Tag Archives: Leadership Development

why CEO’s fail

why CEO's fail

I recently revisited an article written by Ram Charan and Geoffrey Colvin entitled “Why CEOs Fail”. It popped into my head one afternoon at the cottage, and after a quick Google search I was able to locate it in the Fortune Magazine archives at the link below. When I looked at the original publish date, I was shocked to realize that it had been published over 16 years ago, in June of 1999. Once I recovered from that, I reread it only to be even more stricken by how absolutely applicable every single word of it is today.

Over these past 16 years, CEOs have continued to succeed and CEOS have continued to fail, just as often (if not more frequently) than during the time this article was written. The players are different now and the article could be republished with updated examples, but it really isn’t necessary, because the fundamental reasons for success and the fundamental causes of failure remain categorically the same.

Charan and Colvin argued that while strategy matters, it simply isn’t enough. Decisiveness and follow-through, effective execution, and an unwavering commitment to deliverables are the key components to CEO success every time. “So how do CEOs blow it? More than any other way, by failure to put the right people in the right jobs – and the related failure to fix people problems in time. Specifically, failed CEOs are often unable to deal with a few key subordinates whose sustained poor performance deeply harms the company.”

It’s no different now. I see this regularly in our work with clients. Let’s face it, relationships are difficult to experience objectively, they are difficult to manage effectively, and often, in business just as in personal life, people can be late to identify when a relationship fails to add value anymore, or worse, becomes a detriment to success. Employee performance impacts execution. Execution drives the success or failure of an organization. Period. And CEOs who cannot see themselves as accountable not only for their own performance, but for the performance of all players in a position to either drive or compromise organizational success, are not going to make it. Relationship blind spots have been the downfall of more than one potentially great, but ultimately failing leader. This is truly the key.

There is far more insight to be taken from this article in its entirety and, 16 years later or not, I definitely recommend a read (or re-read) of this Forbes magazine classic on why CEOs fail!
read here

Top Navigate Publications

© Copyright 2014 CorbisCorporation
Somehow, it seems to be that time of year already … back to school and back to business!
While you are ramping up, and tweaking your plans for the remaining months of 2015, allow us to be that little voice that constantly reminds you to step back and take stock. To help you do this, we have selected our three most popular Navigate publications (as determined by our readers), and have provided the links below.
In these issues, you will find important themes such as maintaining perspective and objectivity, anticipating predictable hurdles and keeping pace with rapidly accelerating and unfamiliar changes. If you have read these before, you may want a quick refresher. If you have not had the chance, now might be just the time to shake up your thinking.
Our three top Navigates are:
The Predictable Passages of Organizational Transformation – February 2015 read here
The Devastating Cost of Bias in Leadership – November 2013 read here
Blind Spots, Bias & Bravado – A Toxic Combination – September 2011 read here

are your leadership skills outdated?

2015.07.03_are your leadership skills outdated

Utilizing Technology
Understanding the Global Economy
Maintaining relentless Customer Focus
Attracting and retaining Top Talent

The complex skills required to effectively lead a successful organization in 2015 are not the same skills that might have ensured success a few decades, or even a few years ago. The world has changed, the economy has changed, and individuals, from both a customer and employee perspective, have changed. It is imperative to understand the importance of keeping up with these changes in order to thrive as a leader. The article below outlines four modern workplace challenges that cannot be ignored if you hope to lead your organization, or even your team, successfully. While the core components of strong leadership remain the same, it is flexibility, and the ability to deal with changing leadership requirements as demanded by economic and cultural shifts, that can make or break even the most admired executives.

What new or unique challenges do you see facing leaders in years to come?
read the full article here

you’re never too old for fairy tales

Castle, Spain --- Image by © Reed Kaestner/Corbis

Castle, Spain — Image by © Reed Kaestner/Corbis

INSEAD is a serious institution of higher education and I often enjoy the serious and scholarly articles they share through INSEAD Knowledge. So, it was quite unexpected to find an article on fairy tales by INSEAD professor Manfred Kets de Vries.
Kets de Vries has actually written a book entitled “Telling Fairy Tales in the Boardroom: How to Make Sure Your Organisation Lives Happily Ever After” in which he forewarns executives “of the dangers they will encounter on their various quests and the fundamental issues they will confront associated with the leadership mystique”. He presents these as the five “deadly dangers” and I have listed them very briefly below:

 First danger – lack of self-knowledge
 Second danger – hubris
 Third danger – a leader’s inability to get the best out of people
 Fourth danger – a leader’s inability to create well-functioning teams
 Fifth danger – the creation of an organisational gulag

Each one of these “dangers” is worthy of serious consideration, and together they form an absolutely excellent self-reflection checklist for all leaders. It might be well worth your while to get some juice and a cookie, and tuck into this story.

To check out the article click here

why culture and leadership matter for disruptive innovation

Global Communications

I came across a short, but very interesting article on smartblogs.com entitled “Why culture and leadership matter for disruptive innovation”, written by James daSilva. It begins with some slightly radical, but excellent advice – daSilva suggests you should bring in “troublemakers and tinkerers”.

Fantastic!

When talking to leaders about transformational change in their organizations, or any movement in new directions for that matter, I tell them they have to get comfortable with the concept of creative tension. I encourage them to seek out and embrace people with starkly different views, the deviants as it were, and really fan the sparks of new and creative thinking.

It all reminds me of a book I enjoyed years ago entitled “The Corporate Fool”. The author, David Firth, tells you up front that “one of the premises of this book is that sanity is tremendously limiting”. He proposes that the Fool is the perfect role model for the paradoxical and crazy thinking that is needed, and for being the person who is not afraid to speak up. Might this be the troublemaker or the tinkerer or even the deviant by another name?

click here to check out the blog

the power of positive leadership

2015.04.15_the power of positive leadership

My grandson Spencer is the student council vice-president for his primary/middle school in downtown Toronto. At 12 years old he seems well on his way to running the world, or at least a mere Fortune 500 company, and it is very gratifying to watch him thrive in a leadership role.

One of the student council’s current initiatives is to redevelop the school’s Behavioural Code of Conduct. The current Code is written using negatively based language (i.e. everything students shouldn’t be doing), and student council representatives are working alongside the Vice-Principal to re-word the school’s Behavioural Code into positive descriptors. In other words, describing what someone adhering to the Code of Conduct is doing right, rather than what those who are violating the Code of Conduct are doing wrong.

Interestingly, the process and final product are not all that different from the Competency Models we develop with clients in the “real world” of business all the time. Which begs the question … If a group of 12 and 13 year olds understand the motivational importance of using positive language to help guide behaviour, then shouldn’t all organizations and managers be capable of the same?
Some food for thought the next time you are in a position of providing feedback to your employees or team.

Activity and productivity are not the same!

Telephone off the hook

It seems so intuitive. Everyone knows this right? Business 101? Just because an employee is doing something, doesn’t mean they are accomplishing something of value for the organization. Or even accomplishing anything at all. And yet it still seems relatively unacknowledged, or at least often unaddressed by employers, that just the act of being in a meeting, sitting at a desk, or dialing into a conference call does not equate with employees being productive for the organization.

If you aren’t one of the 10 million individuals who have already viewed this humorous YouTube take on a “Conference Call in Real Life”, you may want to take an unproductive but enjoyable moment to check it out now.
view here

While the ability to multi-task has generally been considered a positive skill, the following HBR article shines a light on the reality that the type of multi-tasking taking place while individuals are engaged in conference calls (ie. sending each other e-mails or checking social media sites), is not generally conducive to proper engagement in the call.

Which brings into question the true value of this mode of teamwork/meeting. Can conference calls be productive?

Absolutely, but ensuring that the call has a proper purpose, and that everyone on the call needs to be on the call is a must. No one likes to be cc’d on a dozen e-mails that don’t relate to them. The same holds true when individuals are asked to sit in on conference calls for which they have little to offer or gain. In addition, just like in-person meetings, calls should be scheduled only when relevant information needs to be shared or discussed, not just for the sake of it. As well, conference calls should be kept as brief and focused as possible to maximize engagement. Not to worry telecommuters and vacationers, the location of the caller is not nearly as important as what else they are doing while on the call. Someone sitting on a beach may be fully engaged in the conversation and providing much greater value to the call than an individual who is sitting at a desk perusing craigslist for a second-hand bookshelf, or e-mailing another colleague. The simplest fix suggested in this article is to lose the mute button option, thus ensuring that people know they are actually part of the call and not free to carry on with other business and distractions while they listen.

read the entire article here

Opportunity Sensing

In business, we are not particularly good at the kind of singular focus required to take full advantage of pivot points or strategic inflection points when they occur. It often seems we feel the need to mitigate absolutely all of the natural risks associated with a big decision. As a result, we never quite make the commitment necessary to take full advantage of the situation. Instead, we carefully hedge our bets, rather than aggressively pursuing our options and, in the process, we limit the full scope of the opportunity we have.

Opportunity sensing is about taking advantage of the discontinuities when they appear. Opportunity sensing is about staking a claim on an unknown piece of land. Opportunity sensing is knowing, deep in your bones, that what you are about to do just feels right. The leader who can get comfortable with this new way of thinking is the one who will be able to take maximum advantage of the opportunities resident in the state of disequilibrium in which we find ourselves today.

‘How’ Matters More than ‘What’

People like Roger Martin, Tim Brown and Matt Ridley, have it absolutely right when they talk about the fact we need to fundamentally approach problems and think differently. All of them have suggested, in slightly different ways, that our success as leaders in the future will be determined not by WHAT we do but by HOW we look at the future and whether we can genuinely open our minds to the opportunities rather than shelter behind convention and the status quo.

This extends to the material successes seen in modern innovation. The biggest breakthroughs in history have not been in the ‘What’ we do, but in the ‘How’ we do them. People have always travelled; by foot, horse, carriage and even boat. But now we can travel to places faster by car, train and plane. The act of travelling hasn’t changed; but HOW we travel has!

Mastering Intelligent Opportunism

There is a distinct emotion that accompanies the arrival of a great business opportunity. It is part adrenaline, part fear and part excitement. It is the same emotional high that comes with being close to inevitable victory in a season ending hockey game. It is the point at which everything around slows down, your vision becomes crystal clear and things seem to be effortless, because you can taste victory. In business, moments like these are all too rare. They may be found, from time to time, in the thrill of concluding an acquisition, the inauguration of a new manufacturing plant, the opening of a new store, (or a Game 7 overtime win) but seldom are they part of an organization’s day-to-day experience.