Three Board Briefings on Leadership: Step up to leadership; Leadership mindset; Effective leadership
A selection of 'Board Briefings from your Chief Strategy Officer' on leadership, authored for the benefit of leaders and management team members at professional services firms worldwide.
Board Briefings are designed to provide information quickly and effectively about an issue, in this case about leadership. Use them to obtain insights and make decisions.
Leadership motivates people to a higher level of performance through strong human relations. It is an important function of management which helps to maximise efficiency and to achieve organisational goals, so managers must develop the traits of a leader.
These three short but effective Board Briefings should help anyone be a better leader.
Stepping up to a new leadership role is not an event, but a process closer to the long wandering journey of Ulysses to Ithaca. Most change gurus encourage you to start with the desired outcome in mind. But the reality is that knowing what kind of leader you want to become is last in the process. Living through the process is needed to arrive at a deep-seated understanding.
And it is rarely linear; difficulties and complications inevitably arise, often following the same sequence: disconfirmation, simple addition, complication, course correction, and finally internalisation.
When complications arise, reflect and integrate the new learning to increase your level of self-awareness. Major external moves such as changing jobs and careers do not necessarily take you to a better place.
More important is to break free from what the important people in your life think that you ought to be. Concentrate on the way you think about what you do and why. Question where you are today. Actively entertain alternatives, and only then commit to the change.
Professional firm CEOs and management experts were surveyed by the Forum and Rita McGrath, author of The End of Competitive Advantage, on the readiness of leaders for a world of transient advantage.
Overall, CEOs consider themselves to be 68% ready for a world of transient advantage, but their experts only scored them 53%. Specific scores were as follows, ranked by CEO priority:
Recognises existing advantages will come under pressure (67% ready per CEOs v 59% per experts)
Focuses on external trends (59% v 52%)
Prefers a culture that is fast and roughly right (70% v 50%)
Directs people at seizing opportunities (63% v 48%)
Prefers to shift to a new path (68% v 50%)
Prefers conversations that question the status quo (76% v 57%)
Seeks a broad understanding of the present (51% v 51%)
Prefers a wide set of criteria (70% v 46%)
Prefers to work with broad constituency (74% v 52%)
Prefers to be challenged (67% v 48%)
Engages in remedial action (83% v 70%)
Some of the variances are significant and no correlation emerged between CEO priorities and leadership mindset. This indicates that many leaders are seen by their teams as ill-suited for a world of transient advantage, in particular for a culture that is fast and roughly right.
Professional firm CEOs and management experts were surveyed by the Forum and Michael Watkins, author of The First 90 Days, on their effectiveness across his eight core capabilities of leadership.
Overall, CEOs consider themselves to be 80% effective as leaders, but their experts only scored them 67%. Specific scores were as follows, ranked by CEO priority:
Defining the vision and strategy (82% effective per CEOs v 68% per experts)
Initiating and leading needed change (84% v 69%)
Attracting, developing and retaining leadership talent (79% v 64%)
Identifying emerging threats and opportunities (80% v 68%)
Being a role model whom other leaders at the firm seek to emulate (84% v 63%)
Dealing with the firm's most important clients (74% v 73%)
Managing internal politics (79% v 72%)
Handling performance pressure in a constructive way (83% v 69%)
Some of these variances are significant and no correlation emerged between CEO priorities and perceived effectiveness. This indicates a degree of delusion – for example CEOs considered being a great role model to be their strongest capability, whereas experts considered it to be their weakest!
As regards increasing leadership effectiveness, leaders favoured people management and driving performance; experts preferred changing attitudes and getting buy in to the strategy; while managers favoured communication, consultation, collaboration, changing attitudes and training in leadership for leaders.