Author Archive for Ben Anderson-Ray

Succeeding the Founder

Monday, February 20th, 2012 by Ben Anderson-Ray

On August 24, 2011, Steve Jobs resigned his role as Apple CEO and was replaced by Tim Cook. This followed a seven-month period in which Cook was already functioning as CEO while Jobs focused on fighting the health problems that ultimately took his life on October 5.

Many are watching to see how this unique leadership transition will work out for Apple, but it is not the first unique leadership transition they have faced. Jobs, of course, was the cofounder of Apple, but organizational infighting led to his ouster when John Sculley took over in the mid-1980s. Sculley oversaw the growth of the Macintosh and thus the company, but when that growth slowed and new internal issues arose, a series of CEOs failed to get the company back on track. In 1997, a more experienced Jobs returned and drove tremendous growth.

The leadership history of Apple is a good reminder that a leadership transition–particularly one involving the founder–presents both risk and
opportunity to any organization. If done poorly, it spawns uncertainty, conflict, and stress, stalling growth and exacerbating misalignment that may or may not have already been there. If done well, it brings new vision and strategic clarity to the organization. Indeed, success for an organization begins with the leader and the culture he or she creates and nurtures.

Much has been written about how to manage effective transition, but most of it focuses on the outgoing founder or CEO. Our work as advisors to midmarket companies has enabled us to closely observe numerous transitions, and we would like to look at this issue from the perspective of the successor.

(Read this full article, which was recently published in The CEO Advantage Journal.)


3 Ways to Better Leverage Your Time

Monday, January 31st, 2011 by Ben Anderson-Ray

Time is always a valuable resource, and its value increases with increasing levels of leadership.  Since you cannot add hours to the day, the question is how to best leverage that available time.  

Before making decisions on your use of time, first understand the actual worth of your time.  The way that most people do this is to calculate an hourly rate based on salary.  However, I encourage clients to calculate an hourly rate based on organizational revenue.  After all, if your job is to lead and grow the organization, your worth should be measured relative to organizational goals.  This number will be much higher than a salary-based rate.  It reflects the real impact – the leverage – you have on the organization, providing a tangible incentive to shift to more transformational roles.  Simply stated, if you spend your time doing $20 per hour tasks, you will not achieve your growth targets.  Further, as those earnings grow, your hourly rate also increases, so the work you do must continue to increase in value. 

Here are three practical tips for how you can increase the leverage of your time:

  1. Audit your time.  I know one CEO who keeps a time log in 30-minute increments on his Outlook calendar.  When he first started doing this, he was shocked to find that trivial matters consumed over 50% of his time.  How much of your time is being consumed by low productivity activity?
  2. Begin each day by jotting your 3-5 most important priorities for that day on a note card.  One of our clients is the CEO of a $100M company who does this with great success.  He told me, “Putting my top priorities on a simple card that I keep in my shirt pocket frees me from thinking about so many to-dos.  I know that if I get these done today, I will have done the most important things to drive the company to its goals.” 
  3. After logging your time use each week, identify the least productive use of your time and delegate that responsibility to someone else.  It sounds easy, but it takes a lot of dedication.  Another client of ours has been working at this for a year now.  Every week, he finds at least one more “normal” activity that should be delegated.  His senior leadership team helps him.  He routinely asks them what he is doing that they should be doing.  The first time he asked, the number of activities he needed to delegate amazed him. 

For a much more extensive discussion on this topic, check out my recently published article, “Leveraging Leadership.