Booked review: Power Score – Your Formula for Leadership Success

How to set your priorities and find the source of your power

Mon, Aug 31, 2015, 04:00


Book Title:
Power score – your formula for leadership success


Geoff Smart, Randy Street , Alan Foster

Profile Books

Guideline Price:

The key to great leadership is to have the right priorities, the right people on your team and the right relationships that achieve results. That’s one of the key messages in this interesting book put together by three consultants in a US advisory firm called GhSMART.

The book takes the form of a series of questions and answers with the central idea being that there’s an optimum way to manage your organisation or team and that performance can be calibrated.

According to the authors, the ideas in the book are based on data and interviews collected from 15,000 leaders. That’s a staggering amount of data clearly but the conclusions here are surprisingly simple.

If priorities are the key, the main problem is sticking to priorities and having too many priorities.

Prioritising involves making decisions and saying “yes” to one thing involves saying “no” to others.

The authors quote a client in the charity sector in the US that had a priority list of 164 items. Despite a clear vision, a passionate team and a thriving culture, they were exhausted. Too many priorities equals zero priorities.

There’s an interesting passage about a tech industry leader called Maynard Webb. His meteoric career started as a security guard at IBM before eventually becoming president of eBay Technology.

With the e-retailer close to the point of crashing and a clear lack of leadership and confusion in the management, Maynard came on board and quickly identified four priorities: fix capacity issues, scale quickly, innovate and reassign resources to fuel product development.

Priorities can be set at the start of a job or you can use a crisis to reset the priorities. In other cases, you may realise that the market is changing and make a priority change then.

When setting priorities, it is important to focus on customer needs first, even if what the customer is telling you is unpalatable.

An illustrative case history presented here is when Motorola asked Juergen Stark to manage the rollout of its Razr phone in Japan a number of years ago. Within a day in the field, he realised that the phone lacked the technical capabilities to meet any of the 10 highest priority needs of customers. No matter how much marketing was done, the phone would not sell and adding the missing features would have been prohibitively expensive.

The priority was changed from how to market the phone to how to wind it down as quickly as possible – a move that was in the best bottom-line interests of the company.

The Power Score of the book’s title involves linking priorities (P) with two other factors, (W) the who, as in do we have the right people and (R) as in the right relationships. The combined PWR is a shortened form of the word “power”. The book presents a formula for calculating a score based on these three factors.

The authors suggest that leaders who run their team at top power (in the highest 10 per cent) are twice as likely to have succeeded in their careers than those with just average scores.

Having crunched the numbers on their large datasets, they conclude that the most common failure is not having the right people on your team.

Fewer than 14 per cent of all leaders excel at this.

The leaders who do it well are skilled at hiring, removing nonperformers and developing their teams and they invest a lot of time in getting it right it appears.

Not many leaders are great at all three factors, with a mere 1 per cent excelling on a sustained basis throughout their careers. About 10 per cent of leaders run their teams at full power at any given point in time.

The book has some helpful suggestions for how managers can compensate for deficits and can bring their ranking up.

Concentrating on just one or two areas is mistake. You need to embrace all three is the message here.