What’s missing in leadership development?

Posted in Aktuellt, Leadership / Ledarskap on August 14th, 2017 by admin

Only a few actions matter, and they require the CEO’s attention.

Organizations have always needed leaders who are good at recognizing emerging challenges and inspiring organizational responses. That need is intensifying today as leaders confront, among other things, digitization, the surging power of data as a competitive weapon, and the ability of artificial intelligence to automate the workplace and enhance business performance. These technology-driven shifts create an imperative for most organizations to change, which in turn demands more and better leaders up and down the line.

Unfortunately, there is overwhelming evidence that the plethora of services, books, articles, seminars, conferences, and TED-like talks purporting to have the answers—a global industry estimated to be worth more than $50 billion—are delivering disappointing results. According to a recent Fortune survey, only 7 percent of CEOs believe their companies are building effective global leaders, and just 10 percent said that their leadership-development initiatives have a clear business impact. Our latest research has a similar message: only 11 percent of more than 500 executives we polled around the globe strongly agreed with the statement that their leadership-development interventions achieve and sustain the desired results.

In our survey, we asked executives to tell us about the circumstances in which their leadership-development programs were effective and when they were not. We found that much needs to happen for leadership development to work at scale, and there is no “silver bullet” that will singlehandedly make the difference between success and failure.

That said, statistically speaking, four sets of interventions appear to matter most: contextualizing the program based on the organization’s position and strategy, ensuring sufficient reach across the organization, designing the program for the transfer of learning, and using system reinforcement to lock in change. This is the first time we have amassed systematic data on the interventions that seem to drive effective leadership-development programs. Interestingly, the priorities identified by our research are to a large extent mirror images of the most common mistakes that businesses make when trying to improve the capabilities of their managers. Collectively, they also help emphasize the central role of technology today in necessitating and enabling strong leadership development.

Focus on the shifts that matter
In our survey, executives told us that their organizations often fail to translate their company’s strategy into a leadership model specific to their needs (whether it is, say, to support a turnaround, a program of acquisitions, or a period of organic growth). Conversely, organizations with successful leadership-development programs were eight times more likely than those with unsuccessful ones to have focused on leadership behavior that executives believed were critical drivers of business performance.1
The implications are clear for organizations seeking to master today’s environment of accelerating disruption: leadership-development efforts must be animated by those new strategic imperatives, translating them into growth priorities for individual managers, with empathy for the degree of change required. An important piece of the puzzle is enhancing the ability of leaders to adapt to different situations and adjust their behavior (something that requires a high degree of self-awareness and a learning mind-set). Leaders with these attributes are four times more prepared to lead amidst change.

Make it an organizational journey, not cohort specific
Ensuring sufficient reach across the organization has always been important to the success of leadership-development efforts. Organizations with successful programs were six to seven times more likely than their less successful peers to pursue interventions covering the whole organization, and to design programs in the context of a broader leadership-development strategy. The same went for companies whose leadership strategy and model reached all levels of the organization.

Achieving sufficient reach amidst today’s rapid change is challenging: most leadership-development programs are typically of short duration (a few weeks to several months), sporadic, and piecemeal—making it difficult for the program to keep up with changes in the organization’s priorities, much less develop a critical mass of leaders ready to pursue them.

Fortunately, technology isn’t just stimulating the need for change; it’s also enabling faster, more flexible, large-scale learning on digital platforms that can host tailored leadership development, prompt leaders to work on specific kinds of behavior, and create supportive communities of practice, among other possibilities.

Design for the transfer of learning
Technology can also help companies break out of the “teacher and classroom” (facilitator and workshop) model that so many still rely on, maximizing the value and organizational impact of what is taught and learned. Fast-paced digital learning is easier to embed in the day-to-day work flows of managers. Every successful leader tells stories of how he or she developed leadership capabilities by dealing with a real problem in a specific context, and our survey provides supporting evidence for these anecdotes: companies with successful leadership-development programs were four to five times more likely to require participants to apply their learnings in new settings over an extended period and to practice them in their job.

This is just one of several modern adult-learning principles grounded in neuroscience that companies can employ to speed the behavior and mind-set shifts leaders need to thrive in today’s fast-changing environment. Others include learning through a positive frame (successful leadership developers were around three times more likely to allow participants to build on a strength rather than correcting a development area), and providing coaching that encourages introspection and self-discovery (which also was three times more prevalent among successful leadership developers).

Embedding change
Leadership-development efforts have always foundered when participants learn new things, but then return to a rigid organization that disregards their efforts for change or even actively works against them. Given the pace of change today, adapting systems, processes, and culture that can support change-enabling leadership development is critically important. Technology can support organizational interventions that accelerate the process. For example, blogs, video messages, and social-media platforms help leaders engage with many more people as they seek to foster understanding, create conviction, and act as role models for the desired leadership behavior and competencies.

Also critical are formal mechanisms (such as the performance-management system, the talent-review system, and shifts in organizational structure) for reinforcing the required changes in competencies.2 In our latest research, we found that successful leadership-development programs were roughly five to six times more likely to involve senior leaders acting as project sponsors, mentors, and coaches and to encompass adaptations to HR systems aimed at reinforcing the new leadership model. Data-enabled talent-management systems—popularized by Google and often referred to as people analytics—can increase the number of people meaningfully evaluated against new competencies and boost the precision of that evaluation.

Most CEOs have gotten religion about the impact of accelerating disruption and the need to adapt in response. Time and again, though, we see those same CEOs forgetting about the need to translate strategy into specific organizational capabilities, paying lip service to their talent ambitions, and delegating responsibility to the head of learning with a flourish of fine words, only for that individual to complain later about lack of support from above. To be fair, CEOs are pulled in many directions, and they note that leadership development often doesn’t make an impact on performance in the short run.

At the same time, we see many heads of learning confronting CEOs with a set of complex interwoven interventions, not always focusing on what matters most.

But as the pace of change for strategies and business models increases, so does the cost of lagging leadership development. If CEOs and their top teams are serious about long-term performance, they need to commit themselves to the success of corporate leadership-development efforts now. Chief human-resource officers and heads of learning need to simplify their programs, focusing on what really matters.

Source: McKinsey.com, August 2017
By: Claudio Feser, Nicolai Nielsen and Michael Rennie
About the authors:Claudio Feser is a senior partner in McKinsey’s Zurich office; Nicolai Nielsen is an associate partner in the Dubai office, where Michael Rennie is a senior partner.
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How CEOs can work with an active board

Posted in Aktuellt, Board work / Styrelsearbete, Executive Coaching on August 10th, 2017 by admin

At companies of almost all sizes, across all sectors, boards are undergoing a profound transformation. Largely as a result of intensifying shareholder intolerance of mediocre or poor corporate performance, the ceremonial boards of the past are being replaced by active boards that are more demanding of managers and more intrusive in their affairs.

This change can be daunting and frustrating for CEOs. However, based on our experience of advising CEOs, operating as CEOs, and sitting on boards, we have found that executives can be effective in the new environment by revamping their interactions with their boards. It consists of four approaches.

Work with board members individually as well as in the group — and selectively seek their help. It’s remarkable how many CEOs focus mainly on formal boardroom relationships. Yet by investing the time in regular one-to-one informal interactions, a CEO will help address the new active board members’ sense of duty to get close to the business. Through a personal dialogue, the CEO can better enlist them in important initiatives and address issues before they become crises. In addition, by creating a personal bond with the individual directors, the CEO lessens the odds that they will undermine or blindside him.

It is especially important to create a bond with the lead director and/or the chair. As boards have become more active, the lead director and board chair hold the keys to setting productive agendas and managing issues with the total board or individual members. One of us served on an active board that included members who frequently threatened to derail agendas and process with counterproductive questions. The CEO quietly recruited the lead director and chair to restore order, which they did. As boards have become more active, the lead director and board chair hold the keys to setting productive agendas and managing issues with the total board or individual members.

CEOs should consider recruiting one board member as an informal advisor. This must be done with great care and an ear for political nuances. For example, as one CEO we know discovered, a prospective board advisor actually had his eye on the CEO role for himself — hardly the right confidant! By using already-scheduled one-on-ones to assess board members for this advisory role, the CEO can better identify an appropriate advisory board member. This board member can be of great value as a sounding board and a guide to working effectively with the rest of the board.

Communicate less formally, more intensively, more often. Many CEOs and their teams still deliver traditional 80-slide PowerPoint summary presentations at board meetings. But given that today’s boards increasingly want a substantive dialogue, we advise replacing the presentation with a thoughtful, verbal review and Q&A around critical updates, challenges, and opportunities. (Further background can be provided in brief pre-reading material.)

This will show that the CEO is using his or her face-to-face time with the board for serious discussion. It will focus board activism on topics where the CEO will benefit from directors’ insight and counsel. And by taking the lead in inviting the board to engage on business-critical matters, the CEO can better manage the process and avoid one of the biggest downsides of the active board: disruptive interference by board members in business operations.

It may seem obvious that CEOs should communicate with board members regularly and substantively between board meetings. But in reality, CEOs often communicate mainly when there is a problem. Many also have difficulty regularly addressing a balanced mix of important topics.

One very effective approach to this issue is regular CEO letters to the board. The management of this letter should be delegated to a top lieutenant such as the head of communications or the COO. A monthly rhythm has proven effective with many boards. To assure balanced, relevant content, the letter should routinely address a fixed set of regular topics (e.g., business-environment trends, business updates, people/talent news, and early warnings of potential upside and downside developments).

Expose Level 3 and 4 managers to the board. While boards in the past were typically focused on CEO succession planning and the talent among the CEO’s direct reports, active boards are also very interested in the levels below. They rightly see these executives as the future leaders and the operational leaders of today who should be driving performance. Active board members will therefore seek to get to know them.

Some CEOs feel this is overly intrusive or worry that the lower-level executives are not ready for board exposure. But, in fact, it’s positive to have board members engaging with deeper levels of talent. They learn more about the business and the next generation of the company’s leaders. Board members can also give the CEO valuable feedback about the people they meet and their view of the company’s overall bench strength. And for the executives, the right kind of exposure to board members is a great development opportunity.

The CEO should take the lead with the board in driving the engagement process, which will allow him or her to have greater influence over it. She can select the highest potential individuals for the interactions and organize the interactions so that they are most productive — for example, by holding them as one-to-ones over a breakfast or dinner. She can also brief the executives in advance on the style of the board member and potential question areas and brief the board members on the executives they will meet.

Handle strategic planning… strategically. Older-style boards typically become involved only at the end of the strategic-planning process — typically in a board meeting devoted to review and approval of the strategy. By contrast, active boards often push to be involved from the start because the strategy is so important to the company’s performance.

The notion of involving the board in strategic planning can make CEOs anxious and defensive. They fear that the board may undermine the planning process due to insufficient knowledge about the business. They also worry that board involvement in strategic planning will be the thin edge of a wedge and lead to board interference in day-to-day management of the company.

The key to navigating this challenge is to keep strategic planning in the hands of management but to invite the board to provide advice and feedback from the beginning. One good way to do this is to involve the board early in deciding on the right, big-picture, strategic direction for the company, without getting into the details. The CEO and her team can develop and present to the board several options to the board, explaining why each has merit. Then the executives can solicit board input on each but not ask for a vote. In this way, the CEO and her team can gain valuable board perspective that will strengthen all the choices that are developed and obtain early board buy-in for both the options and the ultimate strategic plan that’s chosen.

The CEO can then provide periodic updates on the strategic-planning process through letters to the board and board meetings. This allows the board to stay engaged and provide input but keeps the control over the actual process with the executive team, where it belongs.

Active boards are a corporate reality. How to work with them effectively should be one of the most important items on the CEO agenda. As we have outlined, the CEO has an opportunity not only to manage this new relationship but also to make the active board an asset in building long-term, high performance of the company.

Source:hbr.com (Harvard Business Review)
Authors: Ken Banta and Stephen D.Garrow
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Richard Branson’s secret to being more productive, in just two words

Posted in Aktuellt, Allmänt on August 7th, 2017 by admin

Peak performance starts with committing to these two words.

When it comes to inspiring entrepreneurs and business owners, Richard Branson is at the top of most lists.

After all, he’s a billionaire who has started over 400 companies and is easily in the running for the busiest individual in the world while still enjoying life.

Entrepreneurs striving to make their impact in the world look at Branson from the surface and may be tempted to think that he has some ultra-secret to credit for his success.

However, if you’re looking for a productivity hack, a morning routine, or the one book to read to change it all, you’ll be disappointed.

The secret to Richard Branson’s success and productivity is summed up in two words: “Work out.”

Simple as that. He claims that exercise is his tool that helps him double his daily productivity. Working out is often expressed as a great way to enhance your physical appearance. But working out is, more importantly, a tool that provides a huge ROI toward your productivity and overall well-being.

If you’re on the fence about investing fully into the power of exercise, here are three reasons why you should start today.

1. Improving brain power.
When you’re building a business and striving for massive amounts of career success, optimizing your brain output is an essential tool to making that desire a reality.

When you exercise, you’re going to be mentally sharper, which leads to better decision making throughout the day. This equates to delivering better presentations, better food choices, and better choices within your daily operations.

When you work out, you’re increasing the amount of oxygen flowing into your brain while releasing various other chemicals that help improve your memory and concentration.

2. Make more money.
When you get off your bottom, you increase your bottom line. There’s a correlation that benefits both men and women when it comes to prioritizing the gym and making more money.

According to associate professor Vasilios Kostas of Cleveland State, of those who head to the gym at least three times per week, men made 7 percent more while women made 12 percent more than those who don’t.

The underrated reasoning for this increase is a boost in self-confidence. Often times, we’re our own worst enemy with the things we say and think about ourselves. Working out helps reframe the perception that we have of ourselves along with the energy we radiate out into the day-to-day world.

3. Reduce stress.
Waiting in line at Starbucks, delayed trains, traffic, deadlines, proposals, friends, family, and many other things can all be a form of stress.

None of these scenarios are likely to vanish from your life. However, you can prepare yourself to handle them better through working out.

Working out provides an outlet for releasing any pent-up tension from the day. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reported that seven out of 10 of adults in the U.S. deal with daily stress or anxiety.

When you work out, you’re releasing endorphins and building up yourself to respond and be resilient to upcoming stressors. Don’t overcomplicate it when it comes to exercising– even a 20-minute walk can provide a much-needed jolt of happiness.

Source: Inc.com, July 2017
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By Julian Hayes II , Founder, The Art of Fitness & Life @thejulianhayes