Leadership Today
Reflections from Good to Great and Beyond Great, part 19

Corporate Culture – Creating the Place

When we speak about initiating corporate transformation, we are talking about processes to shift the culture of the organization. Culture has to do with the surrounding circumstances and environment in a place—those things that impact the behaviors and activities of people. To paraphrase Edgar Schein, Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, corporate culture is the set of beliefs, values and actions shaped by the organization’s top executives.

  • These tend to be broadly shared by a corporation’s members.
  • They can be faithfully transmitted from generation to generation of employees.


James Autry authored a wonderful book and video entitled Love and Profit. In his book and presentation on the “art of caring leadership,” he often refers to the leaders’ role as “to create the place.” That is a beautiful way to look at the overall role of the leader—to create the place where people can come to do great work, to share in rewards, and to fulfill their hopes and dreams while experiencing a “job well done.”

The “place” Autry is referring to is much more than the building. It is the environment—the culture that surrounds everyone there. It influences their work and their lives.

Many thanks,

Larry Meeker
President, Advanced Team Concepts




Reflections from Good to Great and Beyond Great, part 18

Our focus of this discussion in recent weeks has been personal preparation. A lot of work remains, and we will explore it in later weeks, but as we've noted, the ground should be prepared for success.

We need to move forward intentionally and with discipline. We need to understand the nature of transformation. 
  • It is a process. The inner nature may change, but the outer evidence of it takes time.
  •  Transformational change is radical. People can see and detect the difference.
  • It requires perseverance and work to come to fruition.
This post and this series are intended as business pieces, not with the intentional theological focus that we sometimes take. Some people may not own it or allow it, but our business lives and our spiritual lives are not mutually exclusive. We may try to keep them in separate boxes, but they are not.
It is intriguing that in Good to Great and other books, there are hints that transformation involves something larger than oneself. The exact source goes unidentified, or it is attributed to luck. Sadly, the true source of greatness and success is missed. Unfortunately it can come across as some sort of new-age mystical thing. People/writers skirt the edges of this important topic, our spiritual dimension, without taking a stand.
I would be remiss if I were not transparent with you regarding where I stand on this. The most powerful personal transformation is when a person commits his or her life to Jesus Christ—that point begins a special and personal relationship with him as a personal Savior.
A Life Focused on Christ Brings about Transformation
In Beyond Great, we strove to acknowledge the essence and source of this greatest of all personal transformations. 
Extraordinary results are possible; in fact, supernatural results are also possible if true transformation occurs.
Through our own efforts we can make changes, but it is God who transforms. 
Equipped with Him, we are powerfully enabled and prepared to begin the work of transforming a corporation or other organization.
 Many thanks,
Larry Meeker
President, Advanced Team Concepts
Reflections from Good to Great and Beyond Great, part 17

Last time we used consider a breakout of three aspects of humanity. These three components enter into most all of our problem solving and planning activities. We often engage these three elements in the sequence we mentioned last time, shown here, not always, but normally.

  • Mind—our intellect
  • Heart—our desire
  • Will—our drive to act
Let’s think about how we function in these elements. For example, what part of us is first provoked in the process of considering or deciding something new?
Mind – As humans, our first step is typically with our minds. This should be especially true for people in leadership roles, who have a base of experience and knowledge to pull from.   In the best of circumstances, we begin our decision making with our heads. We think about things, sometimes deeply. 
It is often a reflection of the current reality combined with a creative process of thinking about the possibilities. That is mental work.
Emotion is not absent. In some cases it is emotion that drives us to think and take action. That was probably true in the example we shared a few weeks ago with John Newton as his ship was helplessly tossed at sea—he was face-to-face with the emotion of fear. 
In normal instances, though, the change or transformation begins with thinking. We can see this  modeled when we examine great decision makers around us.  Strong leaders will often engage others in the thinking process, understanding that good thinking around important issues is often a team sport, especially when creativity is desired or required.
Heart – Once we have “thought” about our direction and potential change, another part of us is essential if we are to commit. We use our hearts. At this point it becomes more than an intellectual process. We internalize the change in our core. We cultivate personal beliefs about it, weighing potential impact against our personal and group value systems.
This allows us to check the "rightness" of the solution we are thinking of.
Will – Once we have thought about it and committed with our hearts, it becomes critical to take action. This moves our commitment into tangible processes that enable transformation. Without action, there probably is not transformation.
In transformation, our behaviors reflect the changes operating within us.
This personal transformation involves the whole person. It is critical that we:
  • Think about our choices—what we choose to believe.
  • Search our hearts for what we feel—what we desire, what we believe at our core, what we will commit to.
  • Determine what we will do—how we will behave, how we will lead.
This prepares us to successfully move forward.
It prepares us for the work ahead.
Many thanks,
Larry Meeker
President, Advanced Team Concepts
Reflections from Good to Great and Beyond Great, part 16

Last time we used John Newton as an example of personal transformation.

Newton transformed. It began at his core, in his soul. Let’s think for a minute about our core, the pieces that cut to our very souls.

In the diagram below are the elements of our makeup.
  • Mind—our intellect
    Our minds contain what we think and believe.
  • Heart—our desire
    In our hearts we find values, feelings and emotions, as well as our longings and passions.
  • Will—our drive to act
    Our wills drive and influence what we do and to what we will commit.


In some ways you could say these three areas define us. They represent who we are. It is at the center of the diagram, where these elements overlap, that we can start to envision what is at our core.
Next time we will begin to examine each of these three areas individually.
Have a great week,
Larry Meeker
President, Advanced Team Concepts


Reflections from Good to Great and Beyond Great, part 15

We have talked about the two pieces of transformation—personal and corporate. There is logic to it. After all, a company is a collection of individuals. Organizations reflect the beliefs of their members, particularly their leaders.

The issue of personal transformation is the correct place to begin. As leaders, we cannot expect to guide transformation through an organization without having our own heart in the right place. 
On the surface, corporate transformation sounds fairly straightforward—bringing about positive change in the company. You may have already led your company through a range of changes. Some changes likely had positive impact. 
This one may be a little more daunting. It requires our transformation in order to begin.
History provides inspiring examples of personal transformation. One example in the spotlight now is John Newton. A movie released early in 2007, Amazing Grace, focuses on issues related to the times and circumstances that surrounded the transformation that Newton experienced.  
Newton was an Englishman who operated a slave ship in the 1700’s. His business was very unsavory—the selling of human beings into slavery. He described himself as a person without any boundaries or controls in his life. 
During one of his slave trading journeys, a terrible storm developed while they were at sea. Newton, in his fear for his life, cried out for God. At this moment when it appeared his time on earth had come to an end, he found a need for a connection with God to fill his spiritual void.
In those fear-filled moments in that treacherous storm, he committed in his heart then and there to start a process of personal transformation. He survived that mighty storm and began the journey to keep the commitment he had made to God. Newton’s transformation affected every aspect of his life: his vocation, his desires, and his activities. Later he began to serve his local community as a minister and hymn writer. He even rose above his past to help the world prevail over the wicked business that had once been his own. He played a role in abolishing slave trading in England.  
His was a complete change, from the inside outward, to the point where he could ultimately acknowledge the “amazing grace” that God had extended to him. That, of course, is the title of the worship hymn for which John Newton is most remembered.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me....
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.…
Please visit again next week. Our conversation continues,

Larry Meeker
President, Advanced Team Concepts



Reflections from Good to Great and Beyond Great, part 14

As we discussed last time, our desire is for a spiritual foundation that will successfully underpin our organizations.

True transformation happens when there is a change of character/nature. 

Now, to consider transformation for a company, we will need to think deeply about how it can experience a change of character.
We can see that corporate transformation will not be found in a single model. 
Given that, it is useful to have a process. That is where Beyond Great fits in. Instead of trying to fit into a model, we will be working on steps to help the transformation emerge from within. 
We are talking about a process. We are talking about a journey. Our purpose is to transform the corporation to a higher purpose. 
On our journey we will include these major pieces:
  • How we think — Transforming truth
   Transforming focus
  • Our practices regarding people — Transforming leadership
Transforming teams
  • Our ability to act and press forward — Transforming discipline
Transforming perseverance
How can we transform our company to the higher purpose of its potential? That is our question.

Larry Meeker
President, Advanced Team Concepts



Reflections from Good to Great and Beyond Great, part 13

With Beyond Great we are shooting for more. We want a spiritual foundation that will underpin our business practices and set the stage for real impact.   

The basis of true transformation is the acquisition of a new nature. In other words, we replace the old nature with a new one.
The difference between “conformed” and “transformed” may be clearer with a simple example from nature.
A chameleon may change its color, but by nature it is still the same chameleon—it is not transformed. It is destined to always be a chameleon. It may grow bigger. Its colors may vary to “conform” to its surroundings, but it is still the same creature. It is always going to be a chameleon.
Now consider a caterpillar. It starts life having one nature, but along the way it undergoes a fundamental change, a “transformation.” It becomes a new creation. Thus, what starts as a caterpillar experiences a radical change in its nature, becoming a thing of real beauty, a butterfly.  
Schema – (Greek) an outer change in appearance only.
Metamorphoo – (Greek) an outer change as a result of the inner nature.
The transformation to a butterfly is something beautiful and amazing. The metaphor of the butterfly is powerful at another level, too. 
It is awesome to realize that the caterpillar has everything it needs in terms of potential already within it. It is born equipped with the DNA and ability to make this beautiful transformation. 
In a similar fashion, we can transform—within our hearts we already have the potential.
More to come...

Larry Meeker
President, Advanced Team Concepts




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