Expert: CEO Defines Workplace Climate

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Dec 15, 2014 8:48:17 AM

Today’s competitive environment demands fully engaged employees at all levels of an organization.  The CEO must define the leadership agenda that will drive employee engagement and superior performance for an organization, an expert told the AIM CEO Connection recently.

Two_WomenMike Maginn, president of Singularity Group, said, “Creating a workplace climate where people feel eager to deal with challenges, where they want to contribute ideas, and where they feel personally valued is the job of the CEO.  It’s a critical job, and the good news is that there are some defined, specific actions that leaders can take to change or improve the climate.”

Maginn led a discussion about culture and climate with a dozen chief executive officers who are members of the North Shore AIM CEO Connection.  He helped the CEOs explore the nature of culture and climate:

  • Culture consists of the norms and values of an organization and defines acceptable behavior.
  • Climate is what it feels like to work in an organization, which drives employee engagement.
  • Dimensions such as clarity, standards, responsibility, recognition, teamwork, and commitment define climate.
  • Climate dimensions can be measured.
  • Day-to-day leadership actions create climate.
  • A change in leadership actions will lead to a change in climate.

There is no “right” culture and climate, so the CEO must delineate the needs of the company and its customers to capture the essence of the culture and climate that will drive the organization in the right direction.

Veda Ferlazzo Clark, the former chief executive who moderates CEO Connection, said, “CEOs are always concerned about the culture of their organization and how they can affect it to maximize performance. It often feels amorphous, but the concept of climate is specific and actionable and can help CEOs and their senior managers feel as though they can make real change.” 

The CEO Connection brings together CEOs to talk about important topics with their peers to help them make critical decisions that will drive their company’s growth. Each session of the CEO Connection includes a presentation from an outside expert, open discussion about current issues, and a company tour.

Manufacturing/industrial CEOs interested to learn more about the AIM CEO Connection may contact me ( or Gary MacDonald ( 

Topics: CEO, Management, Manufacturing

CEOs Play Central Role in Lean Transformation

Posted by Brian Gilmore on Jul 8, 2014 10:38:01 AM

Chief executives are pivotal to the success of lean manufacturing, two transformation experts told the AIM CEO Connection recently.

ManufacturingWorkerSmallSusan Janus and Joe Griffin, Regional Managers at the Massachusetts Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), said CEOs must initiate, motivate and participate in efforts to improve value and reduce waste through lean principles. That role includes clearly defining roles and responsibilities, and holding people accountable for results.

“Implementing lean is a real test of CEO vision and leadership,” Janus said.

“Can the CEO persuade everyone to buy in and follow through? Can the CEO create a culture that allows the customer to pull value from the organization?”

Janus and Griffin led a discussion on The Role of the CEO in Lean with a dozen chief executives taking part in the CEO Connection in Attleboro. The peer group allows CEOs to meet on a monthly basis to share knowledge and develop the leadership skills needed to direct companies through times of change.

Lean manufacturing requires a company to identify the value in its production process while eliminating anything for which the customer should not pay. The objective is to reduce the waste that resides in product defects, overproduction, time delays, transportation of materials and equipment, excess inventory, motion and underutilized employees.

The CEO must set the tone, according to Janus:

  • Understand that lean process starts with the customer;
  • Convey to employees that lean is an organizational mindset and way of life;
  • Prepare for the fact that lean requires deep understanding;
  • Model the way; lead by example; participate;
  • Select priorities and stay focused;
  • Provide a roadmap - translate throughout the organization

“Above all else, the CEO must develop talent and enable others to carry out lean,” Janus said. “That means believing in everyone’s ability to contribute, training for knowledge and skill, and developing champions who can drive the process.”

Veda Clark, the former chief executive who moderates CEO Connection, said participants choose the topics for each meeting and that there was keen interest in the management role in lean process. Each session of the CEO Connection includes a presentation from an outside expert, open discussion and a company tour.

“These CEOs learn a tremendous amount from one another. It’s a uniquely valuable exercise for people who are sometimes very much on their own in making important decisions,” Clark said.

The south shore group is looking to recruit three additional CEOs, while recruiting is underway for a north-of-Boston AIM CEO Connection. Manufacturing CEO’s interested to learn more about the AIM CEO Connection should contact either Brian Gilmore ( or Gary MacDonald ( 


Topics: CEO, Management, Manufacturing

Who is the Most Respected CEO in the World?

Posted by Christopher Geehern on Aug 30, 2011 2:09:00 PM

Steve Jobs’ resignation as chief executive of Apple Computer on August 25 has raised a familiar question around the water cooler: Who is the most respected CEO in the world?

JobsIt’s no surprise that the iconoclastic Jobs comes up often in that conversation. The Apple founder returned in 1996 to the company he founded and developed a string of products - the iMac, the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone, and the iPad - that remade consumer electronics.  Macolytes argue that Jobs brought a unique ability to know what consumers wanted before they knew they wanted it.

Who else might be the uber-CEO?

How about New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, builder of one of the most valuable sports franchises on the planet, who worked through personal tragedy last month to play a key role in ending the National Football League labor dispute?

Or Indra Nooyi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of PepsiCo, and one of the most powerful female executives in the world, overseeing the world's largest portfolio of billion-dollar food and beverage brands, including 19 different product lines that each generate more than $1 billion in annual retail sales.

Or Alan Mulally, the former Boeing chief executive who returned Ford Motor Company to profitability without a government-sponsored bankruptcy?

Who gets your vote as the world’s most respected CEO and why? Let the debate begin.  Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Topics: CEO, Management

Benjamin Franklin, Sales Manager?

Posted by Jack Derby on Jul 12, 2011 9:01:00 AM

Editor’s note – One in an occasional series of articles on sales and sales management in a difficult economy. Jack Derby is CEO of Derby Management in Boston and lead presenter at the October 2-4 AIM Sales Management Boot Camp.

BenFranklinWith The Perfect July 4 weekend tucked away, and while I was lost in the myriad of activities from watching three back-to-back nights of fireworks on the beach, to singing an enthusiastic “God Bless America” at Sunday mass to watching a group of red, white and blue painted teenagers loft a huge flag and lead hundreds of people on the very crowded beach to sing “Happy Birthday,” I got around to thinking about the signers of the Declaration of Independence.

Every Fourth, The Boston Globe, publishes the complete Declaration, and there’s no way that anyone can read this without thinking about the actual 56 signers of this truly revolutionary document. Of those 56, nine died of wounds or hardships during the war and five were captured and imprisoned, in each case with brutal treatment. Several lost wives, sons or entire families. One lost his 13 children. All were at one time or another, the victims of manhunts and driven from their homes. Twelve signers had their homes completely burned. Seventeen lost everything they owned. Yet not one defected or went back on his pledged word.
Among the 56, for me, Benjamin Franklin stands out as the classic entrepreneur and earlier-day Blogger Supreme.

Captured in his marketing quote of "Either write something worth reading about or do something worth writing about," (credit HubSpot for pointing this out to me in their 4th of July blog ), one can easily envision Ben the Blogger hard at work, quill pen in hand, printing press warmed up, posting one or two blogs a day - in hard copy on the wall of the town hall, of course, rather than on his Facebook wall.

Clearly the master of saying a lot with a little (“a penny saved is a penny earned”) as shown through his numerous quotes in Poor Richard’s Almanac, Ben was an extraordinary marketer and would today rival Seth Godin for his prolific and yet down-to-earth, simplistic comments.

Working recently on a project at Iron Mountain, I’ve been consistently impressed by the director of marketing for the program, for her uncanny ability to take complex sales issues and boil them down to simple templates, graphics and customer interfaces that slap one upside the head, in a Ben Franklin type of marketing way, and that immediately get prospects to the heart of the message.

Ben, I am sure, would have also excelled at delivering Value Propositions and done much better than the majority of the salespeople that we hear. When you think about marketing messaging and sales delivery tactics, unless that entity, that person, can immediately translate features into valuable benefits and what’s in it for the prospect, then in today’s shaky economy, more words are just more blah, blah, blah, and of course, blah.

Ben would have also made a great sales manager. Today as we at Derby Management begin attending a dozen sales meetings over the next few weeks reviewing half-year performance and planning out for the next six months, I know that I’ll be hearing the “hope” word a lot. Maybe rather than using my often stated comment of “hope is not a strategy,” I will use Ben’s much more effective, “He that lives upon hope will die fasting”.

Even though Ben will unfortunately not be an instructor at the Sales Management Boot Camp we will hold with AIM on October 2-4 in Boston, there will be experts from Brainshark, HubSpot and Salesforce joining in. Just shoot me an email at, and I can schedule a 10-minute call to answer questions and walk you through the details. You may also contact Russ Sullivan at AIM,

Keep in mind the following facts about the event:

  • Five years
  • More than 350 graduates
  • CEOs & Sales Managers only
  • High satisfaction
  • Lots of testimonials
  • Pre-August 15th discounts

Good Selling today and as you venture out into a brand new quarter remember Ben’s: “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out!”

Topics: CEO, Associated Industries of Massachusetts, Sales Management

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