Legal Blog

A Video Conversation with Doug Strouse, Managing Partner of Wexley Consulting

Click here to read Part 1 Defining success as resilience in all forms of business Doug StrouseDoug Strouse, Ph.D. is an executive, consultant, author, and classic “jack of all trades” within Maryland’s business community. As the president of the CEO Club of Baltimore—which he founded—Doug oversees a board of advisors who work with leading regional companies. As managing partner of Wexley Consulting, he provides executive coaching for organizations around the world. An esteemed facilitator, adviser, writer, and speaker, Doug has applied his doctorate in Organizational Management and Organizational Psychology to work with various Fortune 500 companies. His experience comprises outsourcing, legal services, strategic planning, performance management and more. He is also the author of more than 110 professional articles. This past August, Doug and his co-authors Drs. George Every, Jr., and Dennis McCormack published Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed, which called “an excellent book for anyone looking for advice on how to strengthen their character to meet the demands of a busy lifestyle.”   EDWIN WARFIELD. Tell us about Wexley Consulting. DOUG STROUSE: Wexley Consulting is an international consulting firm. I’ve had the pleasure to work with Ken Wexley now for, geez, probably 15–16 years. He’s really one of the top organizational psychologists. He’s the author of 11 books. We’ve written over 110 professional articles together. We really focus on a couple of core areas. One of the things we do a lot of is executive coaching for executives, where we’ll meet with an executive two-on-one—both of us together meet with an executive—and we’ll meet every two to three weeks for an hour and a half and talk about various things. When we start doing executive coaching with an executive, we will put them through a process, a testing process, where we’ll uncover all of the executive’s strengths as well as what we call “opportunities for improvement” (or weaknesses), and we’ll actually develop a syllabus for that individual, because we have training modules that’ll help turn those weakness, if you will, into positives and successes. But, we also do things like strategic planning. One of the most important things, I think, is performance management. So many times in business you’ll see that people are not held accountable. I often find—and the research talks about this—that it’s not that people don’t want to be excellent; excellence is not defined for them. And so, we’ll put into place a performance management system that holds people accountable for the things that they have to do—what their expectations are in an organization. What kinds of clients do you and Ken work with there? We work with a lot of companies. We do a lot of psychological testing, at the entry level up to the supervisory, the managerial level, all the way up to the executive level. Everybody—I don’t care who you are—if you run a company, I can guarantee it you’ve made a hiring mistake at some time in your career. I have, and I can tell you a lot of people have. But, if you can not make a hiring mistake—because it can cost you anywhere from three to five times the person’s annual salary—so we do a lot of testing for employment for companies. When you want to fill a position, you want to make sure you hire only the very, very best. Another thing that we do is what we call an “organizational analysis.” We have access to probably about 600 or 700 different tests, and, especially at the managerial or executive level, we’ll have the hiring manager come up with a list of competencies that is needed for that particular job. We select tests that measure the specific competencies. So, it’s almost like getting a custom suit, if you will. We select tests that measure those competencies, and we’ll give you a report on that individual of how they rate against those competencies. Interviews by themselves are about 60% to 65% effective. Get involved with psychological testing, we’re about 90% to 95% effective. It can’t be 100%, because there may be health issues that come around—there may be family issues that we don’t know about that we can’t test for—but we’re pretty darn close. If you make a hiring mistake, folks, we can’t emphasize enough: it’s going to you, and it can cost you big time. How would you describe a managerial philosophy you have that’s effective? Everybody has bad days, but you’ve got to be cognizant of the fact, when you’re running a law firm or you’re running any other organization, you set the temperature, you set the culture in that organization. It’s so interesting, because a lot of people are baseball fans too, and when you see somebody like Buck Showalter, you say, “Well, how was he able to turn the team around after losing 14 years in a row?” And what he did was really a magnificent job, I think, was turning the culture around, getting people to believe in themselves, getting people to understand that they can win again—because that becomes part of the culture, part of the expectation. It’s the same thing in business: It’s believing that you can provide a greater service. It’s believing that you only hire the very best. It’s believing that, you know, you are the best law firm or you’re the best organization, and you’re going to do whatever you can. It’s understanding that you set the tone—that’s the key thing.   What is the first advice you would give to a potential client? People need to know what the expectations are. If they know what those expectations are, they can run towards them. You know, it’s a similar thing like in school to get an A, you’ve got to do this, this, and this. I’m just amazed, because, again, we work with a lot of organizations, and when I give talks—and I give talks around the country—one of the things I’ll talk about is whether you’re running a law firm or whether you’re running a business or whether you’re running a small mom-and-pop type of organization, business is business is business. The small mom-and-pop is no different than General Motors. General Motors only has many more people and huge numbers of layers of management. That is a differential. The same business principles apply. So, again, whether it’s a law firm or any other type of business that you’re running, get your people on the same keel and get them to understand what the expectations are, and they will buy into it.


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