Podcast 1: George Bradt – Chairman at Prime Genesis
George Bradt, chairman of PrimeGenesis, a senior executive onboarding company, knows that the war for talent is not a war for all talent — it’s a war to attract, develop, and retain top talent. In this episode, Bradt advises companies to build a corporate culture that attracts top talent. He defies advice to “strengthen your weaknesses” and encourages businesses to build “phenomenal teams of unbalanced individuals.” And he explains how new executives can succeed with the steps in his latest book, The New Leader’s 100 Day Action Plan.
Time-Stamped Show Notes
00:20 Host Ryan Kellogg welcomes to the podcast George Bradt, chairman of PrimeGenesis.
01:20 In addition to PrimeGenesis, an executive onboarding company, Bradt started CEO Connection, which helps CEOs of mid-level companies collaborate, and Glass Heart Productions, a musical promotion company.
02:20 The war for talent is not a war for all talent, but a war to attract, develop, and encourage top talent.
03:00 Strategies for recruiting and developing top talent.
05:30 Developing a corporate culture that attracts top talent.
08:00 A military analogy about corporate culture. The takeaway: there’s a right culture for every organization’s mission.
10:40 Bradt discusses his latest book, The New Leader’s 100 Day Action Plan.
12:50 Why do 40 percent of new executives fail in the first 18 months? It’s all about communication.
15:10 The advice for success Bradt would give to his younger self.
16:40 The people who are happiest are those who commit themselves to a cause. Find a way to connect with people’s hearts, minds, and souls.
18:50 The difference between a generalist and a specialist.
21:00 Advice for senior executives who would like to be coached for success by someone like Bradt.
23:30 Tools and techniques Bradt uses daily for success, especially delegation and time management.
27:00 Aside from communication, the other areas leaders should focus on to drive success (as explained by “The Animal School”).
29:50 Develop a phenomenal team of unbalanced individuals who are stronger together than they are individually.
George Bradt’s Advice to New Leaders: Be Passionate, Be Prepared
The war for talent is a struggle to help organizations prosper by attracting, retaining, and developing young talent. George Bradt, chairman of the executive onboarding company PrimeGenesis, offers further clarification. “It’s not a war for all talent,” he says. “There are a lot of people who either don’t have jobs or are underemployed. It’s really a war for top talent. At this stage, particularly in the United States, the top talent are fully employed and getting great offers and opportunities. The war is to attract, develop, encourage, and manage that top talent.”
Bradt started PrimeGenesis thirteen years ago to help senior executives and their teams successfully transition into new leadership roles. He says that the key to attracting top talent is for businesses to build a culture where top performers can thrive. “The best companies are making a massive forward-capability plan. They’re asking what their organizations need to look like in three years, and based on that, which of their current people they can develop, which people they need to recruit right now and develop over the coming years, and which people they’ll need to bring in on a just-in-time basis later.” Top talent will see these companies’ efforts to establish a forward-thinking culture and want to join them, Bradt says.
Bradt approaches corporate culture with the acronym BRAVE: behaviors, relationships, attitudes, values, and environment. Prospective executives can gauge a company’s culture by examining how it performs in those areas. Executives can also assess their own BRAVE preferences and compare it to where a company’s culture is evolving in order to find a good match.
In his latest book, The New Leader’s 100 Day Action Plan, Bradt prepares senior executives for success in a new leadership roles by focusing on three goals: (1) get a head start, (2) manage your message, and (3) build your team. “People who actually control their own message and positioning from day one, and who focus during their first 100 days on building their team, they do better. Forty percent of executives get fired or forced out in their first 18 months. We’ve been able to reduce the rate of failure of those people we’ve worked with down below five percent.”
Leaders fail in new jobs because of poor fit, poor delivery, or poor adjustment, Bradt says. “They get excited about where the company will be in three years, but they can’t survive the way it operates today. They don’t get done what they need to. Or as things change, they either don’t see the change or don’t adjust to it. … If I had it to do over again, I would have called the book The New Leader’s 100 Day Communication Plan because it’s all about communication.”
The leaders who are happiest overall are the ones who commit themselves to a cause, according to Bradt. He encourages leaders to identify their passion, and if they’re passionate about many causes, to tackle them one at a time. “Get mad. Find an injustice that you care about. Find an unmet need,” he says. “Find something that isn’t working as well as it should that you can fix. And find a way to connect with people’s hearts, minds, and souls. People who devote their time to those causes are happier.”
Once a leader accepts an executive role within their chosen industry, they may consider consulting with a firm like PrimeGenesis for career coaching. Bradt explains that his company has a narrow focus. “We exclusively work with executives moving into new positions, or leadership teams merging after an acquisition. We will not start with anybody until after they’ve accepted a job, and we will not start with anybody after day one. We turn away about 50 percent of business that comes our way after the first phone call.”
For leaders looking to increase their chances of success in a new role without consulting a coach, Bradt recommends reading his book and figuring out how the organization you’re joining is going to help with your onboarding. “Some organizations have internal people who can help, some bring in executive coaches. Figure out what you’ll need for a successful transition, how you’re going to get a head start, how you’re going to manage your message, and how you’re going to build your team. And then work with the organization to get you the resources you need, wherever they come from.”
Bradt’s definition of leadership is “inspiring and enabling others to do their absolute best together to realize a meaningful and rewarding shared purpose.” He notes the importance of finding people with differential strengths and setting them up to be successful with the skills at which they naturally excel. “Businesses do performance reviews — here are your strengths and weaknesses. And they focus their development plan on improving your weaknesses. That’s so wrong! That’s getting people to be average.
“Let people play to their strengths,” Bradt says. “If someone’s a great writer, send them to a writing workshop. If someone’s great analytically, give them more analytic projects. You want to develop a phenomenal team of unbalanced individuals who are stronger together than they are individually.”
The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan: How to Take Charge, Build Your Team, and Get Immediate Results by George B. Bradt, Jayme A. Check, and Jorge E. Pedraza