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.

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.

Judging The Quality Of Executive Management

Financial analysts were among the first to express interest in a rating system for the quality of a public company's senior executive management. Governance observers and activist shareholders won't be the last.

As free-market influence continues to shift from institutions to individuals and from manufacturers to end-user consumers, investors and market watchers are tracking executive leadership as never before. After all, in such volatile economic times, everyone's looking for an edge, and everyone's looking for the team of business leaders with all the right stuff to create long-term value.

It's easy to spot the problems and it's easy to spot the leaders and teams that no long-term investor should bank their future on. Yet selecting the right management teams to invest in remains a challenge. That is, unless you boil down the criteria for measuring "quality of management" to one of its most essential elements.

Consider the views of business management writer Tom Peters and American consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader - yes, an odd pairing but one grounded in common views of what companies should produce in addition to products, services and profits.

A quote attributed to Peters goes: "Leaders don't create followers; they create more leaders." And to Nader: "The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers."

Many people will tell you that it's not difficult to find a Chief Executive Officer who says one thing and does the other. Just read the business headlines in any media on a given day and that statement may be readily reinforced.

The real test - and no small concern for the long-term investor - is whether the Chief Executive Officer of any going business concern has surrounded themselves with an exceptional management team. The strength and performance of a high-performing senior management team is one critical demonstration of organisational potential. A CEO must be both humble and smart enough to realise that the calibre of the people around them will dictate success or failure.

Just as the business leader must carefully choose who is up to the test, so too, should global investors dig down and do their own due diligence on whether enterprise sustainability and competitiveness can rely on superb management bench strength.


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.

When Business Goals And Company Culture Clash

Business growth and profitability is the stuff of legends. Companies that astound investors, employees and the business media with sustained or unprecedented expansion become the darlings of the global financial markets and the spotlight grows on the careers of the executive officers, non-executive directors and innovators who made it all happen.

It is not surprising, then, that we are all chasing the same dreams. Growth leads to new opportunities. New opportunities present the potential to change the things around us. And recognition enables influence on a scale sometimes unimagined.

Yet there comes a time in the development of any company - large or small, public or private - when the risk of significant imbalance between corporate objectives and company culture escalates and begins to threaten continued business growth.

It is time like those that define companies. It is in such instances when the owners of a company reveal their true intentions, inhibitions and fears. And this is precisely when high performing executives begin to ask themselves whether it makes sense to work "all out" for the growth of their business when the reality is that corporate culture or fears about how growth may change it is holding them - and their organisations - back like an anchor.

Particularly for companies with long legacies or foreign owners, the stakes are very high when it comes to aligning business growth objectives with the corporate culture insiders see as the key, unifying force that has positioned the organisation for success in the first place.

The simple truth when it comes right down to it, is that even the most ambitious corporate plans for growth may collapse under the weight of questions about retaining company culture. That is why it is essential for executives already in a key leadership role, or contemplating a move to a new company and management opportunity, to probe considerably on the state of balance between business goals and company culture.

Questions one might ask could include:

  • "What elements of the culture are the owners willing to sacrifice in order to achieve business growth?"
  • "How much growth would the owners need to realise to be convinced that the culture needs to change?" and,
  • "Am I being compensated to preserve company culture, achieve business growth, or both?" And in the very likely case the response from company owners is "both", how are the financial incentives and rewards balanced to recognise both sides of the coin?

The pursuit of big dreams forces these tough questions and requires thoughtful answers. There is a natural conflict between ambition and identity. On a human scale, it is a question of knowing one's self. In corporate terms, it is a matter of sacrifice versus comfort and the willingness to confront one's fears.


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.

Creating An Environment For Innovation

Charles Darwin is long remembered for informing us, based on years of study as a naturalist and biologist, that it is not the strongest of the species that survives, but rather, the one most adaptable to change.

At least partly for this reason, business owners and global executive leaders rather predictably call for significant innovation when crafting their annual business growth plans.

Be this innovation grounded in expected technological advances, market research, organisational restructuring or hefty financial investment, the linkage between better results and doing something new or perhaps even bold has never been stronger.

There are, after all, a great many examples of people and enterprises taking small ideas and changing the world, along the way enriching themselves and their shareholders. That's the kind of result the Chief Executive Officer wants to realise, and no doubt, you and your teams as well.

And there are likewise many business tales about the cost of standing still, of watching customers and markets change around them, and ultimately, realising it's simply too late to save the company.

So, if your company's greatest potential for innovation hasn't yet been realised, what's been holding it back?

That is a serious question worth asking and worth exploring until one can gain some answers particularly if you and your team have been tasked with ideating the next big thing for your enterprise.

For in order to innovate, one must operate in an environment where such exploration and risk is encouraged and rewarded. Further, one must find the time and resources to commit intense study and focus to just one pursuit at a time when the pressure to multitask and deliver results on multiple projects remains.

If one were to ask Darwin, today, about what to expect on the road to a true breakthrough, it may well be that setting up the dynamics and environment for innovation must indeed come before the great success. That is, there may be bureaucracy, internal politics and/or stubborn managers stuck in their old ways standing in the way of agility and change.

Darwin himself is also credited with this quote: To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact! Especially true in these times.

The implication for today's global executive is that one must study whether the organisation has the ingredients, the environment, the culture and also the true resolve to innovate. Much like a scientist studying the natural world, one must assess whether the pre-conditions for life, or, in this case, for breakthrough discoveries that can revolutionise or accelerate the business are present or not.

By carefully considering the opportunities as well as the obstacles to innovation, one should be able to see the potential for great success more clearly. This improved vision could translate into a defined set of actions required to nurture experimentation.

If your mandate is to innovate, or to drive innovation, you would be well served to understand whether you have the people and the will to fight through organisational barriers. Otherwise, you might only realise that despite the rhetoric about change, your company only wants to keep spinning its old wheels.


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.