Bedford/TRANSEARCH Hybrid Workplace Whitepaper 2021
home.bedfordgroup.com

Remote work is here to stay. Wherever you fall on the Venn diagram of attitudes to the remote office, that much we can agree on.

Whether our instincts are to push back on it, lean into it, or dance around the edges — that cat is out of the bag. Going forward, every organisation will have to contend with at least one singular, intractable market reality — a workforce that knows just how much is achievable and sustainable from one end of a Zoom conference or Slack group.

Executive leaders are going to have to navigate this reality and accept that the right way forward may look like nothing we've ever seen before.

Read "Bedford/TRANSEARCH Hybrid Workplace Whitepaper 2021" leadership insights

Holding Firm In The Storm, Aligning For The Future
transearch.com

Now more than ever before, leadership in any business management function beckons leaders to lead.

These are the times that test the relationships we, as leaders, have built with employees, with peers and business partners. Everything we put into these will now be summoned as people look for trust and support in others in trying times.

Read "Holding Firm In The Storm, Aligning For The Future" leadership insights

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.

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.

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 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

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.

The Building Blocks of Coaching

Coaching that is limited to making the coachee better at what they have always done or fails to factor in the emerging business context is a poor investment. The coaching conversation must be informed by:

  1. The emerging economic environment.
  2. Tomorrow's customer's needs.
  3. The business strategy.

Within that future-oriented mindset, regardless of level, a number of coaching disciplines are common.

  1. Coaching isn't about giving advice. It's framing the conversation such that the coachee finds their own way (power to).
  2. What the coach believes the coachee will perceive. The coach must thus work from the belief that the agreed outcome will – not might – could or should happen.
  3. An experienced coach learns how to work from a beginner's mind.
  4. To coach is to listen in the way the coachee has always wanted to be listened to.
  5. New behaviour emerges only when the coachee changes the conversation they are having with themself. To coach is to help connect the coachee with their own story, ask great questions, introduce a new metaphor, share a compelling story, open the door to best practice and personally model the behaviour being sought.
  6. A great coach is tough-minded. Tough questions, candour and the capability to talk to power become the tools of the trade. Silence is invariably the best question of all.
  7. Coaching is a supportive behavioural dance.

Coaching mastery draws on a robust coaching model, meaningful executive experience, cultural relevance, interpersonal sensitivity and mental agility. As an example, if the coachee's role involves significant international experience, a coach without that experience is a poor fit.

Insights from "Coaching the CEO".

Ongoing talent development is crucial to maintain a competitive advantage over one's competition. TRANSEARCH's leadership consulting solutions are delivered by highly experienced professionals who have access to research-based intellectual property, methodologies and cutting-edge tools.


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.

It's Lonely at the Top - Coaching The CEO

Coaching Where Excellence Is The Benchmark Of Success

A study by Stanford Graduate School, co-authored by Stephen Miles and David Larcker, suggests that only about one-third of CEOs receive formal coaching. Meanwhile, half of senior managers operate without external coaching support. The same study, paradoxically, suggested that nearly 100% of those same leaders (CEOs and senior managers) said that they would like to be coached.

A wish isn't an action; saying isn't doing; and desire isn't delivery. Confidentiality, the time available, "if it ain't broke …", "what would I really gain", and "I'm getting all the coaching I need inside the business" loom large among the reasons why coaching at the top gets set aside. Although quickly eroding, the stigma of "needing to be coached" still concerns some. "I didn't realise that the CEO had problems."

In virtually every other form of endeavour where excellence is the benchmark of success, coaching is a given. No one even makes it to the Olympics, let alone medals, without a great coach. Paradoxically, that same executive who pushes coaching aside for the activity where they make a living will gladly pay for support in improving their golf swing.

Performance And Developmental Coaching

It is not at all unusual for top executives to be so dialled-in to the results and share price that they overlook how impactful their everyday behaviour is. A friendly smile and addressing employees by name go a long way. Take also the example of coaching as a company-wide intervention. No matter how much time and money is invested with middle managers, if coaching isn't evident at the top much of that investment is lost.

There is the Board of course. Although it is changing, all too often the Board, including the Human Resource committee, focuses on issues that directly impact the balance sheet and/or the investment community (financing, strategy, results, compensation, benefits, succession). Day-to-day executive behaviour is often too far removed for directors to be able to interpret how the business is impacted. Remedial coaching for a CEO who isn't meeting the numbers is, of course, a different matter.

It doesn't help that the conversation at the top around issues such as succession and leadership development – issues of genuine importance to the Board – are dominated by the organisation's strategic imperatives. Important as "the plan" is, in a turbulent and uncertain world, strategy is, at best, a work in progress.

Here it should be emphasised that there is a big difference between performance and developmental coaching. The former is about enhancing performance in the role as it is today. The latter implies developing the skills and capability needed several years out. The short-term nature of the capital markets puts an emphasis on today's performance. A smart executive understands that success is a marathon … not a 100-yard dash. Here today … gone tomorrow isn't much of a plan!

The Coaching Conversation

There is a case to be made that CEOs often sidestep coaching because they don't fully understand how coaching will benefit them. Two points are significant here:

  1. Every coaching conversation is different and the approach needs to reflect the needs of the individual being coached.
  2. Coaching at the top is not the same as coaching in the middle of the organisation.

The time span of discretion (how far one looks into the future), the balance between strategic and operational actions, the degree of complexity, the need to spend far more time managing from the outside-in and even the language used becomes more complex and/or is reframed, the higher in the organisation you go. These are not small shifts of behaviour.

Insights from "Coaching the CEO".

Ongoing talent development is crucial to maintain a competitive advantage over one's competition. TRANSEARCH's leadership consulting solutions are delivered by highly experienced professionals who have access to research-based intellectual property, methodologies and cutting-edge tools.


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.

How The Call For Specialisation Is Narrowing Our View

There was a time many years ago when general management skills were the be all and end all. If you brought broad vision into many different functional and operational pieces of an enterprise, you could write your own ticket and your career trajectory was both assured and rewarding.

In recent years, however, the call for specialisation of management and leadership skills has led many executives to dig deeper and deeper into the practice of a certain functional role, perhaps within a market niche or even still, within a very specialised industry space.

During one conversation with a highly experienced and globally informed organisational consultant, the dialogue turned to the notion of specialisation - not with an eye toward how leaders are discovering new efficiencies and innovations, but, rather, how specialisation has led to some losing their ability to focus on the big picture.

In today's world of work, and especially in the realm of the global management executive, it would appear to some that we're collectively pushed to know more about our own operating environment and less about how it might apply in others. Specialisation, he surmised, is moving us to know less and less about the organisational construct, the people around us, and the opportunities that exist beyond our individual focus.

As a result, what beckons is a meaningful loss of perspective on how one function and what is learned down to its most minute of details, might engage and transform another.

The takeaway? At a time when executives have been incentivised to bring and demonstrate specialist knowledge, it may just turn out that general management perspective is what companies need most, especially when the specialists plumb the depths and seek other views on what their work really means and what it might achieve.


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.