In a conversation with a GCS, the question was asked: How do you explain ‘Agent’ when referring to a Hidden Agents as used in the model. It’s a good question. Normally ‘agent’ would be a noun, describing the name of something. In this case, ‘agent’ is a verb, depicting action. I think of Hidden Agent as a qualifier, an indicator of an issue that needs to be addressed. Fischer could have picked another word that describes these indicators, but in my experience, Hidden Agent, once described to a CEO, makes perfect sense.  I’ve outlined some critical points made during a live webinar on three of these hidden agents.

Leadership Modality

Of all the hidden agents, see the list below to see what we refer to as hidden agents, Leadership Modality is the most challenging.

On the Membership Website under the Tab 7 SOG Videos and on the second page, is a recorded video called Using Leadership Modality to Engage a CEO.  This 36 minute video covers all aspects of the hidden agent we call the Leadership Modality.

While this is a challenging concept to explain, it’s a powerful one and shouldn’t be neglected. Here is why you want to better understand this hidden agent.

  1. You are putting a language to something no one is really talking about. The idea of a CEO, or Managers or Staff having a “Presence” in a company is unique to our model. The ability of a Manager to recognize the “Influence” they have in the organization, say at Stage 4, cements the impact this group has on the organization.
  2. When does anyone talk about Staff being Dominant? No one! If I had understood this concept when the company I ran was in Stage 3, I believe the impact would have been immediate and positive. To help the most important asset in a company recognize they have “Influence” and at such a critical stage of growth is worth its weight in gold.
  3. Imagine a conversation around the conference table, led by the staff or by the managers regarding this incredible concept. The richness of that conversation and the ability for the group to respect and understand the difference between “Facilitative and Supportive” would be valuable at any stage of growth.

Take the time to listen to this 36 minute video so you can be prepared to explain this one to your CEO. Trust me, he or she will ask.

Builder/Protector Ratio

The Builder/Protector Ratio is another powerful indicator for a CEO to assess the confidence/caution ratio in his/her company.  Listen to a recent live webinar on this hidden agent. You’ll find it under the 7SOG video tab, called 3 Hidden Agents and How to Use Them to Engage a CEO.

To understand and explore what a company’s B/P ratio is, have a CEO tune into the voltage (think energy) of the company. Are people interacting, laughing, can you sense a high level of energy? Have them ask their leadership team pointed questions such as:

  • How are you feeling about your team?
  • Have you identified two of your direct reports that can take on more responsibility?
  • What have you done lately to provide training for your team?
  • How are your one-on-one meetings going?

And finally, encourage your CEOs to really listen to the feedback, not only from their managers but from employees. Help you CEOs to ask questions that let an employee know they care, they are paying attention. Examples could be:

  • What do you think about your one-on-one meetings with your manager?
  • What do you like best about your job?
  • How are you getting along with your co-workers?
  • How do you like working here?

Of course, there is a fine line a CEO walks to make sure they aren’t asking questions that seem to undermine the manager. So, if a CEO is new to this concept, start with questions that are very general and broad. You don’t want an employee unloading on a CEO in the middle of the hallway. The point is simply this. When a B/P ratio is out of whack, there could be too much fear or caution in the company causing all kinds of problems. An out of whack B/P ratio creates a culture of resistance. Change is already tough, but add to it a layer of fear, and it’s almost impossible to achieve. You can also see high staff turnover and low morale as a result of too much caution or fear.

3 Faces of a Leader

Another critical hidden agent and one that can tell you immediately why a company is having issues getting the traction it needs to grow. You find a CEO who is way too visionary for Stage 3. This is a CEO who is constantly talking about ‘where the company is going’, ‘what new products/services we will be developing’, ‘how we’ll become number one in our space’. In Stage 3 people don’t want to hear about where the company is going, they want someone to explain what needs to be done, they need someone to tell them what they need to do, they need direction, they need to be managed.

When talking about the 7 Stages of Growth, start with the name of the stage. Everything that occurs in that stage of growth can be understood when you begin by explaining why Stage 3 is called Delegation and Stage 7 is called Visionary. When you show a CEO the increase of the Manager Face as the company moves from Stage 2 to Stage 3 and Stage 3 to Stage 4, you’ll either find a CEO who is excited about their increasing role as manager, or knowing they do not want to manage, and need to find someone they can bring onboard to take on that role.

If you are familiar with Gene Wickman’s book, Rocket Fuel, you can help a CEO in Stage 3 recognize the importance of finding that Integrator which allows that CEO to be the Visionary. Finding this ‘second in command’ is the most challenging hire a CEO will ever make but a critical one.

What are the hidden agents in the 7 Stages of Growth?

A hidden agent is something that lies beneath the surface of a company, making it hard for a leader to diagnose exactly what’s going on. By understanding the concept of hidden agents and being aware of what they are, a CEO can dig deeper to see what the root cause of a problem is and then fix it. Here is a list of the hidden agents that are a part of the 7 Stages of Growth.

  1. Builder/Protector Ratio
  2. Leadership Modality
  3. 3 Faces of a Leader
  4. 27 Challenges
  5. 27 Strengths
  6. Leadership Style
  7. Leadership Competencies
  8. Non-negotiable Rules

By helping a CEO adjust one or several of these hidden agents, i.e. being Facilitative in Stage 3 vs Dominant, you will provide clarity for that leader on exactly what they can do to remove an obstacle to growth. What other model provides this level of understanding in terms of what needs to be done to help a company grow? I’ve read hundreds of books, evaluated models that focus on the strategic elements of growth but not the tactical elements.  No one is helping a CEO actually PREDICT growth. To this day, I feel that when we engage a CEO with the 7 Stages of Growth, we are providing effective long-term solutions and teaching them what they need to do as they add people to their organization.

My goal is to help you feel comfortable in explaining these concepts. Never hesitate to connect with me personally.

Your success. My passion.
Laurie Taylor, FlashPoint!