Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture

Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture

by Mark Miller


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Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture by Mark Miller

Leaders Made Here
Great leaders create great organizations. However, a scarcity of leaders today means a shortfall in performance tomorrow. Don’t gamble with your company’s future!

You don’t need to hope that leaders emerge from the ranks or that search firms can find the leaders you need in a timely fashion. Hope is not a strategy! You can build an organizational culture that will ensure your leadership pipeline is full and flowing.

Bestselling author and Chick-fil-A executive Mark Miller describes how to nurture leaders throughout the organization, from the front lines to the executive ranks. Leaders Made Here outlines a clear and replicable approach to creating the leadership bench every organization needs.

To bring his ideas to life, Miller uses the story of Blake, a new CEO, and Charles and old friend and colleague, as they search for the best practices from around the world to ensure a continuous supply of their most precious asset – leaders. Blake and his team then translate their findings into a practical plan that any organization can use to create a leadership culture, sustained competitive advantage, and long-term success.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626569812
Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Publication date: 03/13/2017
Series: High Performance Series , #2
Pages: 144
Sales rank: 638,531
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.60(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Mark Miller started his Chick-fil-A career in 1977 working as an hourly team member. In 1978, he joined the corporate staff as the sixteenth employee – he divided him time between the warehouse and the mailroom. Since then, Mark has provided leadership for Corporate Communications, Field Operations, Quality and Customer Satisfaction, Training and Development, Organizational Effectiveness and Leadership Development. Mark’s desire to encourage and equip leaders has taken him around the globe. His writing has reached around the world as well. Today, there are over 900,000 copies of his books in print in twenty-five languages.

Read an Excerpt

Leaders Made Here

Building A Leadership Culture

By Mark Miller

Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2017 CFA Properties, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62656-982-9


Human Error

The sound was deafening and the confusion was debilitating. Blake was struggling to pick himself up off the floor and wondering what had just happened. The only light streamed in through a small window near the ceiling as the sun crawled over the horizon.

As Blake strained to scan the room, he could see others getting up. They were all covered in dust and debris. His ears were still ringing from the explosion.

Just a moment before, he was beginning his first meeting with his leadership team as the new CEO and then, this....

"Is everyone okay?" Blake yelled.

"I'm okay," came a voice though the shadows.

"Me, too," said another.

A third voice asked, "What happened?"

"I don't know," Blake said, as smoke began to fill the room. "We need to leave the building — now! Where's David ... and Sally?"

Becky shouted, "They're over here!"

Blake jumped across the table to find both of them on the floor. He leaned over and from what he could see, it didn't look good. They were both unconscious.

"Are they okay?" Amanda screamed.

"I don't know, but we've got to get them out of here," Blake said. "Tim, you and Bill take Sally, and I'll get David."

Luckily, the group had only one flight of stairs to navigate to reach the street level. When they emerged, they found many of their fellow employees had already found their way out of the building. Thankfully, the sound of sirens could be heard getting closer.

Blake and his team laid Sally and David on the grass. David began to cough and sat up; Sally didn't — she wasn't breathing. Blake started administering CPR — no response. Blake continued until the paramedics arrived and took over. They were able to restart Sally's heart and whisk her away to the local hospital.

The employees on the street watched as their building was engulfed in flames. The bright orange flames battled with the rising sun as smoke billowed hundreds of feet into the air. The heat pushed everyone back as several fire engines appeared on site.

Blake approached a man he thought was the plant foreman and said, "Did everyone make it out?"

Regrettably, he said, "I don't think so."

"Who's missing?" Blake demanded.

"We have six team members unaccounted for, sir."

* * *

Two weeks had gone by since Blake's fateful first morning on the job. The explosion had marked him and the entire organization forever. They had, indeed, lost six lives that morning. The cause was reported to be "human error."

This tragedy compounded the challenge Blake faced. He had been brought in to turn around a struggling company. Now he had to manage the grieving process, rebuild trust, physically rebuild the building, and along the way, change a culture of hideously low engagement and diminishing performance.

As he drove toward the temporary office they had constructed on site, he reflected on the last decade of his life — an emotional, challenging, and fulfilling journey.

After learning to lead during his tenure at Dyna-star, the last few years as CEO of a small business had helped him understand what leading an organization demanded. His initiative to teach his entire staff to play chess, not checkers had revolutionized their business. The success they earned had catapulted their performance and market share, and the sustained superior performance brought Blake his share of recognition.

The attention, fueled by a couple of magazine articles, landed Blake on the radar of several executive search firms. In the beginning, he didn't take their calls, but one day he decided to return a call. After hearing an offer that seemed too good to be true, he and his wife Megan decided the upside of this new opportunity was worth the hassle of a move.

Blake's new company was a mid-sized firm in a slow-growth industry. However, his organization was not enjoying any growth; sales were actually declining, and profits were not far behind. Also, he had learned the last engagement survey reflected declining morale as well. He knew these indicators were the result of deeper root causes. He just needed to figure out what they were — and quickly.

Today's meeting would be a challenge. There was a lot to do before the accident; the list of pressing issues was now staggeringly long. The attendees would be the same as two weeks earlier with one exception:

Becky Gonzales, Sales & Marketing

Tim Godfrey, Manufacturing

David Baldwin, Operations

Bill Alexander, Chief Legal Counsel

Amanda Chesterfield, Chief Financial Officer

The notable absentee was Sally Danbury, the former head of Human Resources. After what happened, she decided to take an early retirement and spend more time with her grandchildren. After thirty years in the workforce, she felt like she'd earned a break.

"Good morning," Blake said in a tone more subdued than usual.

The team acknowledged his greeting but said nothing.

"How are you?" Blake said addressing the entire group.

A few people expressed their still-raw emotions regarding the accident. David Baldwin, head of Operations, gave a report on the cause of the explosion and presented some process changes being implemented to improve safety in the future.

"That's fine," Blake added, "but I think the solution may be much more difficult than what you just presented."

"What do you mean?" David asked.

"We certainly need the highest safety standards. We must rebuild the trust of our people, and these process changes will help, but as I understand it, the safety measures we had in place before the accident would have worked — if they had been followed. Is that correct?"

"Yes sir, that is correct," David admitted.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this incident is a graphic and tragic indicator of our problem. To call what happened 'human error' is a disgrace to those who died; the root cause would be more accurately labeled 'leadership error.' Leadership failed and people died.

"Based on the last engagement survey data, the vast majority of our people are sleepwalking through their days! This is not an HR problem; it is not the front-line supervisors' fault, and it's certainly not the employees who created this toxic work environment. This is a leadership issue — it is our responsibility.

Leaders are responsible for the culture in an organization. We will raise the bar.

"A decade from now, we will look back on what happened here as both a tragedy and a turning point. We'll create a better organization as a result. I wish we could have changed before it came to this point, but we are where we are.

"For today's meeting, let's hear a quick report on how the plant situation is going to affect the business over the next 90 days and look at the impact on our annual projections," Blake said.

After the final report, Blake said, "I have one more item on our agenda for today. We need to talk about who will take Sally's place as head of HR. Any thoughts?"

Nothing from the group — not a word. Impatiently, Blake asked, "You guys have been talking about succession planning, haven't you?"

Becky spoke for the group, "Well, I'm sorry to say, no; no, we haven't."

"OK," Blake said in disbelief. "I'll do some homework and we'll address the Human Resources issue during our next meeting."

"Anything else?" Bill asked.

"Yes, one more thing," Blake said. "At our next meeting, come prepared to talk about your leadership bench. I know now may not feel like the best time to tackle this topic, but if we're not careful, the present will always press out the future. As senior leaders, we must work on both today and tomorrow."

As if choreographed, the group all began to fidget. Blake picked up on it right away. "What did I say?"

"First, can you tell us what you mean by a leadership bench?" Amanda requested.

"Sure, I apologize — that may be new language for you guys. A leadership bench is a term to talk about current and emerging leaders. It is often represented in a plan that outlines your best thinking regarding succession — everyone's 'next man/woman up' strategy and the replacement's replacement as well. Ultimately, I want us to be three deep in every key leadership position."

"I hate to tell you, Blake, but we have nothing like that." Becky seemed to have revealed herself as the spokesperson for the group or at least its most outspoken member.

"Okay, that will be one of the topics on the next agenda. We may need to extend the meeting. We have a lot to talk about. Please bring what you have regarding your current and emerging leaders."

Immediately after the meeting, Blake decided he had enough information to contact his mentor, Jack Deluca. Jack had been a wildly successful CEO, and Blake thought a conversation would be helpful.


Bet on Leadership

Blake sent Jack an email and was not surprised by the response: See you Thursday morning at 10:00 — usual location.

As Blake had done many times before, he made the drive to Gresham Park. From his new address, on the other side of the state, the drive was a little shorter. Blake knew the routine — find the crowd, and he would find Jack.

Just as on other visits, Blake found the table at which Jack was holding court, schooling some unsuspecting opponent on the finer points of the game of chess. The pristine, fall weather seemed to have increased the crowd of onlookers.

"Checkmate," Jack said in a tone reflecting both excitement and humility. He had won again as he most often did here in the park; grandmasters don't have many legitimate rivals in this setting. The crowd offered what might be described as a "chess clap" — a golf clap but slightly more subdued.

As the latest student left the table wondering what had just happened, and how it happened so quickly, Jack addressed the crowd, "That's it for today. Thanks for stopping by. See you next week."

As soon as he had finished speaking, he stepped toward Blake and gave him a big hug. "How are you?"

"Good, not great — better now. It's fantastic to see you," Blake said.

"Sit down, sit down. I heard about the accident. Are you okay?"

"Shaken, for sure. Actually, if I'm honest ... devastated. Jack, six people died! Six of my employees."

"I understand, but, Blake, it was your first day on the job. You're good, but you're not that good. There's no way you could have prevented this tragedy. But ..." Jack paused. "You know you can prevent the next one."

"I hope so," Blake said.

"Hope is not a strategy." This was not the first time Jack had reminded Blake of this truth.

"You know what to do."

"Yes, I do. I should lead."

"Damn right — you should lead! Anything else? Are we done here?" Jack asked.

"I just wanted to test a couple of assumptions as I begin this journey."

"Okay, since you're here."

"I know there are four moves that enable high performance: Bet on Leadership, Act as One, Win the Hearts, and Excel at Execution."

"Correct. Those haven't changed."

"I just want to be sure I do this right."

"What do you mean?"

"I don't want to screw this up. My last company was tiny compared to this one. There was no media coverage of my last assignment!" Blake paused, "And, now the accident. ... This feels different."

"The scope, scale, and complexity may be different, but the way forward is not. When you refer to 'doing this right,' you need to get that out of your head. The four moves work every time. However, how you apply them, the actual tactics, will be determined by the circumstances you face."

"Okay. I thought that's what you would say."

"What's your plan?" Jack asked.

"Well, in addition to providing counseling for all the employees, and physically rebuilding a large portion of the plant, I plan to continue learning all I can about the business and the people, and I'm going to Bet on Leadership."


"I know if we don't crack the code on the leadership challenge, we'll never execute on the other moves. And, as far as I could tell during the first couple of weeks, we have virtually no bench strength. The most prominent example is Sally, the former head of HR. After the accident, she decided not to return, and it doesn't appear as though we have anyone to fill her seat from the inside."

"Are you sure?"

"Sure of what?"

"Sure no one inside can step up?"

"No, I'm not. I've only been on board two weeks, and it's been a little bit crazy!"

"Well, I would suggest you try an interim, even a consultant, until you're sure. If your instincts are correct and you don't have anyone inside, you can always go outside."

"Got it. I may call you and ask for another meeting."

"I hope you will; it's always great to see you. Please tell Megan and the kids I said hello."

"Any parting wisdom?"

"Have fun — don't let this hard season steal your joy."

On the drive back to the office, Blake thought about Jack's advice to appoint an interim or hire a consultant to help with the leadership bench issue to give him time to learn more about the talent he already had within the organization. As his mind scrolled through the most talented HR people he knew on the planet, one name rose to the top.


Second Chance

She was gone. The most engaging, spirited, caring, and beautiful woman Charles had ever known had just slipped away. He had lost not only his wife and the mother of their child, but his soulmate. He was numb.

Tears began to roll down Charles's face as he stared at the bank of machines that had been trying to extend Ann's life. They had failed, and Charles was listening to a sound he would never forget. Ann's monitor was broadcasting the lifeless tone of a heart no longer beating. Would it start again? He knew the answer was no. Not this time.

Many would say Ann had already cheated death. Her diagnosis had given her only months to live, but she was a fighter and had turned months into years. Now, her time was up — no miracle cure, no new treatment, no more experimental drugs. She was really gone.

Charles and Ann had been married only six years; her illness had taken its toll on both of them. Charles looked, and felt, much older than his birthdate on his driver's license. In some ways, Ann's passing lifted a tremendous weight — the pain, the waiting, the unknown. These issues were, in part, resolved now but replaced with a new set of realities. In the moment, the burden felt even heavier.

Charles's mind raced at a dizzying pace. How would he tell Samantha, their four-year-old daughter? She had known for a long time her mom was sick, but how would she respond to Ann's death? What would she do without a mother? Who would take care of her? Charles's job took him literally around the world. Would he have to get a new job?

Charles thought, "I need a drink." Unfortunately, he had said those words many times during Ann's illness. The truth was, he couldn't stop drinking even if he wanted to. Ann's death had just compounded his very complicated life.

* * *

By the time Blake reached his office, he had decided to take Jack's advice and bring in someone to help on an interim basis. He knew the myriad of problems the organization was facing were probably attributable to the way they thought about their people and, more specifically, leadership. He knew of one person who could help him out of this mess — Charles Jones.

Blake and Charles's relationship went way back. Charles was a rock star in the human resources world, but he was a leader first and foremost. Charles was a college friend and had been in Blake and Megan's wedding. Blake realized he regretted losing touch with Charles. The last he had heard Charles had taken a job as the head of Global Human Resources for a huge firm based in London. He knew he had to give him a call.

Blake cleared his calendar the next morning, and after a couple of calls and emails, he found out how to reach Charles. He placed the call.

"Charles, Blake Brown here. Remember me? I knew you before you were a global phenom. Man, it's good to talk to you!"

Charles did not respond. "Charles, are you there? Can you hear me?"

"Yes, Blake. It's good to hear from you."

"I'm sorry we lost touch. I know we've both been too busy," Blake said, his energy still gushing. "How are you? And Ann and Samantha?"

"Well, ..."

"Charles, are you okay?" Blake asked.

"No, Blake. No, I'm not."

"What's wrong?"

"I don't know where to start." There was a long pause. "Ann died a few months ago."

"No! I'm so sorry."

"And, Sam...." Charles stopped. "What about Sam?" Blake was almost afraid to ask. "Is she okay?"

"She's with my parents. I haven't seen her much in the last few months."

"Why is she with your parents?"

"I'm an alcoholic, and my parents have been keeping her while I've been in treatment."

"Man...." Blake didn't know what to say. He timidly asked, "How about work?"

"I'm on a leave of absence, but I'm not sure I'm going back."

"Why not?"

"The travel. Ultimately, I need to be home with Sam — now more than ever. She wants a pony, and I want not only to give her one, I want to be there when she rides it."

After a long silence, Blake asked, "How is the treatment going?"


Excerpted from Leaders Made Here by Mark Miller. Copyright © 2017 CFA Properties, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Human Error 5

Bet on Leadership 13

Second Chance 17

The Assignment 23

Our Point of View 31

That's My Job 45

Study the Best 49

Scale Matters 57

The Big Idea 63

Let's Review 75

It Just Happens 83

Just Do It 93

Never Too Late 99

Connect the Dots 103

The Pitch 115

Decision Time 125

Epilogue 129

Acknowledgments 131

About the Author 133

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Leaders Made Here: Building a Leadership Culture 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In Mark Miller’s newest book, Leaders Made Here, he lays out a well-designed blueprint for organizations in all spectrums to launch a program to ensure they have multiple leaders ready for the next leadership challenges and roles! Mark Miller weaves his wise council into an enjoyable tale full of difficulties and real world scenarios. Leaders Made Here can literally change the future of companies and organizations into a more desirable outcome, if the structure and discipline developed in the book are followed. If your organization struggles with having in house talent ready for leadership, Leaders Made Here is a must read to resolve that situation! Beau Sides