The objective of Topgrading® is finding, acquiring, onboarding, and keeping A-players. However, what is the Topgrading® equivalent of entrepreneur A-players? I don’t think there is one, but perhaps we need a definition for Entrepreneur Upskilling.
Meet Dr. Tom McKaskill
Every CFO should be familiar with the great writing of Dr. Tom McKaskill. If you do a search on his name and include PDF in the text string, you’ll find numerous books scattered throughout cyberspace. Count me as one of his biggest fans.
In his short book of entrepreneurial essays entitled Masterclass for Entrepreneurs on Fundamentals: Insights Into the World of the Entrepreneur, my favorite chapter is his last one. It’s about entrepreneur upgrading. Accordingly, Topgrading® came to mind.
Dr. McKaskill quotes the late Professor Adolph Hanich of the Australian Graduate School about the entrepreneur’s DNA:
Entrepreneurs, like great athletes or great musicians, have an underlying talent for business. They are naturally creative when it comes to creating a business to enter a new market or bring a new product or service to market.McKaskill, Tom. Masterclass for Entrepreneurs on Fundamentals
Dr. Hanich argued that few entrepreneurs will ever fully exploit their natural gifts without upskilling:
Every great athlete has a coach that helps them to optimize their capability through training in best practices, review, and feedback and exposing them to competition.McKaskill, Tom. Masterclass for Entrepreneurs on Fundamentals
I agree with every single word. As financial leaders, we must ensure we’re acting on some new (or old) verbs as we go about our daily consulting work. Upskilling is one of those new verbs.
A Message for Every CEO
If you are a business owner, what are you currently doing in the area of employee upskilling? Some of you have started book clubs and added libraries with great business books, but I fear you are in the minority, unfortunately. If you need a few ideas, here are three starting points:
- Encourage key employees to join a non-profit board of directors. This is an idea I discussed with the author of The Little Book of Boards. Board involvement with a non-profit will lead to immeasurable upskilling abilities for a staff member.
- Early in my finance career, I was picked to serve on an eight-person team of fellow employees ranging from mid-level managers to a CFO to work on a three-month reengineering project headed by Kurt Salmon Associates. I felt as though I earned two MBAs during that time period. Staffing members on new projects is a great upskilling idea.
- At the risk of being predictable, write down the 20-25 most influential books you have read. Pick the team members with the greatest potential and share your list with them. Encourage groups of 3-4 to discuss their readings amongst themselves. I consider these reading groups as an alternative to MBA-level case studies.