Selecting, Retaining, and Developing 
Executive Leaders and Teams

February 2017

Leading Tips
  • Using an assessment when hiring will uncover information not be accessible through conversation.
  • If you want to avoid career derailment, remember you are never finished. Make sure you are always finding ways to become better on a daily basis.
Checking the Boxes -
A Checklist of Leadership Fundamentals 
A brilliant executive leader I was coaching found herself in a situation where she was promoted into a role that was new and unfamiliar. She faced the adventure of being promoted to a role where the rules changed, the players changed, and the responsibilities exponentially increased. The new role raised the stakes since her role impacted the development of life changing equipment.

When interviewing her boss, peers, and direct reports, I was struck by the different definitions of executive leadership. In fact, the obvious question of "what is leadership?" hit me hard. As an executive coach, knowing the fundamentals and the complexities of executive leadership needed to be unearthed. Through hundreds of interviews I identified a series of competencies and behaviors that are essential for success.

I encourage you to let these become a "checklist" to remind yourself of the need to pivot or improve. Similar to sports, these are fundamentals that are easy to describe and difficult to execute. So think about each one and even assess your level of execution:

  • Stabilize - An executive needs to be strong, focused on secure in his/her resolve. When the tides, winds, and currents of business are pounding, be emotionally anchored.
  • Drive the audience to a solution - An executive is not an entertainer. Leadership demands results. Audiences come into meetings because there are problems to be solved. Influence and even demand solutions.
  • Build relationships across functions - Make the time to meet with other executives in different functions. Ask about their challenges and goals and how you can be of service to them. Ask them to teach you about the work they do.
  • Don't back down from debate - Being an executive requires intellectual strength. People want to know that their leader is thoughtful, intellectually secure, and will use debate as a tool to uncover the best idea.
  • Make a decision and move on - To be a successful quarterback you must have a short memory. As an executive learn from the decisions that didn't work. Once you have taking the "learning" from a poor decision, let it go. The present and future decisions require you to be unencumbered from the past.
"How Great Leaders Think - The Art of Reframing" 
by by Lee G. Bolman and Terrence E. Deal

The main thesis of the book is that "better thinking leads to better leadership." According to the authors there are four major dimensions of organization life: Structure, people, politics, and culture.

What is important is the concept of Framing and Reframing. According to neuroscientists, believing is seeing rather than the reverse.

Here are some of the suggestions the authors posit for improving one's leadership effectiveness through thinking;

  • Leaders provide structure that even in the smallest work situation people need to know what they are supposed to do, how to work with one another, and who is in charge of what.
  • Leaders map the political terrain by creating a two-dimensional diagram showing people, power, and interest. This breaks downs into knowing who is in the political game, how much clout will the person yield, and what each player wants.
  • Cultivate allies and build coalitions. Part of any coalition is "horse trading" where the people promise rewards in exchange for resources or support.
  • Develop disciplined calm by listening carefully to others and working each conflict towards a compromise. Be a peacemaker.
  • When needing to be aggressive as a leader remember to fight with passion and persistence, out think one's opponents, and recruit the best and rally your team.
  • Become an effective raconteur or story teller. For the quality of a leader's thinking depends upon the stories they tell. The stories live within, create and invite others to join on the adventure.


Better Interpersonal Relationships
Equal More Money

A study by Blickle, Liu, Wihler, Mengers in the Journal of Organizational Behavior found that having the capacity to recognize emotions related to annual income. The study found that the better individuals handled organizational politics and interpersonal aspects at work, the more their earned in their jobs. The findings suggest that the ability to recognize emotions enable people to be more successful at work.


Being a leader requires doing the fundamentals well. It is important to review, at times, the checklist of leadership fundamentals that truly make a difference. Leadership demands the relational, the practical, the political, and performance. Making sure you are excellent at all four will catapult you to higher levels of success and satisfaction in whatever leadership role you have in your personal and professional life.
In This Issue
Solving People and Management Issues

The Heller Group focuses on coaching for senior level executives.  We facilitate change within an organization that results in more effective leadership,  increased productivity, innovative thinking, and improved employee morale and retention.

Learn more about The Heller Group, Inc. at
Dr. Bruce Heller

Dr. Bruce Heller, founder of The Heller Group, Inc., has over 20 years experience consulting with managers and executives on executive education, leadership development, and organizational.   


He is an adjunct professor at Southwestern Law School. 


Dr. Heller is a consulting psychologist and member of the American Psychological Association Consulting Psychology Division. Dr. Heller holds a Ph.D. and Masters Degree in Education from the University of Southern California.  


Dr. Heller is the author of The Prodigal Executive-How to Coach Executives Too Painful to Keep, Too Valuable to Fire.  

Read the book.