The Sandler Group, and it’s managing partner, Leland Sandler, works to provide an “edge” for successful senior leaders. Bringing years of organizational knowledge and wisdom, Leland can quickly assess group dynamics and individual motivations to identify how to get beyond your previously held threshold of performance or leadership. In other words, he is a “Strength Coach” for highly skilled leaders and teams. Leaders and teams in full growth mode are unable to be flawlessly efficient while maintaining maximum effectiveness. Having a member of the team’s whose sole purpose dedicated to maximizing performance is crucial for success in today’s marketplace.
Below is our interview with Leland Sandler, Managing Partner/Executive Advisor at The Sandler Group, LLC:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to The Sandler Group?
A: In terms of process, we help executive teams expand their leadership mindset (how leaders see themselves, their hidden biases, how they respond to others, how they deal with challenges and conflict, how they strategize, and how they make decisions) to match the growing complexity (with its unpredictability, volatility, and rapid change) that businesses are experiencing today. In doing so, he helps create substantive, enduring change in leaders and cultures.
Over the last 20 years I has facilitated positive, sustainable changes for senior executives at a wide variety of life science and medical technology companies in Europe and North America. Clients have included Agouron Pharmaceuticals, Alstom Transport, Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Baxter Healthcare, Boston Scientific, Dexcom, Edwards Lifesciences, Entropic Communications, Eli Lilly, Group Danone, Kyocera Wireless, Nuvasive, Perrigrine Semiconductor, Qualcomm, U.S. Navy, and others.
Q: What are top three qualities that make a great leader?
A: One is their skill set. Are they technically good at what they do? If someone is going to be a CEO, there are three technical skills. One is strategy. Can they think strategically, see through stuff and come up with creative and innovative ways to get to things? Second is influence. They do a boatload of external influence as well as internal influence. Third, are they someone that people want to follow? Will they influence the culture of an organization?
Those are the three big buckets. Once you know they are decent at all three of those, a leader also needs adaptive skills. The two big ones, the ones that make a difference, is the right blend of courage and humility.
They need the courage to stand up and willingly talk about their thinking, and how they got there, not just shoving things down people’s throats. They need the courage to tell people, “I was wrong. I got this wrong. I made a mistake.” They need the courage to ask for feedback and insist on getting quality feedback. They need the courage to know (and let others know) that their opinion is not always right.
Humility is this idea that, “I don’t know everything. I’ve hired these people because they do know stuff. I want to include them in how this operation is run as opposed to me thinking that I need to be the smartest person in the room.” Courage and humility are big ones.
Underneath all of this is being open to others. The skill set there is to learn how to listen. Listening is both passive and active. Passive is paying honest attention to someone and asking them questions. Active is challenging their thinking. That’s huge in all of this. There is the inspirational piece. People follow people. Yes, they follow ideas, too. It’s a combination.
Most recently there is Ray Dalio. A bit part of it is taking in input, understanding others and being willing to admit that he doesn’t’ know everything. You look at great companies of the future and you say, “If they don’t have these qualities, why would someone your age or in their 30s follow them? There are a lot of options out there. I don’t want to follow a jerk.”
Q: Can you give us more insights into your services?
A: The Sandler Group, works to provide an “edge” for successful senior leaders and teams. Bringing years of organizational knowledge and wisdom, we can quickly assess group dynamics and individual motivations to identify how to get beyond your previously held threshold of performance or leadership. In other words, he is a “Strength Coach” for highly skilled leaders and teams. Leaders and teams in full growth mode are unable to be flawlessly efficient while maintaining maximum effectiveness. Having a member of the team whose sole purpose is dedicated to maximizing performance is crucial for success in today’s marketplace.
We help executive teams expand their leadership mindset (how leaders see themselves, their hidden biases, how they respond to others, how they deal with challenges and conflict, how they strategize, and how they make decisions) to match the growing complexity (with its unpredictability, volatility, and rapid change) that businesses are experiencing today. In doing so, we help create substantive, enduring change in leaders and cultures.
Our work focuses on Executive Development, Cultural Change, and Leadership Development.
Q: Tell us something about your personal experience as a leader?
A: It was with Amylin Pharmaceuticals. When I started as Executive Director of Leadership Development, things were not coming off the rails, but things were not going in a good direction. The stock had gone from 52 to 8. They weren’t coordinating well. They were bloated and they had leaders who were often quite new at what they did. I was asked to come in and set up a leadership program. This was something accelerated, not something that could be done over years, but something that could be done over months. The goal was to turn these really gifted scientists and technologists into really effective leaders. In doing so, it would help turn the company around.
I had eight years organizational experience at that time as a consultant and a coach, and my background. I can’t tell you that the MBA helped. Maybe it did. At that point, I was 51. I had been in the work world for 30 years. The intrinsic value was that I understood how people develop, and how people grow. That was crucial. The extrinsic resource was them.
This program included so many different components that it came to about $18,000 to $20,000 per person each year. We put over 80 people through the program. That was huge in terms of the resources. It’s a compliment to Ginger Graham and Dan Bradbury, and Roger Marchetti that they were so committed to the development of all of us.
We called upon other experts to help us.
The Rady Business School at the University of California San Diego assisted us create customized assessment and a three day Assessment Center that 90 leaders went through.
We called upon other consultants who had a like mindset to my own and were trained the same way I was trained. We designed a six-month development program. It was a big deal. It was like a Porsche version of leadership development. It was put in place over the course of a year. It was pretty amazing.
In the end I learned a lot about influence. The best kind of influence is a pull influence rather than a push influence. Push influence is when you’re trying to convince someone. You’re using logic and rationale. You sometimes use coercion. You push. You try to get your point across. You try to make them understand.
With pull, you draw them in. I learned a lot about drawing them in. You ask them questions. You ask them to explain their logic. You ask them to explain their rationale and get them to speak out loud. Either their stuff stands up to scrutiny or it doesn’t. You don’t antagonize them. It’s inviting. People want to talk. People want to share their point of view. You have patience with them. You’re respectful of them. Those are all things that have made me a much better coach today.