Tom Wiltzius

Posted on Jun 1, 2010 :: Face Time
Margaret LeBrun
Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Tom Wiltzius

What’s top of mind for executives in the New North? As facilitator of five executive roundtables and co-chair of four others, Tom Wiltzius has taken the pulse of leaders region wide for the past 20 years. He recently launched Greenville-based Wiltzius Associates LLC, focusing on executive alignment, coaching and transition. He sat down with Insight Editor Margaret LeBrun to discuss issues leaders face today.

I’m passionate about helping leaders bring success in their lives and in their organizations. Because I’ve had the opportunity to travel throughout the United States, and because through the New North I was involved in benchmarking other regions, I know that we have some pretty special factors operating for us in the New North. The quality of our business leaders and their capabilities, the quality of our education systems, the work ethic of the general workforce, the health care organizations we have, the physical environment we all work in – are without peer.
I began my consulting work with area firms 30 years ago and began bringing together groups of executives to what we refer to as roundtables nearly 20 years ago. It gives a unique opportunity to see the perspectives of business leaders across all industries and all sizes of organizations.
There are a number of factors that are top of mind for them today. One of them is the cost of growth. All organizations have two primary objectives; one is to grow and the other is to protect their assets. Because banking institutions are now facing new regulations, new challenges, they’ve become more careful and conservative in how organizations qualify for funding. In the past, you may have been able to have significant funding from one or two Another area executives are very concerned with is talent. Optimizing performance with the existing workforce is one aspect; this involves employee engagement or alignment. Another is being able to expand the workforce as growth requires. And the third area has to do with leadership development, which isn’t just at the executive level, but really permeates all aspects of the organization: How do we develop those people, how do we give them what they need so they combine leadership aspects for the long term with technical skills and requirements that they apply today?

We’re also facing a demographic challenge. Ed Gordon’s book, 2010 Meltdown, as you might recall (Gordon was the keynote speaker at the 2008 New North Summit) spoke to this. His predications were derailed by economic conditions, but when we return to whatever the new normal is, we’re going to be facing the baby boomers’ mass retirement. We will have an exodus of valued knowledge from organizations. We’ve got skills leaving, we’ve got knowledge leaving and – dangerously — we may have customer relations leaving. Pirating will begin to occur, and good people will leave companies for more meaningful offers. It’s not just the money they will leave for; it’s going to be opportunity, influence, life balance.

The companies that are trying to be ahead of the curve now are concentrating fundamentally on optimizing the capabilities of their senior leadership. Two big issues are the absence of conceptual alignment and the absence of operational alignment.

Alignment is when you and I sit in a room and we agree, this is the challenge and this is the opportunity, let’s go for it; we shake hands and we are conceptually aligned. But you and I leave the room and we go out trying to meet the challenge in ways that are not operationally aligned. We may be fighting for resources. Many organizations align themselves conceptually very well, and then operationally, they fall on their noses. They need to collaborate more as enterprise leaders, rather than compete for available resources. A lot of our compensation processes don’t align with effective leadership. They reward individual contributions as opposed to organizational outcomes.

Participants in the roundtables are people that make a difference in tens of thousands of peoples’ lives. I am going to do everything I can do to help them be effective, to help them succeed, because if they succeed within the concepts of ethics that they subscribe to, then everybody is better for it.

Margaret LeBrun

About Margaret LeBrun

Co-Publisher, Executive Editor View all posts by Margaret LeBrun →