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6 Leadership Outcomes You Can Expect When Implementing TPL

March 3, 2020

Total Performance Leadership (TPL) is the result of Allen Austin’s commitment to making the world a better place. With 90% of the world’s workforce disengaged, and a broken executive hiring process that results in almost 50% failure, we believe this work is desperately needed. Clearly, the opportunity to build a better, more productive global workforce is significant. And we have the ability, indeed the responsibility to help break the cycle.

Unfortunately, today the power of TPL goes almost unrecognized in mainstream business, despite the fact that companies driven by these principles outperform their next best peers by 25% or more. There have been countless books written on leadership, strategy and execution – we’ve read most of them. Very few however are written about the principles contained in TPL. In his books Good to Great and Built to Last, Jim Collins did a good job of broaching the subject. Roy Spence’s It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For, and Barry Schwartz’s Why We Work also offer good examinations of the power of organizations that are driven by purpose. However, reading great material wasn’t enough for us.


TPL is a journey and a commitment. It is a battle-tested, research-based architecture that combines ForesightTM, our search, selection and hiring process, and InsightTM our Strategic Transformation process, to help us fulfill our firm’s core purpose, which is “to enhance the lives and the effectiveness of our associates, clients and leaders of the world.” TPL was born in March 2013 as we completed our own work of defining Allen Austin’s core purpose, mission, vision, values and strategy. The journey has been transformational and the results nothing short of amazing. In a nutshell, TPL is about building for ourselves, as well as helping others to build high performance organizations that consistently outperform markets and deliver superior shareholder returns, with engaged workforces, exceptional leadership teams and high performance boards.

No amount of reading or study can replace being totally immersed in your own process, in addition to spending time with other leaders who have lived and experienced the benefits of practicing these principles. We are learning amazing things from many incredible leaders who have led their own organizational transformations. What’s been more amazing is these phenomenal leaders being willing and eager to share their “secret sauce” simply because they fully support our effort to help others build extraordinary organizations.

6 Leadership Outcomes To Expect When Implementing TPL:

Our research confirms that practicing the principles of TPL produces extraordinary results and delivers superior shareholder returns. The findings are irrefutable; organizations employing TPL:

  • Outperform their next best peers by 25% or more
  • Deliver substantially higher customer satisfaction
  • Have engaged and satisfied employees
  • Experience dramatically lower workforce turnover
  • Enjoy a higher level of strategic clarity, and
  • Execute more effectively than their peers.

All of this notwithstanding, many CEOs, board members and senior business leaders see maximizing profit and shareholder value as the primary reason that their organizations exist. Most of their time and energy is spent focusing on strategy, tactical metrics and financial statements. No surprise here – it makes perfect sense because this is precisely what they are taught in business school.

So we ask ourselves: Despite the overwhelming evidence supporting the value of TPL, why then, are these principles not being taught in most mainstream business schools? In a 2014 interview aired on Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School, Stew Friedman, who leads the work life integration project at the Wharton Business School asked Barry Schwartz this same question. Dr. Schwartz is an American psychologist and the Dorwin Cartwright Professor of Social Theory and Social Action at Swarthmore College whose practice focus is the workplace. He says, and we agree, that “the mainstream business community has been heavily influenced by two individuals – Adam Smith and Frederick Winslow Taylor.” Schwartz’s workplace research asserts that as much as 90% of the world’s workforce is disengaged. He attributes this in part to Adam Smith’s assertion in his book Wealth of Nations, that “people are naturally lazy and would work only for pay,” and to Fredrick Winslow Taylor, who used meticulous time and motion studies to refine the factory……so that human laborers were part of a well-oiled machine. Both have had a profound effect on global business.

John Maynard Keynes said: “The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed, the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”

We reject that people work only for pay and extrinsic rewards; that they need close monitoring, constant supervision, rules and confining policies. We know, through our research, observation and study, that when organizations share a purpose greater than just making money, and engage their entire workforces, they produce substantially higher returns for their shareholders and have a lot more fun doing it. TPL organizations place their customers and employees first, and shareholders next. They lead with values and standards, not rules and policy manuals. They measure things that matter, and lead to superior shareholder returns: Leadership, Employee Engagement, Customer Delight, Strategic Clarity and Execution Excellence.

TPL organizations look and feel good; the deeper you look, the better the view. Beyond exceptional returns, you’ll see trust, smiling faces, exceptionally low turnover, spirited and healthy debate, systems that are driven by purpose, frontline employees who sound like company spokespersons and delighted, evangelistic customers. TPL organizations have frontline employees and customers who tell stories about them, and are in fact their most effective salespersons.

Helping companies large and small, private and publicly owned, discover their purpose, vision, mission, values and strategy is something we’ve done for a while. We go a step further and stick around to help them implement and execute their strategies, and fill key leadership roles within their organizations.

So far we’ve now interviewed several extraordinary leaders for inclusion in this work, including Ron Mittlestaedt, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Waste Connections, Chet Cadieux, Chairman & CEO of QuikTrip, John Gibson, Chairman of ONEOK, Gary Miller, Chairman & CEO of Cannon Design, Vice Admiral (Ret) Ann Rondeau, Don Benson, former CAO of Aetna and Cigna, and Pattye Moore, Chairman of Red Robin & Former President of Sonic. We will soon be interviewing Steve Carley, President & CEO of Red Robin, Gary Luquette, President & CEO of Frank’s International and retired President of Chevron North America, Tom Ryan, Chairman & CEO of SCI, and Paul Brown, President & CEO of Arby’s Restaurant Group, just to name a few.

A full explanation of the power of TPL is beyond the scope of this piece, so stay tuned for updates and real time examples of companies who are experiencing the power of TPL. If the notion of TPL really resonates with you, we encourage you to become involved in this powerful, growing movement.