Leadership Trajectory with Dr Jeffrey Magee

Dr Jeffrey Magee is a Chief Culture and Learning Officer, Editor in Chief at Professional Performance Magazine, author of 31 books, he’s also a speaker and board adviser. In this really inspiring show you can learn about:

  • The importance of investing into Human Capital
  • How to become part of the Top 1% high achievers
  • Why settling for a “B” grade will stimulate mediocrity
  • How to find your X Factor and trajectory

Transcript:Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: In the news today, we explore some research completed by Boyden, a premier leadership and talent advisory firm, who’s completed the study on talent led transformation in a post pandemic world. The global study explores the business outlook among CEOs, boards and other senior leaders, talent trends, priorities, and investment in the wake of the pandemic throughout 2022. Studies finding show that while seventy-seven percentage of respondents are extremely confident or confident in their organizations, growth potential just forty-seven percentage are extremely confident or confident in having the right talent to align to that strategy. Half of all respondents describe their business approach in 2022 as one of growth or expansion.

And just over a quarter twenty-six percentage as a learning or transformation opportunity, this bullish approach versus a lack of talent alignment, jeopardizes post pandemic growth. And this lack of alignment goes up to board level with fifty-two percentage respondents saying that the different mix of skills is needed at the board. And despite this only thirty-eight percentage of respondents are likely to conduct a board assessment or review over the next two years. The findings do show that respondents are reinventing talent. Seventy-four percentage are extremely likely or likely to invest in leadership development for high potential employees, sixty-six percentage to hire new leadership talent and six five percentage to redeploy or retrain existing people. The research shows a number of trends that are looking at talent, and it reveals a lack of alignment across the leadership team, particularly around things like diversity, only forty-seven percentage of HR leaders think that it’s extremely likely that their organization will hire talent into diversity roles.

Sustainability, forty-two percentage of marketing leaders think is extremely likely or likely that their organization will hire talent into sustainability roles compared to thirty-one percentage of CEOs and supply chain. Thirty-seven percentage of finance leaders think is extremely likely their organization will hire talent into supply chain roles compared to twenty percentage of CEOs. In submarine attracting talent respondents consider the two top drivers to be a strong overall company’s reputation, fifty-seven percentage and a purpose driven organization fifty-two percentage. Followed by the workplace of the future with a hybrid working arrangements come in at thirty-eight percentage. And the leadership lesson here is, however big organizational team is. There’s never a wrong time to start reassessing how you go about nurturing and growing your talent. It’s our future. That’s been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any insights, news or stories? Get in touch.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Dr. Jeffrey McGee is a special guest on today’s show. He’s chief culture and learning officer, editor-in-chief at Professional Performance Magazine. He’s the author of 31 books, a speaker, and a board advisor. Jeff, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. Thanks for your time, Steven.

Steve Rush: No worries. Listen, let’s get into it, but before we do, it’d be really great for you to give a bit of a sense to our audience about your backstory and how you’ve arrived at being a multiple author and as well as a speaker and a board advisor. just give us that backstory if you could?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Great question, dangerous question. We could go on forever. So, I’ll try to make it really concise. I grew up in the Midwest USA on a farm. Went to college on an athletic scholarship and journalism scholarships. Running and running, I’ve always been passions. And after college I spent some time in Midwest USA as a journalist doing broadcast news and print and kind of fixated in the area of business and found that to be fascinating area. But very quickly also became discouraged with the state of journalism in the eighties and nineties as a very negative caustic and toxic industry. It’s obviously not that way today at all. And that caused me to kind of leave that the industry. And as I tell people in my audiences and just in conversations, if you’re ever discouraged with what you’re doing professionally or you’re unemployed, there’s always a job anywhere in the world, but especially in America. And it’s called the sales job.

Now, if you’re not good at sales, you may not keep it, but there’s always a hunger for the person who generates the revenue for an organization. So that took me into sales very quickly and in a trajectory, I had not planned on. And I had the opportunity to spend a little time with a fortune 100 company in the United States in sales. They introduced me to adult learning, which I didn’t know existed as an industry where you would go, you know. To advance training or education at the college level or business development programs at a local hotel that might be a day or two-day long program. And I was doing that after hours and found that to be fascinating. To jump forward over the past thirty years, that evolved me into training and development, which led me into management roles and leadership roles into owning a business.

And along the way, I started writing some books. Those books caught traction here in the U.S. and globally became a couple of bestsellers. And that led me to designing and creating a training and development company. While I worked with business leaders around the world from Berlin to Vermont wherever. Helping them to basically leverage their human capital as I have come to learn and even you and your business, I would believe you would agree. You can get a building, I can get a building, you can get equipment, I can get equipment, you can buy vehicles, I can buy vehicles. But the one thing that really makes us different at the day is the human equation. The people that work for you don’t work for me and vice versa. And that’s what led me to where I am today in terms of working with business owners and leaders, to accelerate their growth and success through leveraging their human capital and creating a culture and environment by which great want to come and be a part of you and stay with you.

Steve Rush: Awesome. Now the interesting thing here, right, is the whole notion of human capital. It’s something that’s been recently reintroduced into our vernacular almost, but from your perspective, having worked with organizations where they are investing in their people, their human teams, is there a real return on investment to be had in your experience?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: It’s a great question. So, one of the training companies, I was a part of for many years and sold my stake in here in the U.S. at least for our global listeners today, if you’re a CPA in the financial accounting world, or you’re an attorney in the legal world, you have to have ongoing educational credits every year to keep your license and certificate, to be able to professionally do your practice. And in that space, I started learning many years ago that we spent a tremendous amount of time in every business. White collar, blue collar, labor intense, automation, doesn’t matter. Training and investing money into equipment and assets and tangibles and buildings where we typically say, okay, what’s the ROI on that going to be?

And then we do a lot of technician training, you know. How to work the machines? Or et cetera.

And a lot of, you know. Return on that investment through efficiencies and productivity and profitability. One of the elements I have been using, even at the title on my business card for decades, even though you just made comment, it’s come back and it’s fashionable today, but people like you and I have known it for many years, and that is human capital. So, one, what is human capital? We spend a tremendous amount of time talking about that. Two, how do you develop that human capital on talent pathways, career expectations, market needs, business needs? And is there then an ROI on that? Absolutely yes. And I believe there’s a greater and a more lasting ROI on human capital than any other capital you can have because almost any other measurement of capital, which is around tangibles depreciates very quickly. You buy a new car soon as you drive it off the lot there in London, or you drive it off the lot here in Las Vegas. It depreciates tremendously, as soon as you leave the parking lot. Human capital depreciates, if you don’t challenge it. It depreciates if you don’t hold it accountable. It depreciates if you’re not growing and developing and feeding what individuals goals needs and purposes are. But if you can align all of that, the ROI is massive.

Steve Rush: And you can see on the balance sheet as well, can’t you? So, if you look at the organizations who do invest in their people and have strong engagement scores, low attrition, holding onto that talent, then there’s a direct correlation of those businesses returns in real sense, too, isn’t there?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Absolutely, you can see from the, you know. The boardroom conversations to the executive suite, to frontline, you know. Leads supervisors, managers, directors, whatever the title is that an organization may have for its first level, and then, you know. Sending upward of leadership, absolutely. And, individuals, you know. They come to an organization where they see an organization best in their people and provide multiple for development and growth and development of those people, not just in the job, but development of them in terms of promotability, sustainability, longevity, absolute, it’s a massive recruitment tool as well as a retention tool. And then again, think about the turnover. There’s a hard HR statistic that’s used globally, and you can debate the number, but even if you debated it, doesn’t change the output. And it says, basically, let’s take an administrative job and a business, a white-collar job.

I hate the labels, but it gives us some point of reference. And they talk about the amount of financial attached to the turnover. Let’s say Steve’s working in our business and an administrative role, white collar role, the amount of money attached to losing you, advertising, promoting, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding someone to get them up to baseline functionality of what Steven was doing is any work between one point five and three times what your annual paycheck was. So, it’s very expensive.

And then you add on additional, such as again, what are the relationships that Steve had before he left? And if those were good, both with vendors, suppliers, coworkers, colleagues, employees. It could take a long time to rebuild those relationships. So, can you start to put some numbers to it? Absolutely. The institutional knowledge that someone has to know how to finesse relationships or situations to be more productive and profitable, if I’m in a client relationship role, development role, again. Knowing how to cross sell, upsell. Knowing what a client’s long-term goals are and how we can align those with our own organizational goals? Yeah, the conversations can just go on endlessly, but the finances attached to it are staggering.

Steve Rush: Yes, there are some big numbers there, aren’t there? And if you think, even small organizations, that’s a massive number relative to the operating cycle of a business.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Absolutely.

Steve Rush: Yeah, so you develop the principle and notion of Talentification, which is also you wrote book about, so what is Talentification?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Great question, so looking at the concept of talent, and you can finish that statement for our listeners today, a lot of ways, whether you call it talent management, talent development, talent acquisition, and I started recognizing working in this space over the last thirty years, both with fortune 100 global clients to individual industry, rockstar businesses that the common person on the street would never know the name of that business, unless you’re in that space, whether it’s agriculture or manufacturing or high-tech, or what have you. So, to me, Talentification that concept in the word deals with what I’ve identified to be the eleven elements to execution and achievement. I used the word achievement as capital letters. There’s, you know? Those letters stand for each of the eleven phases of what talent life cycles are about. So, it’s eleven elements of execution and achievement of the talent management model that I’ve identified for basically healthy and sustained and engage organizations. And how do you create that culture where everyone, not just the leaders, not just the talent management team understands what their role in stake is in health and wealth of an organization? Again, if you’re my supervisor or you’re my peer, you’re my subordinate, doesn’t matter. All of us have to understand when it comes to talent, what really are all those key aspects we’re talking about? So that’s what the book deals with, those eleven phases. It talks a little bit strategically, tactically about what each looks like from anyone in organizations perspective. And we can look at high growth organizations, again, just as you said, whether they’re a small family business, a sole proprietor, or whether there are mid-size or large going concern, you know? Those eleven phases are critically important. And as you get people engaged at their capacities, eleven different areas, it also becomes a massive retention tool. Your entrepreneurial energy becomes organic to some of the questions you and I were just visiting around.

Steve Rush: So, if I was a leader, listening to the eleven phases and thinking about my talent and my talent strategy, is there a, maybe a golden starting place or a golden end, is there maybe one place that you think that has to be part of my talent strategy?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Absolutely. So, you know? In the human relations world, HR Management. There are different models that are used. One of the models that kind of has grabbed the globe in the last decade is, using stars as a metaphor for your employees. And so, to answer that, let me share, teach a model real quickly, because I think it absolutely is explosive in answering your question. It also answers the questions of how you can guard against making sure you don’t have a toxic cancerous person in your team that’s going to be working actively or passive aggressively against you and take you down. So, to me, there’s different sort of stars. You have a rock star in your company, rockstars are from an aptitude and a level very high on the scale and from an attitudinal level, very high on the scale.

So, they’re, you know? They know what they’re doing. They’re your subject matter experts, are always looking to grow and develop themselves, but they’re always willing to push and achieve more. So, you have your rock stars, then you have developing stars. These are people that have good attitudes. They need knowledge and attitudinal growth, which could take time. And some people are not patient for the amount of time it may take to grow their brain in any sort of a job or vocation. You have, you know? Emerging stars, these are people that that know how to do the job, but they’ve got a chip on their shoulder, or they’re not as motivated or they’re somewhat discouraged. We have to know how to engage them. You have your problem players, which I call those, your crashing stars. You have employees that maybe you don’t know very much about. Those would be your unknown stars. And then you’ve just got your work horses. You know? Basically, you’re contributing stars. And lot of times contributing stars want to be a part of organization, but they don’t really want to ascend upward into, you know? Any sort of job role with this lot of spotlights. They don’t want to be a leader, a boss. So, you need the whole mix’s. To answer your question. What I’ve recognized, you know? In working with global talents. also from my media company, Performance Professional Performance Magazine. Interviewing phenomenal people all over the planet, is that the real secret to your question is the rock star population, that rockstar demographic, knowing that if I’ve got a rock star at any job, sit down and do some character analysis and say, okay, what are the quantifiable that makes Stephen my rock star at job ABC?

And when I can start to write down those characteristics of Stephen as a rockstar in his job, I now have a benchmark template. I can use the interview to find another rock star. I could use it and kind of put it up on a wall for anyone else who wants to become a rock star like Stephen and said, okay, these are the traits or characteristics or skills or behaviors or actions that you need to exhibit or master. And I think that’s how you start to answer your question is to clearly focus on the rockstars. See the reason I go off on that tirade is that what we’ve done for the last twenty to thirty years, and we were not paying attention on the planet is, we actually started lowering the performance bar where mediocrity is actually seen as rock stars today in most places on the planet that I go.

Steve Rush: Right.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: And if mediocrity, as soon as the rock star, then you can see how pathetic and how bad it gets real quick. Here in the United States, Gallup Organization did a massive research project right before COVID. And so, it got lost in the noise. The challenge to the research project model, Steve is, I think the numbers are worse today than what they said before, but basically said this. They surveyed thousands of American and global businesses based in U.S. And they found that fifty-six percentage of the respondents. So, thousands of businesses mean tens, if not hundreds of thousands of individuals participated in the survey, but fifty-six percentage of responders said they’re disengaged or complacent in the workplace, so fifty-six percentage basically saying, hey, I’m going through the motions. I realized I don’t have to kill myself. So, it’s kind of like, you know? If I’m doing some tough love here, what’s the minimum I have to do for maximum paycheck? Then fifteen percentage identified as actively disengaged. These are people that wake up every morning, look for something new to complain about, which leaves you mathematically with twenty-nine percentage leftover that are engaged. So, let’s call those engaged, you know? Some of the rock stars or developing stars or emerging stars. And that’s what you realize. If you want to have a successful business, you build it around the star metaphor, but you build it around rock stars, because if Steven’s a rock star and you hire me, then I know where the performance bar is set and I’m going to step up. And as consumers, you and I, and the listeners today can validate what I’ve just shared as consumers is, look at the places you go and ask yourself, are you really getting rockstar level service, or are you really getting mediocre service that people are calling rockstar level? And so that’s a series of answers to your powerful question,

Steve Rush: That’s a great response too, and it’s interesting that the whole mediocrity can be really cancerous in an organization, can’t it? Because if you allow your average to be sub average, than your average, occasionally we’ll just continue the slit versus your average should be your rock stars of now.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Absolutely.

Steve Rush: It should be your average is in the future, right?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Yeah, I coach people that if you have, again, we can call them whatever you want. So, I don’t want anybody to get hung up on labels here, but as a reference point, if you have a job description or a job profile that says I’m hiring Geoffrey McGee to do job ABC, I’m going to hire Steven to do job XYZ. So obviously we’re both going to ask our boss the same question, which is, okay, great. What’s this job responsible for? What do I do? What are the expectations? So, when you start to identify the work product and then how does it need to be accomplished or how often, or how much? We have clarity to our job and everything’s built around it. But with that, what I coach is, if someone is doing one hundred percentage of the job you’ve hired them to do so, first thing I just said is 100 hundred percentage of the job you’ve been hired to do, then that means they’re meeting expectations.

Meeting expectations would be like, you’re going to school and you’re getting grades. And again, we use different scorecards around the globe. So, in the United States, if you’re going to kindergarten to high school and into college. The grading system we use is A, B, C, D F. Well, I always tell people, if you want to get clarity, get rid of letter B for boy and get rid of letter D for dog. And all you should have is either an F, C, or an A, you’re doing a hundred percent of the job expected. Then that’s a C, you’re meeting expectations, you’re average, but that scares people. Therefore, any part of your job description, you’re not doing, you have to get an F. I mean, we’re not going to give any wiggle rooms for B’s and D’s. So, someone says, well, how do I get to be an A? Then I say go right back to your job description.

And in any one of those areas that you exceed, that I, as the organization amount, obligated to give you an A in that area. So, if you take that metaphor and you use it to any sort of a job we have, I mean, everything has been degraded down. I mean, if you’re a rock star player and you wake up tomorrow morning and you’re not motivated, and you’re just, you know? Not highly excited, we’ve all had those days. I tell people and ask people, well, what do you bring to the office? Do you bring you’re A game and your B? Well, most of the answer is B. Well, if you go home within that day and reflect on, I brought my B game to the office and I’m still a rock star by a mile. Well, what do you bring back on the subsequent day?

You can bring back you’re A, or do you calibrate down to B? And most of us, we calibrate young to B, and then someday in the future, you wake up, not motivated. Do you bring your, A, B or C? Well, we know A is not in the game anymore. So, you bring your C and that’s how we’ve done things, we make an exception. We elect people that are mediocre, and then we make excuses when they’re pathetic. We hire people that are mediocre, and then we make excuses when they’re pathetic. And that’s, what’s sad about the model, instead of all of us trying to be the best we can be and raised the bar, we’ve actually made it globally convenient to lower the bar.

Steve Rush: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Spot on. I love the concept that you’ve applied to the kind of ACF, because it removes the opportunity to sit in some middle ground, doesn’t it?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: You hit it dead center, and that’s the element. I mean, if I am going to traditional college that are traditional age, we have all those wiggle grades, and it’s amazing how we, our faculty, our parents, we justify those wiggled grades. But now, if you and I are business people, as we are here today and majority of our listeners, and you were paying out of your own pocket to go to a developmental program to get more education, so you can become better. It’s amazing, we’re paying it. We don’t want the wiggle grade. We want the best grade possible. Well, imagine if the B and a Ds off the table, it either is your understanding the topic, so that’s C. There’s nothing wrong with that, where you’re not understanding it. So, we’re not going to pass you. You’re going to get an F. I mean, you go in for brain surgery. Do you want your surgeon to be an F, an D, an C or an B surgeon for med school? Would you prefer they be an A?

Steve Rush: Exactly, you don’t want your brain surgeons to be a B on any type of surgery, do you?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Your parents, you’re taking your child for heart surgery, I changed the model, and I say, a parent, you’re taking your child and you want your surgeon to be an F, D, C or B or an A? I mean, so if you change the dynamic, everyone kind of like raised their eyebrows. Like it’s obvious A, but then in other professions, we accept C’s and D’s and F’s all day long.

Steve Rush: And did this thinking set you on your trajectory? I’m going to use the word Jeff, to when you wrote your Trajectory Code. So, this is a book that you wrote around how to change your decisions, actions, and directions, and to become part of that top one percentage of high achievers, right?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Absolutely.

Steve Rush: So, you’ve got within that, your mental DNA, just tell us a little bit about what that is and how we could get into that top one percent?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Great question. So, a couple of models, it’s a really easy book. I tell people it’s not going to be difficult. I spent two years in first grade as a child. So, nothing I do is hard. It’s pretty simple, but what I identified of the thirty-one books, I’ve written, twenty-one languages, four bestsellers, and four graduate management textbooks. Your Trajectory Code is the only book, so people can buy it online, or they can buy the audio book. The only book I’ve written, it’s about personal success. And it primarily draws upon one business model I’ve used for years called the trajectory code, the trajectory code models, like a letter V for victory. And that that diagram helps us to recognize what actions, behaviors, and mindsets take you to derailment and failure. And what are the actions, mindset, and behaviors that take us to success. Within that,

there’s a concept called your mental DNA, and it plays off of a formula. So, it’s chapter five in the book that talks about your player capability index. And so, I’m a formula kind of a person. So, what I recognize, if I look at Stephen and Stephen comes to Jeff Magee and said, I like you to be my performance coach and helped me to accelerate my successes. Here’s the goal of where I want to go. Well, I’m going to have to do some diagnostics, whether it’s an online platform or just you and I are visiting via video call. Because I prefer video calls versus to telephone that way, we can see each other. Because a lot of visual communication takes place. It’s very insightful. But what I’ve recognized in that formula, Stephen, is that there’s very specific variables that make up a human being such as knowledge.

So that’s one of the letters in the formula. So, whether it’s formal or informal education, technical, non-technical, certification, non-certification. Another part of it, it’s going to be our life experiences. How does one life experience build and set the stage for the next? And how do we leverage those to be better? You know, the next time we do something. How about the culture we were raised in, or the cultures we’ve been a part of or, you know? Ebbed and flowed in and out of. That influences how our thinking styles and belief systems and confidential, we lack thereof. So, there’s a lot more to the formula and it’s very easy to read and understand, but that becomes the DNA. So, if I want to grow someone in, let’s say between today and in the future, we don’t know what the future date is, to be the new CEO of a business.

Family owned a global international business, a local mom and pop shop. Then I would first, okay. So, to be a great executive, I use the same DNA model and you and I, or whoever the appropriate stakeholders would be, we would sit down and say okay. For us to have a great CEO, what would we like them to possess in terms of knowledge or skills or education or degrees or certifications? You know, some, none, what are they? What sort of attitude, mindsets? What sort of passion? What sort of experiences do we want them to have? What sort of a relationships? People that we want them to have interacted with, grown with? Network with or known? So, this formula also gives us a great DNA chart to scope out how do you build a great leader. Leader of nations, leader of communities, leaders of business, leaders of our ourselves.

So, the DNA concept has multiple applications, personal development, career development of someone, creating, you know? Job descriptions that client says, hey, I need something, listen to what the client says they need. They’ll tell you exactly where you need to go. But the last way of answering your question is that part of this model, Steve is very objective and that’s the real power behind it. It gives you the objective template to assess yourself or someone else and pull all of the emotion and ego and personalization out of it to see exactly what we need to do to be smart at the end of the day,

Steve Rush: Laser focus.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: You got it.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and in the book also, you talk about having the opportunity to understand your X factor when you’re on your trajectory. Does that form part of this?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: It is exactly. So, the X factor is the first side of this equation. I know I’m talking to a global audience here and we have, you know? fortyish percent of your listeners are in the U.S. and forty to forty five percent might be in the UK and the others are global. So, this X factor concept is not like the entertainment show from the great British businessman, Simon Cowell.

Steve Rush: He has a lot of answer for X-Factor now, doesn’t he?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Exactly, so I’ve been using my X-Factor longer than he as, of course, he’s richer than both of us, bam, he wins.

Steve Rush: Exactly.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: But the X-Factor represents any thing you’re measuring is what X represents in this formula. So, if we’re measuring, you know? How fast can you run? That’s an X-Factor or how fast can you compute some mathematical questions? That’s an X-Factor, you know? How good are you at wood crafting? I mean, so whatever it is you’re measuring, that’s X. So, to answer, let me use this example. So, let’s say we go on to any school campus around the world of, you know? Kindergarten, to primary, to high school grade. And you were to say on that campus, there’s a range of athletic sports that are offered. Well, the varsity sport, the highest level of proficiency that high school, I’d say. Of a hundred percent of the kids on that campus.

If we’re measuring athletics as our X-Factor, of a hundred percent of the kids on any campus, X percent would actually be good enough to make the varsity team of any sport. So, if you ask that question to a group of people, it’s always going to be a small number. Of a hundred percent of kids on the campus. You might hear someone say twenty percent, or ten percent or five percent, then I said, okay, so let’s track it two more times. Of a hundred percent, then of those high school, varsity athletes, X percent would be good enough to go play it at a collegiate level, at a college level. Get a scholarship to go to the advanced level, what percent? And it’s always a smaller number that migrates and said, okay, so final question. So, we started with a hundred percent mass at a high school, and we saw that how many kids are were good enough to be on the varsity sport at a high school level, smaller number, go play at the college collegiate level, smaller number. So, what percentage would be drafted from a college level to go play at the professional ranks? Whether it’s, you know? Football, rugby, whether it’s, you know? Basketball, football, hockey, whatever, it’s always a really small number. So, get people to recognize whatever you’re tracking is an X-Factor and whatever that smallest finite number you just came up with using athletics is what we tracked. We’re all professionals, so if you really want to see where you should be focusing your energy or how to grow and develop yourself, what are you really proficient in as an X-Factor? So, let’s do the math. Let’s say high school is twenty percent, would be at the high school team. How many go to college? Let’s say it’s five percent. How many go on and play at the pros? Point zero, zero, zero, whatever percent. Oh, okay. So that point zero, zero, zero, that’s you and I, as professionals, we’re not competing on a planet about the twenty percentiles, because this is not high school.

Real life is not high school. It’s not college, it’s pros. So, if you really want to be successful, then you’ve got to identify, what is your X-Factor. For me, growing up in primary school from kindergarten to high school, I was not a great writer. I thought I was, I mean, teachers were very critical of my writing. Well, maybe it’s because I wanted to be a writer and they were giving me additional attention. I didn’t really like to read books in high school or college. So, it’s fascinating, you know? Forty years later, I love to read, I love to write, I love to do research. And all of that forms a basis of my ability to coach executives and businesses to be in hyper-growth faster, quicker And sustained.

Steve Rush: It’s a really, yeah, lovely way of thinking about it, this whole kind of one percent or zero, zero, zero, point one percent of professionals. I wonder how many people actually can even associate that in their profession today, they’re already there? And that’s a lot to do with mindset, I suspect.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Absolutely, you know? It is. And there’s actually some quantifiable ways to answer that because you’ve posed a great question. Someone says, okay, how do I know if I’m in the top percentage of my industry? Or how do I know if I’m starting to rest on my morals and accomplishments? Or how do I push myself? So, I always tell people, in your job and your profession, is there another formal educational degree you could achieve? And if yes, then you’re not at the top of the list, pull yourself down at least one notch on any scale, because there’s something there you can quantify that you could go after that you’re not, or are there certifications in your industry? And if that’s a yes and you don’t have them, then bring yourself down another notch, you know? Have you written any papers or are you asked to speak on this?

Are you asked to be the trainer in your business on these topics? So that’s a great question. You’ve posed for our listeners. How do you know when you’re at the top of the game? There are ways of knowing it. And if you study another way of looking at this one percent factors, I’ve interviewed, you know? World leaders from your country, Tony Blair, to Richard Branson, Richard Branson, I’ve written three books together, whatever you look at incredibly successful people. What you’ll recognize is that they associate with and typically hang out with, from their view, their vision, other phenomenally successful people, whether it’s in their industry or not, you don’t see a great athlete typically hanging out with losers. I mean, there might be, you know? A phenomenal singer. It might be a phenomenal artist and maybe a phenomenal business leader. You know? So again, successful people typically associate with other successful people. Because that’s one of the ways they benchmark themselves to always be being pushed because great successful people in any capacity can call you out on whether or not you’re truly working or you’re coasting.

Steve Rush: It’s interesting, as you were saying that Jeff, I was thinking about sports people. Perhaps are easy to quantify because they’ve got measures, personal bests, they’ve got fastest times, greatest passes. All of those things are quantifiable, but in business they’re perhaps around us yet we don’t spend as much time quantifying it. And I think that’s a really key message for me.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Huge, you just said something massive for the listeners, thank you. A pro athletes live for quantifiable performance feedback in real time when they’re practicing, they have videotapes. They can go back and study. They have coaches and sub coaches that are always, you know? Measuring them, pushing them, tracking them. And so, it’s interesting in what I call the real business world where you and I live, it’s amazing how the mindset of most people is, we resist performance feedbacks. We resist performance reviews. We don’t like quantifiable data. Because sometimes, you know? It’s misused against this instead of being used to help to grow us, we need to create that pro athlete mindset around performance execution, and then we’ll become much more successful in any capacity.

Steve Rush: Yeah, definitely so. So, in your experience Jeff, has human capital, the world of talent management changed over the last couple of craziest through COVID?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: It has, you know? And it’s interesting. I find myself posing the question just this recent weekend. I was here in Las Vegas on the strip speaking to a large convention. And, I posed a question that, if you and I were sitting in a large business audience conference, whatever topic, doesn’t matter, and it was January of 2020, and the person in front was asking the audience questions like how many of you have a business plan, a game plan for 2020, almost every hand would go up. You know? How many of you are optimistic for 2020? Everyone’s hands probably would go up. From a sales standpoint, maybe the more specific question then. How many of you have a sales plan or strategy for 2020? Almost every hand would go up. What about your talent management, your human capital, you looking at your key employees in your organization?

You feel comfortable with that team? A lot of hands would go up. Are you looking to hire hands would go up? Have you thought about flight risk and anyone leaving you? Probably hands wouldn’t go up. No one thought that way. If we would have posed the last question in January, 2020 to a large business audience, you know? What about letting a lot of your employees work remotely or virtually, you know? How many of you are open to that idea? Very few hands would have went up, but if we would have had that same conversation in June, just three or four months into COVID. In June of 2020, I said, well, you know? How many of you are working remotely or have a lot of your employees working remotely or, you know, virtual? Tons of hands would have went up.

So, we jumped into 2021. We’re recording this here in, in August, September of 2021. And what I’m finding is that a massive number of businesses that have had to make massive changes in 2020 to stay sustainable, or that have actually been in thriving mode, have embraced looking at how they do their businesses differently. So COVID has pushed our business models easily ten years into the future, just in the past year. They’ve pushed businesses to actually operate the way that we were only considering a year ago. And so, from a human capital standpoint, it’s also pushed us to recognize where are some of our hidden jewels that maybe we were smothering and didn’t realize we had phenomenal talent before COVID that is actually stood up in shined. And it’s caused us to recognize how do we keep people engaged? How do we maintain our culture? When we have pockets of people working together and some are distant. And how do we grow and develop our people to keep them at peak performance? So, has it changed in some ways? Absolutely, no. Because how to be successful in a position? A lot of similarities. The other way of answering it, has it changed? Absolutely, yes. I think, looking at how we are more mindful of our people equation, our human capital has really become more front and center today than where it was a year ago. So yes and no to that question

Steve Rush: And many different rockstars now than perhaps two years ago.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Absolutely.

Steve Rush: But equally as important of course, is to make sure that rewriting that DNA of what the rock star is today in today’s world, right?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Exactly right. A hundred percent correct.

Steve Rush: Love it. So, this is part of the show now where we get to flip the leadership lens on you. I’m going to hack into your great years of experience of leadership development and leading others. And ask you to try and distill down, if you can, your top three leadership hacks, what would they be Jeff?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: I think one, that we have actually touched on and that is to player capability and next model. Really recognizing what’s the unique talent that you can possess, that I can possess that can allow me to be competitive with the market space of today and tomorrow. Anticipate where the market’s going, so I can be not just competitive, but I can set the bar of what competition looks like. That’s one, two is accountability. I’ve really have learned that people fall into very distinct camps when it comes to accountability and reliability and trustworthiness and integrity. And so, number two is not a very, a fashionable conversation. Going to make people feel uncomfortable, but the reality is, there are a lot of disingenuous people on the planet and you just have to be conscious of that and put your big, you know? Your big adult armor on. So, they don’t penetrate you and kill you because everyone has an agenda and that’ll be the third answer. And once you recognize everyone has an agenda and it’s not necessarily right or wrong, just everyone has an agenda. Then the real mastery is to find ways to align your agenda, personally, your agenda professionally with others agendas. And when you can find places of alignment, then great success can happen forever everybody.

Steve Rush: Alignment is just massive, isn’t it?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Absolutely.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and it’s really interesting. The whole accountability thing in my experience as a coach, when you use just simply use the word accountability, you can almost see people think that means I have to deliver on something. Yes, that’s right. And that’s no different, isn’t it?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: It is.

Steve Rush: To any other day of the week, but by just simply raising its awareness.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: And that’s what scares people. And again, if an organization supports its people to be the best, they can be. Then within that are going to be layers of accountability, whether there, you know? Obvious or not obvious. And again, if people want to be the best they can be, then there’s going to be accountability. And their businesses around the globe that really demonstrate, you know? Accountability. And so, when I look at successful businesses, I’ve identified accountability happens on five levels. And so, here’s another teaching moment for our listeners and business leaders. You know? First of all, the way, you know? You have a truly engaged workforce organization that is going to be in survival mode on its worst day. And there’ll be in thriving mode on almost every day, is accountability level one is self.

People hold themselves accountable. So, if I’m looking to interview or hire someone, I should incorporate accountability questions to vet and find out, is this person hold themselves accountable? Yes or no. And again, you can still hire someone if they fail the first question, at least now, you know what you’re in for. Accountability starts with self. Then it goes to number two is going to be systems, what systems or processes or checklists, or, you know? What do we have out there that we can put our arms around, they help to hold us accountable so that we can go back to default number one? So, one is self, two systems. Three is going to be peer. Do we have peer to peer accountability? Do we work in an environment where no one’s trying to play I gotcha? No, one’s trying to toss you under the bus. But it’s, you know? We’re all here because we all have skin in the game. We all want to help each other to be vessels or peer accountability.

And then four is going to be an essence customer. If that’s an external constituent, what mechanisms do we have in place? Our customers can give us feedback, help us to be more successful every day. And so, they hold us accountable. And if we ask for customer feedback, we really listened to it. And do we really respond to it? Or is it just a game we’re playing? And you have these layers of accountability. So again, one is self, two is system, three is peer, fours is customer. You’ll five is going to be boss. You know? Whatever you define boss to be. Supervisor, leader, executive team, ownership, the board of directors, mom, and dad at home. You know? The boss should always be last. So, in any organization where you have the paradigm flip, the other direction, where you have accountability, it’s driven by bosses first.

You’re never going to have a culture that’s going to allow people to be truly successful because there’s going to be questions of, does the organization trust me? Do they believe in me? Do they support me? Will they empower me? If the boss is always having to be there with their thumb on everything? So, accountability is scary. And that’s problem we have in the world, I mean, I grew up to be a journalist and I love to write articles on successful people in organizations and share that story. So, people could replicate success, but here in the us, I mean, those articles are settlement ever written. And that’s why I love your podcast because it’s always about success. Just like my magazine, Professional Performance Magazine. It’s always evergreen content, and it’s about success from other people’s lenses.

Steve Rush: Right.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: But journalism is, should be holding all political people accountable. Don’t have an agenda in A and B playing favorites. Don’t be a journalist and like one political party over the other because you’re not doing your job of accountability. And that’s what we see happening on the planet is, all of these mechanisms for accountability have been bastardized, polluted, degraded or just imploded. And that’s why, you know? Sometimes when we find a great person or a business that blows our brain up. Because, oh my gosh, that’s what success looks like.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: That should be norm.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it’s a great, great reframe, love it. So, the next part of the show, we call it Hack to Attack. So typically, this is where something in your life or your work hasn’t worked out well, but as a result, you’ve got some learning from it. And you now use it as a positive in what you do, what would be your Hack to Attack?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Woo, there’s a loaded question. So, I merged my business years ago with another business. It doesn’t need to be named. And what I learned is that when you work with someone for a number of years and you decide to align yourself with them and go into business, it’s a completely different mindset you take in that relationship. Then if Stephen and I, you’re in the UK, I’m in United States of America, we know of each other. We don’t really know each other. We’ve never really worked with each other. If you and I were to merge our businesses, we would ask a lot of forensic questions, not to be mean and rude and disrespectful. We’d ask a lot of forensic questions to make sure that this merger of human capital and minds and product and deliver and businesses make sense. And if it does, we would have a great relationship. So, what I learned is that whenever you’re you go to work with someone, you need to look at it from an objective lens as if you’ve never met them and really do the discovery questions. So, it’s like when I worked with an organization, if I have any prior knowledge of them. I’ve learned to not bring that to the table in the beginning, backup and ask all of the questions you should be asking if you didn’t know them to really vet and find out, are you in alignment? Are you both being transparent? Does the data add up? Make sure you’re not about to get scammed. And that probably has been my number one lesson learned for the past decade plus. Matter of fact, I wrote an executive article on it with thirteen questions I didn’t know to ask that I learned afterwards and it was saved me a lot of pain so that the hack that really has caused me more success. And sometimes I’m still guilty of violating it because when you’re romanced in your head and you like someone, or you like the thought of doing something, you sometimes are not as objective as you could be a need to be. So, I go back to those thirteen questions in an article I wrote years ago. So, it really is be more objective and you will have more success.

Steve Rush: And I love that because most people, whether they own a business or whether they work for an organization often just have too much emotion in the game.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Absolutely.

Steve Rush: And therefore, won’t allow themselves to be as objective as they could be.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: You got it.

Steve Rush: So that forensic look, I think it’s really key.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: That’s the way I lived.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Absolutely, it will save and your listeners, a lot of pain, grief and that loss of money. Let’s say it that way.

Steve Rush: Indeed. So that last bit the show Jeff, were we get to give you a chance to do some time travel and bump into yourself at twenty-one, toe to toe and give them some advice. What would your advice Jeff be at twenty-one?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Great question. And you have stolen a page right from me, Steve. I use that same question when I get a chance to interview phenomenal people for my magazine. So, I love that question. It’s fair turnaround, right?

Steve Rush: Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: You know? At age fifty-seven today, I don’t see myself at fifty-seven. I always thought that was an older person’s number. Now that I’m there, it’s like, oh my gosh, it’s pretty doggone young. So, the question, if I went back to twenty-one, I would think I would share a couple of pieces of information. Number one, I might’ve shared, get serious and focused faster and find a way to do a career that twenty to twenty-five years from age twenty-one. You could retire out of and have a base income, base benefits to rest on for the rest of your life and use that first career to gain and learn as much as you can, that you could then leverage in your second career in your mid-forties to go on and have a phenomenal life. And I say that because as I look over the horizon and see people that have done just that, you know? The ability to be in your fifties and sixties and have a base retirement paycheck for the rest of your life and a base, you know? Health benefits to have for the rest of your life. It twenty-one, you don’t understand the magnitude of what that means, but at fifty-seven, looking at that as massive, because now you could do your second career in a lot of ways and not have the stress of, I’ve got to make a paycheck, I have to, and you finish that have to in a zillion way.

And one is, I would say get serious. I see a lot of successful people today. They’re successful because they have that base set up. If you’re in your mid-forties and you’ve changed jobs, many times, as a lot of your listeners have, and maybe you’ve not doubled down and really got a lot of good advanced education because you started your family and had jobs that you just didn’t make the time happen. You really find yourself in a challenged position of having to work really hard next twenty years, if not the rest of your life. And that’s the norm on the planet today. And that’s also the norm I see with a lot of young people today in their twenties that are not hearing this advice that I’d give back to myself for your question you’ve posed. And they’re setting themselves up thinking that they’re magically going to be wealthy, whatever that means and not have to work the rest of their life, whatever that means. And I think they’re setting themselves up for a massively rude awakening.

Steve Rush: Yeah, here, here, I agreed. So, Jeff, listen, I always love chatting to you. You create some great content, both verbally through your talks and speeches, but also through your written work. How can we make sure our listeners can keep connected with you?

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Great question, I appreciate it. There’s three ways that we can stay connected. One, we should definitely be connected on LinkedIn. So go LinkedIn, again Jeffrey Magee, Dr. Jeff speaks, we need to be connected, follow me. I don’t sell anything on LinkedIn, but in the spirit and thing of what we’ve just been visiting with here, I post on LinkedIn every day, some sort of mental piece of information, whether it’s a quote, whether it’s an article, whether it’s a video, whether it’s a blog to cause people to think at a higher, deeper, faster level. So that’s one, if you want to find out more about, you know? Products, deliverables, how I do what I do, then obviously you can go to jeffreymagee.com, that’s my website, jeffreymagee.com. It’s J-E-F-F-R-E-Y. So, it’s the non-British spelling and McGee is M-A-G-G-E and then my media company is professionalperformancemagazine.com. So those would be the three places, professional performance magazine.com, jeffreymagee.com or go to LinkedIn, and then we can stay connected and keep the brain going.

Steve Rush: And we’ll shoot those links into our show notes as well.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: You’re awesome. Thank you so much, Steve. Thank you very much opportunity to share information ideas with your listeners and anything I can do for you and them, just let me know.

Steve Rush: Jeff, it’s been amazing to talk, take care of yourself and thanks being part of The Leadership Hacker community.

Dr. Jeffrey McGee: Thank you so much.


Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handle there: @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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