Category Archives: Leadership Development

Accelerating Culture Change Through Leadership Development

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I recently ran across the third report in the Real Work Leadership series of reports from Korn Ferry. Create an Engaging Culture for Greater Impact looks at changing culture through the lens of leadership development. An interesting take.

The report is the analysis of a global survey of views on leadership development fielded in July and August of 2015. With more than 7,500 survey responses from 107 countries, 3 in 4 of the leaders who responded were from their organizations’ business functions; the remainder were from HR. That’s pretty unusual and made the results more interesting. Remember those demographics as you see some of the findings below.

Respondents ranked their top 7 priorities for leadership development within their organizations. Remember, only 25% of the global pool of respondents were in HR.

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I was interested to note that only one of the top seven priorities for leadership development is operationally performance driven:  #4, Accelerating time to performance. Right in the middle of the pack. #1 and #3 were change related, and #2 was talent acquisition related. I find these surprising from a group overwhelmingly made up of non-HR leaders. But looking at the final three – Driving engagement, Diversifying the leadership pipeline, and Becoming more purpose and values driven – enables me to back off of my surprise. If these were the only choices from which to rank the important leadership development priorities of senior leaders, then the only real surprise is that Accelerating time to performance is not rated the top priority.

The survey analysis goes on to suggest that Developing leaders to drive strategic change really means developing leaders to accelerate culture change. That would be really interesting if true. That would mean that 5,625 very senior business leaders around the world think that changing their culture is their very top priority. That would be outstanding. For someone like me, who thinks that culture is the one of the most critical business sustainability dynamics, this is music to my ears.

The report is mostly about leadership development. That’s a big part of Korn Ferry’s business. So that makes sense. And there are a number of interesting data points that you might want to consider in your business. Things like the following:

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But this:

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Remember again that the vast majority of respondents in this survey were not HR leaders. But the data ought to give HR leaders all over the world ammunition to begin to link their leadership development strategies to their organization’s business strategies in new and compelling ways. Especially as they relate to culture change. Perhaps this from the report is one of the most simple descriptions of the interconnectedness of culture, leadership, and strategy – and so, performance:

“The starting point for organization alignment is mission, purpose, and strategy. Ideally top leaders define these elements, the path to execution , and the values and behaviors that will support implementation and success.  Once they have done so, these individuals must communicate this information clearly, consistently, and repeatedly throughout the organization.”

I liked this survey analysis. We talk about culture all the time. (Well, I talk about culture all the time.) We don’t often talk about culture through the lens of leadership development, though. And as this paper reports, leadership development – particularly as we are in the midst of a demographic sea change of Biblical proportions – may be an integral strategy for moving cultures forward for performance, for talent acquisition, and for business sustainability.

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Filed under Change Management, China Gorman, Culture, Data Point Tuesday, Demographics, Korn Ferry, Leadership Development, Learning/Development

Does Your CEO Have a Higher Purpose?

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Each year I look forward to the pwc CEO survey findings. And they’re just out. You can see their top ten findings here.

If you’re in HR you need to know what your CEO is thinking about. What she’s worried about. What keeps him up at night. What she’s planning to tackle in the next several years. And if you don’t have access to your CEO, this survey can help you make sure you’re preparing for what may be coming down the pike. These survey results could help you be brilliant for your organization – and for your CEO.

The top ten issues for 2016 identified by U.S. CEOs in the survey are fascinating. They cover regulation, cyber security, tax reform, doing deals, paying attention to customers, investors, employees – and understanding the organization’s higher purpose. A virtual smorgasbord for HR!

Top issues CEOs are expecting to confront in 2016 include:

  1. U.S. market prospects will outshine the low-growth world

  2. Over-regulation will continue to pose a threat to business growth

  3. Regionalization in trade and divergence in economic models and regulatory frameworks, with threats to open Internet

  4. Customers and other stakeholders will expect business to demonstrate a higher purpose over the coming years

  5. Prospects will improve for laying the groundwork for U.S. tax reform

And, in 2016, U.S. CEOs will plan to:

  1. Strengthen the technology foundation to set their business apart

  2. Do more deals, especially domestically

  3. Hold fast in China, while recognizing the bumps along the way

  4. Anticipate the needs of future customers and other stakeholders

  5. Prepare the Millennials for leadership roles

I’m fascinated that 3 of the top ten land squarely in HR’s court: demonstrating a higher purpose (that’s culture), anticipating the needs of…stakeholders (that’s talent), and preparing Millennials for leadership roles (that’s talent development). If you ever wondered whether or not your CEO thinks about HR, the answer is a resounding YES in 2016.

I’m particularly intrigued with the higher purpose issue. It’s no secret that bringing humanity into the workplace is a topic on the minds of many business leaders. Having CEOs concerned that customers, investors, employees, strategic partners all want in on the higher purpose is pretty darned interesting. What are you doing to help the organization understand and communicate its higher purpose this year?

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Anticipating the needs of customers and employees is another thought provoking issue. Addressing employee needs like wellness – physical and financial, parental leave, career development, and providing opportunities to contribute to society are clearly articulated needs of today’s U.S. employees. Are you helping your CEO provide options to meet these needs?

And preparing Millennials for leadership roles is front and center, isn’t it? Investing in their development brings a number of benefits to the organization in addition to deepening your leadership bench. Millennials frequently report that learning and skills development are as – or more – important than compensation growth. Many report that they leave their employers in search of learning and growth opportunities. Investment in their leadership development undoubtedly impacts retention in a positive way. Are you beefing up your succession plan and its supporting programs?

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My guess is that most HR practitioners and leaders are currently thinking about these 3 priorities, among a long list of others. Isn’t it nice to know that your CEO may just be ready to help you tackle these issues?

The bigger question may be, are you ready for your CEO to start asking “what’s the plan?”

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Filed under CEOs pwc, China Gorman, Company Culture, Data Point Tuesday, HR, Leadership Development, Organization Values, pwc, Strategy, Talent Management, Uncategorized, Workplace Culture

Improve Corporate Performance: Invest in Leadership/Talent Development

data point tuesday_500The relationship between talent and financial performance has been an “intuitive” given to enlightened leaders for a long time.

“Top executives intuitively understand that they cannot win without the right people and the right skills.”

Thanks to recent work by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) it’s no longer intuitive. The data are in and they are convincing. BCG fielded its Global Leadership and Talent Index survey of 1,263 CEOs and HR directors of global companies in 85 countries. The results are compelling to say the least.

The high level findings include:

  • Leadership and talent management capabilities have a surprisingly strong correlation with financial performance. “Talent Magnets” – those companies that rated themselves strongest on 20 leadership and talent management capabilities – increased their revenues 2.2 times as fast and their profits 1.5 times afast than “talent laggards,” or those companies that rated themselves the weakest.
  • The performance spread on leadership and talent management capabilities was wide. The talent magnets had an average capability score of 2.5 (on a scale of -3 to 3), while the talent laggards had an average score of -2.2.
  • Companies – even talent laggards – that move up just one level will experience a distinct, measurable, and meaningful business performance return.

With organizations spending an estimated $40 Billion (yes, Billion!) worldwide on leadership and talent development, these findings may enable leaders all over the world to re-orient their priorities, investmemts and behavior on talent/leadership development and gain the critical involvement and support with all the members of the C-suite.

Through their research BCG divided leadership/talent management capabilities into six categories:

  • Strategy
  • Leadership and talent model
  • Talent sourcing
  • People development
  • Engagement
  • Culture

And it’s interesting to note their definitions require a great deal of accountability from leaders. This is a differentiated approach and one that should spur some thoughtful analysis by HR leaders. The chart below lays out the performance differences between the lowest organization performers – Talent Laggards and the highest organization performers – Talent Magnets and the average performers in between.

BCG May 5 2015 3Interesting, yes? What’s even more interesting, then, are the data connecting these leadership/talent management performance levels with business outcomes. Take a look:

BCG May 5 2015 2In addition to proving the real correlation between leadership/talent management performance and financial performance, a valuable take away from this data is BCG’s conclusion that

“The companies that excel at leadership and talent management have figured out how to involve their leaders, not just the HR team, meaningfully and regularly in people development. “

The one-two punch of investment in leadership/talent development and significant accountability of senior leaders should help HR leaders around the world create successful business cases for moving leadership/talent development investments forward. Let’s get ready to rumble…

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Filed under Boston Consulting Group, China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, HR Analytics, HR Data, Leadership Development, Talent development

Why Aren’t We Developing More Global Leaders?

Data Point TuesdayThe Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) recently released its 5th iteration of their GLD (Global Leadership Development) study. The report, “Global Leadership Development: Preparing Leaders for a Globalized Market”, examines opportunities and challenges for organizations working to develop “global leaders,” or leaders who have global expertise and can perform in an international environment. With factors like technology making the workforce increasingly global, this is an area of leadership development that organizations should consider adding to their focus. As i4cp discusses in the report, “The purposeful development of global competencies and capabilities among leaders is essential to organizational effectiveness and competitive edge.” Attention is certainly shifting towards GLD. However, despite that the number of organizations focusing on global leadership (through either general leadership development programs or specific GLD programs) has grown from 31% in 2010 to 44% in 2014, this figure still equates to less than 50% of organizations addressing global leadership development. Even among large corporations who may have greater resources to dedicate towards GLD programs, less than 54% report addressing GLD.

I’ve discussed the current importance placed on leadership development in previous posts (here and here), and this holds true in i4cp’s study. Organizations perceive leadership development as a critical area of focus right now, and yet, most organizations report few programs and/or low effectiveness when it comes to their current approach to leadership development. From i4cp’s study of human capital issues specifically, it is reported that organizations are not only ineffective at leadership development, they are increasingly getting worse at it, with 27% reporting effective leadership development in 2010, versus 25% in 2014. This holds true for global leadership development as well, with only 21% of large employers stating they are effective at GLD, despite that 60% view developing global skill in leaders as “highly important.”

Importance vs. effectiveness GLDAdditionally only 53% of large organizations report making an effort to develop global leaders. However on a positive note, those organizations that have either dedicated GLD programs or GLD programs embedded within general leadership development programs, report an increase in focus on GLD (up from 48% in 2013).

Dedicated vs. embedded global leadership development chartOne of several key findings from i4cp’s 2104 study is that for organizations to develop an effective GLD program, they must connect the curriculum to the business at a local level. Leaders should understand how the business is different in relation to region – an example being that one region may have a completely different sales approach than another region. Competencies to include as outlined by i4cp’s report for GLD effectiveness are:

  • Knowledge of cultures/customs in specific markets.
  • Ability to be conversational or fluent in prominent languages within specific markets.
  • Knowledge about customers and/or prospective customers in specific markets.

It should be pointed out that for leaders to gain local perspective or knowledge, they do not necessarily need to physically immerse themselves in a region. Instead, organizations can leverage technology like webcasts, audio/video conferences, and social media, to bring leaders regional-specific learning without incurring the potential costs (both monetary costs like transportation and non-monetary like the impact of relocation on a family) of removing a leader from their current role. I4cp’s study also found that for GLD, consistency in program delivery on global basis, in combination with local customization, correlated to successful GLD programs.

Other key findings included that high performing organizations were more likely to define leaders by influence rather than authority (for example: by their ability to consider/adopt a point of view or excellence in work performance), and that GLD participants should be selected on behavior-based evidence rather than through recommendations by senior leadership or an employee’s direct supervisor. Close to two-thirds of respondents (both LPO’s and HPO’s) currently rely on these methods for selecting GLD participants. However, neither of these selection methods has been proven to increase market performance or GLD effectiveness. Instead, organizations should look to documented evidence of skills, competencies, and performance, when selecting participants, methods that have been correlated to market performance and demonstrate even higher correlations in GLD effectiveness.Evidence Graphic

I4cp’s study also suggests that organizations should develop GLD programs with a focus on the future. Several future focused practices for creating curriculum had strong correlations to both market performance and effective GLD:

  • Determining future-focused critical roles
  • Conducting an internal skills inventory to determine the longer-term gaps in critical roles
  • Identifying the specific skills needed in future-focused critical roles
  • Conducting environmental scanning to determine external skills shortages in future-focused key markets

Of course, as with looking at anything long-term, regularly reviewing assumptions is very important.

No one doubts that every day our businesses, our customers, our stakeholders are getting more global. And in most cases, they are getting more global at high rates of speed. What can explain the lack of speed and focus organizations are employing when developing global leadership competencies and effectiveness? With the current state of global worker demographics and educational readiness for employment in general, it is mystifying that leadership development programs in general – and global leadership development programs in specific – are not among the fastest growing and highest priority issues being dealt with.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Global Leadership Development, Institute for Corporate Productivity, Leadership Development, Workplace Studies