Author Interview with Billy Ray Taylor: The Winning Link

What does “winning” mean to you as a leader? 

What is a leader’s role in creating a winning culture and organization?

How do leaders create a clear strategy and connection with purpose so that employees understand how their activities fit within the company’s overall vision?

Billy Taylor Shows Us How

Continuing my author interview series (check out all my author interviews), I interviewed my friend and colleague, Billy Ray Taylor, about his new book The Winning Link.

Billy is the real deal, having been an executive at Goodyear, and now as the President of LinkedXL where he supports global companies around the world to create their own “winning links”.

 In The Winning Link Billy shows readers how to:

  • Build and deploy a clear, purpose-driven strategy with clarity
  • Align the strategy with process, assets, and talent to deliver growth and profitability
  • Enable and develop people-driven ownership and adherence to process
  • Measure what matters by defining standards and performance
  • Understand that winning is more than just the numbers

3 Books Were Given Away!

Leading up to the release of Billy’s book The Winning Link we gave away three advance copies of the book to lucky readers!

This giveaway has ended and we send a big congratulations to the 3 lucky winners. If you’d like to be notified about the next giveaway please click here.

You can also order a copy of  The Winning Link on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

The “Chain of Learning” link between Katie Anderson & Billy Taylor

Billy and I met a few years ago through our involvement on the leadership boards of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence.

2021, we were both speakers on panel discussions focused on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) for both the AME International Conference and the AME Australia Conference.

Billy is an engaging, authentic, and insightful leader and I have always enjoyed our discussions, his insights on DEI, and his relatable experiences and insights of what it means to really lead the way with respect, kindness, and a winning attitude.

Most of all I’m really excited about Billy’s new book. When I knew he had documented his years of incredible leadership experiences into a book, I immediately reached out to invite him to join me on my author interview series – all focused on leadership, lean, and continuous improvement books.

I had an opportunity to get a copy early and I’ve already read most of it but I can’t wait to go back and reread all the details!

I love that the title of The Winning Link is related to my concept of the “Chain of Learning” that unites us all. And how Billy describes a leader’s role as owning the creation of clarity of strategy and connection to purpose, and then creating the environment and structures for them to thrive, mirrors the Leading to Learn framework that I explore in Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn. 

We talk about these links between our leadership frameworks in the interview, so be sure to check the whole video out below!

Author Interview with Billy Taylor and Katie Anderson: The Winning Link

Without further ado, check out my conversation with the ever engaging and insightful Billy Ray Taylor about his new book The Winning Link, leadership insights from his experiences as an executive at Goodyear and now as the owner and president of his own consulting practice LinkedXL, and how you can be the winning link for your team and organization as you strive for excellence.

Below are some highlights from our conversation including some of the questions asked and excerpts of Billy’s responses. We covered more topics too so don’t miss out on the rich discussion – watch the video above!

1 – What was the problem you were trying to solve by writing this book, or what was inspiring you to move forward with writing? (01:54)

For me, it was 30 years with Goodyear. I was kind of the pioneer around operational excellence and the passion I had was inept in the tools, but the “how to” and the cultural side of it married with the tools is what drove me.

Most companies don’t have the connected model, the implementation and the governance around, how do you drive operational excellence? I wanted to share the stories of my experience on how to answer that question.

2 – What has been one of the most helpful practices that you have personally discovered and incorporated into your leadership approach? (03:30)

“Do change with the people, not to the people.”

People don’t resist change. They resist change being done to them.

When you include people in that journey, that’s when it really takes hold, that’s where the glue starts adhering to what you’re trying to do.

3 – Where did the name of LinkedXL come from or what does it represent? And at the high level, what are some of the key elements? (9:29)

“Linked Excellence” is what the LinkedXL stands for. It is basically a connected business model on how to connect an entire organization and it’s moving beyond strategy deployment, it’s strategic deployment for tactical execution. 

And so what I talk about in the book is very clear: how do you define, align and execute winning? And after that, how do you sustain the game? Once you change the guard, how do you guard the change? 

The book gives examples around how to do that, how to be deliberately clear on what winning is and what you’re going to do.

4 – How do you define winning? (11:13)

For me, it’s deliberate clarity.

Being deliberate about what you want to accomplish.

Letting people know what the organization wants to accomplish and knowing what their role is.

5 – What do you see as the link between KPAs (key performance actions) and KPIs (key performance indicators)? (13:41)

When I look at a KPA/KPI I envision a goal like, I want to lose weight. 

I stand on the scale, that’s a KPI. It’s important. But what is the KPA? 

The KPA are the actions that I must take to drive the results. I can also measure those KPAs. For example, how many calories did I eat? Did I work out? How many days did I work out? How many steps am I taking a day? How much sleep am I getting? 

The way I look at the KPAs is “if I do this, I get that”. And I can also test my hypothesis now on one of the things that I think I should be doing to drive results. 

So, when you marry those two in your strategic roadmap, now you really have a true link to being successful. 

6 – What does the concept of respect mean to you and how does it relate to something you’re passionate about, which is diversity, equity, and inclusion? (17:46)

Respect is something you earn. Titles don’t get you respect. 

I respect people for the way they treat me. I don’t care what your title is.

I do a lot of pro bono coaching because those people provide value to me. I’m not giving them value, they’re giving me value.

7 – What is one thing that you discovered or learned with a new perspective through the process of writing the book?(26:42)

What I learned about it is don’t get so caught up on the big words, the practical implementation and the lessons learned. 

That’s what I found myself reflecting on because I actually wrote it, rewrote it, and then rewrote it again. It was a journey. It’s not as easy as people think. 

8 – What is one question that I haven’t asked you here that you would like to answer? (31:13)

“What was your greatest challenge as a leader coming through a fortune 500 company?”

Tune in above to hear Billy’s answer to this question – it’s a good one!

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