Finding hidden leaders

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on januari 31st, 2017 by admin

Organizations should learn to hunt, fish, and trawl for the best talent.

Searching for the next generation of business leaders represents one of the biggest headaches for any organization. Most, in our experience, rely on development programs that rotate visible high fliers, emphasizing the importance of leadership attributes such as integrity, collaboration, a results-driven orientation, and customer-oriented behavior. Many, understandably, also look outside the organization to fill key roles despite the costs and potential risks of hiring cultural misfits.

Far fewer, though, scan systematically for the hidden talent that often lurks unnoticed within their own corporate ranks. Sometimes those overlooked leaders remain invisible because of gender, racial, or other biases. Others may have unconventional backgrounds, be reluctant to put themselves forward, or have fallen off (or steered clear of) the standard development path. Regardless of the cause, it’s a wasted opportunity when good leaders are overlooked, and it can leave individuals feeling alienated and demotivated.

To identify promising candidates for promotion who are not on the list of usual suspects, companies need to apply more rigor and better tools than many currently use. Proactive efforts are the key—think “hunting” as opposed to “harvesting” those who present themselves. In this article, we describe the causes of the hidden-leader problem in more detail and propose a few techniques for addressing it. Some are technology enabled. And all are grounded in real-world experience like that of the global head of organizational development and talent management at one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, who told us recently, “We have increasingly been thinking about how to tap into our hidden leaders so as to unleash the full potential of the organization in a more systematic way.”

The rewards can be significant. Expanding a company’s leadership capacity is not only valuable in itself; it can be inspirational for the hidden leaders who are elevated and for those around them, bringing further benefits. As that same pharmaceutical-company executive observed, “Inspired employees are productive employees.”

Why leaders stay hidden
Most organizations we know have more leadership power within their ranks than they recognize. Some individuals quickly acquire reputations as rising stars and move up the ranks as if in a self-fulfilling prophecy. Others, for a variety of reasons, may miss the fast track. Some of these eventually leave in search of new pastures, while others stay behind, without ever reaching their full potential. Either way, the skills, knowledge, and energy they could bring to the company are lost. In our experience, there are three common reasons why leaders get overlooked, none of them easily overcome by the leadership-harvesting approaches prevalent at many organizations.

Persistent challenges
The first explanation is size: in large organizations, it’s easy for hidden talent to stay hidden or be drowned out by the noise of complex organizational processes. They could be in a business unit far from the corporate center or in a backroom job away from the action. They might be quiet and reluctant to push themselves forward, eclipsed by more forceful personalities. Yet they may perform exceptionally well in their jobs, collaborate effectively with colleagues, have extensive networks across the organization, or carry informal influence among their peers. In short, they are showing signs of leadership potential, but it remains untapped because they are shielded from senior managers.

Another reason why promising future leaders go unnoticed is bias in the selection process. As Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Carolyn Buck Luce, and Cornel West have shown, bias can be consciously or unconsciously based on race, ethnicity, or gender, or on age, when older employees are seen as past their prime. A language “deficit,” or even a strong accent, has been known to cause people in global organizations to be penalized, as has a failure to fit conventional cultural norms. Sometimes it might be merely a one-off bad experience on a project that taints a high-potential employee’s reputation. Or it could happen to someone who steps off the conventional path for personal reasons—for example, to have a child or care for an ill family member. Managers in most organizations, notwithstanding efforts to encourage diversity and inclusion, still tend to recognize, reward, and promote people who look and behave like them and who have followed similar paths, while neglecting others whose leadership potential may be equally impressive.

Finally, there is the problem of the narrow top-down lens that senior leaders often use when looking for leadership talent. Underlying this is the mistaken assumption that only those at the top of the organization know what great leadership looks like, or a narrow focus on leadership contexts specific to the organization and the particular role. This can crowd out other perspectives, such as what individuals have achieved outside the company or what people lower down in the organization see as examples of effective leadership. A narrow lens can also interact in subtle ways with bias, as was the case for the executive at a large technology company who found it difficult to understand why a female manager wasn’t seizing more opportunities to “demo” the company’s products at major events as he and other senior leaders had done during their rise up the ranks.

Disappointing harvests
Overcoming the obstacles of size, bias, and narrow lens is a management challenge of the first order. In our experience, the most common means of finding leaders in large organizations—what we call harvesting—is not up to the task. Harvesting assumes that the best, often with some help, will organically rise to prominence and can then be plucked and placed into leadership roles. There are many varieties of harvesting, but it essentially involves planting talented “seeds”—new hires—in the organization, giving them increasingly demanding tasks, providing training and support as they develop, allowing them opportunities to demonstrate their abilities, and choosing the best performers for the senior roles. Managers who do this best invest a large amount of time and energy in cultivation activities. There is a lot of value in this, and harvesting should remain a vital part of developing and selecting. But it does little to unearth hidden talent, because hidden talent, by its nature, includes individuals who for some reason are not on the standard advancement path and thus remain invisible to those relying on conventional processes.

How to spot your hidden leaders
Finding employees with the qualities to be tomorrow’s leaders requires more than harvesting talent and should include what we call “hunting,” “fishing,” and “trawling” (exhibit). These approaches are more proactive and involve, for example, turning over more stones than usual, encouraging leaders to identify themselves, and finding new ways to tap into the environments where people live and work.

When potential leaders refrain from identifying themselves or fail to follow a conventional path up the organizational ladder, companies have to look actively for them. One simple but effective approach is for managers explicitly to scan for promising individuals in their unit who are not currently on a list of high potentials. This forces them to shed at least some of their existing biases. It can pay to be specific—targeting, say, people who have demonstrated strong performance in a particular area. Once they have been identified, the next step is to devise a tailored approach for developing them. For example, a division leader at a global industrial-products company, when shown an all-male slate of potential leaders, sent managers back to their departments with an explicit mandate to discuss leadership opportunities with female employees, an exercise that produced several high-quality leaders who had not been recognized before. At a Chinese bank, senior leaders conducted a systematic review of all employees against key characteristics and leadership potential to match their compatibility with open positions and forced a ranking for each position. That effort helped the bank identify both hidden and more established leaders.

Technology increasingly supports a hunting mentality. Many personnel databases are sufficiently robust to enable scans of employees’ educational and training background, their work history, and leadership experiences outside the organization. Patterns often emerge, such as people with solid credentials who had a bad experience and never recovered, people who had a strong start but did not continue to grow, people with skills that have not been recognized or applied in the organization, or people adversely affected by the experience of working with a particular manager or in a particular part of the organization.

Google has led the way in using data to understand leader and team performance and to apply those lessons to identify and develop capable leaders. Over time, as sophisticated people analytics go mainstream, all organizations will be able to hunt more effectively. In the meantime, if existing databases won’t support strong pattern identification, there are work-arounds. A European bank we know is contemplating asking its employees for a waiver to access social-media data so as to better populate their HR database, which is currently of such poor quality that it cannot hunt for hidden talent.

If hunting is about proactively using new approaches to seek out hidden leaders, fishing involves using “bait” that encourages them to identify themselves. One idea we’ve seen work is to offer awards for atypical performance such as innovation or quality control. Awards for inspirational leadership (designed specifically for people who are not in formal leadership roles), for problem-solving skills (restricted to nonmanagers), or for global collaboration are all ways to root out unsung talent.

After years of rapid growth and a harvesting approach to leadership selection, LinkedIn discovered that it was promoting people with highly similar profiles. Earlier this year, it launched its Quiet Ambassadors program to help identify introverted leaders who do not fit the typical profile harvesters had been looking for in the past. While conventional wisdom has often associated extroversion with leadership skills, we know that quiet leaders can be equally effective. Highlighting these less common characteristics, along with the special recognition, encouraged introverts at LinkedIn to raise their hands. With the success of its first pilot, the company is rolling out the program more broadly in 2017.

Adecco, the global workforce-solutions provider, has been running its CEO for One Month program since 2011, initially at the local level and globally since 2014. The program offers work-based training opportunities for young people as the best way to help them boost their employability and step onto the career ladder. It soon revealed itself to be a great system to fish for hidden leaders outside the company, but the approach could work equally well to target an internal audience. In 2016, CEO for One Month elicited more than 54,000 applications, many of them highly talented young people. Regional selected candidates shadowed the Adecco country managers for a month, while the global CEO for One Month shadowed Adecco’s CEO, Alain Dehaze. The program has proven to be a gateway to future professional success, becoming also a highly successful talent-acquisition model, with several candidates hired at the local and group level.

Successful fishing depends on choosing the right bait, knowing what leadership attributes are needed, and designing a program accordingly. It’s counterproductive to arouse the expectations of leadership candidates only to discover that they don’t meet the company’s needs.

A third way to spot hidden talent is to dig more deeply and more broadly into employees’ work environments—something we call “trawling.” Doing this assumes that leadership capabilities are sometimes more apparent to peers and subordinates than to those at the top of the hierarchy. A low-tech approach, crowdsourcing at its most basic, is to ask people within the organization to nominate colleagues who have particular talents, then interview those nominated so as to find out more about their potential leadership strengths.

A more sophisticated approach uses social-network analysis to draw an accurate portrait of the real social networks within organizations, which tend to be quite different from the formal roles and processes written down on the organization chart. Some companies use employee surveys to determine which individuals play vital and influential roles in helping the organization to function effectively, regardless of their official positions. Once leaders know who these people are, they can assess their broader potential. After a merger, the executives of one global consumer-goods company provided data on their interactions with colleagues, such as who they contacted for which purpose, who provided the support they needed, and who inspired them in their daily work. The analysis revealed “super connectors” scattered across the organization who did things differently, such as participating in activities outside work, listening carefully, helping others, and networking externally.

Social-network analysis with “snowball sampling” (two- to three-minute surveys that ask participants to identify others who should take part in the research) is also a tool that can identify people most likely to catalyze—or sabotage—organizational change.

An American company that recently acquired a Japanese medical-devices business used a form of trawling to help determine what talent to retain from the target enterprise. It asked everyone to select up to ten people they trust and respect. The list of influencers identified in the survey was cross-referenced with annual review scores and sales performance (for sales reps). The positive influencers, some of whom had been under the radar previously, were offered leadership roles in the new organization.

Nothing here is intended to replace the foundational work of leadership development—notably a well-defined leadership model, widely adopted performance-management systems, and the support, feedback, development opportunities, training, leadership coaching, encouragement, and difficult conversations that great leaders bring to their roles. The three approaches suggested here—hunting, fishing, and trawling—should augment those existing activities and can be used in conjunction with one another or independently. Organizational leaders will first want to consider what is culturally acceptable and technologically feasible and should test different approaches and refine them as they learn.

By acknowledging that overlooked leaders can be identified through more proactive efforts, executives should be able to reshape their leadership culture, increase the available talent, save on recruiting costs, and raise retention rates. Higher levels of engagement, greater entrepreneurialism, and a more inclusive culture are less quantifiable but no less valuable benefits.

Source:, January 2017
Authors: Kevin Lane, Alexia Larmaraud and Emily Yueh
About the authors: Kevin Lane is the founder of KPL Partners and an alumnus of McKinsey’s Shanghai and Zurich offices; Alexia Larmaraud is a consultant in the Zurich office, where Emily Yueh is a partner.

The hidden toll of workplace incivility

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on januari 28th, 2017 by admin

Research shows that hurtful workplace behavior can depress performance, increase employee turnover, and even mar customer relationships.

As the workplace becomes faster-paced, more technologically complex, and culturally diverse, civility matters. Among other things, it helps dampen potential tensions and furthers information sharing and team building.
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Yet workplace incivility is rampant and on the rise. The accumulation of thoughtless actions that leave employees feeling disrespected—intentionally ignored, undermined by colleagues, or publicly belittled by an insensitive manager—can create lasting damage that should worry every organization. In research over the past 18 years, I have polled tens of thousands of workers worldwide about how they’re treated at work. Nearly half of those surveyed in 1998 reported they were treated rudely at least once a month, a figure which rose to 55 percent in 2011 and 62 percent in 2016. There’s no single reason for the trend. Workplace relationships may be fraying as fewer employees work in the office and feel more isolated and less respected. Some studies point to growing narcissism among younger workers.

Globalization may be causing cultural clashes that bubble beneath the surface. And in the digital age, messages are prone to communication gaps and misunderstanding—and unfortunately putdowns are easier when not delivered face to face.

Whatever the underlying causes, the costs of incivility rise as employee stress levels increase. Among the problem areas are the following:
•Workplace performance.
Nearly everybody who experiences workplace incivility somehow settles the score—with their offender and the organization. Of the nearly 800 managers and employees across 17 industries that I polled with Christine Pearson, a professor at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, those who didn’t feel respected performed worse. Forty-seven percent of those who were treated poorly deliberately decreased the time spent at work, and 38 percent said they intentionally decreased the quality of their work. Not surprisingly, 66 percent admitted their performance declined and 78 percent said their commitment to the organization had declined. Part of the performance penalty is related to how employees internalize stress levels. Eighty percent lost work time worrying about the incident, and 63 percent lost work time in their effort to avoid the offender.

•Employee turnover.
Many losses go undetected when employees leave the organization. Typically those who quit in response to an experience of bad behavior don’t tell their employers why. Turnover costs add up quickly: an estimated twice an employee’s annual salary in the case of high-level employees.
In our survey, of those treated poorly 12 percent said they had left their job because of the uncivil treatment.

•Customer experience.
Incivility may take a toll on customer relationships. My research with Valerie Folkes and Debbie MacInnis at the University of Southern California shows that many consumers are less likely to buy anything from a company they perceive as uncivil, whether the rudeness is directed at them or other employees. Witnessing one quick negative interaction leads to generalizations about other employees, the organization, and even the brand. In my survey with Pearson, 25 percent of those experiencing uncivil behavior admitted to taking their frustrations out on customers.

When people feel disrespected, it eats away at them—and their potential. Engagement, teamwork, knowledge sharing, innovation, and contributions wane even among those who choose to work around the slights. In short, incivility kills helpfulness and collaboration. In experiments, I’ve found that when employees are exposed to rudeness, they are three times less likely to help others and their willingness to share drops by more than half. Civility, on the other hand, enhances individual contributions and team performance by increasing the feeling of “psychological safety.” Team environments become trusting, respectful, and safe places to take risks. In one test, psychological safety increased by 35 percent when people were offered a suggestion civilly as compared with uncivilly, for example in an interaction marked by inconsiderate interruption.

To be sure, the magnitude of the costs and disruptions will depend upon the degree of incivility. Abusive behaviors, for example, will cause deeper damage to the organization than milder forms such as slights. Companies will need to adjust their remedies accordingly.

Some practical steps

My research with Alexandra Gerbasi of the University of Surrey and Andrew Parker of the University of Kentucky shows that de-energizing relationships—those that are negative or draining—have a four to seven times stronger negative impact on performance than the positive effects of relationships that are energizing (defined as leaving employees feeling enthused or upbeat). Where possible, weed out toxic people before they join your organization. Interview for civility, using structured interviews with behavioral questions. Check references thoroughly, but also go beyond provided references, chasing down leads and hunches.

Make it clear to employees that they need to hold their managers and colleagues accountable for living up to your norms of civility. When asked why they were uncivil, more than 25 percent of those I surveyed blamed their organization for not providing them with the basic skills they needed. To teach employees these skills, you might offer training on giving and receiving feedback (positive and corrective), working across cultural differences, and dealing with difficult people. Coaching on negotiation, stress management, crucial conversations, and mindfulness can help as well. Develop a set of civility metrics to assure that change is sustained.

Leadership is crucial. In my research, the number-one attribute that garnered commitment and engagement from employees was respect from their leaders. In fact, no other leadership behavior had a bigger effect on employees across the outcomes measured. Being treated with respect was more important to employees than recognition and appreciation, communicating an inspiring vision, providing useful feedback, or even providing opportunities for learning, growth, and development.

The research found that those getting respect from their leaders reported much higher levels of health and well-being; derived greater enjoyment, satisfaction, and meaning from their jobs; and had better focus and a greater ability to prioritize. Those feeling respected were also much more likely to engage with work tasks and more likely to stay with their organizations.

While these interventions and changes in leadership mind-sets can help rebalance an already uncivil environment, it’s also important to note that promoting organizational health more broadly may be the best way to keep the early shoots of incivility from taking hold. Organizations that neglect values, role model inappropriate behavior, fail to instill meaning at work, or don’t take collaboration seriously will be fertile soil for problem behavior. When organizations address these issues systematically, more civility will follow.

A final thought: in a period of continuous corporate change, injecting more civility can help companies navigate the uncertainty and volatility. My research suggests that employees who feel that they’re being treated respectfully are also much more motivated to embrace and drive change.

Source:, January 2017
Authors:Christine Porath
About the author: Christine Porath is an associate professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University and is the author of Mastering Civility (Grand Central Publishing, 2016).

Tips for effective delegation

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on januari 23rd, 2017 by admin

Your leadership style is situational. Your leadership style depends on the task, the team or individual’s capabilities and knowledge, the time and tools available and the results desired. In a recent article, I reviewed the tell, sell, consult, join and delegate #leadership style model.

As a supervisor, manager or team leader, you make daily decisions about the appropriate leadership style to employ in each work situation.
You want to foster employee involvement and employee empowerment to enable your team members to contribute their best effort at work.

These tips for successful delegation of authority will help you help your reporting staff members succeed when they are most empowered. And, when they succeed, you succeed. Never let yourself forget the intertwined nature of workplace success.
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#Leadership Style Tips
•Whenever possible, when delegating work, give the person a whole task to do. (If you can’t give the employee a whole task, make sure that they understand the overall purpose of the project or task that the task you assign them is part of. If possible, connect them to the group that is managing or planning the work. Staff members contribute most effectively when they are aware of the big picture.)
•Employees are more effective performers when they feel part of something that is bigger than themselves. By giving them the whole and complete picture, you ensure that they feel as if they are a part of the whole initiative. This makes them feel more important in the scheme of things.
People who know the goals, the expectations and the outcomes expected make better decisions about their own work because they have a context within which they are making decisions.

•Make sure the staff person understands exactly what you want them to do. Ask questions, watch the work performed or have the employee give you feedback to make sure that your instructions were understood.

No one wants to do the wrong thing or watch their efforts and contribution fail to make an impact. So, make sure that you and the employee share meaning on the objectives and desired outcomes from each task you delegate.

•If you have a picture of what a successful outcome or output will look like, share your picture with the staff person. You want to make the person right. You don’t want to fool the person to whom you delegate authority for a task, into believing that any outcome will do unless you really feel that way. Your employees would rather that you share exactly what you are looking for than that you make them play guess.
•Identify the key points of the project or dates when you want feedback about progress. This is the critical path that provides you with the feedback you need without causing you to micromanage your direct report or team. You need assurance that the delegated task or project is on track.

You also need the opportunity to influence the project’s direction and the team or individual’s decisions. If you designate this critical path from the beginning, your employees are also less likely to feel micromanaged or as if you are watching over their shoulder each step of the way.
•Identify the measurements or the outcome you will use to determine that the project was successfully completed. (This will make performance development planning more measurable and less subjective, too.)

•Determine, in advance, how you will thank and reward the staff person for their successful completion of the task or project you delegated. The recognition reinforces the employee’s positive self image, sense of accomplishment, and belief that he or she is a key contributor.

The successful delegation of authority as a leadership style takes time and energy, but it’s worth the time and energy to help employee involvement and employee empowerment succeed as a leadership style. It’s worth the time and energy to help employees succeed, develop and meet your expectations. You build the employee’s self-confidence and people who feel successful usually are successful.

Source:, April 2016
Author: Susan M. Heathfield

How to accelerate gender diversity on boards

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete on januari 18th, 2017 by admin

Slow progress in adding more women to boards has dominated the conversation. But tips from standout companies are more likely to inspire others to take firmer action.

The tone of much public discourse on the issue of women’s representation on boards has been pessimistic of late, and understandably so, given the crawl toward gender parity in the United States. Women currently hold 19 percent of board positions there, while in European countries such as France, Norway, and Sweden, where legislative or voluntary targets are in place, they hold more than 30 percent.

That said, some progressive companies are taking the lead, looking for female board members in new places and bringing them on board in new ways. Many feel they still have a long way to go, but their experiences are salutary for those that are lagging behind and want to better understand how to make change happen.

We recently conducted an analysis of companies in the S&P 500 to identify top performers in board diversity, defined as those with the highest percentage of women on their boards as of August 2016. It showed that women occupied at least 33 percent of board seats among the top 50 companies (up to nearly 60 percent for the highest percentage). In all, female representation on those boards has increased on average by 24 percentage points since 2005.

We then conducted a series of interviews with the CEOs and board chairs from a number of those standout companies, as well as some European businesses that have made similar progress. (For in-depth insights from executives at some of these companies, see “Straight talk about gender diversity in the boardroom and beyond.”) Our goal was to hear directly from them about their gender-diversity journeys—the challenges they’ve faced, the best practices they’ve adopted, and the benefits that they continue to reap from increased representation of women, as well as other minorities, on their boards. What follows is a set of best practices, although by no means an exhaustive one.
McKinsey board gender

Change the mind-set
Even laggards acknowledge that increasing the percentage of women in the workforce and on boards is the right thing to do. But general conviction isn’t sufficient. What’s too often missing, says Fabrizio Freda, president and CEO of the Estée Lauder Companies, is a sense of urgency: “People believe we are going to get there eventually. But that is not enough; it’s too slow. The real obstacle is the lack of urgency.” (For more on Freda’s efforts at Estée Lauder, see “Straight talk about gender diversity in the boardroom and beyond.”) Freda was one of many executives we interviewed who insisted that meaningful change will come only when executives make fewer excuses and work together quickly. What’s needed are purpose and intention—a set of goals and motivations that will underpin decision making. For some, that has meant establishing a target number of board positions for women, while others take care to ensure that the list of candidates is diverse from the beginning, without adherence to a static quota. As Mary Dillon, CEO of Ulta, explains, “To maintain or expand diversity on our board, we continue to make an active effort to make sure that the slate is diverse. Just the act of being cognizant, and having it top of mind that every slate has to have diversity, will drive action.” Leaders at both Genpact and Microsoft underscored the importance of flexibility, recounting how their searches to fill one board seat yielded two highly qualified women, so they just decided to bring both of them on board.

Expand your criteria
Despite their best efforts, some companies cite the small pool of female executives as a continuing challenge. And they add that specific criteria for expertise in areas such as digital technology narrows the field even further.

Overcoming this reality of unequal numbers requires openness to creative solutions. One is to move beyond the standard practice of focusing a search on executives with prior board experience. Dan McCarthy, president and CEO of Frontier Communications, notes that many of the women on his board were first-time directors. “We were willing to take risks on individuals—we look for someone who has the ability to move from the tactical to the strategic—and it has turned out to be great.” (For more on McCarthy’s experiences, see “Straight talk about gender diversity in the boardroom and beyond.”)

This approach can be particularly helpful for small- and mid-cap companies that struggle to compete with large corporations for high-profile candidates. Genpact president and CEO Tiger Tyagarajan observes that “some people may prefer to join the board of a mid-cap company, where they can actually be more engaged and have an impact on the company’s strategy, versus a large company, where more time may be spent on general governance issues.” Leaders also tell us that looking beyond current or former CEOs and C-suite executives for candidates in other spheres such as law, academia, and the social sector can be rewarding as well, creating a rich balance of perspectives at the table. Ultimately, it’s about defining what is nonnegotiable, such as digital or finance expertise, and then seeing what is flexible so as to deliver on gender-diversity goals and to meet specific challenges.

Maintain an active pipeline
Effectively creating and cultivating an active pipeline of female candidates is arguably the single most important element of a successful board-inclusion effort. When conducting a search, this means relying on both personal networks and search firms to identify candidates. Relying only on the former, particularly where a board is composed primarily of men, risks perpetuating the candidate slates from the old-boys’ network of yore; relying solely on search firms can produce highly qualified candidates who are not particularly suited to the personal dynamics of the board. A little patience may also be necessary. As John Thompson, chairman of Microsoft, points out, some of the best candidates may take two or three years to cultivate. By taking the trouble to get to know potential candidates, even those who may not be available for some time, companies will establish foundations for the long term. Companies that are open about their quest for diversity, meanwhile, will also benefit in the long run. Michael Roth, chairman and CEO of IPG, told us his reputation as a male champion for diversity had prompted a search firm to send him a qualified female board candidate proactively, even though he hadn’t initiated a search engagement with them.

Make the case
The leaders we interviewed had long since crossed the bridge of understanding the benefits of gender diversity, but their experiences provide a useful checklist for those still trying to convince the skeptics:

Board diversity helps to draw in and motivate talented employees. As Genpact’s Tiger Tyagarajan explains, “To attract the best talent into the company, you need to appeal to 100 percent of the top talent, not 50 percent. To do that, you need strong female role models.”
Boards that represent the customer base have better intuition. For retailers in particular, the reality is that women make up more than half of global purchasers. Board diversity is simply better business.
A diverse board boosts decision-making quality. As Scott Anderson, chairman, president, and CEO of Patterson Companies, states, “The quality of discussions goes up dramatically when you have a more diverse group in the boardroom.” Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO of Kroger, adds that “you get questions from perspectives that you hadn’t thought of before, and I think this helps you avoid more blind spots.”
Several of our interviewees emphasized that getting more women on boards isn’t the end of the story. For starters, board diversity is not just about gender. As McMullen explains, “I always think diversity of background is important, but also diversity of experiences, thinking, and career paths.” Marc Lautenbach, president and CEO of Pitney Bowes, puts it this way: “While we don’t have a specific number in mind, we do have an appreciation for the value that diversity can bring. To my mind, it’s a little bit like assembling an orchestra. I know I need a bunch of different instruments; whether I have three of one and two of the other, or three of one and three of the other—that misses the point. It’s about how all of the instruments blend together.”

It’s important to recognize, of course, that broader gender inclusion at all levels of the company is critical. Companies can drive board inclusion by preparing their own female executives for future board participation: placing them in roles with profit-and-loss responsibility, ensuring they have committed mentors and sponsors, and equipping them with the knowledge and skills needed to confront the governance and strategy issues that boards typically face. This can create a virtuous cycle that speeds progress on board diversity and counteracts cynicism with success stories such as those in our survey.

Source:, January 2017
Authors: Celia Huber and Sara O’Rourke
About the authors: Celia Huber is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Silicon Valley office, and Sara O’Rourke is a consultant in the Washington, DC, office.

Håll ditt nyårslöfte!

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on januari 17th, 2017 by admin

7 steg som hjälper dig att hålla nyårslöftet
SMARTER-metoden är en metod i sju steg som hjälper dig att hålla ditt löfte.

De flesta av oss startar det nya året med att avge nyårslöften. Energin, viljan och motivationen är stark inför det nya året och den nya nyarsloftestarten. För en stund är man övertygad att man kan nå dit. Men när veckorna övergår i månader, blir det allt tydligare att man egentligen inte har kommit någonstans. Livet, stressen och frestelser har ingripit.

Varför misslyckas då fler än nio av tio nyårslöften*?

Orsaken är att mål inte kan uppnås genom att drömma om dem i huvudet. Det skriver författaren R.L. Adams i Entrepreneur. Det som behövs är en ordentlig plan för att nå ett stort mål och lyckas med en förändring. Det gäller att sätta målen på rätt sätt och se till att de följs upp regelbundet.

Här är de 7 stegen
Här är de 7 stegen i “SMARTER”-metoden, enligt Entrepreneur:

1. (S)pecifikt mål
Det första steget är att vara väldigt specifik med din målsättning. Om du vill spara till en lägenhet; vilken summa ska du sikta på? Samma med viktnedgång; hur mycket vill du tappa? Skriv ner ditt mål och bryt ner det i mindre beståndsdelar. När målet är konkret och uttalat ökar chansen för att det blir verklighet.

2. (M)eningsfullt mål
Det är mycket lättare att nå ett mål när det känns meningsfullt, när målet är större än bara du. Kan du involvera dina vänner, eller någon allmännytta i ditt mål? “Skriv ner varför ditt mål är meningsfullt för dig. Gör det noggrant. Det måste ha en djupgående mening; annars kommer du inte att göra de uppoffringar som krävs” skriver Entrepreneur.

3. Välj mål som är utförbara – “(A)chievable
Det är bra att ha höga målsättningar i livet. Men för att de ska vara genomförbart är ett knep att bryta ner drömmen i mindre, genomförbara delar. Du behöver alltså en detaljerad och tidsbunden plan – som måste följas.

4. Målet måste vara (R)elevant
Är ditt mål enigt med dina värderingar? Kommer det att bidra till självuppfyllelse? Om svaret är ja, då har du hittat ett relevant mål. “Om du innerst inne tycker att rika människor är oärliga, då kan det bli svårt för dig att uppfylla ett mål som gäller stora mängder pengar.” Ta en stund och skriv ner dina värderingar, så kommer du lättare att förstå vad som är ett relevant mål för dig.

5. Målet måste vara (T)idsbundet
Vi har bara en begränsad tid att uppfylla mål, använd det som bränsle. Samla på dig disciplinen att hålla dig till tidsramen för ditt mål. Uppfyllda delmål ökar motivationen: Om du vill gå ner 6 kilo under året, måste du se till att du tappa minst 0.5 kilo per månad. Samma princip gäller för alla mål.

6. Du bör (E)valuera dina framsteg
Ju noggrannare du följer upp och utvärderar dina framsteg, desto mer sannolikt är det att du uppnår målet. Det är bra att göra en utvärdering dagligen eller veckovis. Det ger dig en överblick, och möjligheten att justera din insats.

7. (R)evidera din metod för att nå målet
Det är oerhört viktigt att justera din insats efter omständigheterna. Om du hamnar efter din ursprungliga plan, måste du se till att öka takten så att du kommer ikapp.

“Våra mål är som att flyga ett plan”, skriver Entrepreneur. För att nå slutdestinationen, måste man veta vart man ska och vart man befinner sig för tillfället. Sen låter man autopiloten styra och gör små justeringar på vägen när turbulensen och stormen slår till, håll ut så kommer du till slut nå det långsiktiga målet.

Det låter enkelt, men utmaningen är att verkligen genomföra det. Du är på god väg att uppfylla ditt stora mål. LYCKA TILL!

*Visar en studie från University of Scranton, skriver Entrepreneur. Samma studie visar att en tredjedel av nyårslöftena har misslyckats redan efter en månad. Efter ett halvår har 54 procent gett upp.

Källa:, januari 2017

Leadership in context

Posted in Aktuellt, Executive Coaching, Leadership / Ledarskap on januari 11th, 2017 by admin

Organizational health matters more than you might expect.

Great leaders complicate leadership development—a notion that may seem paradoxical until you stop and consider just how much has been written about Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Golda Meir, Ernest Shackleton, and countless other celebrated leaders. The sheer volume is overwhelming, and the lessons that emerge from one leader’s experience may be completely inapplicable to another’s.

The complications run deeper for business leaders. In the corporate context, effectiveness depends less on the traits of any one executive (or of that person’s direct reports) and more on a company’s competitive challenges, legacies, and other shifting forces. If only we had a clear set of keys to effective organizational leadership—a “decoder ring” to understand which practices produce the best outcomes. Our latest research, however, does point to one major element of the equation: organizational health. For people seeking to lead companies effectively and for organizations seeking to develop managers who can deploy different kinds of leadership behavior when appropriate, recognizing and responding to a company’s health is far more important than following scripts written by or about great leaders. And that’s true even of great leaders whose circumstances might, on the surface, seem relevant under a given set of conditions.

helathyTo be sure, certain normative qualities, such as demonstrating a concern for people and offering a critical perspective, will always be part of what it takes to be a leader. But the importance of other elements, such as keeping groups on task and bringing out the best in others, vary in importance depending upon an organization’s circumstances. Organizational health changes over time. Effective situational leadership adapts to these changes by identifying and marshaling the kinds of behavior needed to transition a company from its present state to a stronger, healthier one.

How healthy are we?
All this presupposes, of course, that leaders have an accurate sense of how healthy their organizations are. Developing such a view is easier said than done: it’s only natural for leaders to overestimate the health of their organizations and the effectiveness of their leadership, given the way many of them identify with their companies and roles. In our experience, too many executives default to describing their companies as good and striving to be great. But this can’t be true; by definition, more companies can’t be above the median line of organizational health than below it. When we examine survey data through the lens of the different levels of an organization, we find that leading executives typically have more favorable views of its health than do its line workers—who are, after all, much closer to the true center of gravity.

What’s more, surveys, interviews, and a significant amount of honest self-reflection all go into more robust assessments of organizational health. Since a rigorous self-diagnosis isn’t always possible, we’ve developed some rules of thumb. These move a bit beyond guesswork and provide a more informed sense of what it feels like to be in one type of company or another; for a broad approximation, take McKinsey’s nine-question quiz, “How healthy is your organization?” In ailing organizations, for example, the leadership tends to rely on very detailed instructions and monitoring—a symptom of excessively tight control. A healthier organization’s leadership, by contrast, shows greater support for colleagues and subordinates, and sensitivity to their needs. And the leaders at elite organizations challenge employees to aspire higher still by setting stretch goals that inspire them to reach their full potential.

The situational-leadership staircase
To explore the effectiveness of different kinds of leadership behavior at companies in different states of organizational health, we surveyed more than 375,000 people from 165 organizations across multiple industries and geographies. Drawing both from our own work experience and from evolving academic research, we focused on more than 20 distinct kinds of behavior that cover a broad range of leadership characteristics and appear, at least under certain circumstances, to correlate closely with strong corporate performance.1
Analytically, we studied organizational health and leadership effectiveness in turn. First, health: We sorted companies into organizational-health quartiles, then observed which leadership behaviors were most prevalent in each quartile. We were particularly interested in identifying leadership behaviors that were almost always present (as it turned out, there weren’t many), and those that were more (or less) prevalent, depending upon an organization’s current state of health. Next, we repeated the quartile approach but this time, we focused not on health but on leadership effectiveness. Which behaviors did respondents perceive to be most effective? The purpose was to address the possibility that we were giving too much prominence to behaviors exhibited at companies that were otherwise healthy, but which survey recipients thought were ineffective practices nevertheless. Instead, we sought to identify behaviors that matched organizational health with perceived leadership effectiveness, and to isolate those behaviors that were most effective in different situations.

The analysis yielded what we call a leadership staircase—a pyramid of behavior analogous to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In our hierarchy, like similar ones, some kinds of behavior are always essential. As organizational health improves, quartile to quartile, additional behaviors become apparent. More tellingly, some appear to be differentiators: emphasizing them in different situations can lift the organizational health of a fourth-quartile company to the third quartile, a third-quartile company to the second quartile, and so on. This staircase model aligns squarely with our own real-world observations.

Baseline behavior
For companies at every level above the truly dysfunctional, a set of threshold forms of behavior appears to be essential. We call them “baseline behavior.” Others may also be called for, depending upon an organization’s state of health, but the following practices are appropriate no matter what a company’s health may be: effectiveness at facilitating group collaboration, demonstrating concern for people, championing desired change, and offering critical perspectives. The absence of such fundamentals of healthy interpersonal interaction invites disorder; shoring up these behaviors, on the other hand, serves to keep organizations from sliding backward into organizational trouble. But in themselves, they don’t spell the difference between mediocre and top-tier organizational health. Companies need additional practices to climb the staircase.

Companies in the lowest (fourth) health quartile confront stark—even existential—challenges, such as low levels of innovation, declining customer loyalty, wilting employee morale, the loss of major talent, and critical cash constraints. Typically, these companies lack some or even all of the baseline forms of behavior. Implementing the full complement is essential. But under trying conditions, our research suggests, the most effective forms of leadership behavior are making fact-based decisions, solving problems effectively, and focusing positively on recovery. Ironically, these additional behaviors are often the opposite of what distressed organizations actually do. Leaders at too many fourth-quartile companies, in their urgency to act, seek quick top-down fixes (such as replacing senior executives one or more times) but forego granular, fact-based analyses or well-rooted strategies. Those missteps often mark a company in its death spiral.

No doubt it’s a bit dangerous to draw too many lessons from well-known historical examples; memories are selective, and researchers can easily see what they want. Yet we’re struck by the parallels between these findings and the experiences of IBM in the early 1990s and of Continental Airlines later that decade. When Lou Gerstner, hired from the outside, took over as the new chairman and CEO of a then–deeply troubled IBM, he prioritized clear, fact-based problem solving. One measure of this mandate was his insistence that the executive team essentially abandon slide presentations and submit plans in jargon-free prose. He also refused to accept the idea that the company’s decline, partition, or even liquidation was inevitable. The ability to see the facts clearly and to demonstrate resilience helped Gerstner and his team to break a long downward slide, reconsider a product category previously dismissed as obsolete, and turn what many had presumed to be an inevitable asset breakup into a new trajectory for growth. The leadership’s mind-set, moreover, became ingrained in the enterprise; members of Gerstner’s team who rode out the reorganization bought into his practices, and passed many of them on to their own working teams.

So too at Continental: morale had been so broken that workers were reportedly tearing the Continental logo off their uniforms to avoid being recognized as company employees off the job. As part of the company’s turnaround, members of the new leadership team embraced effective attitudes and behaviors, drilled down to assess profitability on a route-by-route and flight-by-flight basis, and took decisive action grounded in reality. In fact, this uncompromising focus on facts led then-COO Greg Brenneman to discover, over Thanksgiving, that the company would run out of cash in less than two months. With spirited resilience, the leadership team eliminated unprofitable routes, implemented specific initiatives for recovery (such as bonuses for on-time departures), and brought a loss maker into the black within 12 months

Moving on up
Our research and experience suggests that a major differentiating leadership characteristic of companies on the upswing is the ability to take practices that are already used at some levels of the organization and use them more systematically, more reliably, and more quickly. This shift calls for behavior that places a special emphasis on keeping groups on task and orienting them toward well-defined results. Such situations also favor leaders who embrace agility and seek different perspectives to help ensure that their companies don’t overlook possibly better ways of doing things. But under these circumstances, qualities (such as the ability to motivate and bring out the best in others and to model company values) found at the top tier of organizational health typically have a less pronounced effect.

A US-based financial-services company we know supplies a practical example. Its leadership aspired to strengthen the organization’s financial performance, innovate in the core business, and use an integrated package of health, performance, and leadership initiatives to capture more value at risk. At the outset, this company’s organizational health was in the third quartile—below the median. Key challenges included a lack of clear objectives or accountability (highlighted by committees with muddled or overlapping missions; poor development and career opportunities for high performers; and weak management of financials, operations, and risk (reflected, among other ways, by the absence of robust metrics). Exacerbating these problems, the leadership’s approach to running the company was pervasively top down.

To meet the challenges, the leaders implemented an integrated set of health and performance initiatives—for example, they developed clear standards and outcomes to clarify day-to-day tasks. The company made its objectives (and the consequences of not achieving them) transparent by articulating a forceful strategic vision marked by specific operating goals and milestones. The leadership also aimed to foster bottom-up, employee-driven solutions and actively encourage new perspectives. Although many things went right for this company beyond its walls, these internal moves undoubtedly strengthened it, and the results were tangible. Within two years, it had achieved its topline objectives in health, performance, and leadership, and its stock price had increased by 250 percent.

Why not start at the top?
If identifiable forms of leadership behavior are associated with companies in the higher quartiles, can an organization in the lower ones apply them immediately and leap to the top? Our research and experience suggest that attempts to do so typically end poorly. Emphasizing kinds of behavior that are not attuned to an organization’s specific situation can waste time and resources and reinforce bad behavior. Worse, it can make an upgrade to a higher health quartile even more difficult. This makes intuitive sense: the leaders of a company in deep trouble should not prioritize, for example, modeling organizational values, a first-quartile behavior.

We observed one cautionary example at a joint venture that ended badly for a number of related health, performance, and leadership reasons. Its board installed a highly charismatic leader with an outsized focus on top quartile–style motivational behavior. He traveled globally with his chairperson, for example, touting the joint venture’s “premium on innovation” and declaring that despite its merger-like characteristics, there was a “job for everyone” who was passionate about its vision. Unfortunately, at the time of these pronouncements, the organization had done little groundwork on critical issues of integration, including the difficult how-tos of harmonizing disparate IT systems and organizational cultures. Both legacy organizations responded by continuing to execute and perform as if nothing had changed. There was evidence they hoped that nothing ever would.

The joint venture responded to missing its first-quarter targets by setting even more ambitious ones. It handed accountability to the executive responsible for sales and marketing, but no root-cause analyses were undertaken. When it discovered a cash crisis, it made no credible efforts to craft a practical response; instead, the top executive continued to trumpet his mission throughout his global visits. But a “job for everyone” fell victim to the joint venture’s alarming cash position, which forced mass layoffs, and with them came the end of the leadership’s credibility. The venture was dissolved after just over a year of misguided operation.

Even the best scripts can ring hollow in the wrong settings. Our research suggests that the most effective leadership behavior reflects the state of a company’s organizational health. Top-management teams that are serious about developing vibrant businesses and effective leaders must be prepared to look inward, assess the organization’s health objectively, and ask themselves frankly whether their leadership behavior is strong enough in the ways that matter most at the time. This question has implications not just for developing but also for assessing a company’s leaders. However much an executive may seem to have a leadership “it” factor, the organization’s health, not the claims of individuals, should come first when companies determine which kinds of behavior will be most effective for them. In short, they should spotlight different sets of actions in different situations. Fortunately for aspiring leaders, they don’t have to do everything at once.

Source:, 2016
Authors: Michael Bazigos, Chris Gagnon and Bill Schaninger
About the authors: Michael Bazigos, head of organizational science at McKinsey, is based in its New York office; Chris Gagnon is a principal in the New Jersey office; and Bill Schaninger is a director in the Philadelphia office.