Leadership

What to Look for When Selecting Leaders

As a result of the work I do with Vistage CEOs and Age Brilliantly, I encounter many people who realize they don’t plan to work for every and need to start planning for their next 7-10,000 days. For many company owners, this starts with doubling-down on having the best possible leaders within the company to take over when the CEO plans to leave. Effective succession increases the value of the company whether employees, outside managers or Private Equity firms are the ultimate buyer.

In “What Sets successful CEOs Apart” (Harvard Business Review, May, 2017) the authors report on a PWC study of the world’s 2500 companies that identified four essential behaviors that helped the CEOs get the top job and thrive in it. From a succession planning standpoint, looking for these behaviors in future successors is key to success, since they are likely predictive of future success.

The four behaviors are:

  • Deciding with Speed and Conviction. High-performing CEOs don’t necessarily make great decisions all the time; they stand out for being decisive. They make decisions earlier, faster, with greater conviction and more consistently – even amid ambiguity. People described as decisive were 12 times more likely to be high-performing CEOs. (Note: Highest IQ is not an attribute! People who relish intellectual complexity struggle to get the “perfect answer: and as a result, they often bottleneck decision-making, which frustrates their teams. 94% of executives who scored low on decisiveness, did so because they decided too little, too late. One one-third of CEOs were fired for making bad decisions; the rest were ousted for making decisions too slowly.) In other words, it’s better to make a well-considered, but wrong decision, which they be changed, than to delay a decision when it’s really needed.
  • Engaging for Impact: One a decision is made, the CEO must be able to get buy-in from other employees on and off their teams, and other stakeholders. As Google and others have found, the key to effectiveness is communication, alignment, collaboration and teamwork .(See prior blog on this topic).
  • Adapting Proactively. In this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) word, we need to adapt quickly. The most successful CEOs scan future trends on an ongoing basis so they can do so proactively. The study found that CEOs who excel at adapting are 6.7 times more likely to succeed. Further, these CEOs spent significantly more time (50% vs. 30%) thinking about the long-term. They regularly plug into broad information flows; they scan wide networks and diverse sources of data, finding relevance in information that at first glance might seem unrelated to their business. Finally these CEOs had, what Carol Dwieck calls a “growth mindset: they offered matter-of-fact-accounts of where and why they came up with the wrong decisions and gave specific examples of how they would tweak their approach to do better the next time. Non-high-performing CEOs saw setbacks as signs of failure.
  • Delivering Reliably. Executives who scored high on reliability were twice as likely to be picked as CEOs ad 15 times more likely to succeed in it. the study found that 94% of the strong CEO candidates sampled, scored high on consistently following through on their commitments. In other words: making delivery of commitments a habit really matters.

Are you looking for these qualities in your senior executive team? Would they enable you to have a superior team of A+ players? Would you feel comfortable grooming them as a senior management team when you’re ready to leave? If so, that will translate into an easier way to move on – and to get a higher sales multiple for your company!

Leadership Speed – Where Do Your Executives Stand?

In today’s fast-paced VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world) making correct decisions relatively quickly is important. It’s important for all members of the executive team, especially those who might advance to top positions in the company.

Zenger and Folkman address the issue “leadership speed” in Speed: How Leaders Accelerate Successful Execution They created a “speed index” which focuses on the leader’s ability to:

  • Spot problems or tends early
  • Quickly respond to problems
  • Quickly make needed changes

They found that leaders in the top quartile of the index were rated substantially higher in their overall leadership skills – rated at the 83rd percentile on effectiveness; those in the bottom were rated at the 18% percentile. (You can assess yourself at Zengerfolkman.com/speed).

Most important, these leaders displayed eight sets of behaviors which accelerate pace. They are:

  • Innovating – a willingness to change; refusing to settle for good enough
  • Exhibiting strategic perspective – keeping the focus on high-priority goals and objectives
  • Displaying courage – standing up for needed
  • Setting stretch goals – focus on ultimate goals and inspire others to try to achieve them
  • Communicating powerfully – sharing ideas, encouraging engagement and listening carefully
  • Bringing external focus – participate in your and adjacent industries, expose yourself to new ideas
  • Taking initiative – with rock-solid integrity and high standards, focus on delivering results
  • Possessing knowledge and expertise – constantly be learning for continuous improvement

Are you looking for these behaviors when hiring key executives? Are you seeing superior performance by those who engage in these behaviors?  Share your experiences.

It’s the Fresh Perspective that Often Wins

“What Makes a CEO ‘Exceptional’”, an article published last April in McKinsey Quarterly caught my attention as I constantly want to help the CEOs achieve more. It focuses is on what differentiated the top 5% of CEO performers among a group of 600 CEOs at S&P 500 companies between 2004 and 2014. These leaders had to guide companies through unusual circumstances, including bankruptcy proceedings and returning successful to the public markets.

The study discovered that CEOs hired externally tend to pull more strategic levers than leaders promoted from inside. Within their first years of tenure they are:

  • More likely to conduct a strategic review and initiate a cost-reduction program
  • Less likely to engage in:
    • Organizational redesign
    • Business/product launch
    • Management reshuffle

Why? These leaders may have been hired to bring fresh perspectives about marketing to the customers. They are less sensitive to “sacred cows” and “internal cultural politics”, which may restrict the vision and efforts of leaders promoted from inside. At the same time, they may not want to overload the company with changes, so they focus first on strategic shifts and then use first-hand experience with staff before making structural changes to support them. In contrast, many of the leaders promoted from within the company may have been chosen to do what they did – continue the trajectory of existing strategy and culture. (It would be interesting to see how internally promoted leader who has radically promoted new ideas compare to these other two groups.)

Thus, the issue for the Board of Directors when choosing CEOs and other senior leaders is whether they have a clear understanding of what changes are needed, now. In a VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity), with technological, demographic and global power changes that may require new conceptual frameworks (e.g., a “Blue Ocean Shift), it’s the fresh perspective that apparently wins.  Moving around the furniture on the Titanic only makes sense when you understand where you should be headed.

Organizations should hold annual Strategic Leadership Advances (SLAs) to challenge themselves on what’s needed for success in the coming year. (We don’t call them “Management Retreats” because leaders must always move forward.) Using outside facilitators to inspire fresh thinking and observe the current leadership culture makes lots of sense, if you’re seeking an exceptional result!

What are you doing to make sure that your top leaders have the fresh perspective and wind-behind-their sales to support improvements in the coming year?  Share with us!

Four Elements of a Successful Leader Development Program

At the end of last year, I reflected on how to improve the leader development services that I  provide to CEOs through Vistage Worldwide’s multi-service ecosystem (e.g., Peer Advisory Boards and Vistage Inside for executive teams, which provides), a statement in a McKinsey article (“What’s Missing in Leadership Development?” by Feser, Nielsen and Renni); August 2017) caught my attention. “There is overwhelming evidence that the plethora of services, books, articles, seminars, conferences… a global industry estimated to be worth more than $50 Billion – are delivering disappointing results….just 10 percent said their leadership development initiatives have a clear business impact.”

The authors concluded that four sets of intervention appear to matter most:

  • Contextualizing the program based on the organization’s position and strategy
  • Ensuring reach across the organization
  • Designing the program for the transfer of learning
  • Using systems reinforcement to lock in change.

Each year, I review the results of last year’s program with clients as we forge next year’s strategic goals. Are sales and profits increasing – and why or why not? Are human and capital resources being maximized, and if not what’s necessary? How is the market – changes in customers’ needs and competition – impacting on the company? Do we have a clear and executable strategy for the next year, with KPIs measuring the effectiveness of execution? What else needs to change? Are we becoming a Continuous Improvement Learning Organization (CILO)?

Apparently, our leader development programs are working. As a result of regular monthly meetings to review progress, improve through executive coaching, fresh perspectives and adoption of new tools shared by Vistage experts and CEO peers, 24/7 access to a Chair/coach and our focus on becoming a CILO, is enabling our leaders and their organizations to achieve new heights: one member’s company has quadrupled in sales and profits during the five years we’ve been working together.

Whatever leader development system you use, heed the advice of these authors, as we are.

For more information about Vistage’s potential help you and your team have a super year in 2018, feel free to contact me!  Remember, Vistage’s 21,000 leaders are in 20 countries, served by over 600 Chair/facilitators; so I can refer you to another local Chair if you’re not in NYC!

EQ vs Technical Skills: What Really Matters for Career Advancement

Recently, Google decided to data-mine their own employee reviews and promotions to identify what factors got people promoted to leadership roles within the company. While Google has a reputation for hiring and promoting based on technical expertise, the results surprised them.

They determined eight skills that the promoted managers possessed that others did not. Listed in rank order, they are:

  1. Coach your team members well.
  2. Lead your team without micromanaging them.
  3. Take an interest in team members’ success.
  4. Focus on results.
  5. Be a good listener and communicator.
  6. Focus on career development for your employees.
  7. Develop a strategy for your team.
  8. Possess technical skills to advise your team when needed.

Three are skills:  #8 is a technical, #7 is strategic, and #4 is tactical execution.

Five (#1, #2, #3, #5, and #6) are people-management and emotional intelligence (EQ) type skills.

In other words, it seems that Google hires for technical IQ type talent, but promotes for EQ oriented skills.

Experience with the CEOs I work with who have technical staff suggests that this is true for many organizations. To lead a team of engineers, you don’t have to be more brilliant than everyone else. You need enough technical knowledge to hire the right people and to ask the right questions. After that, executive effectiveness depends on listening (skill #5) to your smartest engineers and developing rising stars and helping them manage teams of their own (skills 1, 2, and 3). In other words, you need to be a coaching leader. And it you want to expand and take on more projects, you need to give your rising stars a path to upward mobility – which means training them to also be coaching leaders. The more sub-projects they can manage, the more effective you become in creating a profitable, growing company

It’s one of the reasons our Vistage CEOs this year are focusing on creating performance –driven job descriptions with measurable KPIs, understanding people’s Culture Index scores and learning more about how to measure leadership skills.  What’s your experience with EQ when it comes to career advancement and corporate growth? Share them with us!

Presentation Training Workshop

Be the Best Presenter You Can Be
Friday Oct 19th, 9AM to 5PM

More Info
Win More Bids! Get our e-book:
Present To Win The RFP
.

Need a Speaker for Next Event?

Request Today
Let us know your needs
For Business Owners & CEOs
Be an Even Better Leader
Outperform Your Competitors!
Learn why 21,000 leaders
belong to Vistage Worldwide

Does Your Website Attract
New Businesses?

In any industry, your site
can sparkle - and sell!

Request Evaluation
Get 15-min review of your website from Market Smith, leave with game-changing insights.

Company's revenue plateaued?


Maybe it's time to Re-brand!

Request DBC's Rebrand Plan

Market Your Company More Effectively!

Request free Book
'The Growth Gears'

Request today!
from Chief Outsiders

"Better Way" Webinars
View Many of Our Past Webinars

Learn, Enjoy and Prosper
youtube.com

Watch Some Executive Breakfast Club Presentations

Watch Video
executivebreakfastclub.com
HR. com recognized the Presentation Excellence Group
for leader excellence in the Leadership Partners & Providers category.

Calendar

October 2018
M T W T F S S
« Aug    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031