What it takes to be a great leader

There are many leadership programs available today, from 1-day workshops to corporate training programs. But chances are, these won’t really help. In this clear, candid talk, Roselinde Torres describes 25 years observing truly great leaders at work, and shares the three simple but crucial questions would-be company chiefs need to ask to thrive in the future.

BCG’s Rosalinde Torres cites a disturbing statistic: 58% of 4,000 companies studied reported significant talent deficits in critical leadership roles.   What we are currently doing in leadership development isn’t working.

Leadership in the 21st century depends on the answers to the following:

– Where are you looking to anticipate the next change to your business model or your life?

– What is the diversity measure of your personal and professional stakeholder network?

– Are you courageous enough to abandon a practice that has made you successful in the past?

Our leadership development strategies must find ways to help leaders  face confidently towards the uncertainties of the future with the abilities to operate in an increasingly complicated world.

The Best Predictor of Lasting Success? Steady, Sustained Growth

“What does it take to expand year after year, even through the Great Recession? Very few companies have ever done so. You can learn a lot from those that have.” Hire. Grow. Repeat. Scott Leibs, Inc. Magazin

Growth birch trees

Looking for the case for leadership development and coaching?  Inc.’s economist-in-residence researched 1,000 mid-size U.S. companies and identified the “Build 100” top companies that added headcount for five consecutive years. Inc. found the following five points to be commonalities among the Build 100 and notable differences from others:

  1. More than 50 percent of respondents said “people/talent” and “customer service” were the only drivers of competitive advantage and identified those attributes as core to their company’s identity, ahead of nine other factors.
  2. A “big change in senior management or leadership” was among the top three factors credited for triggering company growth “breakouts” ahead of six other factors.
  3. Two of the top three challenges or obstacles to growth were “attracting top managerial talent” and “training future supervisors and managers,” ahead of 11 other challenges.
  4. More than 82 percent of respondents said “sharing financial success with your employees” helps a company grow — tying that practice for the highest response among six management practices.
  5. Some 81 percent of respondents named “sudden loss of a key employee” as a concern — the highest such percentage among 11 “unplanned events” that were rated.

Growth for the Rest of Us

 

How have some companies found growth despite the odds? BCG research offers lessons from “uphill growers.”

 

BCG talks about uphill growth — mature business that found ways to grow sustainably– and suggests that it is important to consider key components of the organizations starting point to help define where growth will come from.  The key components are competitive premium (higher gross profit margin) and competitive stability (relatively stable market shares, high entry barriers, etc).

The successful growth companies shared the following characteristics, they: 1. Earn the right to grow 2. Know their competitive advantage 3. Expand their field of vision 4. Integrate vision, choices and action.

See referenced article on www.bcgperspectives.com

The benefits—and limits—of decision models | McKinsey & Company

Big data and models help overcome biases that cloud judgment, but many executive decisions also require bold action inspired by self-confidence. Here’s how to take charge in a clear-headed way. 

This McKinsey Quarterly article landed in my inbox today.  It argues for the need to use a combination of leadership talent, execution and inspiration as well as predictive models and date to make excellent decisions.   “Players don’t predict performance; they have to achieve it. For that purpose, impartial and dispassionate analysis is insufficient.  Positive thinking matters, too.”   We certainly need big data — to analyze it, understand it, and make use of it.  At the same time, we need big human thinking, inspiration, perspiration and teamwork to make sense and use of it all. See it on www.mckinsey.com

Bad to great: The path to scaling up excellence | McKinsey & Company

Before senior executives try to spread best practices, they should use seven techniques to clear out the negative behavior that stands in the way. 

Stanford’s Huggy Rao and Robert Sutton give some compelling arguments for curtailing bad behavior:

  1. Nip it in the bud
  2. Plumbing before poetry (go for getting rid of the nitty gritty negativity!!)
  3. Adequacy before excellence
  4. Use the ‘cool kids’ (and adults) to define and squelch bad behavior
  5. Kill the thrill
  6. Try time shifting: From current to future selves
  7. Focus on the best of times, the worst of times, and the end

The article is an overview of their upcoming book: Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More without Settling for Less.  Sounds like a good read…

See on www.mckinsey.com

Listening to shame

Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on.

This Brene Brown talk is the sequel to her June 2010 appearance at TEDx Houston. She describes the aftermath of her talk and the unexpected turmoil it caused her. She shares her own vulnerability and growing understanding of shame with panache.  And I challenge anyone who sees it not to cringe when they hear the words “Houston TED.”

See it on www.ted.com

The power of vulnerability

Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

This Brene Brown talk should be immediately followed by her next.  Her dry self-effacing description of her path to discovering the importance of vulnerability and how it is often misunderstood should make you reconsider the risks you fear take and the ledges you shy away from jumping off. 

See on www.ted.com

The danger of a single story

Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories.

I cannot believe that it took me so long to find this powerful TED talk given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  In gentle compelling tones she paints a multi-faceted picture illustrating some unexpected ways we can be myopic in our views.

Her power comes from simplicity.   Ms. Adichie tells her own story of not matching the story others had created of her and of the mistaken story she herself created of someone else.

As I watcher her talk, I sheepishly wondered who I had placed in a box far too small to contain them.

See on www.ted.com