Center for High Performance
CFHP Center for High Performance
Issue No. 22 July 10, 2013


The Center for High Performance works at the intersection of a high-performance environment and high-performing senior executives. In this newsletter, you’ll read why “Bottom 20s” don’t belong in the C-suite. These are people whose negative attitude zaps energy and dampens the enthusiasm of others. While they can get results, those results come at a high cost to the company. The people you want in the C-suite are “Top 20s,” proactive, collaborative leaders who put the interests of the organization first and create an environment that allows people to do their best work.

Increasingly, companies are coming to understand that “Top 20s” come from all races, ethnicities and gender preferences. Nevertheless, very few of these talented executives ever make it to the corner office. CfHP has embarked on a partnership, called CEOcraft™, to prepare diverse candidates for top leadership roles at their companies by emulating the behaviors of Top 20s executives. Please read about this elite experience for diverse C-Suite succession candidates below.

Best wishes,

Sumantra Ghoshal Discusses Creating Workplace Environments That Invigorate

Prof. Sumantra Ghoshal of the London Business School offered these comments at the World Economic Forum in the mid-1990s. He passed away in 2004 at the age of 55.

Watch more CfHP videos.

Weed out 'Bottom 20s' on Senior Team

When you look at the composition of your leadership team, evaluating attitudes is just as important as assessing skills.

While your workforce as a whole typically falls into three groups: the top 20%, middle 60% and bottom 20%, your senior leadership team literally can’t afford to include people who are not “Top 20s.”

Top 20s are self-motivated and inner-directed. They want to make money, but they don’t work for money; their passion is about getting results. They are proactive, collaborative leaders who understand that the way to win is to beat the competition, not each other. They are willing to do what’s in the best interest of the organization even if it is not in their own self-interest.

I have learned through experience that what distinguishes these C-suite players is their ability to lead and mobilize people. One of the best leaders I have worked with is the CIO of a major corporation, although he does not have a technology background. However, he does have the ability to utilize the strengths of his team to achieve extraordinary results.

At the other end of the spectrum, Bottom 20s exude negativism, slow down decision-making and thwart open discussion. They zap energy and dampen the enthusiasm of others, including their direct reports and others in their department. They often bring up the past and go off on unproductive tangents. Bottom 20s tend to react emotionally rather than logically to points of view different from their own, thus smothering what might be the next big idea before it gets a fair shot. That means lost opportunity and money left on the table.

Bottom 20s in the C-suite have a toxic effect on the entire organization, since behaviors that originate there filter down through the organization, where they are repeated and magnified. When you allow Bottom 20s on the senior team, it sends a message that people can whine, complain and treat others however they want, as long as they get results. Eventually, the company learns that the results are not sustainable, and that they have been achieved at a cost that includes damage to morale, loss of talent and the high price of rebuilding.

While both Top 20s and Bottom 20s challenge the CEO, they have different motives. Top 20s want to make a decision and move forward. Bottom 20s want to maintain the status quo or go back to the way things used to be.

If you’re wondering how Bottom 20 individuals made their way to the C-suite in the first place, it’s often because they achieved results and got promoted. While they might once have been forward thinking, they changed through the years, and now are doing more harm than good.

It’s not unreasonable for CEOs to have behavioral expectations for their team, as well as financial and results-oriented expectations. In his book “Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success,” Phil Jackson, long-time NBA coach, recounted telling Michael Jordan that the team would only win championship rings if Jordan helped others on the team perform their best.

Although the best companies have only Top 20s on the senior leadership team, sometimes there are none available to perform a necessary function. In that case, a couple Middle 60s won’t hurt performance. Although Middle 60s are reluctant to offer their opinions and avoid taking risks, they also are loyal, work hard, and can get good results. When there is a critical mass of Top 20s on the team, Middle 60s are likely to emulate them.

The bottom line is that Bottom 20s destroy the environment that drives success, and they don’t belong in the C-suite.


CEOcraft™ prepares diverse candidates to ascend to C-suite

The Center for High Performance has embarked on an exciting new partnership to help companies prepare highly skilled diverse candidates for life in the C-suite.

CfHP President and CEO Susan Lucia Annunzio; Youngblood Executive Services CEO Ava Youngblood, and John Rau, President and CEO of Miami Corp. and former CEO of LaSalle Bank and Chicago Title Corp., have created CEOcraft™, an elite experience for individuals identified by their companies as C-suite succession candidates.

Based on the conviction that diverse leaders drive innovation and are critical for business success, CEOcraft™ will help companies create a pipeline that reflects U.S. workforce demographics. By preparing the next generation of C-level talent, CEOcraft™ helps companies avoid the high cost of executive turnover.

Given the demographic realities of fewer eligible executives and increasing demand, it is more important than ever for corporations to draw from a broader range of well-qualified candidates.

CEOcraft™ is unique in that it is not a “mini-MBA” where participants study topics such as strategy, marketing or business theory. Rather, CEOcraft™ attendees will receive candid, objective feedback about their emotional intelligence, leadership style and executive presence. They will participate in real-time simulations of life in the C-suite, giving them an opportunity to experience a high-performance leadership environment. Participants will have personal access to CEO mentors and specialized coaches.

Cohorts will be limited to 15 attendees (Blacks, Asians, Latinos, White males, Women, etc.) with only one participant per industry. The program consists of four 2-1/2 day modules within an 8-month period, as well as quarterly follow up.

The next CEOcraft™ session begins Jan. 14, 2014.

For more information about CEOcraft™, please contact Susan Lucia Annunzio at or 312-493-0311.

CFHP Center for High Performance

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