CEO perspective

M.R. Asks 3 Questions: Andrew Blum, Founder and Chair of The Trium Group

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As founder and chair of The Trium Group, Andrew is a globally recognized thought leader, pioneering strategy consultant, and sought-after C-suite coach. Recognized by Consulting Magazine as a Top 25 Consultant, Andrew has spent his career supporting clients in transformational change through a unique practice that integrates strategy, leadership and culture.

His mission is to change the world by changing the way business leaders think. A recent column he wrote for Harvard Business Review explains what good leaders do when replacing bad ones. 

With two decades of global consulting experience, Andrew has led breakthrough engagements at many of the world’s leading organizations — from Fortune 50 companies to venture-backed unicorns.

Prior to founding Trium, Andrew was a leader in Tower Perrin’s Strategy and Organization Practice. He also served as a 1st lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. Andrew holds an MBA from Georgetown University and a B.A. in philosophy from Reed College.

He is also on the Board of InsideCircle.org, where he works with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people who are leading positive change in their communities. As a dedicated family man, an Ironman triathlete, an accomplished big-mountain skier, and an avid supporter of a variety of causes aimed at raising consciousness on the planet – we were appreciative of the time and leadership insight Andrew shared with us.

 

M.R. Rangaswami: How can venture capitalists get better at assessing leadership, and identifying future challenges? 

Andrew Blum: The most important advance venture capitalists can make is to start including system and leadership analytics when they’re assessing opportunities. Just because the numbers look good for a Software-as-a-Service play doesn’t mean that the company’s leadership will be able to manage that organization as it grows. 

VCs can begin to ask questions such as, ‘Are these leaders mature?’ ‘Do they have a vision?’ ‘Are they skilled at disciplined execution?’ 

VCs can add a different set of questions to the assessment, so the criteria are not just ‘potential for growth,’ ‘technology advantage,’ and ‘product market fit,’ but also a team’s ‘likelihood to be able to evolve to meet the challenges of growth.’ 

 

M.R.: How has the pandemic changed the way good leaders work with their teams?  

Andrew: The pandemic has made good leaders focus more on working intentionally with their teams — to build alignment around vision, roles, goals and strategies more proactively than they have in the past. Prior to the pandemic, many things got done naturally in the course of business — via hallway conversations, for example, and organic meetings.

Now good leaders know that they have to convene their teams in focused ways in order to keep people connected, and they’ve all become more aware of both how to do that, and the value of doing it. So I think the pandemic has raised the awareness of the need for teamwork. Good leaders are leveraging that to be more systematic, disciplined and focused in how they build their teams. 

 

M.R.: What should leaders keep in mind as offices reopen? 

Andrew: The question of office reopening needs to be met with the same level of empathy, flexibility, understanding and attention that issues of diversity and inclusion do. This is another form of diversity and inclusion, where people will have very diverse views, and very different needs for inclusion. Leaders should view this as an opportunity to implement policies that work for everyone and respect everyone. 

 At Trium, we’ve also recognized that Americans currently have a lot trust in business more – often more than the trust they have of the government. What that mean for business leaders is they are largely accountable for the welfare of society.

They often operate out of an antiquated paradigm: that their job is only to create shareholder value.  I think we all see that business leaders today have a much more holistic view of shareholder value. We call it ‘stakeholder value,’ which includes communities that we touch directly and indirectly. Business leaders have a role to play to increase stakeholder value, and they are beginning to own that. We’re moving away from an era in which we had depoliticized business leadership. Politics are now seen as an important part of community welfare. Business leaders need to embrace this and communicate about it. 

 

 

M.R. Rangaswami is the Co-Founder of Sandhill.com

 

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