By Jack McGuinness
As we have mentioned in other articles, leadership teams are not and should not be like any other team in an organization. Knowingly or unknowingly, they create the conditions for their organizations to either thrive or flounder. Because the stakes are so high it is absolutely critical for CEOs to get the composition right.
Executives at many companies rise the ranks in large part because of their past accomplishments and functional expertise; sales results for the head of sales, successful product launches for the CMO, balance sheet and capital raises for the CFO, technological innovation for the CTO. Advancement is also often a reward for putting in hard work and years of service or forming the necessary political bonds with the right senior influencers. Functional track record, work ethic and relationship skills are important for any senior executive, but are insufficient when an executive is asked to be part of an effective senior leadership team.
Great leadership teams establish and steer an organization’s strategic direction and set the tone for how their organizations operate. In normal circumstances this is challenging work, but today’s uncertain and complex environment requires leadership teams to be much more than a collection of talented senior executives. To be successful, leadership teams have no other option than to leverage each other’s talent so they can navigate the uncertainty in a manner that fuels innovation, enables operational agility and inspires confidence.
So, what does it take to be a great leadership team member? In our experience and in speaking with many CEOs, there are four unique skills that all senior leaders must have or at least be working to develop to be great leadership team members. These are foresight, management of complexity, a greater good focus, and modeling values.
By John Edwards
The days when CIOs could glide into a long-term career based solely on their technical abilities are rapidly fading.
“It’s no longer enough for IT leaders to be tech experts,” warns Bob Hersch, a principal at Deloitte Consulting. The best-in-class CIOs of today are also business savvy, using their knowledge to embed IT as a service capability.
“This business-centric approach integrates IT into an overall business strategy,” he adds.
The best way any IT leader can augment his or her current technical knowledge — and strengthen their long-term career prospects — is by committing to acquiring the following seven essential business skills.
1. An entrepreneurial mindset
CIOs, regardless of their organization’s size, have to act like entrepreneurs, operating with speed, agility, and ever higher levels of passion, empathy, and creativity, advises Ram Nagappan, CIO at global investment firm BNY Mellon Pershing.
Disruption is the new constant. “Competition is coming from all corners of the market, with fintechs and startups moving at light speed,” Nagappan says. To meet competition head on, CIOs must think like entrepreneurs and act as agents of change. “They need to constantly think about how their business could be disrupted at any point in time and how they can creatively deploy technology to get ahead of potential disruptors and future-proof the business,” he suggests.
by Ella Miron-Spektor
How our beliefs about creativity explain our ability to improve and sustain it over time.
Innovation is vital to business, now maybe more than ever before. Firms have been wildly creative in developing breakthrough technologies and adapting to remote work. To successfully adapt to any change, firms rely on their workforce’s creativity. Designers and developers are hired for their creativity, but “non-creative” workers can also come up with excellent, innovative solutions to their daily problems. How can we tap into this creativity at all levels, even on the shop floor?
In recent research forthcoming in the Journal of Applied Psychology, my co-authors, Dana Vashdi, Hadas Gopher and I found that
The setting for our study was a manufacturer of advanced electro-optic technologies, with an average employee age of 50. Most workers had been employed at the plant for more than 20 years and many were immigrants. In 2007, the company launched an innovation platform that encouraged workers to suggest ideas for improving their workplace or workflow. Managers reviewed the suggestions and provided feedback, and a panel of experts rated the new ideas on their originality, usefulness and feasibility. Workers could learn and improve their ideas, and suggest better ones the next time. With access to this data and employee surveys, we wanted to understand why some are better than others at improving and maintaining their creativity over time.
By C.J. Prince
Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon has made no secret of his disdain for remote work, saying recently that, despite the hype, it is “not the new normal” and that he expects to bring nearly all employees back to the physical office by the end of the year, as vaccination rollout expands.
He’s not alone with those plans. A survey of more than 350 CEOs and HR and finance leaders found 70% planning to have employees back in the office by the fall. Other corporate leaders have been vocal about the shortcomings of the virtual office. Amazon’s incoming chief Andy Jassy said it hurts innovation. “You just don’t riff the same way.” Barclays CEO Jes Staley added: “It’s remarkable it’s working as well as it is, but I don’t think it’s sustainable.”
At Synchrony, on the other hand, the leadership has learned that bricks and mortar are really not essential to either employee or customer satisfaction. Margaret Keane, who last week handed the CEO reins to Brian Doubles, called the reluctance to move to remote work “a failure of imagination on the part of leaders everywhere.”
Richard Hartnack, Synchrony’s founding chairman, agrees. The company announced several months ago that, going forward, it would be moving to a hybrid model that would allow employees to choose whether to work remotely. That decision was based, in part, on a survey of employees. “We felt it was important to get their perspective, so we did, and what we found was a lot of people—particularly frontline employees in direct contact with customers—a high percentage of those folks wanted to be able to have work-at-home as an option and to have access to the office from time to time,” says Hartnack. “But they wanted to have the ability to do that without concern about it being career threatening or in any way seen as a negative.”
The more diverse your goals are, the greater the temptation to muddy the waters on performance.
In March 2001, publishing executive Ann Godoff – then in her third year as president, publisher and editor-in-chief of Random House Trade Publishing Group (RHTPG) – was the subject of a gushing profile in New York Magazine. Laced with tributes from authors and peers (“She’s the real deal”, rhapsodised one Random House colleague), the article certified Godoff’s iconic status as an industry tastemaker.
Less than two years later, those glowing quotes gave way to expressions of shock and surprise when Peter Olson, CEO of Random House Inc., summarily fired Godoff. Upon hearing the news, one astonished editor could only utter, “Holy shit! Holy shit!” Olson’s reason for the termination was financial. As his announcement explained, Godoff’s unit was “the only Random House Inc. division to consistently fall short of their annual profitability targets”.
To be sure, Godoff landed on her feet. Before 2003 was out, she had launched her own imprint under the storied Penguin umbrella, which she runs to this day. Still, her RHTPG tenure makes one wonder: How could such a gifted editor of literary narrative not have foreseen that years of lackluster financial performance would inevitably lead to an unhappy denouement?
Performance feedback theory