Putting together a new program for senior executive leaders in the middle of a pandemic may seem a ridiculous thing to do, and yet the evidence runs to the contrary!
- Executive leaders tend to sign up for peer-based advising, roundtables, and other cohort experiences during economic uncertainty more than they do when things are going well. This happened in the past and it is happening again. Why? In times like these, as in 2008-9, leaders can much more readily admit that they cannot do this work by themselves. They need business intelligence they can trust. They need ideas they can put to work. They need relationships not tied to someone wanting something from them.
- We are clearly in a moment of building upon the rubble. Civil behavior and civics are in tatters. Presidentially-disgraceful debates are the frosting on the cake we are all eating. We have come through a couple generations of leaders who take what they can rather than build for the benefit of those coming after them. Leaders who care about the grandchildren’s grandchildren are in short supply, and they need to find each other.
I’m spending a lot of time talking through the launch of Maestro-level leaders with astute people. The interest is growing, and the conversations are rich. The following set of responses to frequently asked questions grows from these.
Why start a new initiative with executive leaders, with the choices already out there? Why now, during COVID?
Executive leaders have many choices for development, especially in Turn One and Turn Two of the journey. Not so much in Turn Three, however. Maestro-level leaders is a comprehensive resource for the Turn Three leader and complementary to those few other resources.
COVID put me on a mountain-top in Idaho — three months of porch-sitting, ruminating, pacing, praying, thinking, writing, conversing, and testing. I have had a yearning to serve leaders moving into that Third Turn unmapped place, one that fosters strong succession and legacy as well as future value for the companies they have served so well. Along with all the harm COVID has done, I received the gift of space for these thoughts to combine with my heart desire to pull Maestro-level leaders together.
Who is Maestro-level leaders designed for?
Leaders who grow a business, develop talent to run that business, and still see new opportunity or hurdles to cross have to spend ever more time thinking and building in the possibility of success for their successors, aware that this is the final testament to their leadership. Said more succinctly, if they don’t get this right (and sadly, most will not), they will only have managed (not led) for a time and then failed. A leader's legacy is built on how they foster the success of their successors, more than anything else.
Maestro-level leaders is for those senior executives and founders who intend to invest in getting it right.
What happens in a Maestro-level leaders cohort?
Maestro-level leaders are on individual journeys in many ways, figuring out what future value, succession, and legacy look like for their unique contexts. Still, each one benefits from having traveling companions. A cohort travels together for four years of mapping out future value, building a flexible model, and living into it.
Each cohort of 6-12 persons meets virtually one morning each month, checking in with each other and talking through the challenges they face. They also meet with an Executive Advisor for a One to One each month to build in accountability. In addition, there are four retreats each year (about a day and a half each), in which they work through personal assessments, engage with business thought leaders, and work on their maps and models.
This is highly intentional work tied to maintaining and expanding the value of the company. (More about this in the next question.)
What return on the investment can a Maestro-level leader cohort participant expect?
The Maestro-level leader investment is intended to continue the growth as succession takes place and legacy is built. Let’s say a $100 million company Founder/Owner/CEO is three or more years away from retirement, or that they will convert ownership to an ESOP that someone else will build upon. What investment is prudent, to make sure the successor can slingshot into the future without any stutter-stepping or dropped balls? The return on a maestro-level investment is the certainty that the company has a meaningful map toward future value, even with so many uncertainties and so much market instability.
It’s a pretty simple calculation:
- All companies have a stated value. Perhaps it is stock price. Perhaps annual income. Perhaps a more complicated formula such as an EPITDA multiple.
- A certain investment was made over time to build and maintain that value.
- Money isn’t the only value, however. Company culture, meaningful work, continuation of employment, community and industry relationships, and marketplace reputation are also returns any reputable company wants to maintain and strengthen. In fact, these are what produce any money.
- It matters that value does not dip and that no multi-year malaise creeps in as leadership switches hands. Building future value is a multi-year process, and it needs a serious investment of time, mental space, discipline and prudence.
Why the name Maestro-level leaders?
Choosing a name that accurately reflects this initiative was one of the most difficult aspects of putting it together. There is a type of leadership that evolves to the place of seeing systems and sub-systems, caring that they are healthy not just for now and the current value of the company but for the future and the future generations it will serve. These are leaders who intend to keep adding to their craft until they simply cannot do it any more. Words like Maestro or Meister capture this ability to see, to orchestrate resources and systems, and to make good use of wisdom on behalf of the world at large.
I’m thinking six months from now I might be ready. Will there be other cohorts?
We plan to launch a new cohort any time six or more persons are ready to start. The next one gets underway in January 2021.
What if I am an executive coach? I don’t want to lose a client, even if this is exactly what they are looking for.
Maestro-level leaders is designed with the ability to be an add-on when a trusted Executive Advising relationship already exists, rather than a replacement. We are happy to work with an executive coach, or even an additional peer-based advising team, that the Maestro-level leader wants to continue. We have also built in a referral program, making it desirable (rather than purely noble) for the executive coach or advisor to make a referral.
What about other cohorts and the possibility of actually leading one myself?
Maestro-level leaders is something I’m giving myself to with a whole lot of joy and purpose. It’s not for me alone, however; this is a resource that needs to be made available more broadly. If you are a leader well into your Third Turn with a desire to help others help the world flourish, for the sake of our grandchildren’s grandchildren, I’d love to talk to you about how this might be possible.
Want to know more? Here are the basic resources: