Question Everything

It can be difficult for leaders (especially senior ones new to their roles) to pause before acting. But when was the last time you stopped to ask, “Why are we doing it that way?” Leaders must constantly explore new ideas and seek out new thinking from those around them. You need to regularly ask uncomfortable questions and think about whether to change or abandon an existing strategy. 

  • The best leaders step back and look at the big picture every so often.

  • They surround themselves with diverse teams and capitalize on opportunities to hear and experiment with new ideas.

  • They give themselves time to surface divergent opinions that ultimately lead to smarter business decisions.


Adapted from “When Was the Last Time You Asked, ‘Why Are We Doing It This Way?’”

by Hal Gregersen

Trevor Lee – EP International


We provide C-suite services in the field of talent acquisition, development and retention.


Develop your Skills for Success

Success requires continual growth and learning. But how do you know which development efforts will yield the best return?

First, look for the overlap between what your organization needs and what will give you the most satisfaction. If you’re in operations, you might identify several business-critical areas for improvement — say, learning to better manage large custom client projects in order to significantly reduce cycle and delivery times.

Next, think about whether you can excel at the capabilities you want to develop. If you’re already very organized, that bodes well for being able to learn complex project management.

Finally, honestly assess how interested you are in the capabilities. The key is to focus on skills that will propel your organization forward, play to your strengths, and keep you passionate about learning.


Adapted from “How to Decide What Skill to Work On Next,” by Erika Andersen

Trevor Lee – EP International


We provide C-suite services in the field of talent acquisition, development and retention.


First Impressions – Don’t Get Fooled

Disastrous hires can happen when managers are fooled by first impressions. But how can you get beyond the superficial during a brief interview?

The key is to focus on behaviors rather than traits. For example, if the interviewee describes them-self as a “team player,” do they credit other people when discussing their work? Look beyond what the candidate is saying and focus on how they are they saying it.

Watch for nonverbal cues that signal contempt, superiority, and disrespect: eye contact when speaking to another person but not when listening to them or invading another’s space.

Another telling question: Ask them to describe their least preferred coworker. Listen for whether they reduce the person to a one-word label (e.g., “difficult” or “micro-manager”) or reveal a more complex view of the situation (e.g., “we disagreed about how to get the job done because we were trained in different ways”).


Adapted from “How to Hire Without Getting Fooled by First Impressions,”

by Tanya Menon and Leigh Thompson

Trevor Lee – EP International


We provide C-suite services in the field of talent acquisition, development and retention.


When Working Across Cultures …

When working with a person from another culture, your instinct might be to try to identify cultural differences so that you can alter your own behavior to avoid any faux pas. But focusing on differences alone won’t help you build connections. To do that, you have to focus on similarities. Perhaps it’s a hobby you have in common, a shared love of football (European or American), or the fact that both of you are trying to Skype your families back home. You can discover these commonalities in conversation, through basic research, or simply by noticing the pictures and memorabilia on the person’s desk.

The possibilities are endless.

By focusing on similarities, you have the power to create connections and build relationships that either supersede cultural differences or make them irrelevant.


Trevor Lee




Banking – A Sustainable Management Model

A banking industry leader like Handelsbanken has built

new management models.


Conditions today are tough. Managers have to respond fast, the pace of innovation is accelerating, prices are driven by markets, customers are fickle, employees easily change their jobs and shareholders always demand more. Yet, while there is constant discussion of these forces and the need to raise company performance, organisation and management processes remain set in another age. Fixed strategies and budgets inhibit rapid responses, bureaucracy strangles innovation, functional organisation creates barriers to customer service and command and control demotivates employees.

To compete more effectively, organisations have to transform their hierarchies into networks of units with a high degree of local autonomy. Serving customers better must over-ride issues of hierarchy and internal power politics, and rigid management processes that create fixed performance contracts (such as budgets) must give way to more adaptive management processes. These are the main changes needed to build a coherent, systemic management model – also known as the beyond budgeting model – to enable whole companies to achieve sustained superior performance.

This model is now substantiated by the sciences most relevant to management today, complexity theory and behavioural science. A practical expression of the model is embodied in beyond budgeting’s twelve principles of devolved leadership and adaptive processes.

The underlying concept behind the new model is radical decentralisation. The organisation revolves around the customer and no longer around products and shifts away from static hierarchies to a flexible network of highly autonomous units. The consistently high profitability of Nordic bank, Svenska Handelsbanken, is the result of it focusing, for example, on customer satisfaction instead of product volume and market segment targets. There are no centrally organised product campaigns. The bank does not measure the profit or loss of its products, but instead focuses consistently on customer-profitability.

Derived from this strong customer orientation, the leadership and organisation is based on empowerment and responsibilities are distributed deeply throughout the organization. Decisions are taken as close as possible to the customer (i.e. in branches), which means they are made quickly, competently and at low cost. Over 50 per cent of Handelsbanken employees have individual lending authority. Internal suppliers of services have to live up to their customers’ requirements – and not follow some functional hierarchy. As a result, the organisation becomes even more decentralised.

Highly decentralised network-like organisations need appropriate management processes to support them. Beyond budgeting emphasises adaptability. The fixed performance contract is superseded by a relative performance contract. It is of critical importance not to set fixed targets or budgets in advance, against which to measure a manager’s performance.

In place of them, relative goals help managers to compare their performance with the benefit of hindsight against competitors in their markets and peers within the bank.

Handelsbanken’s prime corporate aim is to achieve a higher return on equity than the average for its Nordic (including the UK) competitors. For the past 35 years, it has always surpassed this target. Bonus payments are distributed to employees in the form of profit sharing, based on the actual achievement of this relative goal. No fixed annual plans are made, because, instead of a static budget, planning is a continuous rolling process, which allows dynamic coordination and the use of resources according to need.

This management model, in Handelsbanken’s opinion, is the key to its sustained success. Its cost to income ratio has long been in the 40 to 45 per cent range, the lowest among Europe’s largest universal banks. In Sweden, its largest market, the bank consistently has more satisfied business and private customers than the average of its competitors.

Source material:

Trevor Lee – EP International


We provide C-suite services in the field of talent acquisition, development and retention.


Follow these 5 Rules to be A Great Boss

Amazing bosses try to make work meaningful and enjoyable for employees. They’re most successful when they adhere to a few best practices:

  • Manage individuals, not just teams. When you’re under pressure, you can forget that employees have varying interests, abilities, goals, and styles of learning. But it’s important to understand what makes each person tick so that you can customize your interactions with them.
  • Go big on meaning. Inspire people with a vision, set challenging goals, and articulate a clear purpose. Don’t rely on incentives like bonuses, stock options, or raises.
  • Focus on feedback. Use regular (at least weekly) one-on-one conversations for coaching. Make the feedback clear, honest, and constructive.
  • Don’t just talk — listen. Pose problems and challenges, and then ask questions to enlist the entire team in generating solutions.
  • Be consistent. Be open to new ideas in your management style, vision, expectations, and feedback. If change becomes necessary, acknowledge it quickly.

Trevor Lee – EP International


We provide C-suite services in the field of talent acquisition, development and retention.


How To Become An Adaptive Business

What links these stellar organisations? 

American Express, HCL Technologies, Hilti, John Lewis Partnership,

Southwest Airlines, Statoildm-drogerie markt,

Morning Star, Toyota, Whole Food Markets and W.L.Gore.

They represent a growing number who pursue an ‘adaptive management model’ via

Are these organisations successful and ‘fit for the future’?

By any measure, absolutely!


So to help you on your journey here are the TWELVE

principles that they rigorously employ.

#1 – Values 

Bind people to a common cause, not a central plan.

#2 – Governance

Govern through shared values and sound judgment, not detailed rules and regulations.

#3 –Transparency

Make information open and transparent, don’t restrict and control it.

#4 – Teams

Organize around a network of accountable teams, not centralized functions.

#5 – Trust

Trust teams to regulate and improve their performance; don’t micro-manage them.

#6 –Accountability

Base accountability on holistic criteria and peer reviews, not on hierarchical relationships.

#7 – Goals

Set ambitious medium term goals, not short-term negotiated targets.

#8 – Rewards

Base rewards on relative performance, not fixed targets.

#9 – Planning

Make planning a continuous and inclusive process, not a top-down annual event.

#10 – Coordination

Coordinate interactions dynamically, not through annual budgets.

#11 – Resources

Make resources available just-in-time, not just-in-case.

#12 – Controls

Base controls on fast, frequent feedback, not on budget variances.

These principles will enable and encourage a cultural climate change that will enable your organization to attract and keep the best people as well as drive continuous adaptation, innovation and growth. They define the new management model for the twenty-first century organization.


Are you missing out? – Is there more to be discovered?

Further resource:

Curated by Trevor Lee  –  EP International


We provide C-suite services in the field of talent acquisition, development and retention.