Saturday, January 2, 2010

Is it Leadership or Management That You're Looking For?

Recently Drue DeAngelis wrote an article on his website pertaining to Building Management Teams in Orthopaedics. Kudos to the new Orthopaedics and Spine News platform. The article is quite informative, yet, TSB believes that what he failed to discuss was that there is a distinction between what constitutes a great leader and a good manager. Whether you are hiring a CEO, Regional Sales Manager or Product Manager, leadership is important, especially in a start-up or early growth stage company. Leadership can make things happen at an accelerated rate if the right scenario exists. The culture and business model at these companies is different than being employed by an established organization.

Many start-ups have succeeded, yet, there have been many that suffer from what TSB calls the, "I can't get out of my own way syndrome." It's the endless enigma, Ego. The primary reason this occurs is because the individual(s) that started the venture does not have the necessary skills to run a company. There is a difference between developing a product and motivating people to execute. One takes engineering, scientific and listening skills (hopefully), while the other takes someone with a defined vision, knowing how to engage and inspire people, create accountability, build a plan, generate ideas and produce results. Essentially, it takes team work and empowerment. Resistance in a leader seriously compromises one's ability to embody the character traits and perform the functions of a leader and manager. What you learn in the spine business is that many times the job really doesn't go to the most qualified person. It can be argued that the best leaders are those that truly have the ability to think out of the box. Why? Because life's experiences have built a box around most of us. You become more fixed in your beliefs, habits, reactions and behavior. Most people are too busy, distracted, stressed out, unfocused and ungrounded. We are too mired in the past or the future. But it takes more than just thinking out of the box, it takes someone with integrity, clarity, transparency and the ability to be open-minded. The problem in most of these small companies is that the person(s) that started the company usually resists other ideas.

With that said, why do investors and board of directors look for people outside the industry? Could it be that they lack the ability to really gauge someone's skills? These individuals usually come from finance with no industry or people experience, or are even surgeons from our industry. As TSB has written on numerous occasions, it seems that we can't get out of the box in this industry because we are constantly rewarding people that bring the same tired principals and experience to the game. What once worked at a DePuy, Danek, or Medtronic fifteen years ago, or even one year ago, is not going to necessarily work at an early growth stage company because of the difference in culture, dynamics and minimal product portfolio. In addition, a leader at a small company is not a leader per se, but a worker bee. An early growth stage company needs leaders that have the capacity to wear multiple hats in the course of building the business. Just look at some of the companies that we have profiled over the last year. Seven layers of senior management for an organization that generates ten to fifteen million in revenue? Tell me that this isn't Einstein's definition of insanity.

So the next time you are looking for a candidate to fill a position ask yourself the following questions:

Does the candidate know their values and beliefs?

Is the candidate self-defined?

If hired, can the candidate develop a vision for the organization? Remember at that point the candidate may not even know what you have in the Intellectual Property pipe line.

Can the candidate connect their vision to a strategy and execute?

Is the candidate flexible and forward thinking?

Will the candidate be inspiring and credible, meaning do they know the business?

Is the candidate focused?

Do you think the candidate will be accountable yet be willing to take risks?

Will they facilitate personal growth to the team and its members by empowering them?

Can they be a thought leader?

Can they create a collaborative environment?

Does the person have a genuine interest in people?

Are they eager to learn and lead?

Do we ourselves know what we are looking for?

Do we ourselves have a defined strategy?

TSB is sure that our readers can come up with some more questions, but let's face facts, this isn't brain surgery, or, for that matter spine surgery. All it takes is a little time and preparation to find the right person for the job. Maybe Drue is right, you're better off letting someone with the DeAngels' experience handle the search for you. TSB wants to know what our readers think?


  1. TSB, I have a question. Just who appointed you as the god or noted authority on the spine market space? Most of your opinions are biased or either you are connecetd in some way with those you applaud. In fact, I honestly believe that you post many of the anonymous statements that are found on here to self-promote a little drama.

  2. Anonymous:

    blog |bläg|
    a Web site on which an individual or group of users produces an ongoing narrative : Most of his work colleagues were unaware of his blog until recently.

    The beauty of this ready-to-use medium is that with a little searching I am sure you'll find a Blogger who offers a more 'legitimate' voice on the spine industry. Or, heck, in the absence of this option, why not give TSB a run for his money and start your own blog...unless you are TSB! Oh the deception!!

    For those interested in a greater examination of Leaders vs. Managers, I highly recommend exploring the work of Henry Mintzberg of the McGill University in Montreal. Mr. Mintzberg has garnered recent notoriety (Harvard Business Review, The Economist, etc.) for his contrarian view of MBA programs in the post-recession age. His book 'Managing' is a thoughtful, well researched and easily read treatise on the subject of how the work of Managers, not Leaders, build companies.

    Happy new year!

  3. No need to comment anonymously I have my own moniker. As for being anointed , contrary to your comments I haven"t been ordained unlike others in the industry. You know what I always say if you don"t like what I write you can comment intelligently or read Orthopedics This Week, Ortho World, or Ortho and Spine News. PS I"m not that desperate

  4. TSB - keep up the good work. I for one agree with your whole heartedly on this post (and most posts I may add).

  5. TSB - This is Marc V. Although I have been a target in a few of your posts directly, I want you to know that I find your blog informative, intelligent, and thought-provoking. While I may agree with most of what you say and disagree with some of what you say, no one has all the answers or is right all the time. But you certainly provide an experienced and credible (in my view) perspective. Most importantly, you provide a strong voice to day-to-day activities that some may not see or have exposure to. I've learned a lot reading your blog and have it on my "must-do" list as something to check and read each day. You have caused me to look at things differently and that is valuable to me. Keep up the great work and don't be discouraged by Anonymous' post.

  6. TSB-an excellent post! After many early false starts from recruiters I have no use for them. At this point in our careers guys with our experience don't need them anyway!

  7. Drew's POV is just that, his.
    He is biased toward his clients, he has a vested personal financial interest that is driving his feelings.
    His conflicts must be noted.
    He is not a bad guy, his opinion is worth as much as you pay for it, nothing, just opinion.
    It is strictly commentary.
    Recruiters get in trouble when they try to be something that they are not, remind them that "we don't swim in your toilet so don't pee in our pool".
    TSB, your post's have quickly become must read.
    Thanks for your contributions.

  8. Mark V. ,
    a lot of us would suggest that you spend your time completing commitments that you have made that never seem to get taken care of. Buy a book on time management and leadership and ego management.
    Then figure out why a lot of your managers have quit or ar looking for jobs, we are not talking about the ones you fired. Everyone knows it is just smoking mirrors! Seriously, on a serios note, why don't you post here and let the investers know where their money has gone?

  9. To Anonymous - it's Marc V. I'm happy to talk with any investor about their investments in any of their companies. I would be pleased to share with them the investment track record over the last 10 years of actual cash returned to investors (not just fair market value estimates) from their investments. All of our investors have complete access to me anytime they want to talk about their investments or to "know where their money has gone". If you are an investor, then please call me so we may talk. As to your advice about time management, leadership and ego management - well, all I can say is that I try to improve all the time. I certainly am not perfect, but if you find someone who is, please send them my way, because I could certainly learn from him/her. As far as "smoking mirrors", all I can say is that I'm happy to discuss our track record of returns and co-investment partners. As far as people quitting or looking for jobs, well, not every situation works out for every person, but I think on balance, I'm proud of the people that we work with and proud to call them colleagues. Finally, as in any competitive and collegial environment, there are always different perspectives and opinions to consider and certainly not everyone can be pleased or accommodated all the time - its a simple fact of life.

  10. TSB and all.

    This is Josh and I am Drue’s business partner. I wanted to make a few comments just to ensure that all is properly disclosed. The article on Building Management Teams was actually written by Elizabeth Hofheinz at RY Ortho. She interviewed Drue a few months back and we put it as our lead article on OrthoSpineNews because we thought it was good information for this time of year when companies are evaluating key additions to their team.

    As far as our loyalties are concerned, we screen our clients as well as encourage them to screen us. A partnership does not work if the parties don't "buy-in" to the others value proposition. We do have loyalty to our clients and we do have a vested interest in their success, however, we do not simply partner with any company willing to give us money. After a company says that they are interested in using our firm, we schedule an on-site visit where we are able to understand the company, direction and culture. We want to ensure that we are receiving factual information and relaying it to the candidates accurately.

    As for “peeing in your pool,” Drue spent the first 13 years of his career in sales with Zimmer and as Branch Manager for Stryker Ortho/Spine. During the past 10 he’s built The De Angelis Group to what it is today. While it is true that we don’t work with everyone, we do our best to represent solid opportunities to the professionals in this marketplace.

    It sounds like there are several people that have had bad experiences with recruiters in the past and unfortunately, I'm not surprised. The barrier to entry is low in our business and there are a lot of "Johnny come lately" recruiters since the economic issues. The only encouragement I can offer is to not lump all recruiters in the same pile. That encouragement goes for clients and candidates alike. If you want to chat with me about my POV, for free, please call me at 480-609-4864.

  11. Josh: But do you perform as much due diligence on getting to know the candidate as you do the company? Remember as much as you are contracted by the employer, you still have to screen the prospect. When was the last time you flew into a hub and spent a couple of hours getting to know the potential candidate? Who they are? What are their values? What type of business acumen do they possess? Do they have the ability to adapt to a different culture? What happens if someone doesn't present well, but has an innate ability to execute? How do you determine that skill set? Do you base it purely on numbers? You know there are those that are all show and no dough, and then there are those that are all dough and no show. Unfortunately, we keep rehashing the same old people because its difficult to take people out of their comfort zone.

    You are absolutely correct when you say that there are too many imitators in the recruiting business. The problem is that there are way too many recruiters that are amateurs at best.

  12. TSB- We actually make every effort to meet all candidates in person. We attend multiple tradeshows every year as well as do in-depth screening on each candidate (Through the filter established by our client during our on-site meeting). It is impossible to meet every single candidate and we notify our clients upon presentation whether we have met them in person or not. Our ratio of candidates presented that we have met in person to those we have not is at minimum 2-1. When we are unable to meet them, we go extra distances to ensure the quality of the recruit.
    We often times will fly in for interview days as well to be an active participant as an agent of the company. To answer directly, the last time I personally met and interviewed a potential candidate was this week.

    When we are unable to meet candidates we have detailed ways to determine if the candidate is truly a fit for the position/company that we are working on. I am happy to discuss with anyone live more details regarding our process if you have any questions.

    For each candidate that we present, we collect about 30 pages of data (A thoroughly verified resume, references, behavioral assessments to ensure cultural fit, strategy assessments, etc.)

    Lastly, we are the only firm that I know of that actively makes an effort to re-invest in our industry. We have sponsored MNVC, the Stem Cell Summit, and I have personally attended 20 tradeshows in my almost 6 years in the business. If we don't know the candidate in person, I can ensure you that I know plenty of trustworthy sources that do know them. I can not remember being a part of a "retread" placement.

    I hope this answers your questions. I appreciate you challenging me as that is what makes us grow and become better at what we do.

  13. Josh: I wanted to thank you for your response. Some of our readers may accuse me of having my own agenda, in addition some have stated that I applaud those companies that I may be affiliated with, hopefully some will truly see what my objective is. Hopefully, this type of dialogue will weed out the have's from the have nots. Peace.

  14. Love the blog and agree completely with the valuable difference between leaders and managers. We need more leaders but as the saying goes..."first rate people hire first rate people. Second rate people hire third rate people" We're like the NFL, we have a lot of re-treads in our industry. To many think if you've been in this industry for 15 years in positions of increasing responsibility and have and MBA and the resume looks good it mean you're a leader or will do an outstanding job. I love seeing companies take chances on new talent! Thanks again for the blog.