Leadership Lessons

I came upon a new blog entirely by accident.  Normally I scan blogs and never view them again.  But this one was different.  It’s entitled Treasury Cafe and is written by David Waltz.  He has many important things to say and his style is simple and straightforward, which I think all lessons should be.

His latest is on “A Life’s Worth of Leadership Lessons,” in which he uses quotes, some well-known, to introduce leadership lessons.  Let me give you the essence of what he’s written about.  Each of these is a great lesson for both coaches and coaching clients.  And good lessons for life.

Know Thyself:  Emotional intelligence is not a fad.  Before we interact with others, before we expect people to follow us, ‘we need to understand ourselves with clarity.’  By not acknowledging our strengths, style and weaknesses, ‘we lose the ability to understand how we can impact our teams.’  While our colleagues remain fully aware of what we do well or not, if we don’t, we’ll just go about doing what we’ve always done, hoping it will work, and dismayed that it’s not.

Embrace Challenges:   Hard choices are often the wisest choice.  Rather spell out the truth, regardless of how difficult, than to disappoint later with an apology or restatement.  “In school, if we choose easy we learn little, if we choose hard we learn a lot.”  Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ is worth re-reading if this lesson doesn’t ring true.

Accomplish the Mission and Care for Your People:   Apollo 13 was about the commander caring for his crew and accomplishing the mission, in that order.  These two lessons are true for leadership, under any conditions.  Just think how more engaged our workforce would be when they know that what they worked on was going to be seen through to the end and that they were cared for by colleagues and managers – indeed, a 360 degree of caring.

It’s Sergeants Who Win the Wars:  It’s the truck drivers, the people who man the manufacturing plant, the engineers who design products and processes, and the accountants who balance the books each month that exemplify what it takes to make a business run.  While we’d all like to believe that it’s the firm’s leaders (aka ‘us’) ‘whose actions and initiatives are what impact the company the most,’ that’s not really true.  Without every worker, without people figuring out how to do their jobs better each day, we wouldn’t have a business.  Do you recall the famous picture of General Eisenhower greeting the troops prior to their departure for Normandy shores?  His message to them was clear:  it’s the troops that matter, not the generals.

Keep it Simple:  “The principle is pretty simple [said the head of a large city’s police department] to find who will make the best sergeant.  You find out what top performers do.  You train others to do what they do, and they become top performers, as well.”  Despite a stunning amount of research and analysis on leadership and training, often the best work is a result of good people doing everyday tasks extremely well, making constant minute adjustments.  “Sometimes it is wise to Keep it Simple.  There is a lot less to distract, deter and derail your efforts.”

Explore New Territory and Embrace Change:  Simply, doing the same thing over and over again (as Marshall Goldsmith writes, ‘what got you’re here won’t get you there’) is a path to obsolescence.   To find untapped opportunities that excite you, ‘explore new territories to move your team.’  Being satisfied with the status quo leads to boredom, little room for growth, and passivity.

The author sums his blog by saying that we need to seek stories, helping us understand the paths others have taken, and seeing what they’ve learned from their lessons, which can be wisdom or affirmation of our direction.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Building Talent is a Leader's Responsibility

The University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School publishes straightforward and practical research articles across a broad spectrum of management topics.  In their latest, entitled Talent Builders: Lead the Way in Developing Your People, the three authors describe why ‘developing talent is a long-term investment that must be executed by line leaders in an organization.’

Corporations often talk about developing leadership, create programs to support this objective, and try all sorts of machinations to find the right brew.  I felt the UNC article would give us all a head start on what is really and truly required.

The authors state that: “Even if a company’s practices are robust and up to date, talent management will fail without serious commitment and execution from line leaders.  We have found that there are eleven critical actions that all talent builders must take to ensure the development of their people.  Most of these actions are not dependent upon anyone but the leader him or herself.”  Leaders get paid to develop more leaders.

Here is a summary of their findings:

Win Today and in the Future — don’t just consider the talent needs of the current environment; think to the future in all your HR, development and hiring policies and practices.  Ask the big question:  “Am I recruiting and developing against tomorrow’s standards?”

Drive and Expect World-Class Performance at All Levels — just like a manufacturing process, you must seek constant improvement and be a top performer.  As a leader your goal is to not be satisfied with status quo performance; rather, you must accept nothing less than a person’s best performance, which also means exhibiting that yourself.

Become Students of How to Build Better Leaders, Faster — leaders who build talent are always learning themselves, either from their own behaviors or that of others.  Learning for them is an active process and a life-long practice.  Based on what they learn, they’ll change their behaviors and let others know.

Ensure that Talent Is on the Agenda — leadership and identifying leaders is always on their agendas, and they expect talent management to be vigilantly managed by their subordinates, to the point of it being part of an individual’s personal objectives.  They ask tough questions like ‘are you producing leaders better than yourselves?’

Continually Assess and Develop Their Team to Ensure World-Class Talent  — by constantly keeping track of the highest performers, they know the ‘personal inventory’ that can ascend in the organization and they know where to direct the financial rewards.  “Talent builders can articulate the strengths and development needs of their direct reports in an insightful and multi-layered manner in clear language, reflecting a deep knowledge of the individual.”

Continually Recruit and Export Internal Talent  — top talent managers not only recruit the best talent, they ensure they get the experiences to advance their careers (and test them) and receive mentoring of the highest caliber.

Continually Recruit External Talent — “Talent builders meet with external recruiters to better understand what the ‘gold standard’ is for talent in their space and to ensure that their ‘calibration of talent’ is world class. They continually recruit external talent even when they have no current openings and identify source of talent from sources outside their industry who bring a ‘different and fresh perspective into their mix of talent.’

Accelerate the Development of Talent  — these leaders reach down into the organization to locate talent that can be accelerated and who might otherwise move to other companies.  Their assessments lead to a portfolio of knowledge about the human resources on which the company depends today and into the future.

Create a Global Mindset in Their Organization — “They require development plans for everyone in their organization but pay special attention to those of leaders from different country cultures.  Being open with everyone about the rewards for talent embeds leadership identification practices into the organization on a worldwide basis.”

Stay connected with “Regrettable Losses” — losing great talent is unavoidable.  These leaders, however, ‘find a way to stay connected to those people.  They reach out at least a couple times a year to high potentials who have left the organization to see how they are doing, inquire if they want to come back, and have them identify other great talent who may want to join the organization.’

Require Their Directs to Do the Same — whatever the leader does, his or her direct reports are expected to do the same.  To fully manage talent takes an organization, not just a single person.

Managers espouse the saying that people are the company’s most valuable assets.  If so, then they need to make up for  a large deficit, as people are normally seen as replaceable commodities.  The authors note that “Any leader who wants to grow a business globally must apply these approaches or have little hope of truly building an effective talent pipeline.  Becoming a talent builder takes energy and time but the payoff for yourself and the organization is well worth the investment.”  It also means placing constant attention on leadership development, the right control processes, and reminders about why people are so important, which shouldn’t be difficult at all.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Leadership is About Vision, Communication and Wondering

In this Sunday’s New York Times, I feel an exceptional leader was interviewed.  Laurel Richie is the president of the W.N.B.A.  During her interview, she cited numerous examples of how all leaders can do better, proving that a leader need not be a CEO or COO.

The article was entitled “Tell Me Your Idea (and Don’t Mind the Silly Putty)“.  While this might seem a childish activity, there’s great elasticity (pun intended!) in Silly Putty in the world of management and leadership.

To her great surprise early in her career, when she left for a vacation while running an ‘incredibly successful’ advertising account at Ogilvy & Mather, her staff had gone to Human Resources, complaining that working for her ‘was all about her and not about us.’

Naturally her first reaction was to be shocked and defensive — we’d all feel this way.  Yet, she had the maturity to listen to what her staff had to say and to carry those lessons forward.  The number one managerial behavior she learned was ‘that if there is not shared ownership of the work, both successes and failures, people aren’t going to have a satisfying experience.’  In this one phrase she’s captured the essence of leadership — it must be shared and it must generate satisfaction in the participants.

In response to this potentially tumultuous homecoming, Ms. Richie redefined her job as a ‘leader to create an environment where good things happen, and where people feel good about their role on the team, and they feel acknowledged, they feel empowered, and they feel visible.’  Instead of protecting her staff from the bad things, she now told them everything because they had to experience all types of outcomes to grow themselves.  Leadership is not about protecting; it is about enabling and creating the right environment for people to achieve results, rather than act on tasks from the boss.

Being very action-oriented, Ms. Richie went right to work, asking her staff to give her examples where they felt they weren’t part of the mix.  She told them to let her know when she was behaving in a way that didn’t bring out their best.

Where does the Silly Putty come in?  By stretching it between her hands during meetings, she gave herself time to be patient — by elongating the Silly Putty, it allowed her to give ‘people time to think and create and develop, even though…I know how to do this.’  Many of us need a tool to prevent us from jumping in while someone else is thinking.

The other big lesson she mentioned was what can be gained from diversity.  As one of the few African-Americans at Ogilvy or her client, she had the fortunate experience of working for someone who ‘celebrated the differences,’ demonstrating the importance of ‘true diversity of thought, of style, of background, of experience.’  She was able to be exactly who she is.

The primary leadership lesson she learned is how ‘important it is as a leader to have a clear vision and communicate it often.’  Over-communication is simply not possible.  Even if it bores the leader to repeat the message, a mantra holds value to everyone else because it is memorable.  I’ve often thought of repetitive messages as anchors that allow us to remain stable in rough waters.

Wonderment was another type of behavior Ms. Richie engenders in her staff.  She accomplishes this by creating environments where they ‘can bring their best selves, and good things will happen as a result.’  By cutting off conversation through words or non-verbal cues, a less effective leader sends a message that someone’s idea isn’t an option.  Done often enough and pretty soon you’ll have a staff that won’t tell you you’re walking in the wrong direction.

A well-balanced leader, Ms. Richie knows that getting the best from her staff means letting them talk, fail, succeed, ponder, and feel comfortable.  Thus, as the leader, she has to have the strength to listen to differences and make decisions even if they are opposite to what the group thought was right.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Disruption and Successful Leadership

Have you ever considered the frequency of disruption?  Have you ever thought about the term ‘creative disruption’ as a synonym for ‘creative destruction’?  (Creative destruction is most readily identified with Austrian-American economist Joseph Schumpeter and describes the way in which capitalist economic development arises out of the destruction of some prior economic order.)  And have you ever wondered what type of manager is most successful during periods of disruption?

The American Management Association just published “Leadership Competencies for Disruptive Innovation.”  I thought you would benefit knowing the essential points from this excellent article by Soren Kaplan.

“Disruptive innovation is no longer the occasional exception; it’s the rule.”  All industries have been affected and once grand companies become casualties (e.g., Blockbuster, Kodak) in a relatively short time span.

Today, leaders ‘must acknowledge and embrace a life of continuous ambiguity and uncertainty.’  How does a leader succeed in these environments?  What personal competencies are essential for the woman or man in charge?  The author identifies five:

  1. Begin with a Leapfrogging Mindset  Because disruption is continuous, leading demands a new way of thinking, approaching the world knowing that reinventing and revolutionizing processes, products and functions are basic job demands.  The art of ‘scenario planning‘ should be practiced more often and embedded into all strategy processes.  You should be ahead not just in your thinking, but in your ability to act.
  2. Push Boundaries Despite seemingly impossible challenges, when we push beyond our comfort zone, ‘we increase our creative problem solving and strategic thinking capabilities.’  You can push boundaries by working with people who think differently than you do, who come equipped with perspectives at odds with your way of thinking.  It takes a strong manager to hire people like this, though your career will be better (and longer-lasting) for it.
  3. Integrate Data Intuitively   Much has been written lately about how the number of choices can lead us to make an incorrect decision or delay a decision because we are overwhelmed by the selections at hand.  The AMA article says that ‘In times of disruption, robust data that tells a clear story rarely exists.  Leaders must use whatever information they can obtain and then use their gut for the rest.’  In fact, sometimes ignoring the details can lead to superior decisions.
  4. Plan Adaptively   Acknowledging disruption’s ubiquity means we will move forward with uncertainty. That’s the way things are now.  Thus, a new goal is to learn from your mistakes even more than before and view ‘set-backs as learning opportunities versus failures.’  Your new goal is to ‘take action, see results, learn from them,’ and move on with new assumptions.  ‘Adaptive planning helps organizations move away from the view that if a pre-defined goal isn’t achieved then it represents a catastrophic failure.’  Another consideration is to take trial size bites that you can learn from and either abandon or stress based on outcomes.
  5. Savor Surprise  In the past we learned to avoid surprises by assuming perfect information, flawless execution and stability.  Unfortunately, that philosophy will lead to disappointment.  ‘Learning to appreciate surprise may be one of the more challenging leadership competencies to develop since the skill flies in the face of conventional wisdom.’ 

The world of business has changed for a wide variety of reasons.  Whatever the cause, disruption and instability have become the new normal.  ‘Disruptive innovation and change require disrupting our assumptions about leadership’ and thus our leaders themselves.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Soft Skills Needed for Successful Change Management

Change management matters.  We know from many studies that unless a change management program accompanies a major technology implementation, the success rate of the project drops precipitously.  The ROI implications of the failure are significant, damaging further the relationship between IT and business managers.

According to “Developing Better Change Leaders” by McKinsey, ‘few companies can avoid big, periodic changes in the guts of their business.’  From my experience, the likelihood of technology being involved in these changes is high.  We also know from research and my previous blogs that unless there is a senior sponsor focusing relentlessly on the project, it will fail.  To quote McKinsey’s concurring comment: “Such changes start at the top and demand a relentless focus on nitty-gritty details from leaders up and down the line.”  Successful big changes require commitment, focus, time and getting into the details.  Few senior managers can pay attention at this level.  So how do we make it happen?

A large component of coaching is addressing the softer skills.  Whether transitioning from an analytical role to a managerial one or maneuvering around uncertain inter-personal relationships, soft skills are the ones which lead to long-term success.

McKinsey writes: “Too often, however, senior executives overlook the ‘softer’ skills their leaders will need to disseminate changes throughout the organization and make them stick.  These skills include the ability to keep managers and workers inspired when they feel overwhelmed, to promote collaboration across organizational boundaries, or to help embrace change programs through dialogue, not dictation.”

How does an organization address the need for ‘soft skills’?  The article suggests an ‘intense, immersive, and individualized leadership program.’

  • Engage stakeholders as opposed to acting independently.
  • Build trust by asking your partners to join you in the journey of the change.
  • Commit to interacting not just intellectually but also emotionally.
  • Delegate to share the vision and ‘bring more people on board.’
  • Focus on solutions to ‘build on existing strengths to overcome resistance.’
  • Be collaborative by including employees who actually do the work.
  • Allow others to speak and encourage the group to find solutions to problems.
  • Don’t shy away from the difficult conversations.  Your values and beliefs might be more widely held than you believe.

McKinsey’s practitioners observed four lessons of big change projects that formed an effective, results-oriented leadership management program:

First, tie training goals to business goals.  “Leadership training can seem vaporous when not applied to actual problems in the workplace.”

Second, build on strengths.  “Train managers who are influential in areas crucial to the overall transformation and already have some of the desired behavior.”

Third, ensure sponsorship.  “Give training participants access to formal senior-executive sponsors who can tell them hard truths are vital in helping participants change how they lead.”

Fourth, create networks of change leaders.  “Change programs falter when early successes remain isolated in organizational silos.”

You might enjoy reading the related article below as it aligns well with the need for soft skills among IT workers in their daily engagements with business managers.

Given that we know enough to be smart about change management, there’s no reason we can’t increase the rate of successful IT projects.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Retaining Technology Talent

McKinsey Quarterly just published “Winning the Battle for Technology Talent.”  Its premise is that technology talent can be hard to find, though executives can ‘learn how to develop, retain and recruit good people.’

What drew my attention was a reference about technology talent that lacks ‘stars’ who can engage business managers.  For those who read my blog regularly, you know the lack of discourse between IT and non-IT managers is cause for concern because it leads to IT projects that do not meet management’s expectations. The financial impact is significant, as is the role failure plays on employee satisfaction and overall attitudes about the IT function.

What McKinsey suggests is that the ‘first imperative…is to develop and retain the team you do have,’  as this is far less risky, less time consuming and more efficient than hiring new managers.  In addition to the usual leadership development tools — among them coaching — they found several other approaches ‘to develop and retain technology talent.’  These are:

Retain High Performers  As I’ve written before, for many technologists the career path is quite traditional.  This can lead to technologists looking outside an organization to restart their careers and work in new domains.  Instead, another approach is to rotate high performers across technology areas and ‘into business and operational functions as well.’  What I like about this suggestion is that it ‘grooms managers who can engage with business leaders as peers.’

Make Training Less Technical  I feel like this sentence was written to support my coaching practice:  “Providing training that helps technology personnel understand the business — in some cases, all the way to the front line — makes technology’s value more tangible and provides invaluable context for interacting with technology managers.”  Through training, the technologists learn all about the company’s markets, clients, operations, and economics.  By doing so, they’ll be in a far better position to understand the technology requirements of the business.

Ensure Senior Exposure  Often technologists are kept hidden, when they should be front and center.  Without them, the business would stop running.  McKinsey suggests that the ‘opportunity to interact directly with the institution’s most senior leaders is an irreplaceable motivator for high-performing technology staff.’  What better way to show the value of IT than to have them participate directly with policy- and strategy-makers and to demonstrate their skills, passions and business understanding.

Facilitate Outside Exposure  The best technologists really like technology — that’s not as obvious as it seems.  Passion extends beyond the institution they work for to the larger outside community.  Supporting participation in industry, standards-setting, and technical groups offers the opportunity to augment their skills, but to also demonstrate what they know and connect with like-minded individuals.  And what is learned at these sessions is brought back to the sponsoring organization, which is a clear benefit to leading shops.

Good technologists are hard to find, so you want to keep those you have active, engaged, cared for, respected, and identified for future growth opportunities.  Technologists and business managers should not be viewed as groups to manage separately or differently.  However, there is one difference that the above approaches address:  technology managers often fall into the ‘specialization rut,’ cornering them in a career where they feel stymied and out of touch with the business.  If we want to keep the best technologists, special programs and attention are needed to retain them and allow them to do the best job possible.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Coaching Abrasive Leaders

A friend of mine works in California as an in-house coach, most recently specializing in the area of bullying in the workplace, which is more prevalent than most would suspect, not to mention the whole larger subject of bullying in schools.  She sent me an article on coaching abrasive leaders and I wanted to share with you some of the critical highlights.  I found every page enlightening and a real education.

Written by Laura Crawshaw and entitled ‘Coaching Abrasive Leaders:  Using Action Research to Reduce Suffering and Increase Productivity in Organizations,’ she opens the article by writing:  “Abrasive leaders at any level can inflict deep wounds and intense suffering in employees.  The organization often experiences the pain of working with an abrasive executive, manager, or supervisor as well, eroding effectiveness and paralyzing productivity.  Few of us have escaped the pain of working under, over, or with an abrasive leader…”

What is an abrasive leader?  Ms. Crawshaw defines it as someone in a managerial position whose interpersonal behavior causes ’emotional distress in coworkers sufficient to disrupt organizational functioning.’  The intensity and extent can be wide-ranging, from minor and infrequent incidents to more extreme manifestations of aggression. Above all, abrasive leadership (though I hesitate to use the word ‘leadership’) has the potential to ‘destroy individual well-being.’  Given the value of human capital, the cost of this destruction cannot be calculated.

From Ms. Crawshaw’s research she found abrasive leaders:

  • Perceive coworker incompetence as a direct threat to their own competence
  • Employ aggression to defend against the perception of incompetence
  • Believe use of aggression is not just necessary to achieve organizational goals, but noble as well
  • Though often aware that they are perceived negatively, they deny any role in generating those perceptions
  • ‘Are entirely unaware or only minimally aware of the nature and degree of their destructive impact on coworkers.’

Based on these findings, she concludes that abrasive leaders do not intentionally commit harm as is commonly believed, and are not fully aware of their action or the wounds they inflict.

Coaching abrasive leaders is not straightforward.  Any perceived threats to their professional competence will be ‘vigorously defended against with the fight mechanism and interpersonal aggression.’  Because they need to demonstrate their superiority, in the classic coaching process ‘they experienced immediate and intense anxiety and defended against these threats with aggression.’

By the time a coach is called in, the leader’s interpersonal incompetence ‘overshadows his or her technical competence, and the organization’s negative perceptions now threaten the leader’s professional survival.’  This leads to two difficulties for the coach:  1) Forming a trusted coaching alliance; and 2) Engaging the client despite their denial of a need for coaching.’

Since abrasive leaders are generally blind to the pain they cause, they are also ‘deaf as well — hearing very little about their conduct from others, essentially functioning in a feedback vacuum.’  So what does a coach do?

The client engages the coach as his co-researcher, interviewing coworkers to discover the negative perceptions and identifying what causes them.  ‘That data…gives the [coach and client] an opportunity to develop strategies to eliminate these negative perceptions and to manage them out of existence so that they never disrupt your [client’s] effectiveness again.’  The data collected informs the client of the nature and degree of the distress generated, helping remove ‘the blinders blocking the client’s awareness of other’s emotions.’

The key difference here versus more classic executive coaching is that we’ve moved from ‘eliminating negative client behaviors to eliminating negative coworker perceptions.’  By doing so, the leader can fight against perceived threats to his competence and help them accurately monitor their own and others’ emotions, which is also known as emotional intelligence.

Talent Management: Try Something Novel

Ever since Bloomberg bought Business Week, the change in content has been significant.  The April 16th – 22nd issue contained articles that addressed talent management from two successful managers, Reed Hastings of NetFlix and Angela Ahrendts of Burberry, who have very novel ideas about how to get the best from your staff .  What drew my attention to write about them was their unusual perspectives, not what you’d typically hear from most people managers.

Mr. Hastings wrote about ‘a sense of responsibility where people care about the enterprise.’  He credits a culture of responsibility for NetFlix’s ability to endure its new pricing policy, set in 2011 to fits from subscribers.  At that time, NetFlix separated its DVD delivery and streaming services, allowing subscribers to bundle or unbundle, with many opting for the latter and dropping streaming, slamming its earning.  “When we moved too quickly for our customers and the backlash hit, there was a lot of strength and resilience on the management team.”

What surprised me even more were these beliefs, which I wish more companies would adopt:

  • Great work is what matters most, not hard work or long hours.
  • Top talent is attracted by ‘top-of-the-market compensation.’  Neither stock vesting nor delayed compensation are offered, nor are bonuses or stock grants.  Yet, that doesn’t seem to prevent them from finding extraordinary people.
  • Employees can take as much vacation as they want.  Mr. Hastings himself makes sure he takes a lot of vacation, during which time he does some of his most creative thinking.

People work at NetFlix because they are ‘well paid, challenged and excited.’  Creative talent management allowed NetFlix to weather bad times.

Ms. Ahrendts is perhaps in an even more creative business, designing and retailing high-end clothes and image creation.  Thus, ‘hiring and retaining great creative talent is a priority.’  She strives to find executives who ‘have a balance between right-brain inventiveness and left-brain analysis.’  Often she mixes left-brain and right-brain executives to see how they relate to each other — if not, they won’t fit Burberry’s culture.  “You have to build a team that respects the value that both sides bring to each new challenge.”

Like Mr. Hastings, she too has different beliefs about managing talent:

  • Feelings are valued as much as knowledge to encourage creativity.
  • “The right physical environment also creates energy.”
  • Providing free lunch to everyone in Burberry’s London headquarters has a quick ROI by ‘bringing people together and encouraging communication beyond their team or their floor.’
  • People are allowed to dream.  In fact, they established an innovation council chaired by their chief creative officer.  The remit is ‘simply, to dream.  It allows young voices to be heard.  It also helps enlighten our more seasoned executives.”

Linear thinking — which you won’t find at NetFlix or Burberry’s — is so common that when we read articles like these two, we stop and wonder why such appealing solutions are not more prevalent.  It just takes a bit of creativity.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Persistence Leads to Results

Do you think only management superstars are successful?  Are celebrity CEOs the only executives to emulate?  When you think about all the strong businesses in the world and that you never hear a word about their executives, the answer is quite clear.  The answer is ‘no.’

Many books and articles have been written about the characteristics of an ideal chief executive officer.  And with the passing of Steve Jobs, there is perhaps even more interest in what makes for a great manager.

However, in a paper entitled Which CEO Characteristics and Abilities Matter to be published in the Journal of Finance, the authors Kaplan and his colleagues find “…that efficient and persistent CEOs achieve more success than executives with different talents. CEOs who are not efficient and persistent are much more likely to falter.”

Kaplan and his team studied more than 300 CEO candidates in firms funded by private-equity investors, with each CEO being interviewed and rated on 30 characteristics and abilities.  What they learned is quite heartening:

  • Many of the characteristics they assumed would correlate with success did not!  For example, interpersonal abilities ‘proved particularly inconsequential.’
  • Notably, ‘analytic ability and being organized’ were related to success, while ‘general skills that were neither interpersonal nor execution-oriented were [somewhat] related to success.’
  • Execution-type talent — ‘those related to persistence and execution’ — proved significantly predictive of high performance.
  • “In fact, CEOs with these skills succeeded 75 – 90 percent of the time, but CEOs who lacked them succeeded less than 50 percent of the time.”
  • Successful CEOs “…stuck with assignments until they were complete, were proactive about achieving results, and completed projects within short periods of time.”
  • Lacking execution skills, other qualities simply did not matter.

Overall, the study found that ‘good CEOs get things done despite very different personalities.’  Top leaders, ‘…while humble, show unwavering resolve…are persistent and proactive.’

Maybe we need to look more closely at our peers and find the real stars among them.  They are out there doing really good work and not giving up.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Persistence Leads to Results

Do you think only management superstars are successful?  Are celebrity CEOs the only executives to emulate?  When you think about all the strong businesses in the world and that you never hear a word about their executives, the answer is quite clear.  The answer is ‘no.’

Many books and articles have been written about the characteristics of an ideal chief executive officer.  And with the passing of Steve Jobs, there is perhaps even more interest in what makes for a great manager.

However, in a paper entitled Which CEO Characteristics and Abilities Matter to be published in the Journal of Finance, the authors Kaplan and his colleagues find “…that efficient and persistent CEOs achieve more success than executives with different talents. CEOs who are not efficient and persistent are much more likely to falter.”

Kaplan and his team studied more than 300 CEO candidates in firms funded by private-equity investors, with each CEO being interviewed and rated on 30 characteristics and abilities.  What they learned is quite heartening:

  • Many of the characteristics they assumed would correlate with success did not!  For example, interpersonal abilities ‘proved particularly inconsequential.’
  • Notably, ‘analytic ability and being organized’ were related to success, while ‘general skills that were neither interpersonal nor execution-oriented were [somewhat] related to success.’
  • Execution-type talent — ‘those related to persistence and execution’ — proved significantly predictive of high performance.
  • “In fact, CEOs with these skills succeeded 75 – 90 percent of the time, but CEOs who lacked them succeeded less than 50 percent of the time.”
  • Successful CEOs “…stuck with assignments until they were complete, were proactive about achieving results, and completed projects within short periods of time.”
  • Lacking execution skills, other qualities simply did not matter.

Overall, the study found that ‘good CEOs get things done despite very different personalities.’  Top leaders, ‘…while humble, show unwavering resolve…are persistent and proactive.’

Maybe we need to look more closely at our peers and find the real stars among them.  They are out there doing really good work and not giving up.

Enhanced by Zemanta