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Note:  This is an excerpt from Dave Ramos' latest book, Drive One Direction.

Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.B) is a multinational conglomerate holding company that owns 63 companies, from Acme Brick to the XTRA Corporation. The diversity of industries where they compete includes candy confectionery, retail, railroad, home furnishings, airlines, publishing, manufacturing, real estate, utilities, and more.

This eclectic mix of businesses is held together by One amazing Team.

Warren Buffett met Charlie Munger in 1959.

They have been business partners for six decades and have created billions in corporate and personal wealth.

"We've had so much fun in our partnership over the years," Buffett told CNBC in a joint interview with Munger, who called the partnership "almost hilarious, it's been so much fun."

Munger added they "don't agree totally on everything, and yet we're quite respectful of one another."

Buffett quipped that when they do disagree, Charlie says, “Well, you'll end up agreeing with me because you're smart and I'm right.”

(I tried using this line with my wife, but it did not go over very well!)

Jim Collins made “getting the right people on the bus” part of the business lexicon. But the real issue is aligning all the bus drivers to work as One Team … driving in One Direction. Fragmentation and infighting among the leadership team is one of the most caustic problems an organization can face. Yet, it is far too common.

Teamwork, alignment, and trust start at the top. The organization is never more aligned than the executive team.

But addressing executive team alignment issues will take courage. Skeletons will have to come out of the closet. Dysfunctional interpersonal relationships will need an intervention. People will have to address the conflicts they have been avoiding.

Someone will have to tell the emperor that he—or she—has no clothes.

Unfortunately, most executive teams never really deal with their misalignment issues.

Why? Because executives are afraid to speak their minds. Their need for self-preservation kicks in.

We see this all the time. We can tell that executives are holding something back. We can see their discomfort with the discussion or the decision that is about to be made. Yet, they are afraid to speak up.

Google just did a fascinating study about teams. They concluded that “psychological safety” was a key component of high-performance teams. It is this psychological safety that creates the environment for executive teams to have vigorous and candid debates about the company.

Psychological safety is the prerequisite to candor. And candor is the key to productive debates.

Creating psychological safety starts at the top. CEOs must create an environment where candor is valued, and opinions can be expressed without retribution.

How does your company’s executive team resolve conflict?




The Carlyle Group (NASDAQ: CG) is a global alternative asset manager with over 1,600 professionals operating in 31 offices around the world. They manage over $200B on behalf of over 1,925 investors from 90 countries.

Carlyle unleashed the accelerating power of alignment with their One Carlyle Culture.

At The Carlyle Group, alignment was built into the company by their three founders from Day One.

In fact, the One Carlyle Culture is a key component of how they deliver value to their customers. Glenn Youngkin, Carlyle’s Co-CEO explains it this way, “Our professionals work together across product lines, sectors, and time zones to harness the knowledge, resources, and wisdom in our global operation to help create value for our investors.”

“Carlyle has a culture of cooperation that is genetically embedded in the organization. If you look at our investment teams, we almost always have co-heads, not single heads. It is not a weird thing at Carlyle—in fact, it’s the opposite,” explained Kewsong Lee, Carlyle’s other Co-CEO.

Obviously, this idea also was used when Carlyle appointed Glenn Youngkin and Kewsong Lee as the firm’s Co-CEOs.

The private equity model has many virtues, but one foundational aspect is the alignment of interests.

Since the firm’s inception, Carlyle professionals, Operating Executives, Senior Advisors, and other professionals have committed more than $11 billion of their own money alongside their fund investors. When an investment succeeds, everyone benefits. When an investment fails, everyone loses.

“We constantly work to break down the natural silos that might exist across funds, across countries, and across sectors. In the end, we are only as good as our people,” explained Pete Clare, Carlyle’s Co-Chief Investment Officer. “And we are better when we work together in the spirit of One Carlyle.”

They also use recognition to reinforce their culture. Each year, the firm presents one employee in the world with the One Carlyle award, the highest honor that can be bestowed on an employee.

The Carlyle Group designed a culture of teamwork to deliver extraordinary value for its investors. Clearly, it has worked. The three founders are all billionaires.

Does your company have a One-Company culture?



Alan Mulally was the CEO of Ford (NYSE: F) from September 2006 to June 2014.
During his tenure, Mulally led a highly successful alignment initiative called ONE FORD.
Perhaps more than any other exemplar we studied, the ONE FORD plan embodied the Drive One Direction mindset. That is why it is our first One.
Besides, what better way to start the exemplars than with a car company that is driving in One Direction!
Mulally’s turnaround of Ford is now legendary. Business “Hall of Fame” legendary.
The ONE FORD plan had several components that were so simple that Mulally had them printed on the back of business cards he would hand out. Here’s what they said:
ONE TEAM: People working together as a lean, global enterprise for automotive leadership, as measured by: Customer, Employee, Dealer, Investor, Supplier, Union/Council, and Community Satisfaction.
ONE PLAN: Aggressively restructure to operate profitably at the current demand and changing model mix; Accelerate development of new products our customers want and value; Finance our plan and improve our balance sheet; Work together effectively as one team.
ONE GOAL: An exciting viable Ford delivering profitable growth for all.
In addition, Mulally created sixteen “expected behaviors” that formed the basis of the cultural transformation. (This list is available in my book, Drive One Direction.)
Mulally also instituted a new management process known as the Business Plan Review. Every Thursday, Ford’s entire global leadership team was required to attend. This provided a very practical and hands-on way for Mulally to add management discipline to the ONE FORD plan.
“The expected behaviors and the Business Plan Review created the culture and management system to align everyone around a compelling vision, a comprehensive strategy, and a relentless implementation plan” said Mulally. “Everyone knew the plan, the status against that plan, and all the areas that needed special attention. Everyone was working together to change the reds to yellows to greens.”
In 2014, FORTUNE magazine named Mulally the third best leader in the world, following Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The ONE FORD plan produced amazing results. During Mulally’s tenure, Ford rebounded from a $12.7 billion loss in 2006 to a $6.3 billion pre-tax profit in 2014. The stock price roughly doubled during his 8 years as CEO and rose an astonishing 1,640 percent from the low during the financial crisis.
Does your executive team work as One Team?