Do you believe that your company serves a  purpose beyond profit alone?

Do the things you create and accomplish have to matter?

If you are curious how to fully realize your potential as leader – and unlock the potential of your company or organization – you may be someone I want to partner with. I am looking to work with one CEO who has what it takes and is willing to commit their time to a journey that will help you transform yourself into an heroic leader – and transform your company into a best-of-class, high-performance organization.

 

Philip.Liebman.Portrait

Philip R. Liebman Founder & CEO, The BullFrog Group Fellow, The Thayer Institute for Leadership Virtuosity

I have spent that past 10 years as a Group Chairman for Vistage International – where I have worked with more than 50 CEOs to help them improve their performance as a leader and the performance of their organizations, after having first spent twenty years of my career starting, building and leading companies, .

As a Chair my goal has been to work with successful business leaders of substantial organizations – to help them drive their fullest potential while making a consequential difference in the world – one person, one company and one community at a time.  I have come to understand that my personal sense of purpose is to make the world measurably more socially just, exomomically sustainable and culturally vibrant- by enhancing the performance of organizations and the people who lead them.

I believe that successful business leaders provide more to meet the social, economic and cultural needs of society – than government, politics and public policy ever can.

Leadership Matters – As do The Arts

To me, not only does leadership matter –  so do the arts. I believe that the arts and leadership are inextricably tied together. The arts serve to demonstrate human potential and elevate human performance to ever more impressive, even improbable heights . They show us a much broader perspective that what we may ordinarily encounter. They stimulate creative thinking, and confidence in what we can envision that leads to invention and innovation. This is why I am committed to ensuring that the arts remain a foundational facet of basic education – and are present in our institutions and corporations and flourish in our communities. I believe that the arts are not the result of a vibrant society – they are the cause.

Dr. Lee Thayer states that “leadership is a performing art.” How well we perform in our roles as leaders is what determines the capacity of our organizations to succeed and make a meaningful difference.

My “Story” is about honoring and helping make new heroes.

I need to begin by posing two questions:

  1. What do you want to be when you grow up?
  2. Who are your heroes?

The first company I ran was a 75 year-old direct mail agency with about 50 employees and half of them unionized. I saw how difficult it was to realize the potential of that or any company and how even harder it was to develop the potential of the people who worked for me. I discovered how difficult it was to change things and how many companies like mine were really just mediocre or worse. Most were struggling to grow and many struggling to just get by. The company was failing when I took over – and I was just not capable of turning it around – or perhaps of even recognizing how close to the end it was.

I struggled as best as I knew how to turn around or even reinvent the company – and despite all the expert advice I solicited – the company eventually failed. We didn’t adapt to the challenges we faced – and finally crashed and burned. I tried to believe that the end was unavoidable, but I felt that it was my failure as a leader that made that so. It was my limitations as a leader that prevented us from escaping the boundaries of our predicament.

The failure was personally embarrassing. And it was painful, not just because of the loss of my capital and the future gains I had expected  – but on a more deeply personal level – it was because of the loss of the enormous potential found in the opportunity to contribute to society in the ways that successful businesses can and do.

I believe that successful businesses, and in particular those who lead them, have the power, experience and resources to provide for the social, economic and cultural needs of our communities. They do so the ways that government, public policy or politics never have and never will. Peter Drucker once said that business was the only organ of society that generates a surplus, something that can be used for another purpose such as charity, support of the arts, scientific research and investment in new ventures that make the world we know possible and the ability to create the future.

Walk down the hall of any hospital and you will see the names of successful business leaders who have contributed generously to serve the needs of the sick.  You can find their names on libraries, university research facilities and parks,  it’s likely that the vast majority of those who feel the need to pay forward their success – make their contributions anonymously. These men and women are my true heroes.

This is what drives me. My work is about helping people who want to be heroic leaders – and showing them what it takes to realize their greatest potential and supporting them in to achieve it.

My Journey to Be a Leader of Leaders

And how my journey led me to and through Dr. Lee Thayer

Dr. Thayer’s career as a pioneer and influential innovator in the design and development of high-performance organizations – and in the kind of leadership required of the top executives to achieve that – has spanned more than four decades. It has often been observed that he has rattled more CEO’s cages than anyone else. Dr. Thayer’s work was part of the foundation of the formal and informal training I had undertaken to become a masterful Vistage Chair and a Business and Leadership Catalyst.

In August of 2014 I was invited to become a Fellow at the Thayer Institute where I have been studying under Dr. Lee Thayer – learning the art and practices of leading high-performing organizations:

A high performance organization is one that does everything it does better than anyone else —- and improves upon that every day — giving that organization a sustainable competitive advantage.

To complete my Master of Leadership Arts and Sciences certification I will do a practicum involving partnering with one CEO and their company to transform the thinking, direction and execution to build and grow a sustainable high-performance organization.

Selecting the Right Partner for This Journey

The most important criteria in choosing a worthy partner who is willing and capable of this journey – is being driven by a deep sense of  purpose. The core concepts implicit in Dr. Thayer’s prestigious life-long work are: competence, responsibility, purpose, and growth through learning. I believe that “purpose” is the most difficult characteristic develop.

Many successful people adopt causes like pets. We find something we like – are comfortable with – or that we feels somehow defines who we would like to be – or how we would like to be seen – or even remembered.

I have observed that those leaders I would consider to be heroes – are driven by their cause. It’s not something they shopped for – it’s something that seemed to choose them – and then grabbed hold and could not be shaken-off.

If you have a sense of destiny, a sense of duty to your purpose – and an organization that you believe not only exists to serve that purpose – but must serve that purpose – you might be a worthy partner for this “leaders journey.”