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…)

Why you need to pay attention to Gen X leaders

By Gwen Moran

Members of Generation X (typically defined as born between 1965 and 1981) are used to being in the shadow of the massive generations that came before and after them. Baby boomers and millennials tend to get the lion’s share of attention as far as demographic groups go. And, of course, the novelty of emerging generation Z is capturing a few headlines as well.

“It’s kind of been the neglected or overlooked generation in a lot of ways,” says Stephanie Neal, a research scientist in Development Directions International’s (DDI’s) Center for Analytics and Behavioral Research (CABER). But their growing influence and unique attributes are worthy of more attention, she says.

Neal says that gen X leaders now hold more than half (51%) of leadership roles globally. And new DDI research shows a wealth of attributes—including tech-adept, loyal, and committed to development—make them especially valuable to the companies that employ them. (more…)

What does real leadership look like?

by Jill Griffin

I was at dinner recently with some friends and out of the blue, one of my dinner companions asked a compelling question: If something dangerous happened here in this restaurant, who do you think would step up and lead us out of here to safety?

Companies all across the globe are asking a similar question every day. If we want to go somewhere, if we want to be successful, who can we count on to step up and take us there? An endless stream of studies have been conducted, libraries of books have been written, and yet leadership still seems to be a bit of a mystery.

Can leadership be taught or is it a talent we are born with? Most companies have some kind of assessment that you have to pass to be moved into leadership. That seems democratic — anybody can take the test and so that means theoretically that anybody could pass it. This avoids the good old boy network— no more getting the job because of who you know. At least in theory, that’s how it works. And the chances of finding the right person should be better with some science sprinkled into the process. (more…)