Picking Leaders, Teams and Networks

Today's search for game-changing executive leadership talent extends far beyond a hunt for the right CEO, Vice President, Country Manager or Managing Director.

With the pressure for performance so high, any enterprise seeking a capable change agent, innovator or exceptional visionary would be wise to consider that the global business climate not only demands the best leaders, but those with experience inspiring their organisations to achieve great things, attracting high performance teams and building superior peer and industry networks.

There is a new chemistry of organisational success, and its genesis lays in the recognition that as individuals, we can only accomplish so much, but as leaders and catalysts and stimulators of great connections and relationships with employees, customers and industry influencers alike, big and bold things can take flight.

In fact, the sooner we dispose of the mythical 'Superhuman', the faster many of our businesses can move on to what's really important. And that is recognising that we need executive management leaders capable of fanning the flames of innovation, human performance and strategic vision and constantly aligning them to gain and keep a competitive edge.

The task of renewing our organisations, therefore, is much more about picking leaders and the teams and networks they can access and far less about pinning our hopes - and those of shareholders - on just one leader's ability to gain market share, increase sales and improve profitability.

Of course, the very best leaders already know how vital it is to have the right people on board and to continually stoke their personal and professional networks to get ahead. This requires a sense of humility and a willingness to accept that the best answers to a tricky business problem may reside in someone else's head or literally outside the walls of the organisation.

So the next time you interview a key potential leader for your enterprise, don't just ask about what they've done. Instead, explore more deeply how their decisions about people and their networking activities and commitment are magnifying and multiplying what they alone can bring to your table.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Measuring Executive Effectiveness

There are lots of simple reasons why any organisation should measure executive effectiveness. There's just no clear consensus on how to do it.

Should one look only at recent financial results or share price as indicators of a leader's impact on the enterprise, say in the case of a Chief Executive Officer or Chief Financial Officer?

How about the person's progress against key individual or unit performance metrics or specific milestones related to their most recent job description?

Or perhaps the results of one of a battery of available psychometric tests, behavioural interviews or personality type indicators that may shed like on interpersonal tendencies, communication styles or ability gaps?

Then there are the matters of whether they have worked collaboratively with peers or perhaps even with customers to achieve success for key stakeholders and whether the leader has exhibited support and passion for the company's culture, mission and senior-most management team.

Yes, each of these can provide an enterprise a measure of a leader's performance and impact on a broader team or business group.

But the bigger question - the focal point of business impact across the enterprise - really boils down to whether an executive made it more or less competitive compared to its market standing before they were granted the mantle of leadership.

Sure, an individual leader can meet and consistently exceed performance expectations when it comes to the things they do and what they focus on.

The larger issue, however, and one that synergies with increasing discussions about corporate sustainability, is whether the leader has put the company on a firmer footing than they found it. Did they leave the woodpile higher? Or were they only concerned with advancing their own agenda?

So how does one address or know these things? By considering three simple questions:

  1. Who has the leader hired?
  2. Who has the leader promoted?
  3. Who has the leader mentored?

The answers to these questions really surface a leader's commitment to increasing corporate competitiveness and long-term performance and sustainability.

Judging a leader's performance is serious business. So serious, in fact, that it should go beyond short-term measures of their personal contributions - straight to their investments in people over the longer term. These are, after all, the very people who'll someday take the reins of management and be expected to instil all the right things in the next generation of leaders.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

What Is Resilience?

Disruption, uncertainty and exponential change

Traditional thinking around resilience defines it as "absorbing change and bouncing back". It portrays the human spirit as a kind of behavioural elastic band – it stretches and then when the tension is released goes back to where it was.

In a steady state world, "bouncing back" is an apt description. Unfortunately, we don't live in a steady, consistent, unchanging world. Today's environment is marked by disruption, uncertainty and, where technology is involved, exponential change.

In any process seeking to bring about "change" … self-reflection isn't important … it's essential.

Without reflection there is no learning. Meanwhile, with ongoing "black swan" events likely to become the new reality, resilience seen as a way to return to the status quo isn't very helpful. Indeed, it's misleading.

Being strengthened by the storm

A more relevant approach presents resilience as pushing to the edge, being comfortable with being uncomfortable, adapting to the new state, reflecting on the experience and developing new ways to behave. It's a dynamic rather than a static process. It's about leading and learning; not absorbing and then acting as before.

Resilience means not only weathering the storm … but being strengthened by it.

Moreover, in assuming that resilience describes an individual's personal resources – as is invariably the case – we miss an important piece of the puzzle. Context matters and the right network, a support system and being around positive people make a difference.

Tomorrow's successful leaders will surround themselves with people who are resilient. Accepting the plasticity of the brain, we can learn to become more resilient. There is a link, for example, between resilience and the research on positive psychology. If you are overly anxious, risk-averse, trapped by yesterday's success, have difficulty facing adversity or are overwhelmed by life, resilience is spelt "r e s i s t a n c e".

Insights from "When the Trees Get BIGGER and the Forest Gets DEEPER – It's Time To SHARPEN YOUR SAW" (PDF).


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Maybe The Most Important Executive Skill Set Of All

You've probably sat in that especially uncomfortable chair, just at that awkward moment when it becomes apparent that no one in the room really believes what the leader is saying anymore.

While this portends a bad end for the leader, the enterprise and perhaps to several people in that same room, its impact is matched just as negatively when the leader - failing to see how their vision, behaviour and message is failing to inspire - drones on or pursues a doomed strategy without the real, genuine support of others on the management team.

Sure, some members of the team will nod their approval or 'go along to get along,' but underneath, they may seethe with disgust and disappointment and may effectively disengage as they begin to seek out their own best exit strategy.

What this case demonstrates is that a leader's own sense of self, their emotional intelligence and sense for how the message is resonating - or falling flat - among others is of paramount import when it comes to picking, evaluating and replacing top executive leaders.

The leader who fails to recognise when things have already begun to go badly, the one who fails to see how their shortcomings are impacting the team, and anyone who fails to recognise the ripple effect of executive behaviours good and bad is to be avoided at all costs.

The leader we all seek, rather, is the one who is contemplative when serious issues arise and action-oriented when it comes to finding or creating a solution, or at the very least, a temporary patch until a real long-term answer can be surfaced. Part of this requires the leader to ask how their message is getting through, to be self-reflective and at times, self-critical.

When leaders pause to question whether their messages and visions and grand strategies are really getting through the enterprise, they learn something about their teams and about themselves at the same time.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Can Biotech Be A Diversity Leader?
bedfordgroup.com

It's been a big year for biotech. And that momentum shows little sign of abating. Competition for top-seeded executives and board members has been fierce, with compensation at this level reflecting the sector's hunger for talent.

The "Board and Executive Compensation in the Biotechnology Industry" report’s intelligence gets more interesting where diversity and gender parity in the sector is concerned – and some fascinating observations can be inferred from that information. What can we do better? Where do we start?

Read "Can Biotech Be A Diversity Leader?" leadership insights

Employ the Head, Empower the Hand, Engage the Heart, and Enrich the Spirit (Part 2)

Why leadership balance is a business imperative

We have asked 10,000+ leaders, in over twenty-five countries, a simple question:

"What are the qualities of the best leader you have ever worked for?"

Two key results emerge.

First, successful leaders empower the head; enable the hand; engage the heart; and enrich the spirit. Lack of attention (or capability) in any one domain and team members/subordinates are short-changed on all four. It matters not, for example, that you have a great strategy (head) if execution (hand) is found wanting.

The second insight speaks to leadership balance (coherence). Balance describes performance excellence in each of the four domains. It is also about how those domains combine. Specifically, how the head and hand; the hand and heart; the heart and spirit; and the spirit and head come together.

HEAD & HAND - The Hunting Ground:

  • Theme: if you don't win today there will be no tomorrow.
  • Actions: clear direction, the drive to win, customer focus, a differentiated value proposition, the discipline of delivery.
  • Mindset: it's fun to win.
  • Greatest potential disruption: lack of focus.
  • Balance: without the head and hand, know that your future will be shaped by missed targets.

HAND & HEART - Breaking New Ground:

  • Theme: doing what you have always done is a mandate for mediocrity.
  • Actions: growth, stretch, business development, cost savings, continuous improvement, technology, redefining process, putting new learning into practice.
  • Mindset: getting better every day, in every way.
  • Greatest potential disruption: assumptions that competitive advantage has an extended shelf-life.
  • Balance: without the hand and heart the status quo will inevitably rule.

HEART & SPIRIT - The Playground:

  • Theme: if you don't grow the talent base you can't grow the business.
  • Actions: pushing the boundaries, learning at the edge, teamwork, coaching, mentoring, collaboration, leadership of self, authenticity, caring.
  • Mindset: how you learn is at least as important as what you learn.
  • Greatest potential disruption: a bully in the playground.
  • Balance: without the heart and spirit expect to always be short of top talent.

SPIRIT & HEAD - Moving To Higher Ground:

  • Theme: tomorrow's marketplace will be different. Count on it!
  • Actions: rethinking possibility, forging a new direction, succession, innovation, risk, emotional buy-in, commitment, letting go.
  • Mindset: entrepreneurial.
  • Greatest potential disruption: lack of succession.
  • Balance: without the spirit and the head, know that you are passing the baton of opportunity to the competition.

Inspirational leadership

It's not enough for the leader to communicate where we are heading. Gaining buy-in has to draw on language, imagery and story. To inspire is to make tomorrow's success come alive in the room today. If you can imagine it, you can implement it. If you can see it, you can be it. To inspire, the leader has to believe and convey with every strand of their DNA, not that this needs to happen – but that it will happen.

It's not enough to push for development and growth. To inspire, the leader has to display a personal passion for learning. Leaders are readers. They give full reign to their own sense of curiosity and draw it out in others. They see resilience not as bouncing back after a setback but learning from the experience and, as a result, being better equipped than ever. They build great teams. They ask great questions and, in doing so, transform what is into what can be.

It's not enough that the leader be respected. To inspire, they have to step down from the pedestal, look people in the eye and act in such a way that those they lead know, really know, that they care more about their success than their own. To lead is to care. Caring is step one in engendering trust.

Good leaders will engage some of the team, some of the time. Conversely, it takes a leader who brings leadership balance to the role, who knows how to inspire, who does inspire – to instil a sense of lasting commitment from all of the team. Leaders must lead! Leaders do lead. Are you the leader they need?


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Making Talent Management Work

"Talent management is a system, not a series of stand-alone processes."

No organisation can afford to put talent management on the backburner. The loss of experience as the baby-boom generation retires, the overall shortage of talented leaders, the absolute need to engage and retain high-potential employees at every level of the organisation, and an environment which demands that organisations continually do more with less, all combine to make talent management a Board-level priority.

How do organisations get it right? What lessons have we learned over the years? In reviewing their own talent management agenda what questions should those at the organisation's helm be asking?

Talent management is an organic system

No matter who holds the title the CEO is, and must be, the organisation's Chief Talent Officer. Line and functional leaders who see talent management as a secondary priority quickly become a business liability.

Talent management is an organic system, not a series of stand-alone processes. And like any system the whole can never be stronger than the weakest link. Business leaders who fail to align the talent management system with the emerging business context are destroying value. Top teams that support investment in only one or two aspects of development and retention of the internal talent pool and who fail to aggressively address shortfalls in the rest of the system are sowing the seeds of tomorrow's mediocrity.

The dilemma: leadership myopia all too easily leads to the assumption that positive feedback around one process is a valid indicator of the health of talent management in the organisation overall. Unless they are an integral part of the talent management system interventions such as 360º feedback, climate surveys and/or mentoring, no matter how well-supported initially, are destined to become yet one more administrative burden.

The cultural journey

Talent management starts with a robust understanding of the cultural journey. To truly make an impact talent management has to focus on "the organisation we need to be become." Working to become ever better at who we are and what we do (talent management that reinforces the status quo) is to orchestrate tomorrow's missed opportunity.

Although both are important, there is an important difference between climate and culture. Climate is a measure of how people feel about the organisation at a specific point in time. Culture describes the underlying systemic pillars that shape behaviour over the long term. Talent management means insight into and action around both.

The engine of talent management

The engine of talent management is talent acquisition. If the talent acquisition process is found wanting, every other talent management process is marginalised. One of the implications is that the value proposition of those charged with supporting talent acquisition (e.g. executive search) must move beyond "We know the market place better than anyone else."

Capability must encompass areas such as cultural measurement, role-specific competency profiling, team fit, leadership assessment, and executive integration. All these must be complemented by the broad range of skills and resources needed to enable the firm in question to become a full partner in supporting the organisation's talent management actions.

The team is the basic building block of organisation growth. The challenge: if the performance management process, compensation approach, talent acquisition outlay, succession work and internal focus on coaching do not embrace the team much of the effort and investment in talent management is for naught.

The coaching conversation

There is value in separating the performance discussion from the ongoing and complementary performance coaching conversation. The former is periodic, focuses on the achievement of goals (or otherwise) and sets out the coaching agenda. The latter is ongoing, and is about delivering that which has been agreed in the performance discussion (the coaching agenda). The most effective performance management processes balance "the what" (outcomes) with "the how" (behaviour aligned with the organisation's values).

Coaching has to become an integral part of every leader's thoughts and actions. Put simply, a leader who can't coach can't provide leadership; he/she isn't creating the space for talented employees to exploit their own potential.

Successful coaching is ultimately measured by the extent to which the employee moves to the next level of performance. In many instances this means helping the employee/team reframe outdated/dysfunctional mindsets. Coaching that makes a difference focuses, in the first instance, on what is working, no matter how embryonic (leveraging strengths, delivering affirmation, building pride, reinforcing early success).

Coaching is an integral element in the talent management system overall; the coach must model the leadership behaviour implicit in the emerging culture and deliver in-the-moment feedback and affirmation, all while continuously coaching the team. With that in mind, the wider value of the external coach (consultant), beyond coaching leaders in how to coach and/or supporting the accelerated growth of high-potential employees, needs to be regularly challenged and evaluated.

The succession process

When it comes to succession more is less. Succession work that makes a lasting difference focuses only on those leadership roles that are truly mission critical. The succession process must also take into account the future competitive environment; only then can the organisation start to understand which of its leaders have the skills, knowledge and development potential to succeed tomorrow in the (mission critical) role he/she holds down today.

There is a profound difference between succession and replacement strategies: a leader in a mission critical role who isn't actively developing both for their own role is failing to fulfil their fiduciary responsibility.

Leadership workshops

Leadership workshops supporting individual development must be seen as a reward for performance excellence, not a right that goes with the individual's role or level in the organisation. Leadership workshops make a difference when the content is valid and accessible; when the "customers' voice" is an ever-present subtext; when the learning challenges participants emotionally; when the level of abstraction contained within the material is aligned with the "conceptual horsepower" of those attending; when adequate time is set aside to challenge the ideas and views presented; when ideas, dialogue and practice are given equal weight; when reflection is part of the mix; and when the skills introduced have immediate practical application.

Although measuring success is important, not everything delivered by the workshop can and should be measured. In addition to delivering "What to do differently on Monday," it is often important that leadership workshops strive to change the way participants see the emerging business challenge. Reframing mindsets, offering participants a new lens through which to see the world, and challenging established assumptions are characteristics of success that don't fit easily on a spreadsheet.

Finally, in that real learning doesn't begin until the participant returns to the workplace, there is a strong correlation between on-the-job follow-up and return on the investment made.

A "power to" approach

Talent management that thrives emphasises a "power to" rather than a "power over" leadership approach. This speaks to transparency, risk, and allowing talented leaders to have a real say in the development journey being charted. No less important: excellence means keeping it simple!

Talent management isn't new. Indeed, scratch the surface of any organisation that has sustained outstanding performance and you will find that talent management has played a large part in that success. The talent challenge per se may not be a recent concern but the urgency and need to get it right have never been keener. And the environment has never been less forgiving to those who stumble.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Leading In A Business World Full Of Distractions

High performing executives often lament that there are only 24 hours in a day. That's because they're extremely engaged with their business and devoting time, energy and focus to the most critical decisions.

For the rest, their worry about getting things done is borne of their almost constant distraction by things of little import to their employer's business objectives.

In the first case, high performing executives are actively managing their time and attention and aligning both to strategic outcomes. Yet in a world teeming with distractions - from social media and new technology to colleagues with little emotional intelligence - insulating oneself from the noise is no easy task.

Global leaders have to block out those things that would distract them from essential priorities, even at the expense of possible misperceptions. Top managers must at the same time build trust with peers and subordinates but also impart the kind of operational separation that will enable these managers to apply their best effort to strategic issues.

When time seems to be moving faster than ever, no one can afford to waste time. Cutting distractions must become an imperative for leaders and their followers. Alas, too many managers will succumb to the distractions that, on a daily basis, drain them of their intellectual potential and energy and sap their performance. After all, it's really easy to fall into this trap.

At the end of the day, leaders must proactively manage their time, attention and behaviour around what matters most. In today's business world, this amounts to a constant battle - but one that must be waged.

For superior leaders, getting the job done right isn't only a matter of asking oneself, "Are we doing things right?" but also, "Are we doing the right things?" Doing those 'right things' requires us to manage around the distractions.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Employ the Head, Empower the Hand, Engage the Heart, and Enrich the Spirit (Part 1)

Four leadership domains

There are four things an employee (regardless of level) needs – not wants, needs – from their immediate team leader.

  1. A clear sense of direction – where are we heading? How will the business environment evolve? Where and how is technology going to change the business? What will tomorrow look, sound and feel like? What is our unique point of differentiation? Who is tomorrow's customer? The head.
  2. The discipline of delivery – a cadence, a rhythm, a regular and continuing pattern of behaviour where the agreed outcomes and feedback regarding those outcomes are always in sharp focus. It's about an organisation that, by way of design, is agile enough to support tomorrow's needed speed of delivery. In performance terms, it's the need for everyone on the team to know where they stand. The hand.
  3. To provide a learning environment – mentoring, coaching, stretch, building the team, a focus on learning how to learn. Currency in the job market. The heart.
  4. That the leader in question is someone who everyone on the team respects and trusts – consistent, authentic, affirming, displays humility, keeps people informed, is tough-minded when they need to be and, regardless of the circumstances, they listen, really listen. The spirit.

A consistent and compelling performance ethos, day-to-day focus, an engaged workforce, and a sense of belonging – all draw heavily on the four leadership domains outlined above.

Leadership balance

Lack of leadership balance – behaviour skewed towards one of the above to the detriment of the others – and innovation and responsiveness become a lost cause. Meanwhile, failure to fully deliver against any one of these (four) leadership imperatives and for those you count on most, the grass will inevitably look greener elsewhere. Guaranteed!

To lead is to hire, promote and build for succession – at a level of excellence. Anything less is unacceptable. Nothing is more important. To be in a position of responsibility and lack mastery in hiring is to actively mismanage a critical business asset.

The head describes success in strategic terms.

The hand outlines what, specifically, needs to be achieved.

The heart captures the people management capability demanded.

The spirit is all about character. Character matters.

Talent acquisition, specifically, and talent management, generally, that fails to embrace all four leadership characteristics is a gateway to yet more recruitment.

It is obviously essential to be "customer-centric". But, what does that really mean?

The head implies being fully informed as to where the customer's business is heading. It's to understand the customer's emerging value proposition. It's to see opportunity through the customer's customer.

The hand means getting inside the customer's business processes, delivering on time and maintaining the highest level of quality.

The heart recognises that the buy-decision is based on emotion. Selling is not simply how well you get across what you do or even how well you do it – it's, ultimately, how you make the customer feel.

The spirit is found in truth, authenticity and living the organisation's values. Spirit comes to the fore in passion, perseverance and, when needed, patience. It is also about challenging those on the front-line to improve the processes that dictate how the work gets done – and do so every day, in every way.

The emerging culture

In shaping the emerging culture, leadership that draws on the head and the hand can be termed as "cultural drivers". Meanwhile, the heart and the spirit act like cultural anchors. If they are not present, in full measure, being who you have always been is the best that can be hoped for. Don't even think about implementing sweeping change (e.g., breakthrough technology) if the heart and the spirit are found wanting.

From our own research and the work of others, only one company in five "manage" their culture. Then again, the organisation's culture will change whether you want it to or not … if you are not attentive, in ways that are less than helpful.

So far so good, but even the leadership qualities outlined will likely not keep your high contributors on board should the right opportunity beckon. They need more … they need to be inspired. They need to believe that what we choose to call "work" is making the very best use of their time and ability. They need to be able to bridge the challenge they face today with what tomorrow's success will look and feel like.

This equates to leadership of an altogether higher order... Part 2 coming soon.

Insights from "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis".


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Leading Effectively When There Simply Isn't Enough Time To Effectively Lead

If you're like most executives these days, your cup runneth over. That is, demands on your time and for your time, attention and energy have reached a fever pitch and there never seems to be enough time in the day to attend to every pressing priority.

It's at times like these that the art and science of leadership skills like time management and delegation are most appreciated.

But the organisational ripple effects of an executive management team chronically and irreversibly beset by too many 'To Do' items shouldn't be underestimated nor avoided for a lack of time to properly address them.

The American poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it."

The challenge in today's corporation is to make the most and best use of time, to get the best leaders to share the same sense of urgency and direct the most focus to the highest of business goals, and to make sure they aren't spending too little time on business issues and opportunities that could make all the difference.

This latter risk - which executives few fail to acknowledge but which many 'up and comers' clearly recognise as a failure of leadership - is particularly critical, since the day-to-day demands of the business typically relegate important matters to no more than a cursory discussion on any one meeting agenda.

If you're the Chief Executive Officer, you've got to know how and where your executives are spending their time and applying what they know. Getting too bogged down in too many things that don't move the needle on corporate performance is a risk that comes with a world that seems to be moving faster than ever before.


As passionate experts in the executive search and leadership consulting industry we build leadership teams for our clients every day. Learn more about TRANSEARCH International and our wide-ranging approach to leadership acquisition and management assessment.

Working from Office, Working from Home – The Way Forward
transearch.com.au

TRANSEARCH Australia recently partnered with Gadens to host "WFO/WFH – Making it Work", a breakfast seminar, with presentations from Executive Search expert Bill Sakellaris and Employment Law specialist George Haros.

Senior leaders and executives came together in person for an interactive presentation with Q&A, exploring the legal and culture imperatives and opportunities in the new workplace.

Find a summary of the key points covered in the seminar presentations, as well as some relevant resources for further reading.

Read "Working from Office, Working from Home – The Way Forward" leadership insights