A client asked me recently if I know any firms with high scores on leadership in their employee opinion survey. Their own leadership scores are stubbornly low and the Chief Executive was concerned.
I’m working with two firms that have recently moved the dial. They’ve done it through a strong and sustained focus on the importance of leadership across the business, active involvement by the Chief Executive and the top team themselves, and investment and effort in the leadership of the next tier.
Another firm is just starting to tackle the leadership behaviour required for the success of an
A lot of my work is involved with governance at the moment. I’m advising a start up charity on their governance arrangements, I’m chairing a review of the governance of a financial services company, and I’m now chair of the Trustee Board of a charity (the Shakespeare Schools Festival – plug: come to our performances which see students from all sorts of backgrounds, many of them underprivileged, rise to the challenge of performing an abridged Shakespeare play in a professional theatre).
Three big questions come to me in all these areas.
First, how do we put the formal governance arrangements in place
I’m participating in my first MOOC run by MIT on Transforming Business, Society and Self and one of the interesting questions was why do we have ( or practice) leadership that collectively produces results that no one wants?
This applies as much to businesses and organizations as it does to society. So why do the results we get rarely match our visions and intentions? I’m hoping the collective wisdom of the MIT faculty and the 35,000 participants in the MOOC will give me some answers to try with clients. But in the meantime I wonder if it is to do with
Everyone knows good leadership is more important than ever in difficult times. But what does it mean in practice?
How leaders behave is highly visible to the organisation, in ways they often don’t realise themselves, and has been shown to be by far the strongest influence on how employees behave.
What are leaders in Tesco doing while media headlines analyse its collapse? Chief executive Dave Lewis has resisted the standard new CEO default of unveiling a ‘magic bullet’ strategy. Instead, he’s selling off the company’s four corporate jets and travels by train instead of limo, saying, “There’s an opportunity to go back
Integrity is an essential quality of any good leader. The banking crisis brought to the foreground the importance of the right culture and acting with principle. One international investment bank leader kick-started culture change by telling all its employees he regretted profitable decisions made in the past that were not in the clients’ best interests, whatever the prize at the time.
A frightening statistic is that more than 50% of mergers fail. Perhaps a more frightening statistic, less widely discussed, is that 50% of leaders fail. Of course, it’s harder to measure leadership failure or success unless it’s tied directly to company performance, such as long term growth in shareholder value with Jack Welch and GE. Or to obvious failure, such as Jeff Skilling and Enron.
Most M&As are a mixture of planning and chaos. Have you noticed, however, that those involved, looking back once the dust has settled, often forget the chaotic bits, and tell the story as if it all went according to plan in the end.
In reality, integration plans are constantly changed in order to take advantage of unforeseen opportunities or problems. Synergies which rely on people changing their behavior and ways of working often prove to be much harder than expected to realise in practice. And the challenge for leaders tackling M&As is that most of the synergies they need to bank