1604 – The Leadership Gap with The Doug Thorpe Group’s Doug Thorpe

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the CEO & President of Doug Thorpe Group, Doug Thorpe.


In today's world, employees want to be recognized as more than just a number on a payroll. The pandemic has accelerated this mindset shift, and leaders need to embrace this change and recalibrate their thinking to have open dialogues with their teams.

Doug has worked with large corporate and entrepreneurial clients and noticed a trend where employees want to be recognized as whole human beings. He believes recognizing employees as individuals with unique needs and desires is crucial for creating a positive workplace culture.

As a business therapist, Doug emphasizes the importance of coaching to improve leadership capacity and abilities. He believes changing behavior takes time and effort and prefers longer engagements to help clients achieve their goals. His website,, offers much information, and he invites visitors to join him for a 30-minute discovery call.

During the podcast, Doug also discussed his new book, “The Exit Strategy Handbook,” which focuses on helping business owners plan for their exit from their businesses. He emphasizes the importance of beginning with the end in mind and engineering decisions accordingly.

One of the biggest challenges for business owners is figuring out how to make the business run without them being there. Doug recommends delegating, automating, or outsourcing repetitive tasks and developing a solid team with problem-solving skills.

Doug's book is especially relevant now, as data suggests that up to 80 million baby boomers are getting ready to exit businesses they've built over the last few decades. It is essential to plan for the future and consider the nine different scenarios of what an exit could be about to maximize the outcome of that transaction.


About Doug Thorpe:

Doug is a seasoned executive coach and business advisor with over 20 years of experience. His expertise lies in assisting small business owners to scale their businesses and develop leadership skills. A former US Army Captain and Senior VP in the banking industry, Thorpe's diverse background also includes founding five successful businesses.

Known for his podcast ‘Leading Powered by Common Sense,' he interviews and learns from renowned leaders worldwide. Over his career, he has provided more than 19,000 hours of leadership coaching, including engagements with major oil companies and global brands, significantly enhancing their market value.


About Doug Thorpe Group:

The Doug Thorpe Group provides coaching and consulting services for senior executives and leadership teams. Recognizing that the skills which propel individuals into leadership may be different skills needed for consistent long-term growth, the group aims to facilitate adaptive learning.

Over three decades, they've helped hundreds of teams build new capabilities, create clarity, and foster individual leadership styles. Their ideal clients are mid-cap companies with 100+ staff and eight-figure market values, particularly those feeling stagnant, undergoing transitions, or experiencing challenges in scaling their businesses.

Doug Thorpe, the certified executive coach and experienced business advisor at the helm, functions as a business therapist, enabling leaders to identify opportunities for improved effectiveness while growing their businesses.


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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, Doug Thorpe. Doug, you are a we're going to call a business therapist for CEOs and senior leadership teams. You are the president and CEO of the Doug Thorpe Group, and you are on the Web at Doug Doug, thank you for joining us.

Doug (00:01:16) - Hey, you're welcome. Josh it's a pleasure to be here.

Josh (00:01:18) - What do you do as a business therapist for for leaders?

Doug (00:01:25) - Well, the big thing I try to do is help leaders with their own leadership capacity and abilities so that they can influence the business they're trying to run and the success they're trying to create. I have a personal passion. I think the world has evolved to a state that we have a huge and I can't stress huge enough leadership gap. I think we need leaders in all forms of government, community, business and the more individuals can do to stand up and say, I see an opportunity, I can lead that effort, the better the world will be. And whether that's at work, at home or in a community, that's what I'm all about.

Josh (00:02:11) - Yeah. I should also point out, Doug, that you're a you know, you've been around the podcasting world for a little bit. Your show is called Leadership Powered by Common Sense. So do our friend that's listening to our conversation right now. Go search that right now. Again, leadership powered by common sense.

Josh (00:02:27) - Go ahead and subscribe and start binge listening to every single episode.

Doug (00:02:32) - Yeah. As the tag suggests, I learned a long time ago one of the biggest issues we face when when we are at work or trying to lead an effort is confusion and complexity. And if you boil it down to some common sense language and common sense ideas, it's much easier to move from point A to point B and hit your destination, hit your goal. That's why I use the tagline Leadership powered by common sense.

Josh (00:03:01) - Are you? What trends or observations do you see regarding workplace culture today and the role of a leader to evoke and inspire what we hope to in the face of. You know, again, maybe more cultural trends, you know, kind of workplace attitudes. What are you observing?

Doug (00:03:25) - Well, great question. And what I see and this is a very common theme with all of my clients is that even before the pandemic, there was a slow evolution to workforce teams that wanted more from their leaders. They wanted to be recognized more as a whole human being, not just a number on the pay scale.

Doug (00:03:48) - They wanted some empathy and some recognition and respect. And the the whole pandemic experience just exploded that thinking. So there is a definite mindset shift in the hearts and minds of employees everywhere. And the challenge for leaders is to recognize that don't just shun it. Don't just crack the whip and say, we got to get back to the old usual. You're not going to get there anymore, people. I was on a show this morning and somebody used the phrase vote with their feet. People will vote with their feet. They will leave your company. If that is your leadership style, that old some call it command and control. That's not going to that's not going to cut it anymore.

Josh (00:04:38) - Yeah. Okay. So what should we be doing instead?

Doug (00:04:41) - Well, there is the need to embrace that change and recalibrate your own thinking as a leader to be a little more open to the dialogue that says Xi. Josh, what what are your expectations here? What do you really want from the company? What do you want from me? And it's fair when you're having that discussion to say, All right, Josh, I heard your expectations, but let's talk about your sense of obligation.

Doug (00:05:07) - How are we going to get there? And let's make this a two way street. Now that you've shared yours, I'm going to share mine. Here's my expectations, here's my obligations to you as my employee. And that dialogue doesn't function very well right now. And that's probably one of the biggest pivot points that leaders and owners need to be making when they think about talking to their teams.

Josh (00:05:32) - Yeah. Tell me. About what? Who you work with. Like what size companies, What types of organizations, What types of leaders? What is your with the Doug Thorpe group? What do you who do you serve and what do you do practically?

Doug (00:05:47) - We actually stand in the unique space kind of between both large corporate. We we've done a lot of work in the Fortune 500 realm. If you look at my website, there's references to work we've done at ExxonMobil, Coca-Cola, UPS, et cetera. ET cetera. But I also have a passion for the entrepreneur community. I myself was a product of an entrepreneur mom, and she kind of lit that fire in me, and I've carried it with me ever since.

Doug (00:06:19) - So I have a keen appreciation. I myself, after I left corporate, I went into the entrepreneurial world. I've had a hand in creating five different businesses and actually, if you count mine now, it's number six if you want to be technical about it. But I just I do work in both of those camps.

Josh (00:06:41) - Yeah. And how did you find yourself in this role? What were you doing previously and how did you kind of advisory get to where it is today and give us the like the three minute version of that? Yeah, I'll give.

Doug (00:06:56) - You the quick version of it. So I start with kind of the genesis of everything on leadership. There's a joke here at my house to this day. I get teased about being the captain of my crossing guard in elementary school. I was put in a position of leadership and I loved it. I really appreciated it. Not from an ego sense, but just the whole fulfillment of things. And that carried over any time there was a call for someone to lead a project or lead a team, I was one of the guys raising my hand and that matured.

Doug (00:07:28) - Of course, as I got out of college, I first went into the Army, then I joined a large regional bank and I spent 20 years in banking and that's where some of my entrepreneurial views and opinions came from. But then I did what all good bankers do on early retirement. I started a consulting business, but I found myself having those closed door discussions with the executives I was working for, wanting to have just that heart to heart about. I got a problem and I don't know what to do about it, you know, and just bouncing ideas off people. So when I tired of being a traveling consultant, I decided maybe, maybe there's something to this coaching thing. And I started looking at what coaching was all about, and that's where I really pivoted my my own focus to now provide direct coaching services to folks.

Josh (00:08:18) - Yeah. And talk about, you know, I'd plug this before, but I just, you know, to someone who's interested in the topic of leadership, obviously your podcast is a great resource, but are there any other resources? Well, I'm going to point this out.

Josh (00:08:35) - We're going to get to your book as well, which, you know, we talk about business exits and so forth. I want to get to that. But, you know, aside from, you know, folks that are really just kind of focused on great leadership principles today, are there any resources or other things that you'd recommend that that people dive into, especially if they've enjoyed what they've heard you share thus far?

Doug (00:08:56) - Yeah. Generally what I do with my clients when I am working one on one, I just sort of set a level that says, You know what? There's been a bunch of books written on this subject of leadership. A lot of people have opinions and ideas about what good leadership is. At the root of all of those books is the notion that there's a list of attributes that make up a, quote, good leader. So what I challenge clients to do is just think for yourself, Think in your own terms. What have you experienced? What have you seen? What have you observed about people that you can admire or sadly, the people you work for that you didn't like? And you said, God, I never want to do that to another human being.

Doug (00:09:43) - Put that in a frame and and make your own list of attributes that you think you can relate to and you can pursue to be the leader you want to be.

Josh (00:09:58) - Yeah. And you know, what does can you tell me what coaching looks like or what know when when someone is engaging with you? Like, is that something that you do in a weekend or is that something you're going to do over a period of time generally for for biggest benefit?

Doug (00:10:17) - You know, that's a great question and it does take many different forms. I'm not going to lie. Occasionally I get engaged for a very specific challenge, some behavioral issue that somebody demonstrated that the company wants fixed or taken care of. But but the real developmental work, if you think about it, we're ultimately talking about behavior change. And what do we all know as human beings? You know, changing a behavior is hard and it takes time. It takes effort. It takes repetition, accountability. ET cetera. So as a coach, I'm not going to lie.

Doug (00:10:56) - I prefer to have a slightly longer engagement and really helped to put be specific, I'll say minimum of six months to work on the definition of the target we're going after. And then we define the path of what work has to be done to help make that change happen. And I've got a whole framework and process of stakeholder input review on the front end review On the back end, being an old banker, I believe in tangible results. So I want I want to help clients see the effort that they've made, establish a baseline up front and then look at what change was achieved at the end.

Josh (00:11:39) - Yeah your website Doug is Doug What? When somebody goes to your website what would you recommend they take a look at?

Doug (00:11:51) - Well, first and foremost, there's a lot of information on it and I've been accused of maybe overload on the website. So for those that think that apologies, but just try to pause and hang with me for a little bit. Ultimately, the primary call to action there is simply to join me for a 30 minute discovery call.

Doug (00:12:11) - Let's talk about what you've got on your mind. What vision do you have of where you want to go and what are the specifics of your challenges that you would like some help with? I'm happy to have that visit with you, and maybe I'm not going to be your coach after we finish that. But if if if there is an opportunity there, then we can talk about custom tailoring the solution.

Josh (00:12:34) - Yeah. All right. So I'd love to talk about your new book. I'm probably going to snag this myself here. The Exit Strategy Handbook Essential Advice for business owners who should be reading this book. People that are planning on selling next week.

Doug (00:12:52) - Well, next week, maybe. Yeah. You might have missed the gate if you next week. But no, the data is telling us and by some accounts, there are as many as 80 million boomers that are getting ready to exit businesses they've built over the last ten, 20, 30 years. And the whole dynamic of having a successful exit from this business you built can take many shapes and many forms.

Doug (00:13:22) - Ultimately, the goal is to maximize the outcome of that transaction, whether it's a sale or whether it's a handoff to family liquidation, merger, whatever. So the book is intended to explore nine different scenarios of what an exit could be about, and it's intended to prompt the thinking by an owner of what they might consider. You know, maybe they've always had their heart set on giving it to Junior, but. Maybe Junior doesn't really care about the business and wants to go do something else. So what other alternatives do you have? This because it as it indicates, it's a guidebook. It's it's a bit of a map to explore the nine different possibilities of what an exit can be about. And then from there, it will help you understand the steps you need to take to, again, maximize the outcome in the benefit of doing that transaction when the day comes.

Josh (00:14:24) - Yeah. And. Well, here. Here we go. Kind of. I was alluding to this in my original question. When should we begin the exit strategy if we're somewhere in the, you know, in terms of like the life cycle of our business?

Doug (00:14:40) - Well, not to be facetious, but you might argue you need to do it on day one.

Doug (00:14:45) - And and I, I hearkened to Stephen Covey's famous one of the seven habits begin with the end in mind. You know if you're going to do a body of work, think about what the end's going to look like and be sure that you're able to engineer and manage and make decisions accordingly because there are some very significant decisions you can make that will really reduce the value of your business along the way. If you're not careful, they may be they may sound and feel smart today, but they'll have a tremendous negative effect on the ultimate value of your business. And if you don't know what that end game might look like, you, you won't know whether it's a good decision or a bad decision.

Josh (00:15:30) - Yeah. So the book again, The Exit Strategy Handbook, it's on Amazon. Want to say, well, depending on when you order, I'm looking at it. It's a low price right now. I would say it's about four bucks. So I don't know if that will be the price by the time this goes live.

Josh (00:15:46) - But if you hurry, go check it out because it's right now it's 50% off again, If you if it's full price, it's still going to be worth it. Because, you know, again, when we're thinking about exits, boy, I tell you, you know, it's like the same business with a little bit more legwork and preparation and thought years in advance can make for a wildly different exit scenario. Would imagine. Right.

Doug (00:16:14) - Right. And if I may interject, just one of the biggest challenges in thinking about that is the owner founder who has not figured out how to make the business run without them being there. Oh, yeah, that's goal number one. If you can't understand or figure out how to let that business run on its own without you, you don't have a really high value salable business. Yeah, because that's the whole point. You you do the transaction to offload it, you're not going to be there. So if a buyer or an investor comes along, looks at it and realizes you've got your hands in everything, that's not going to be an appealing target.

Josh (00:16:59) - You don't want to buy a job necessarily.

Doug (00:17:01) - No.

Josh (00:17:02) - Yeah, that's terrific. All right. Well, Doug, great conversation. And hey, if you were let me ask one more question to just kind of forward thinking here. You know, if if a leader wants to, you know, set great practices now and they're thinking ahead for, you know, particularly if they want to not be as hands on, are there any I don't know what the exercise is other than, you know, looking at what they are doing day to day and saying, okay, well, how do I get out of that job? Okay, I did another task. How do I stop doing that? Like, are there any exercises or best practices you recommend for that process? I think particularly when I'm faced with the objection where someone says, Well, no one can do what I'm doing, I'm the only one who can do it.

Doug (00:17:58) - Right. Right. Well, there's a great phrase that I wish I had coined it originally, but one of my guests on my own podcast last year presented this to me.

Doug (00:18:09) - It's the idea of don't repeat yourself. If you find yourself with a repetitive task, whether it's daily, weekly or monthly, even quarterly, perhaps it ought to immediately bubble up in your mind's eye as a candidate for some other action either delegate, automate or somehow outsource. And you, as the owner of founders, should not continue to be doing that. And, you know, some people say, well, you know, but for instance, running my bank account, I don't want anybody to see what's in my bank account. Well, okay, I can understand that on a personal level. But does that mean you really don't have a business, you've just got a sophisticated hobby going on? You know what's happening in that bank account that it can't be a real standalone business transaction. So it's things like that that owners need to think about. And the other thing that goes in parallel with that is simply the commitment to developing your team. And a lot of people, they take some kind of personal pride in being the ultimate problem solver.

Doug (00:19:20) - You know, an employee comes to you and says, Hey boss, I got a problem. Well, that's an opportunity for you to teach them how to solve that problem. And that might be opening the door on your mind and your logic and your experience on how you think about problem solving and help your people learn that logic and learn that flow of thought. You can do it through asking questions. You can do it through modeling or example setting, but you can't just fire off the answer and say, Oh, if that's that, then go there. Because nobody knows how you got there. They just know. Okay, that's the answer. I'll go do it. But there's no learning involved in that.

Josh (00:20:04) - Yeah. Awesome. Doug Thorpe again. I would call again the author of the book Exit Strategy Handbook and your podcast shoot. I should have I should have had leadership powered by common sense. And again, business therapist to top level leaders, CEOs. You're found on the web at Doug Thorp.

Josh (00:20:29) - That's Doug who speaks to our friend that's listening. Just click around in your app. We've got a show notes, guys, direct link Doug, to your website. But it's been great having you.

Doug (00:20:40) - Thanks, Josh, It's been a pleasure.

Josh (00:20:49) - Thanks for listening to the Thoughtful Entrepreneur Show. If you are a thoughtful business owner or professional who would like to be on this daily program, please visit up My Influence slash guest. If you're a listener, I'd love to shout out your business to our whole audience for free. You can do that by leaving a review on Apple Podcasts or join our listener Facebook group. Just search for the thoughtful entrepreneur and Facebook. I'd love even if you just stopped by to say hi, I'd love to meet you. We believe that every person has a message that can positively impact the world. We love our community who listens and shares our program every day. Together, we are empowering one another as thoughtful entrepreneurs. Hit subscribe so that tomorrow morning. That's right, seven days a week, you are going to be inspired and motivated to succeed.

Josh (00:21:47) - I promise to bring positivity and inspiration to you for around 15 minutes each day. Thanks for listening and thank you for being a part of the thoughtful entrepreneur movement.

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