Lee Thayer is known around the world for his pioneering work in making high-performance organizations and the leadership required to do so. He is also known for his acerbic wit, his engaging style of leading by questioning, and his incomparable work as a problem-solver, both at the personal and the organizational level. In either role, as his many books show, he has no peer.
Thayer is a “pragmatic idealist.” He believes people should start with a vision of the ideal, but think about and do everything according to their unique circumstances.
A high-performance organization is one that actually does everything better than any organization with which it might be compared. A high-performance person is measured in the same way. It is the person’s performance and the organization’s performance in the real world that matter. That’s the pragmatic side. To establish a standard which others must then surpass is the ideal side.
It isn’t what you know that creates excellence in performance. You can know everything there is to know about management (of oneself, or of one’s organization) and still be a lousy manager, to paraphrase Charles Handy. (Handy is the British version of Peter Drucker.) It is the impact of the performance itself.
Leadership is all about influencing others on the path to great and worthy purposes, which is Thayer’s forte. If you don’t have a great and worthy purpose for yourself and for your organization, who cares? You can be conventional with very little effort.
Thayer started life as a unique and effective problem-solver for many of the Fortune 500 companies and their leaders. He is still at it, at age ninety, consulting and holding forth in every kind of venue with his smash-face approach. Why? Because everything depends upon its implementation. You either have the conviction for making a better life for yourself or your organization or you don’t. People may “want” a good life for themselves and for everyone in their organization and everyone they deal with. But few will persevere, which is what it takes. He has learned in the trenches with his clients how to make this happen. It requires determination. It’s hard work changing an organization’s ways. It is harder still changing an individual’s ways – his or her habits of thinking, of being, and thus of doing.
He and his work (reflected in his many writings) are indeed the game-changers par excellence.
To create excellence in the world, you must be able to think excellently about what needs thinking about, and you must be capable of performing the kind of leadership that makes it possible for you to engage yourself or other people in making possible what is necessary, and making necessary what is possible.
That is the philosophy of the Institute that carries his work into the farthest reaches of this world of ours. We have the unique perspectives and the proven tools to help you make it happen. They are the most powerful ideas for potentiating people and organizations you could find anywhere.