Success By Association - March/April 2017 - 20

businessstrategy

Getting the Leadership Basics Right
Eric J. McNulty

I recently had the opportunity to interview two CEOs on a single day. While the interviews
were conducted for two different projects and initially seemed dissimilar, my review of the
notes revealed great commonalities in how the two run their businesses. Their insights make a
great playbook for the leadership basics from which every executive can learn.

T

he first was with Sophi Tranchell, CEO of Divine
Chocolate. Divine is a privately held social enterprise
based in the U.K. that sources fair-trade cocoa beans
from farmers in Ghana who are also part owners of
the company. The second interview was with Bill Sandbrook,
CEO of U.S. Concrete, a publicly held company based in the
U.S. that produces ready-mixed concrete and aggregates.
Tranchell is a former antiapartheid activist; Sandbrook's early
career was in the military.
In addition to the everyday challenges of being a CEO, each
leader wrestles with making a product composed of multiple
commodity ingredients subject to fluctuations in price and
availability. Each faces tough competition that requires
striking a balance between cost and quality. Each has intricate
distribution channels where things can go awry. And both are
succeeding by getting these five often:

Hire people who can find meaning
through your business.
You may think that because everyone loves chocolate,
everyone wants to work for a chocolate company. But it
is Divine Chocolate's social mission, not its product, that
makes it distinct and draws talent. Tranchell said she seeks
to work with people who are "passionate and curious" and
want to change the world for the better. She looks for an
entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to see "the mission
impact along with the business impact."
Conversely, you may think that it is tough to find top talent
longing for a career in concrete. But in an increasingly digital
world, working with a tangible, durable product has appeal,
said Sandbrook. He tries to find people who "like to build
things and spend time outside." Sandbrook said that he wants
people to grow to love the industry and the company. And
that's how you make concrete as sexy as chocolate.

Provide clear, compelling goals.
Sandbrook explained that concrete is "a business of small,
incremental improvements. You don't run it with 100 metrics
20

success || march/april 2017

- focus on the key ones....If you can get your team excited
about achieving a goal, what the business is isn't actually that
important." Tranchell noted that as the CEO of a relatively
small business, it is incumbent upon her to ensure that
everyone knows what they're doing. "You have to get good
at telling stories so that people know why we are doing what
we're doing. I learned that from my work as an activist," she
said. "Then, be open and transparent with information so
everyone knows where we are and where we are going." She
sends employees to Ghana regularly to see how their work
affects the farmers with whom they work.

Give people a path for growth and impact.
Tranchell said that for many young people, "student debt
makes it difficult for them to put their money where their
mouths are" with regard to bringing their values to their



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Success By Association - March/April 2017

President’s Message
Event Calendar
Change, One Person at a Time
What I Learned as an Employment Attorney: Non-Legal Advice to Get You Out of Legal Hot Water
Is Your Hiring Filter in the Way?
Freedom Comes From Rules
Cost/Benefit of an Organization Retreat
Polish Up Your Confict-of-Interest Policy
Legislative Reception a Success!
Getting the Leadership Basics Right
Member Updates
Should They Stay or Should They Go? (With Apologies to the Clash)
Young Leader Profile
Advertiser Index
Buyers’ Guide
Advertiser Showcase
Executive Director’s Message
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - cover1
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - cover2
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - 3
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - President’s Message
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Event Calendar
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - 6
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Change, One Person at a Time
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - What I Learned as an Employment Attorney: Non-Legal Advice to Get You Out of Legal Hot Water
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - 9
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Is Your Hiring Filter in the Way?
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Freedom Comes From Rules
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Cost/Benefit of an Organization Retreat
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - 13
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Polish Up Your Confict-of-Interest Policy
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - 15
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Legislative Reception a Success!
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - 17
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - 18
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - 19
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Getting the Leadership Basics Right
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - 21
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Member Updates
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - 23
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Should They Stay or Should They Go? (With Apologies to the Clash)
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - 25
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Young Leader Profile
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Advertiser Index
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Buyers’ Guide
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Advertiser Showcase
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - Executive Director’s Message
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - cover3
Success By Association - March/April 2017 - cover4
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