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CEOs and the Free Throw Headache

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CEOs and the Free Throw Headache
Last week Jason Gay of the WSJ pointed out in his signature hysterically funny style, the irony of Mr. Dwight Howard’s inability to shoot free throws. Dwight Howard is one of the best basketball players in the world, plays for the LA Lakers, and is a 6-time All-Star.

But he can’t shoot free throws. His % this season is a stunningly low 48% (now I’m not suggesting at 5 ft. 9 ins if I stretch I could do any better but then I’m not paid $19m). Jason Gay makes the point even better –“If I blindfolded you, handed you 10 empty water bottles, spun you around three times, and told you toss them a couple of feet into a recycling bin, I am pretty sure you could knock down five out of ten”

This season it has gone as far as opponents fouling Dwight to force him to shoot because of the odds of him missing are so high! They are even talking about changing the rules to stop it! Jason’s conclusion – practice more and hit your free throws.

So what’s the connection with CEOs? Well I believe there are a shockingly large number of skills (free throws) that CEOs are struggling with. Now that’s not a problem if the skills in question aren’t essential to leading a company. But some of them are.

As the leader of your business or department or project team, look at this list and ask yourself, are there any free throw equivalents that are unacceptably weak?

  • Ability to find and nurture talent
  • Communicate your strategy clearly and concisely with your employees
  • Define the roles and accountability of your leaders
  • Deliver polished, authentic and meaningful speeches
  • Write relevant and informative blogs
  • Understand what a world class sales process looks like (hint it’s not a software program)
  • Write reports in a laconic, insightful way that moves the ball forward
  • Motivate people using your own personal style (not a bad imitation of your hero)
  • Listen with sufficient patience to hear the genuine objections
  • Understand the economics of your business

And what are you going to do about it?





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About the Author

Ian founded The Portfolio Partnership (TPP) in 2009. TPP is an operational consultancy focused on scaling private businesses organically and by acquisition. He believes his resume of building 4 previous businesses from publishing, investment banking to software in Europe and the States gives him a unique set of skills and a sense of humor. He remains a competitive masters track & field athlete and was ranked #4 indoors in the world for his age at 400m in the recent 2015 indoor season.

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