Executive Leadership programs are essential in the construction of an “enterprise first” organisational culture.
Half Day Workshop
The Executive Leadership Program
For the past two decades organisations have toiled with how to optimise organisational structure. The benefits of a silo-based structure must be weighed against clients’ demands for more integrated solutions. This latter trend puts pressure on silo based organisational structures. Silo structures attract high performing executives who are then able to concentrate their application of specific skills or subject matter expertise. Meanwhile cross selling has not succeeded in the financial services sector as a support of the silo structure.
Our culture change leadership programs do not suggest a deconstruction of silos, but instead create an over-arching structure of common purpose and commitment connected at the level of the Executive Leadership Team and its direct reports. Research from MIT’s Sloan School concludes that an “enterprise first” culture can succeed in organisations with deeply entrenched silos, and that a culture can be constructed that inspires and guides employees across the organisation and also supports business-wide integrated client solutions.
The recognition and development of high-potential executives within an organisation and early in their career has direct benefits for an organisation. Personal and professional growth outperform income in importance for executives. This is more true of high-potentials. Through executive development programs high-potentials can maximise their impact and grow their competence. High potentials complete a disproportionate percentage of high-value work in organisations. Active focus on them optimises their contribution to the organisation and aids in their retention.
Organisational business units – or “silos” – intended to facilitate excellence in professional delivery have had the collateral consequence of stifling innovation. The DNA of innovation relies on diversity of thought and ideas. Silos inhibit, constrain and ultimately render creative innovation diminished, or at worst inoperable.
Technology and globalisation, among other things, have increased the complexity of the challenges faced by organisation. Technical solutions from narrow professional silos have proved inadequate in creating successful outcomes. The problems that threaten organisations are more commonly interrelated and directly impact seemingly disparate parts of an organisation. Often, none of the available courses of action exist without deep trade-offs and compromise. Further, the optimal outcome is often opaque as success cannot be measured comparably. Adaptive leadership is a means of managing this unprecedented complexity. Our one day workshop of introductory adaptive leadership inspires executive leaders by the simplicity of its application, subsequent change in behaviour and the quality of its return on investment.
Succession planning at the CEO or Executive Leadership Team level is an oft-overlooked part of senior executive responsibilities. Senior positions or roles within an organisation are permanent, whereas the office holder at a particular time is temporary.
Roles within organisations outlive incumbents and the quality of their tenure impacts the reputation and effectiveness of those roles going forward. A positive and appropriate succession plan is a core responsibility of the executive. It ensures minimal disruption during transition; it forces CEOs and boards to examine the quality of its leaders at level of or below the executive leadership team, and it provides assurance to the organisation in the event of a senior person being unable to fulfil their role for reason of illness or absence.
The average tenure of CEOs in Australia is between three and five years. Succession planning should occur almost immediately after an executive begins in their role.
Senior Executive Team
Traditional thinking has viewed the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) as a management committee comprised of the most competent member of each business unit – usually with a C-level title. A primary task of the ELT is allocation of the organisation’s resources. To capture a bigger slice of the available budget, each ELT member will argue that their priorities will create more value than those of the other business units. This causes jealously and suspicion between silos and reinforces competition and division between business units.
Membership of the ELT on this basis is clear, but is one half of an ELT member’s role. The complexity of organisations has meant that a second role has emerged for the ELT: a cohesive and aligned responsibility to lead the organisation. The ELT must work with the CEO to deploy strategy, create, deepen and protect the culture of the organisation and augment the organisation’s brand. The ELT now shares leadership of these inordinately complex organisations with the CEO. This division or duality of roles is often a surprise to the ELT.
Enterprise First to Solidarity
With tens of thousands of employees dispersed geographically and by business function, sections of an organisation can inadvertently detach from the businesses overall purpose and goals. This manifests itself in silo-based or geographic thinking where individuals or groups make decisions in their own interest at the expense of the overall goals and strategy of the organisation.
The CEO (along with the board) is only employee of an organisation who naturally considers the enterprise above any subordinate group. The Executive Leadership Team and other senior executives must embrace the same attitude. ELT members may be forced to make sacrifices in their own business unit to satisfy the overall objectives of the business. This is not a natural state, more common in consensus driven business environments such as Japan. It requires substantial commitment and understanding from the organisations but leads to solidarity – an incredibly powerful force when leaders and their subordinates are completely aligned.
Merging Actions and Intentions
Executives judge themselves based on their intentions, but they are judged by their actions. Enron’s motto was “Respect, Integrity, Communication and Excellence” but after its collapse the world learned of its fraud.
The misalignment between intentions and actions is rarely so stark but cases such as Enron should sound a warning. What an organisation says it does and believes, and what it actually does can be quite different things. Similarly, executives often have opinions of themselves that are not shared by their direct reports, colleagues, or even their family and friends. We assist executives to bring their actions and intentions together, and in so doing true authentic leadership emerges.
The Top 1%
Whilst theories vary in terms of quantum, a small group of employees and executives account for a disproportionate volume of work completed in an organisation. The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of all cerebral work is completed by 20% of the people engaged to complete it.
Price’s square root law suggests that the relationship between value and people is quite asymmetric, and that the bigger organisations become, the smaller the percentage of staff who create half of the value in projects, technology, or sales. Whilst these theories do not hold up in all cases, they highlight the importance of isolating the best and brightest within an organisation and building structures within to motivate and retain them.
“The indifferent reputation of executive coaching stems in part from its indecent focus on moving a client through the “knowledge-action” equation: Here is a solution and here are the actions. Usually the immediate attraction felt by the client softens and they revert to prior learned behaviour. Great coaching moves the client to a new set of default behaviours which are, under stress particularly, stronger than the temptation to revert to learned behaviours. Coaching success is about transformational rather than occasional or voluntary change .”
– Peter Hislop