Consider the "What, How and Who" approach to driving growth through high-performing teams. David Berg has used it successfully across several different industries in over sixty countries including expanding Best Buy Co., Inc. electronics into China, selling Outback steaks in Brazil and helping middle America adopt Verizon's phone services. He was about halfway through his first 100-days as COO of travel and hospitality company Carlson when we talked.
In line with the five questions from the BRAVE Leadership framework, once you've determined where to play and locked in what matters and why, pivot off attitudinal choices around what, how and who on the way to connecting with your team to spur high impact actions.
Where to Play
For Berg, the first choice is which customers to serve. As he points out, from time to time those in "corporate settings lose sight of the customer." This is a travesty. In his new role Berg is spending time in Carlson's hotels*. Further, Berg feels so strongly about the need to understand guests and millennials in particular that he is implementing a reverse-mentoring program in which he, the COO, is being mentored by rising-star millennials to help him understand future guests.
What Matters and Why
Carlson strives to "respect the past and build for the future." Berg knows that everything he and his team do must be rooted in Carlson's Credo:
Whatever you do,
do with Integrity.
Wherever you go,
go as a Leader.
Whomever you serve,
serve with Caring.
Whenever you dream,
dream with your All.
And never, ever give up.
This shared understanding of what matters and why provides the bedrock for everything they do.
How to Win
This is where "What, How and Who" come into play. Berg uses a phased approach to goals. "If we don't deliver on our core business, we won't get to the next phase."
- Core - the short term success measures for the next 12 months
- Optimize - success measures 12-18 months out
- Transform - ideas to explore with impact beyond 18-24 months.
In general, Berg puts the overwhelming proportion of his resources against core opportunities, a modest amount of resources against optimizing and a small amount of resources against transformational, longer-term opportunities.
Appropriately for a travel and hospitality company, Berg used a travel analogy to explain his thinking on how and who. We know we have to get from here to there, but which route? One route goes over the mountain. The other across a river. The different routes require different skills. You can't figure out "who" will have the most appropriate skills until you've figured out your route. Mountain climbers in rivers are as much a waste as swimmers on mountains.
How to Connect
According to Berg, most teams are on a collaboration journey, moving from functional expertise practiced in silos to full collaboration with joint goals, successes and celebrations as a high performing team. Berg strives to promote robust debate leading to 70% agreement and 100% alignment. (No dissent outside the meeting if you nodded your concurrence in the meeting.) One of the main levers he pulls here is emphasizing the importance of building on strengths instead of harping on weaknesses.
This is all theoretical mumbo-jumbo until its turned into value-creating actions. Berg pushes his teams to hold each other mutually accountable, positively reinforce desired behaviors and call out unacceptable behaviors. Real, measured accountability is a good antidote to "Minnesota Nice" passive-aggressive behaviors.
Implications for You
The BRAVE leadership framework holds across industries. Work through the five questions across the BRAVE components. Make the important choices. Place your bets. Implement with discipline and excellence. And never, ever try to swim up a mountain.
*Carlson Rezidor's hotels include Quorvus Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson®, Radisson Red, Park Plaza®, Park Inn® by Radisson and Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM