Posts Tagged ‘Leader’

BusinessWeek Features Tom Steitz and 3 Peaks Leadership

February 18th, 2010 by Bridgette Christiansen

I am pleased to report Tom Steitz and 3 Peaks Leadership were featured by BusinessWeek’s ‘Management IQ’ this week: “Business Coach Returns to Olympic Roots.”

I invite you to read the article, and post your thoughts and comments.  In this piece, Tom draws the parallels between coaching an Olympic athletic team, and coaching executive business teams.

“Building an Olympic team,” Steitz says, “is as complex in execution as any of the business plans I’ve seen in the Fortune 500.”  He goes on to outline a few key moves in building a successful team:  Letting go of what doesn’t work, setting goals, and building a sense of togetherness.

It’s been quite a week the U.S. Nordic Combined team, as Tom has reported from Vancouver.  If you haven’t already, read about Tom’s experience following Sunday’s silver medal win by Johnny Spillane, and his reflections on a former team member, Ryan Heckman, recently featured in The Wall Street Journal story, “Athletes Turn Torchbearers After the Olympics.”

These stories have great lessons we all can take away.  Winning an Olympic medal is never a standalone event.  It’s the result of years of training, building the right culture, sustaining forward momentum, and supporting each other and the team. Successful business leaders take the same approach.

Stay tuned for more news from Vancouver as the U.S. Nordic Combined team prepares for next week’s team competition on February 23!

A Leader Among Us Can Make All the Difference

February 17th, 2010 by Tom Steitz

Some of you may have seen yesterday’s Wall Street Journal that looked at Olympic athletes of years past and highlighted what they have done and are doing today.  I was please to see former Nordic Combined Skier Ryan Heckman among them.

While Ryan never took home an Olympic medal, he took away – and gave – much more to the Nordic Combined team. He emerged as a leader when we needed it most; in fact, if there’s one athlete I credit with the turnaround that started more than two decades ago, it’s Ryan.

Ryan joined the U.S. team within the first few years that I took over and he was a game changer.  Many executives hear me talk about the importance of cultural fit and finding the right talent to embody the organization and culture.  Ryan did that for us.  While many athletes before him were satisfied with just making the national team, Ryan pushed himself and others for peak performance to be the best possible.  It wasn’t just about being on the team…or even being a national champion (Ryan was multiple national champion in two different disciplines).  Nor was it enough to just make the Olympic team. (Ryan was the youngest Olympian at the 1992 Olympics.)  He wanted the U.S. team to be the best in the world. He lived it.  And, he led it.

Ryan was never the biggest or strongest athlete; in fact, he was the exact opposite, but his beliefs and commitment made him a giant and a true visionary.  He was not afraid to call out unproductive behaviors of either myself and/or his teammates even when it was not the popular thing to do.  He was often ostracized or given the “freeze out” by those athletes who held to the culture of old.

He never expected any more from anyone than he expected from himself.  He gave it all physically and emotionally and was welcomed being judged and evaluated on results and performance based metrics. I learned a lot from his spirit.

When a leader is going to attempt to change an overall culture in an organization, you need an athlete or employee in the corporate setting to model and showcase the desired behaviors.  The leader then needs to hope and pray the executive and/or athlete gets the results to demonstrate how the new culture can drive and produce.  I was lucky enough to have that in Ryan.

It is tough emotionally on these types of employees/athletes who forge ahead into unknown and often unaccepted waters.  Yet, without this kind of franchise player or exemplary executive, real sustained culture change is very difficult to attain.

A leader cannot change the culture until you have a believer to follow. The current Nordic Combined team has three guys in the top six (Todd, Bill and Johnny), who are reaping the benefits of the door that Ryan opened.

Thanks Ryan for all your contributions over the years.

Before I sign off, I’ll let you all in on a little secret: if the Nordic Combined team does great things in the team event next week, it will have very little do with the physical training or technical competence; it will be because of the culture created in this team years ago.