The face of leadership – and how your team might be reading into it

 By Shannon Waller

Even a strong, skilled leader can send their team into a tailspin of self-doubt — and at worst, fear — just by being unaware of the emotion or lack of it writ large on their face. In the same way, a naturally serious or flat demeanor can wreak havoc on people’s sense of safety and confidence.

A team member can immediately go into panicked guessing mode. “What could be wrong? Did I say something I shouldn’t have? Is something bad happening to the company? What’s going on here? Yikes!”

The Worst-Case Scenario

Have you ever walked out of your office after a particularly troubling conversation with a client, still replaying the conversation in your head and not been aware of anyone around you? You pass one of your team members in the hallway and don’t even hear their cheery “Good morning!” You almost run into another colleague and barely utter an apology.

Because this is not how you usually treat people, and your team members don’t have any context to understand the serious and distracted look on your face, not to mention why you’re actually ignoring them, they immediately think that something is wrong and that it’s going to affect them. (more…)


As a part of our talent acquisition engagements, we ask our clients how they define “top talent” and how they would assess those traits in the interview process. Reflecting on the insightful comments we hear every day, we thought there would be great value in a new blog in which senior executives/thought leaders share their “Take on Talent.”

This is the sixteenth in a series of blogs/interviews with senior executives who are thought leaders in the areas of Talent Acquisition, Career Development and Leadership who will share their perspectives on this ever present question.

Phil Fersht is the CEO and Chief Analyst, HfS Research

Phil is an acclaimed author, analyst, and visionary in IT Services and BPO, the Digital Transformation of enterprise operations and cognitive automation strategies. Fersht coined the terms “The As-a-Service Economy” and “Digital OneOffice”, which describe HfS Research’s vision for the future of global operations and the impact of cognitive automation and disruptive digital business models. Phil was named Analyst of the Year in 2016 (see link) for the third time by the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations, which voted on 170 other leading IT industry analysts.

Prior to founding HfS in 2010, Phil has held various analyst roles for Gartner (AMR) and IDC and was BPO Marketplace leader for Deloitte Consulting across the United States, UK, and Singapore.  Over the past 20 years, Fersht has lived and worked in Europe, North-America, and Asia, where he has advised on hundreds of operations strategy, outsourcing, and global business services engagements.

Phil is also the author and creator of the most widely-read and acclaimed blog in the global services industry, entitled “Horses for Sources” now entering its eleventh year.  He regularly contributes to media such as Wall St Journal, Business Week, Economist, The Times of India and CIO Magazine and is a regular keynote speaker at major industry events, such as NASSCOM, ANDI, ABSL, Global Sourcing Association, SSON, Sourcing Interests Group and HfS Summits.

He received a Bachelor of Science, with Honors, in European Business and Technology from Coventry University, UK and a Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie in Business and Technology from the University of Grenoble, France. He also has a diploma from the Market Research Society in the UK.

Please share with us the top characteristics of the most talented people you have encountered during your career, and your definition of each. (more…)

The best of both worlds – how to brew a blended culture

by Ravi Saligram

Building and maintaining a high-performance work culture can be a test of wills and expectations even within a tightly knit organization. Those efforts and struggles only deepen within the context of a corporate merger or acquisition where it takes vision, fortitude (and a solid dose of humility) to orchestrate the movements of two cultures into one.

I’ve orchestrated a number of acquisitions over the years and have found that assessing a target’s culture and planning for cultural integration is an often undervalued dynamic. Typically, culture is not given the same level of importance in M&A due diligence as financials, growth drivers, synergies and valuation models. We focus on the things that are crunchy and tangible, so the human factor is left out of the equation. It isn’t until we get into integration that we see the intense effect culture has on the short-term gains and long-term success of the new organization. (more…)

Do you need to broaden your leadership repertoire?

By Bonnie W. Gwin, Ryan Pastrovich and Jeff Sanders

Among chief executives today two distinct styles of leadership predominate—each with characteristic strengths and weaknesses that have significant ramifications for company performance in various business situations.

Our firm conducted research involving more than 20,000 senior executives—including more than 1,600 CEOs—across a wide range of industries around the world. In the course of the research we identified eight statistically distinct leadership styles or “signatures” (See sidebar “The Eight Leadership Signatures).

Each style has strengths and weaknesses, but no one style is “right” or “wrong” and all styles can be equally effective. Individuals tend to have some degree of access to all the styles, and self-aware or well-coached executive can learn to flex to additional styles when appropriate. The challenge arises when leaders continue to resort to a style less suitable under changed conditions.

On average, CEOs in our research scored highest on Forecaster attributes, followed by Provider attributes. Chief executives scored lowest on Composer attributes, which is not surprising given that Composers tend to prefer working independently. What is perhaps surprising is that the Pilot style—strategic and visionary—ranks only sixth for CEOs. (more…)

How humble leadership really works

By Dan Cable

When you’re a leader — no matter how long you’ve been in your role or how hard the journey was to get there — you are merely overhead unless you’re bringing out the best in your employees. Unfortunately, many leaders lose sight of this.

Power, as my colleague Ena Inesi has studied, can cause leaders to become overly obsessed with outcomes and control, and, therefore, treat their employees as means to an end. As I’ve discovered in my own research, this ramps up people’s fear — fear of not hitting targets, fear of losing bonuses, fear of failing — and as a consequence people stop feeling positive emotions and their drive to experiment and learn is stifled.

Take for example a UK food delivery service that I’ve studied. The engagement of its drivers, who deliver milk and bread to millions of customers each day, was dipping while management was becoming increasingly metric-driven in an effort to reduce costs and improve delivery times. Each week, managers held weekly performance debriefs with drivers and went through a list of problems, complaints, and errors with a clipboard and pen. This was not inspiring on any level, to either party. And, eventually, the drivers, many of whom had worked for the company for decades, became resentful. (more…)