As the co-founder and managing partner at Navalent, Ron Carucci works with CEOs and executives pursuing transformational change for their organizations, leaders, and industries. Ron shares that rising to power involves landmines that organizations actually put in their way. He dug into ten years of data and followed some leadership candidates to see what could have possibly been all the landmines they were stepping in that could cause them to implode. Learn how to avoid the landmines to succeed and rise into power.
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Rising To Power with Ron Carucci
I have with me Ron Carucci. He is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Navalent, working with CEOs and executives in pursuing transformational change for their organizations, leaders and industries. Ron has a 30-year track record helping some of the world’s most influential executives tackle challenges of strategy, organization, and leadership from start-ups to Fortune 10s, turn-arounds to new markets and strategies, over-hauling leadership and culture, to re-designing for growth. He’s worked in more than 25 countries and on four continents. He’s also the bestselling author of eight books, including the Amazon number one bestseller, Rising to Power. Ron’s been a regular contributor to HBR, Forbes, featured in Fortune, CEO Magazine, Business Insider, MSNBC, Business Week, Smart Business, Thought Leaders. Welcome to Heartrepreneur Radio, Ron.
Terri, how are you? It’s so great to be with you. Thanks for having me.
It’s great to be with you. How did you get so interested in working with people on what’s happening within businesses and leadership? How did that come to be for you?
We have to go back several decades. I began my career in the arts and quickly and fortunately learned early on that I bore easily. While I was getting all these great jobs in New York, in my own mind I was thinking, “I have to do the same thing eight times a week for how long?” I tried several options and versions of that, touring in rep, and I was in Europe working with a company there that had a contract with the State Department and the Military to use multi-media to use workshops. We were in Dachau in the chapel. Today, we call it diversity and inclusion, but back then, there were not those names for it, but in essence, we were doing a workshop on how to value differences. We had East Germans, West Germans, Military and State Department, civilians, families, and a variety of mix in the room. It was a very interesting intense conversation. At one point a young soldier stood up and said through a raw, vulnerable plea, “I’m so tired of being trained to hate.”
I have so many different reactions. My first one, I was in shock that something I had done provoked him to think that. I’m more interested in understanding what he was feeling. I was so fascinated that afterwards, I went out to beers with him, it’s Munich and that what you do, and I wanted to know more. I understood at the time that this is what was happening for me. That moment began the turn for me to realize that telling great stories was interesting but entering other people’s stories to help them re-direct those stories was far more meaningful and fascinating to me. That’s where my life went and I’m grateful for that.
I love to hear the backgrounds of how people walk the path they walk and get down the path. How about becoming an author, not only that, bestselling author? How did that come to be?
For me, writing is a way I learn. I make a living as a consultant, not an author, so my publishers hate me for that. For me, when the people I’m helping, clients or friends, are facing persistent, like, “Why can’t we solve this problem?” For me, I want to go learn about it. Somebody asks me, “What do you think we should do? I want to have an informed choice.” For me, my writing is how I learn. I am in introversion, extroversion scale, more introverted than not, and so for me, it’s a way to reflect. That’s why I write. It’s a slow way for me to process things. Practically speaking, books become a way of entering the room before you do. There’s some social proof that you might know something. That’s where the writing part of my career has unfolded. When I stumble upon some intractable dilemma, it’s a way to go dig in and learn.
Whenever I talk to consultants who are also authors, we definitely are all clear. We make our bread and butter doing what we do in transforming businesses. I find that there’s so much value in getting the message out and in books and getting the word out. I love that you do that as well. What’s in Rising to Power? What’s that book about? Who should be reading the book? Where do we get to read it?
It’s available on Amazon, all the bookstores, and online. Based on a ten-year longitudinal study of more than 2,700 people, that was formed out of some unforeseen pain. A leader that I had worked with as part of a transformational product, one of our clients had distinguished himself and risen up and had been given the chance to take on a much broader job as part of his next step in his career, everybody assumed, “He’s brilliant. He’ll do well.” Nine months later, he called to tell me he’d been fired. I was shocked that the CEO called two hours later to tell me that he was angry that they had to fire him. Some of that was my responsibility for not having better prepared him. I was devastated and I asked if we could come in and investigate what could have gone wrong and how could we have judged him so badly. That investigation led to this ten-year study that we’ve known for more than twenty years. Those that take on broader levels of leadership in companies, more than half of them, fail within the first eighteen months.
That was unacceptable. It made no sense to me that we would tolerate that kind of career and inner-personal carnage from human beings as it’s a simple way of tossing out half the people he put up there, as if there was no long-term cost to that. I thought, “Surely, we could do better.” We dug into ten years of data. We isolated 100 leaders to follow them in slow motion to see what could have possibly been all the landmines they were stepping in that could so radically implode otherwise promising people, that other people said were high potential. Sure enough, watching the landmines that organizations actually put in their way, it’s a wonder any of them make it.
What we learned was twofold. One, the landmines are all avoidable. We don’t have to go tap dancing in them and organizations don’t have to put them there. I went back to that CEO and I said, “I will take responsibility for not preparing him for those landmines that he faced. You need to take responsibility for putting him there.” The other thing we learned was, for those other 50% that were rising up and actually thriving, what the heck were they doing that set them apart, but isolate four very recurring patterns in the research that helped them thrive? We were very honored that HBR named that, mainly in the research, one of 2016’s ideas that mattered most. It’s been wonderful resonating to people as they look at the data and go, “I recognize who I want to be in that, recognize leaders that I’ve admired in that.” It was very heartening to say, “We don’t have to do this. We don’t have to take otherwise promising and wonderful women and men who look great in the middle and send them upward and then ruin them. We can help them succeed. We don’t have to keep tolerating a 50/50 shot at success.”
When you see something that’s not quite right in corporate America or somewhere, it leads to some frustration. Then you get out there and you do something about it. In this case, you write a book.
I want to document this. I want to understand this journey. For me, it’s a way to say, “This makes no sense, let’s go learn about it.” This has been the statistic for several decades. We can’t be the only one who knows that. Why is it ok that it’s normal? The recruiters love it because it’s an annuity for them, but for everybody else, isn’t anybody saying, “This sucks. Why would I take a bigger job if I know I had a 50/50 shot of imploding? Middle-management now is fine. Why are they trying to get me to take a bigger job? Should I trust them?”You have men and women who could be phenomenal in broader roles, not taking those jobs, and you have people who shouldn’t be in them, getting them.
When I was President of National Healthcare company, I remember if you’d been there long enough, they promoted you to something. Even if you have no leadership skills and even if you didn’t want to be there. Then there’s people who had leadership skills and would have been a great leader of a department or a section, and they were still sitting there stagnant until some point, they left and went to another company. We lost amazingly talented people. This is a big global issue.
I hear lots of researchers quoting the stat, depends who’s research you’re looking at, between 40% and 50% of a failure rate, but I don’t see any outrage. I don’t see any sense of declared unacceptability for this. It just seems like, “Some leaders suck, some don’t. What are you going to do?” When you take precious, gifted men and women who have cultivated their talents and been good stewards of their stories and their hearts to use your vernacular, we owe it to them. We owe it to them to do everything that we can to ensure that if we’re going to entrust to them larger portions of our enterprises, that we help them be successful doing it.
This is critically important. It’s important for our “larger companies” and it’s also important for our smaller companies to take a look at. Tell people where they could get the book.
It’s Rising to Power. It’s at Amazon. If you come to our website, www.Navalent.com and go under ‘Books’, you’ll see the book there. We have a free executive summary. It’s a published main idea press authorized executive summary of the book you can download for free there as well. If you come to Navalent.com/Transformation, we also have a free eBook for you on leading transformation in organizations, on how to navigate these turbulent journeys in ways that have them actually stick. Also I’m at Twitter, @roncarucci, and on LinkedIn, so let’s keep the conversation going.
You’ve done some major work here, got our eyes opened, given us some things we can do, and we can take notice of. I suggest to the audience to get a copy of Rising to Power. Ron, thank you so much for being here. It’s certainly some eye-opening conversation. I appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to join us.
Terri, the pleasure is all mine. Thanks so much for having me.
For the audience, thank you for tuning in. Subscribe to the show. If you’re not subscribed, you may miss an episode and you could have missed Ron Carucci. What we’ve discussed has been very relevant and something that you want to take more consideration of. I do suggest you grab the book at Amazon, Rising to Power. Also, if you like the show, please go ahead and leave us a nice five stars. We sure love that and we love when you share us on social media. Thanks again for tuning in here at Heartrepreneur Radio.
- Rising to Power
- Twitter – @roncarucci
- Navalent’s LinkedIn
About Ron Carucci
Ron is a seasoned consultant with more than 25 years of experience working with CEOs and senior executives of organizations ranging from Fortune 50s to start-ups in pursuit of transformational change. His consulting has taken him to more than 20 different countries on four continents. He has consulted to some of the world’s most influential CEOs and executives on issues ranging from strategy to organization to leadership. He has worked extensively in the health sciences, biotech, and healthcare provider sectors and in the technology, consumer products, and retail food and beverage industries. He has led work on several large-scale merger integrations and subsequent culture change initiatives and enterprise-level global organizational redesigns.