June 20, 2024

So What is Total Performance Leadership Part 1 (TPL Insights #227)

By Rob Andrews

Total Performance Leadership (TPL) represents Allen Austin’s commitment to improving the world’s workplace for its 3 billion employees and their leadership. With 90% of the world’s workforce disengaged and a broken executive hiring process resulting in almost 50% failure, our work is desperately needed. The opportunity is significant to create a better, more productive global workforce. We believe we have both the ability and the responsibility to help break the cycle of shareholder-only capitalism.

Conscious Capitalism, a powerful movement perfectly aligned with TPL, asserts that the short-term, unilateral focus on shareholder returns commonly seen today and rewarded by many of today’s capital markets is, in fact, a perversion of pure capitalism. Pure capitalism has done more than any other system to lift people out of poverty. By contrast, companies cited in Firms of Endearment, a book profiling organization that practice the same principles advocated by TPL and Conscious Capitalism, had shareholder returns of 1,026% compared to 122% for the S&P 500 and 316% for Jim Collins’ Good to Great companies over 15 years (1998 – 2013)  

Unfortunately, the power of TPL goes almost unrecognized in mainstream business, even though organizations driven by these principles outperform their next-best peers by 25% or more. There have been countless books written on leadership, strategy, and execution, and we’ve read most of them. Very few, however, cover the principles contained in TPL. Jim Collins touches on some of these principles in his books Good to Great and Built to Last. Roy Spence’s It’s Not What You Sell, It’s What You Stand For, Raj Sisodia’s Firms of Endearment, and Barry Schwartz’s Why We Work are also excellent examinations of the power of purpose-driven organizations.

TPL is a journey and a commitment. It is a battle-tested, research-based architecture designed to help us fulfill our firm’s core purpose: to enhance the lives and effectiveness of our associates, clients, and stakeholders. While our journey as leaders, managers, and management consultants started decades ago, TPL was born in March 2013 as we completed our work to define our core purpose, mission, vision, values, and strategy. TPL is about building for us and assisting others in building high-performance cultures that engage workforces, consistently outperform markets, deliver superior shareholder returns, and foster high-performance boards and exceptional leadership teams.

No amount of reading or studying can take the place of becoming immersed in your process and spending time with those who have lived and experienced the benefits of practicing these principles. The insights we’re gaining from incredible leaders who’ve led their own organizational transformations are astounding. Even more amazing is that this group of phenomenal leaders has been willing and eager to share their “secret sauce” because they fully support our effort to help others build extraordinary organizations.

Our research confirms that practicing the principles of Total Performance Leadership (TPL) produces extraordinary results and delivers superior shareholder returns. The findings are irrefutable: organizations that practice TPL principles outperform their next best peers by 25% or more, deliver substantially higher customer satisfaction, have engaged and satisfied employees, experience dramatically lower workforce turnover, maintain a higher degree of strategic clarity, and execute much more effectively.

Leaders of TPL organizations have made a commitment and decision to embark on a never-ending journey. They’ve discovered a purpose greater than just making money. They’ve conceived and instilled a vision, mission, values, and strategy that energizes and engages the entire workforce, not just shareholders. They’ve figured out ways to measure the things that matter most, including employee engagement and customer delight. They’ve committed to being the best in their sector and have removed costs from their enterprises where customers and employees can’t feel it.

Despite these compelling benefits, many CEOs, board members, and senior business leaders still see profit optimization and maximizing shareholder value as the primary purpose of their organizations. Most of their time and energy is spent focusing on strategy, tactical metrics, and financial statements. This is no surprise – it makes perfect sense because this is precisely what is taught in most business schools.

Given the overwhelming evidence supporting the value of TPL, why then are these principles not taught in mainstream business schools? In a 2014 interview on his radio show, 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 the same question. Barry Schwartz, a 1971 Wharton Ph.D. and organizational psychologist specializing in workplace research, stated that “the mainstream business community has been heavily influenced by two individuals – Adam Smith and Frederick Winslow Taylor.” Schwartz’s research asserts that as much as 90% of the world’s workforce is disengaged, thanks in part to what Adam Smith wrote in Wealth of Nations in 1776 and Frederick Winslow Taylor during the early 1900s, seen by most as the founder of modern hierarchy and business processes. Both have had a profound effect on global business.

John Maynard Keynes once 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 the notion that people work only for pay and extrinsic rewards, or that they need close monitoring, constant supervision, and confining policies. Through our research, observation, and study, we know that when organizations share a purpose greater than just making money and engaging their entire workforce, they produce substantially better results, they produce substantially higher returns for their shareholders, and have a lot more fun doing it.

I hope you enjoyed this summary of Total Performance Leadership. Stay tuned for next week’s blog post and Part 2. For a sneak peek and access to the TPL Resource Guide, click on the link below.

The Total Performance Leadership Resource Guide

Warmest Regards,