LeadFirst: High Performance By Design

LeadFirst is a leading human capital consulting firm dedicated to driving business results through people. Our primary focus is developing dynamic, high performance organizational cultures as well as the leaders and teams so central to their success. We are changing the culture shaping landscape. Our clients find our culture approach has both depth and a rigor of measurement not found in other approaches. 

Our work takes many forms ranging from strategic, enterprise level culture change to coaching a single C-level leader or team. It may involve helping firms identify and remove barriers to high performance that include the full range of structures, policies, and systems that govern, influence and reinforce employees’ behavior. Regardless of the scope and scale of the assignment, we believe it is our superior ability to create measurable value from our clients' intangible assets that distinguishes our work.
Here’s what we believe makes us different.

We have a 30+ year track record of achieving business results. We don’t confuse means with ends. We believe the results we have co-created with our clients distinguish us from most other firms and include:
  • Per-employee increase of 11.6% in sales; valued at $61,288 per employee
  • Per employee increase of 9.1% in earnings (EBITDA); valued at $5,815 per employee
  • Average per employee increase of 8.3% in market value (or proxy); valued at $43,814 per employee
  • Decrease of 27% in employee attrition; valued at $104 million
  • Team-level safety compliance improvement of 27%
  • Improvement ROIs in the range of 304% to 3,180%
  • Decision Effectiveness improvement of 18%
  • Average organizational culture improvement of 33% (baseline vs. 2-year re-measure)

LeadFirst is proud to serve the following companies…

Thought Leadership

By Dan Lynn 22 Nov, 2016
According to Deloitte’s 2015 Global Human Capital Trends survey, organizational culture issues are now the number one challenge companies face around the world. The survey found that more than half of respondents say their organizations have either a poor program or no program at all to measure and improve culture. As coaches, we very often find leading culture to be a core challenge faced by the leaders we are coaching. We further find that leaders often operate with assumptions about culture that turn out to be inaccurate. In this week’s episode, guest host Randy Chittum will talk with Gerry McDonough, CEO of LeadFirst, a human capital consulting firm in DC. In this conversation, we will learn from LeadFirst’s culture studies now spanning more than thirty years, with almost 650 cultures studied and developed. Another key topic for discussion will be the impact of culture on performance and if there are cultural factors that indicate a greater likelihood of success.

By Dan Lynn 15 Apr, 2016

According to Deloitte's 2015 Global Human Capital Trends survey, organizational culture issues are now the no. 1 challenge companies face around the world. Culture formation and development is difficult to manage effectively because it doesn't lend itself to "templated" approaches. The survey found that more than half of respondents say their organizations have either a poor program or no program to measure and improve culture and engagement. In working with hundreds of companies to create high performance cultures, we've found these mistakes to be the most common in their efforts to create a high performance culture.

Mistake #1 - Being too "philosophical"

Many times executives aren't clear what they mean by "culture" or, more importantly, what culture they are trying to create and they get stuck in philosophical debates without any forward movement.  Research has revealed conclusively the cultural characteristics that correlate with organizational success , including financial results, and these behavioral characteristics can be rigorously measured. Research also shows that a company's stated values only impact performance when they are expressed through specific behaviors. It is important to be philosophically aligned, but in the end the question is "what  behaviors  define the culture we need to execute our strategy?"

Mistake #2 - Launching culture change initiatives without data

Nearly everything affects culture, so there are a huge number of potentially useful actions organizations can take to shape and improve it. But not everything equally moves the needle.  Without real data, organizations are spending time and resources with no guarantee of any real return .  Culture is an intangible asset of enormous value. Executives would never settle for such lack of rigor in measuring and managing their other critical assets.

Mistake #3 - Spreading themselves too thin

A lack of real measures means many initiatives seem like good ideas. So instead of picking the top 3 or 4 things that will move the culture toward the strategically defined culture of the future, organizations do "a little of a lot of things" thus diluting their results and squandering the opportunity to make significant, fast and measurable progress.

LeadFirst regularly helps organizations address these and other culture development issues. Whether your organization is new to strategic culture management or has been measuring culture for years, let us help you track and/or improve the ROI of your culture development efforts.

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Building a Legacy of Excellence

On September 1, 2017, the LeadFirst team joined Ankura. Led by Human Equity Value, organizational performance, and leadership experts, Gerard McDonough, David Lynn and James Carroll, the LeadFirst team brings their expertise into the collaborative practices of Ankura’s growing firm.

Ankura is an expert services firm defined by HOW we solve challenges. Whether a client is facing an immediate business challenge, trying to increase the value of their company or protect against future risks, Ankura designs, develops, and executes tailored solutions by assembling the right combination of expertise. We build on this experience with every case, client, and situation, collaborating to create innovative, customized solutions, and strategies designed for today’s ever-changing business environment. This gives our clients unparalleled insight and experience across a wide range of economic, governance, and regulatory challenges. At Ankura, we know that collaboration drives results.

For more information about Ankura, please visit Ankura.com

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