Tag Archives: transformational leadership

do you know what the future holds?

Neither do we – but we do have some thoughts about three emerging trends you would be wise to keep an eye on as we enter 2016.

1. The gap between the truly great, the merely good and the boringly average will widen further.

Differences in the level of both organizational and individual ambition, competence and capability will become even more pronounced. This will make it impossible for the unprepared and the complacent to just hang on. Simple survival won’t cut it. The ramifications will be obvious, the consequences predictable and the costs inevitable.

2. The leadership talent you will need to remain relevant in the future will become even harder to locate and attract.

The very best organizations will quickly come to appreciate that the mindsets, skill sets and competencies of the future are very different from those of the past. Retooling leadership, at all levels, will not be an option – it will be a necessity. Sadly, far too many organizations will ignore the signals and fall victim to the natural consequences of the talent scarcity gap.

3. Organizational culture will matter more to your success than ever before.

Dysfunctional cultures punish the guilty by placing a harsh, hidden “tax” on organizational performance. The cost of that “tax” will go up even further in 2016. To boost overall effectiveness, you must lower the tax rate. You do that by creating a culture which boosts the level of discretionary investment by your people by removing the man-made barriers to collaboration, innovation and accountability.

The new year will bring new challenges – it always does. It will generously layer them on top of those you are already facing. Some will find that burden too overwhelming, but others will be wise enough to get ahead of the curve. They will adjust to the signals the future is already sending our way.

It is a choice. There are solid options and better alternatives.

Are you set?

leadership lessons from the military

What surprised me the most about this article by retired four-star General and former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, General Ray Odierno, weren’t what the lessons themselves were, but how few of them he provided, and how, through this utter simplicity, he managed to hit the nail directly on the head.
I have to admit, I almost glossed over the piece, feeling as though the military analogy has almost been overdone in business and, perhaps, may be somewhat dated and exclusionary. I decided to read it anyway, and while what I was expecting was yet another “leadership list” of the top 10 qualities that make great leaders, I was pleasantly surprised to read a simple yet detailed description of a mere 3 qualities that are absolutely integral to great leadership, whether that leadership takes place in business or in war.
The first quality is Balanced Risk-Taking, the key to this being the word “balanced”. Both risk adversity as well as excessive risk-taking can equally result in failure and financial loss in business, and cost lives at war. Balanced risk-taking requires you to constantly assess and understand the current situation, continually developing ways to gather and use information to contribute to well-thought out, yet timely and efficient risk-taking and decision-making.
The second lesson offered is to take a Holistic View to Guide Bold Decisions. General Odierno addresses balance again, contrasting leaders who wait and require every single piece of data and information for making a decision that is now too late to be effective, to those who jump in with no due diligence, costing organizations time, money, and resources when they are wrong. Neither of these leaders can compare to those individuals who can effectively balance when they have just the right amount of information to allow a bold decision to be made. Sometimes, he says “when you make a decision is just as important, if not more than, the information available. Great leaders understand this dynamic”.
Finally, General Odierno emphasizes the importance of Fostering an Atmosphere of Trust. In his own words, he says that the “foundation of any organization is trust. Trust between peers, subordinates and your leaders. Establishing and communicating right and left limits. Empowering subordinates and decentralizing decision making within those limits. Treating everyone within the organization with dignity and respect. All of this contributes to an atmosphere of trust and pride”.

Whether or not you are interested in the military, or even opposed to the military, this is a great business article that really gets to the heart of what needs to be mastered in order to achieve great leadership.

read here

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

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

the authenticity paradox

Authenticiteit

Imagine speaking to a room full of aspiring business leaders. You ask “who of you wish to be an authentic leader”? Of course, you picture hands raising as very few of us wish to be perceived as disingenuous or insincere, in either our business or personal lives. In a time where authenticity has become a gold standard for leadership, however, it is important to understand the inherent paradox, a tipping point at which too much authenticity, or rather a too limited definition and understanding of what is required in order to be an authentic leader, can hinder both your credibility, as well as your organizational impact and leadership success.

So, when exactly does rigid adherence to the pursuit of authenticity turn into a stumbling block to successful leadership?

First and foremost, true leadership almost always requires us to step out of our comfort zone, take risks, and challenge ourselves and others around us to grow, adapt, improve and change. As a leader, you may regularly be forced to choose between the self you are today, and how you are comfortable doing things, and the self you could be tomorrow, stretching, growing, and leading yourself, your team, or your organization down a new and more successful path. Choosing to remain true to your current self may feel more authentic in the short-term, but growing and changing are integral aspects of leadership. Understanding that growing and changing do not compromise your authenticity is crucial. Personal growth needs to be appreciated as key component of authenticity.

Successful leadership also requires us to inspire others and generate confidence in those who work around us. Blanket self-disclosure and transparency of your every thought, feeling, and insecurity may feel like a very authentic way of leading, but too much disclosure of uncertainty can undermine your team’s confidence in you as a leader. There are few certainties in life, and, as a leader, it is your job to regularly weigh information in order to determine a course of action and then confidently lead others through it, while remaining open to necessary changes as circumstances require. Telling your employees they are an integral component of the team’s success may be both positive and authentic, however, telling a new team that you’re depending on them because you have no idea what you are doing is going too far.

Finally, selling yourself, your visions, and your ideas are another integral component to leadership success. The act of doing this, however, can feel forced and unauthentic to some people, so much so that they avoid doing so at all costs, hoping their work will speak for itself and have the impact they wish it to. This is a naïve and ineffective ideal that can impede leadership and team success. As leaders, we need to understand and accept that the promotion of our ideas, and the act of influencing others, are not selfish pursuits, but ways to create collective team and organizational successes.

For more interesting insight into The Authenticity Paradox read the full HBR article below:

read here

The Succession Planning Pitfall

Job-promotion-200x266

No one wants to be accused of being unidimensional, and that of course goes for managers and leadership teams as well. But when conducting succession planning meetings, or creating future organization charts, leadership teams are often just that. Candidates for leadership roles are evaluated based on their performance only, and little to no consideration is given to the potential they demonstrate for success in these roles.

I recently read an article titled “Why Your Best Performers Usually Make the Worst Leaders”, and it reminded me once again of this very common pitfall. You can read the article here – http://www.tlnt.com/2014/10/07/why-your-best-performers-usually-make-the-worst-leaders/. In this case, the author is commenting on the common, but misguided practice of promoting good performers into leadership roles as a means to justify a higher salary, and advocating instead the simple solution of keeping them in their role and just awarding the pay increase. What the article also does, is highlight the lack of rigour most organizations demonstrate in identifying leadership potential.

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!