Dr. Stephen R. Graves
Helping Leaders Flourish
How Big Companies Are Missing It with Millennials
Blood on the Table
I was talking with a friend recently about a dissolving business relationship. I’d hired a contractor for a job, and it hadn’t worked out, so I’d decided it was time to move on. My friend said, …
The 2 Things Every Organization Does
Every organization is doing two things—building its brand and driving transactions. It doesn’t matter the industry, the size, the for-profit vs. non-profit status. Every entity is building a brand…
6 Questions for Monitoring the Health of Your Business
We were 7,000 feet up in our twin engine Beechcraft Baron headed home from Denver. A strong tailwind was pushing us along at record speeds. I was sitting up front in the right-hand seat, enjoying the …
Catch and Release: A Necessary Strategy for the Modern Leader
Anybody who knows me knows I love to fish. I agree with Chuck Clark, who said, “Three-fourths of the Earth’s surface is water, and one-fourth is land. It is quite clear that the good Lord int…
Why You Should Hire a B+ Candidate
The five-year plan is dead. That’s right, dead. Irrelevant. Obsolete. The five-year plan is to business strategy what the dial-up modem is to Internet access. You can keep using it, but you’re goi…
8 Steps to Handling a Workaround
I’ve come to believe every company does it. Even the really good companies. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes inadvertently. I am talking about the notorious “workaround.” In the name of pro…
You Can’t Out-Bama Bama or Out-Amazon Amazon … or Can You?
“Who’s going to finish second this year?” is a regular conversation in my world. Why? It’s because I live in a college town with a football team stuck with Alabama on the schedule every year. …
Two Considerations for Every Business Decision
Not long ago, I was on a plane to DFW, seated next to an executive headed home after meetings in Northwest Arkansas. “How’d it go?” I asked. After a little news, weather, and sports (light, usua…
Do You Have Founder’s Syndrome?
I’ve worked with hundreds of founders in my three-plus decades of executive advising. Men and women representing all shapes and sizes of organizations. Massive nonprofits and hometown businesses, …
Four Guiding Principles of Relationships
The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people, President Theodore Roosevelt once said. NASA has said the outlier of all space missions is the…
The Founder’s Dilemma—Being King or Being Rich
Do you want to be king or do you want to be rich? That, according to Noam Wasserman, is the chief question among The Founder’s Dilemma. (If you don’t want to read the book, you can see his 2008 ar…
The Amazing Power of Purpose
It doesn’t matter what’s wrong. Whether you’ve got a fever, a broken arm, or a missing limb, a visit to the doctor always seems to start the same way. After you check in and enjoy some time read…
4 Keys to Producing Engaged Employees
Engaged leaders are those who are “all there” when they’re working. They are focused, alert, and ready to run hard after objectives. Some years ago, the Gallup poll organization joined Towers Pe…
Four Keys to Organizational Sprinting
It was a wildfire that got me sprinting. Well, kind of. A few years ago, my wife and I were visiting Banff National Park in Canada with a couple of friends. We headed out early one morning to see what…
Will Generosity Ever Rule the World?
Generosity isn’t just about what you do. It’s about who you are. It’s a quality of personhood. Usually, we limit it to money, but generosity is more than giving excess money to charity. Generosi…
Growth or Control? Which Will You Choose?
As an old cowboy once said, “You can’t ride two horses at the same time.” Sometimes we just have to choose between options and live with the outcome. This reality is very true when it comes to s…
Tip for Leaders: Hire Slow, Fire Fast
Most managers know the feeling—that potent mixture of embarrassment, pity, and frustration. It seems to start somewhere in your gut, and usually ends with a barely perceptible wince or sigh. Perhaps…
Can You Win Without Someone Else Losing?
Everybody talks about a win/win, even Michael Scott. The problem is, most people operate from a framework that doesn’t really allow for win/win. At their core, most people really believe that for …
The 4 Wheels of Effective Strategy
“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Winston Churchill said that. Michael Porter, the godfather of business strategy, defines strategy as “deliberatel…
What Makes a Great Partnership?
Partnerships. Some folks love them. Others hate them. I like them and think they can be one of the smartest structures for any leader with an eye on the end game and a holistic model of life and work.…
How To Train New Employees
All three of my millennial children are experiencing “new” with their jobs. Two recently started new jobs and one just got a promotion and hired her first team members. The early report is everyon…
No Exchange, No Business
An idea is not a business. An opportunity is not a business. A market is not a business. And no, a product is not a business. These statements are always true, even if it is a one of a kind idea, an u…
3 Sources of Superior Performance
“Ma’am, can we step to the side and talk about it?” That’s what I heard this young assistant manager say, and when I heard it, I was thinking, “This is going to be good.” If I hadn’t…
How to Develop a Great Board
Andrew Youn did what most twenty-somethings would do with a great idea: He talked it up to his friends. It was 2006, and 27-year-old Youn had an idea for a new model for equipping the farming poor in …
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