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Norm Smallwood Utah
Norm Smallwood

In 2010, the Harvard Business Review described Norm Smallwood as doing "innovative and ground-breaking work on effective leadership." He is a recognized authority in developing businesses and their leaders to deliver results and increase value.

In 2000, Norm co-founded The RBL Group with Dave Ulrich. Much of his current work relates to increasing business value by building organization, leadership and people capabilities that measurably impact market value and connecting firm brand identity with leadership brand capability. Leadership brand capability occurs when investors, customers and employees have confidence that leaders are able to deliver present and future results in a manner consistent with the desired customer experience or firm identity.

He has co-authored six books: Real-Time Strategy, Results-Based Leadership, How Leaders Build Value, Change Champions Field Guide, Leadership Brand and Leadership Code. He has published more than 150 articles in leading journals and newspapers such as Washington Post, Forbes and Financial Times and has contributed chapters and forewords to multiple books. He has published two articles in Harvard Business Review and is a frequent blogger on HBR Online. Norm was also a faculty member in executive education at the University of Michigan in the Ross School of Management.

For several years, Leadership Excellence magazine has ranked Norm as one of the top 100 Global Voices in Leadership and the RBL Group as one of the top leadership development firms in the world.

Prior to co-founding the RBL Group, Norm was a founding partner and managing director of Novations Group, Inc. where he led business strategy, organization design and human resource management projects for a wide variety of clients spanning multiple industries. Before this, he was an organization development professional at Procter and Gamble in a start-up business in Georgia and in Calgary, Alberta with Esso Resources Canada.

He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Human Resource Management and an Honorary Colonel for the West Valley City Police Department.


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  • Ensuring Ethics - Many of the most significant management and social problems derive less from a crisis of talent than from a crisis of ethics. The ethics of leadership is the critical factor that inspires trust and loyalty in employees and customers. We must develop the ability to recognize the unanticipated ethical implications of all management decisions and actions.

  • What's Next in Leadership? - For the last fifty years, leadership has been framed as how the individual leader builds the right mix of competencies to implement strategy. We see two trends for the next steps in leadership. The first trend is to consider both individual and organizational issues-- we need individual leaders and we also need an organization capability to build future leadership. The second trend is the need to deliver on both internal and external issues. Leaders must execute business strategy (internal), and they also must create investor and customer confidence in the future (external). The intersection of these trends-- building an organization capability that creates confidence in external stakeholders--is what we call Leadership Brand.

  • Increasing Personal Proficiency - Ultimately, your ability to lead others begins with yourself. What does it mean to be prepared to lead? Leaders who are grounded in their values and beliefs, emotionally mature in their knowledge of themselves and their response to changing circumstances, curious and eager to learn and improve and able to nurture themselves while maintaining a passion for what they do are able to inspire others to greater effectiveness. Building individual resources for personal proficiency is critical for overall leadership effectiveness.

  • Leadership Code - If you Google the word "leader" there are 176 million hits. What does it all mean? Why are there so many conflicting theories about what effective leaders must do? The Leadership Code synthesizes years of research to build a unified theory of leadership and explains 60-70% of what makes a leader in any company or industry effective.

  • Developing HR Professionals and Leaders - For the past 20 years, RBL principals--together with the support of the University of Michigan and HR associations around the world--have studied HR professional and leadership competence. What are the competencies of top performing HR professionals and leaders? And what are the practices that deliver top performance and development?

  • Leveraging the Recession for Competitive Advantage - Recessions are never a welcome occurrence, yet there are ways to take advantage of the situation. Whether that be rethinking how work gets done, focusing on your core capabilities, or streamlining key business processes you can use it as a time to strengthen your organization.

  • Cutting Fat Not Muscle - In times of downsizing, some organizations fall into the trap of across-the-board reductions. Understanding what makes you distinctive and drives competitiveness is critical in making good decisions about how to make reductions that don't cause long-term problems.
Leadership Code Leadership Brand Why the Bottom Line Isn't! The Change Champion's Fieldguide Results-Based Leadership
Leadership Code: Five Rules to Lead By Leadership Brand: Developing Customer-Focused Leaders to Drive Performance and Build Lasting Value Why the Bottom Line Isn't!: How to Build Value Through People and Organization The Change Champion's Fieldguide: Strategies and Tools for Leading Change in Your Organization Results-Based Leadership

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