings tend to provide an overall window into the enterprise-wide business performance.
Tip 2. The leader needs to be strategic about driving these rhythms. He or she has to model that these are critical. Holding the meetings at the same time each month (Monday afternoons or Friday mornings to avoid mid-week travel), and planning out the schedule for an entire year provide evidence that these are critical to delivering growth.
Tip 3. These meeting rhythms need to balance time spent reporting out results (year to date versus prior year and budget and month over month), with time spent discussing and aligning around prioritized action moving forward.
We want to reinforce a culture of results, as opposed to a culture of activities. We want to reinforce that usually only a small number of priorities are material to advancing business strategy. It takes disciplined time with the team each month to run the business in this growth-oriented fashion.
Tip 4. I like a dedicated strategic retreat during the last two months of the year to begin establishing the three to five strategic imperatives that need to be advanced in the coming year. These annual strategic imperatives are tied to advancing three- to five-year strategic planning, and even longer-term vision (we refer to it as the painted picture at Brand Asset Management Group) that are both built and revised through dedicated planning time every two to three years.
Consistent growth takes a level of discipline in setting expectations, reviewing actual results and planning highly prioritized workflow against high-priority strategies. We utilize structured rhythms like the ones above to help us communicate and align and ultimately execute in a much more disciplined manner.
How to reach: THOM Leadership, www.thomleadership.com