Relentless leaders set directions to make ideas into reality. They focus on producing ideas that have practical implications for them. What makes them stand out from the rest is their ability to listen to their team and recognize the effectiveness of their offerings. One such pioneer of relentless leadership is Thomas P. Shivers, who has been consistently recognized as an industry leader for his constant focus on results, accountability, and practical application.
With over 25 years of executive and entrepreneurial experience in the workers’ compensation managed care marketplace, Tom has been instrumental in shaping the industry. As the CEO and President at FourStone Partners, he has created a unique consulting firm that has been widely praised for its innovation, effectiveness, and efficiency.
We, at Insights Success, caught up with Tom to unveil his entrepreneurial journey and how FourStone Partners is optimizing the performance of businesses.
An Entrepreneurial Journey
Tom founded FourStone as a startup that has now grown into a national organization. The firm started without any private equity money; FourStone has been self-funded since its inception.
Along the way, Tom has met great people and great clients who, in one way or another, have contributed a tremendous amount of learning experience for him. It has been an incredible journey for Tom, and there is yet more to come.
The Values That Optimize Performance
FourStone has continued its expertise in the workers’ compensation industry and commercializing healthcare products with a unique approach. Tom has centered FourStone around practical application and collaboration. He focuses his time and attention on practical application that helps clients maximize their opportunities based on what truly works and develops implementable and actionable strategies.
Tom believes in less theory and more practical actions. In his opinion, what differentiates FourStone from its competitors is that it provides its clients with impactful strategies and then executes them on their behalf.
Sculpting Strong Leadership
From the perspective of Tom, impactful leadership is collaborative in nature, and it is also never asking anyone to do anything that you won’t do yourself. A leader needs to be accountable for the decisions of his or her team.
The personal philosophy of Tom is ‘everybody in the room is the smartest person in the room based on the subject.’ He implements the same at FourStone. This way, the best idea wins, no matter who creates that idea. This allows people to be at their best selves without any fear and express their point of view, thoughts, and ideas on the subject. At some point, these ideas and can be embraced and moved forward. Overall, this empowers people to feel free and not be afraid to make mistakes. This approach will unlock their maximum potential in the long term.
In addition, Tom also believes that humility is an essential trait for a leader. A CEO should be open to new ideas and understand that every colleague brings their knowledge to the business. It is crucial to be able to listen. On the flip side of being a humble leader is being relentless in pursuing goals and success.
Tom says, “I’ve got a team of employees that count on me to be very good at my job. So, I have to be really good at my job for them. And I feel like one of the traits that I have that has allowed me to succeed is that sort of relentlessness and tenacity. If you combine that with humility and behaving honorably, I think it creates a nice culture. And I think the culture at our firm is something we’re very proud of.”
A Healthy Work Culture
When asked about maintaining positive work culture at FourStone, Tom says, “I don’t think you can overvalue a positive work environment and a positive work culture. I think it’s incredibly paramount to the success of a firm long term. We take an immense amount of pride in the culture that we have.”
The culture at FourStone is collaborative, competitive, and family-oriented that prioritizes performance and taking care of each other. The culture is also based upon practical application; the team at the firm treats themselves like they treat its clients. There isn’t any theory, esoteric, unquantifiable sort of mission or goal. When people bring ideas to the table for the firm or the clients, they have to be based on practical application, focusing on real world solutions that can be tracked and managed.
Tom and his team are fearless and tenacious when implementing new things. They aren’t afraid to quickly make educated decisions to roll out new products and enhance existing products. They work collaboratively, both internally and with their clients and other constituents. The team takes much pride in how they present themselves to one another and their clients and industry.
The Highs and Lows of Pandemic
FourStone managed to survive and experience a slight growth during the pandemic because of its diversified portfolio. Some of its products and services did suffer, but some of them could maintain and grow.
Culturally, the pandemic affected FourStone the most as everyone had to undergo a remote work culture. The company implemented some virtual models for some of its products and services in a brief timeframe. It also meant to trust the team to do the right thing and work the right way. Fortunately, Tom has spent much time on hiring based upon character. This helped the firm when it went remote and had to do things differently overnight; the hiring philosophy proved successful as the entire team adjusted remarkably well.
Tom opines that it was crucial to adapt to the circumstances. The performance of the company in many ways has exceeded expectations. In fact, some of the FourStone Team will continue to work from home post-pandemic.
Technological Aspects to Move Ahead
Technology has played such an incredible role in the evolution of how companies function during this pandemic, and Tom doesn’t think that’s ever going to roll itself back. It will get more important moving forward.
Heading Into New Horizon
Tom has an absolute vision of organic growth, which is a challenging road, and he thinks in the future FourStone will also grow through acquisition. The company is actively looking at some potential acquisition targets. The firm would also like to diversify and expand the services that it offers to its clients.
Words of Wisdom for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
In his advice to upcoming entrepreneurs, Tom says, “Be absolutely relentless in your pursuit of success. Listen to people who know more than you, surround yourself with the best team that you can find that has complementary skills to yours, and allow them full opportunity to help grow the company with their own expertise and spirit”.