Business and Leadership Business Travel

Making Personnel Adjustments: 3 Questions to Determine if it’s a “Right Fit”

I had the opportunity to attend the GBTA Masters Conference earlier this year, along with our CEO, Mike Cameron. While there, we were able to meet and talk with Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great. In fact, Mike shared his notes from Jim’s keynote address with our blog readers in this post.

One of the concepts Jim teaches in Good to Great is that as leaders, we need to get the right people “on our bus,” and make sure they’re in the right seat. I have always found this metaphor useful when making critical personnel decisions. I also believe that we, as company leaders, need to take responsibility for the development and growth of our managers by providing training and coaching opportunities.

But the question on my mind during Jim’s speech was: How do we know when we should continue to invest our time and energy to help an individual be successful in our organization, and when do we decide that they are in the wrong seat, or worse, that they should not even be on the bus? Clearly the decisions derived from that question can be pivotal for both the company and the individual impacted by the decision.

I posed this question to Jim and he offered an insightful response. He said it helped him to reflect on three questions when faced with a tough personnel decision:

1. Are the individual’s values aligned with the organization’s?

If there is a mis-match in values then there is no hope that the relationship will work. No amount of training or coaching will solve this problem. The best decision is to end the relationship.

2. Does the individual have the will to succeed in the organization?

If lack of will is the issue, but the individual has both the values and the skills for the position, then the best course of action is to provide coaching to help motivate the individual. Some patience is appropriate in this situation, however you can’t continuously “blow air into their balloon.” At some point, they must develop their own willpower for long-term success.

3. Does the individual have the skills necessary to succeed in their role?

Individuals can have both the values and the will to succeed, but lack in key skills needed in their position. In these situations, we can afford to be more patient because skills can be taught, particularly if they are willing and able to learn and have the desire to succeed.

I hope you’ve found this framework as useful I have in making important personnel decisions that will help your organization achieve the success you deserve. I also encourage you to read Good to Great to discover additional leadership insights. And remember: “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it” (Dwight D. Eisenhower).

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Christopherson’s CEO Shares His Notes from Jim Collins’ GBTA Keynote Address

Camerons with Jim Collins
Mike and Matt Cameron with author, Jim Collins

I recently attended the Global Business Travel Association’s Masters Program with my brother Matt, our COO. While there, we had the privilege of hearing the Concur-sponsored keynote speaker, Jim Collins. Jim is the author of the book Good to Great, which, in my opinion, is one of the all-time great business books on how to build successful, enduring companies.

If you haven’t read his book, you should. If you haven’t attended the Masters Program, you should.

Jim’s remarks summarized some of his famous principles and I took notes as follows:

If you want your company to go from “Good to Great” you must identify how you are doing with regards to the following 12 questions:


1. Do I have the will to become a level 5 leader?

Leadership is the art of getting people to “want” to do what needs to be done

    • Level 5 Executive – Inspires people to follow a cause
    • Level 4 Effective Leader – Inspires people to follow them
    • Level 3 Competent manager
    • Level 2 Contributing team member
    • Level 1 Highly capable individual

2. Are you humble?

Humility is a most important leadership trait.

3. Do you have the right people on the bus?

This is the single most critical executive decision you need to make with your leaders. Do your leaders have the necessary:

    1. Values
    2. Will
    3. Skills

Great leadership isn’t worth much without exceptional unit leadership.
Great unit leaders are really good at building pockets of greatness.

4. What are the brutal facts?

Pick up the “rocks” and look at them underneath to see what needs to be fixed.

5. What do we understand about our hedgehog?

Click here for an explanation of Jim’s hedgehog concept.

Foxes love complexity.
Hedgehogs understand one big thing.
Simplify things, reduce concepts down to a simple concept.
Three things that play into your hedgehog strategy:

    1. What are you passionate about?
    2. What are you the best in the world at?
    3. What drives your economic engine?

6. How can you accelerate your flywheel by committing to a 20-mile march?

Two teams set out to get to the South Pole in 1911. They both left for the South Pole at the same time. Only one team made it there and back by committing to a 20-mile march EVERY day.

    • Fanatical discipline
    • Productive paranoia
    • Empirical creativity

Once you get the flywheel moving, fine-tuned and growing, it can’t be stopped.

7. Where should you place your big bets?

How do you blend creativity and discipline?
Creativity is natural.
Discipline is not natural, it must be learned.
There is a difference between how the winners did innovation.
Those who didn’t win didn’t fire enough bullets.
First fire bullets, then cannon balls.
Keep trying things until you find something that works, then fire cannonballs.

8. What is your BHAG–your big hairy audacious goal?

The “goal” will stimulate progress.
Preserve the core while stimulating progress.
Change practices without changing core values.

9. What is the right 20% that you need to change and why?

10. How can we maximize our return on luck?

Level 5 leaders credited good luck for their success
Are the big winners luckier? No.
The winners got a higher return on their luck.

11. Do you show any stages of the five stages of decline:

    1. Hubris born of success
    2. Undisciplined pursuit of more
    3. Denial of risk and peril
    4. Grasping for salvation
    5. Capitulation to Irrelevance or Death

12. What should be on your “stop doing” list?

True discipline lies not in what we do, but to know what to stop doing.
What can we do to seek not to attain a good life, but instead a great life?