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EP: 61 – Unstuck: How To Unlock & Activate The Wisdom Of Others with Craig Lemasters

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Craig Lemasters tara Nolan game of teams

Introduction Craig Lemasters former CEO of a $5bln Fortune 500 subsidiary Assurant Solutions, is an author, entrepreneur, investor and board member with more than two decades of success in executive leadership positions. He is now CEO of GXG an advisory company dedicated to helping other senior leaders get unstuck on the major growth challenges to their businesses. 

Podcast Episode Summary

This episode illuminates what it means for organisations and in particular top teams to get unstuck with respect to the major business challenges they face. Craig shares his deceptively simple formula and steps to help others get unstuck. Wisdom is a combination of Knowledge and Experience and when businesses face into growth outside of what is core they often fall short of critical wisdom Craig helps readers and clients appreciate there is an alternative to being stuck. The first step on the journey is humility. This conversation explores not only the methodology but the many themes about Leadership, Biases, Stereotypes and Patterns that keep us stuck. The book is littered with gems of wisdom, models, knowledge sources and references to critical and timely research. The book is 108 pages long and while seemingly short is anything but.  

Points made over the episode

  • Craig Lemasters now runs a company called GXG, an advisory boutique to help organisations get unstuck on the major growth challenges to their businesses. 
  • He started his company 6 years ago and after working with several clients it was suggested he write his methodology in a book. This book is called Unstuck, how to unlock and activate the wisdom of others 
  • Craig defines wisdom as a combination of Knowledge and Experience 
  • He shares that it is OK to be stuck but we have to be willing to admit it to ourselves and have the humility to ask for help. 
  • The circle of stuck is an example of the many activities people identify with at work where busy, like the many meetings we have and the many voices we copy in emails etc… is confused with momentum and activity. 
  • Leaders have to pick a destination. Strategy is not the destination and not the end game it is only the beginning. 
  • By putting B in the middle of a flip chart we can begin the work of identifying wisdom gaps. 
  • Craig walks us through the digital transformation challenge he faced at Assurant and describes the process he engaged to breakthrough his self-imposed stuck. 
  • It is extraordinary how often people in business at the start of this process deny their current reality. -Humility is key
  • These first few steps raise awareness about the number of wisdom gaps a team might face in pursuing a particular growth strategy. 
  • Leaders need to address the wisdom gap and very often that wisdom is housed in personas outside of the business and often in unrelated industry’s.
  • The importance of humility and being able to hold the truth are some of the lessons Craig shares from his experience working with organisations willing to explore his methodology. 
  • Leaders still suffer many biases and stereotypes that keep them away from considering this methodology. 
  • The belief “ I should know”
  • Not realising that the job of Leadership is to make choices and create a culture that lifts people up
  • An over identification with self interest
  • A capacity deficit to dialogue 
  • GXG source and locate advisory boards full of people who have the necessary wisdom to advice boards. This is a critical part of his methodology and it works because these people do not have an agenda but have the credibility and knowledge to impart. 
  • There needs to be an instance of candid conversations, conversations without internal wrangling and agendas for his process to be a success. 
  • Boards were originally conceived to support Leaders with operational issues they now assume a far greater governance role. Some of Craig’s clients are now developing shadow boards to get at the required wisdom necessary to compete in a VUCA world. 
  • The last chapter of Unstuck focuses on the idea of accessing Joy at work. Craig Lemasters sees no reason why we cannot be happy and lead dignified lives at work. 
  • Covid-19 has taught Craig a few things that we would like to see continued. 
  • Know people more than just knowing about them. 
  • More priorities does not mean better. As Leaders we need to de-stress people by making better and tighter choices so that fewer priorities are appropriate 
  • Flexible working is a paradigm that has been shattered and proven to work 
  • Let’s stop the game of 10 year plans and instead focus closer in and execute. 

Resources shared 

  1. Lemasters, Craig. Unstuck: How to Unlock and Activate the Wisdom of Others, Front Edge Publishing, 2020 
  2. Collins, James C. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap & Others Don’t. New York: Harper Collins 2001
  3. Kanter, Rosabeth Moss. Think Outside the Building: How Advanced Leaders can Change the World One Smart Innovation at a Time. New York: Viking 2013
  4. GXG. www.gxg.co

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