Women's Values of Sustainable Leadership
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It is clear that the issue of Sustainability is part of a collective awareness within civil society, business and politics, which strives to respond to these paradigm shifts and the resulting contradictory injunctions. How do we reconcile the need for immediacy, reinforced by the expansion of digitalisation, with the long-term reconstruction? How do we instil a shared value at the time of a new era marked by individualism?

These transformations profoundly modify the fundamental principles of our society and tend to define new balances, such as developing our business models towards a tripartite balance "People, Profit, Planet", or paying more attention to gender stereotypes.

Diversity and Inclusion are founding principles of a more sustainable business model, and even if they encompass several components, including that of gender equity, it is obvious that good intentions are not enough. The principle of reality still bears witness to this in France, with so few women in leadership positions.

The introduction of quotas at board level, and soon within management committees has surely started demonstrating its virtues. But doesn't strengthening a company's performance in the deployment of its "Sustainability" imply the development of a new, more balanced leadership model that upholds both feminine and masculine values? Wouldn't promoting women's values be an additional performance lever? Is it not time to design a woman leadership model, similarly to the way the men leadership model that has prevailed so far?

In the continuation of their first study conducted in 2020 on the definition of a "Sustainable Leader", TRANSEARCH Paris wondered about the feminine components of a new sustainable leadership, its assets to support the tall orders of Sustainability, the actions to be taken and the challenges to be met to promote sustainable parity.

Read "Women's Values of Sustainable Leadership" leadership insights

10 Succession Failures And How To Avoid Them

1. Lack of direction from the Board

The ultimate accountability for succession lies with the HR Committee of the Board, but it is no less a fiduciary responsibility for the CEO and the top team. Indeed, anyone privileged enough to hold down a leadership role has an ongoing responsibility to develop a successor.

The need? A far more rigorous approach to Board selection. A periodic assessment of Board "fitness for purpose". A regular review of governance provisions. Appointing adjunct Board members with specialised experience and know-how – for example, organisation culture, technology, the succession process.

2. A broken or incomplete process

A flawed process has one defining characteristic – it's not going to take you where you need to be. Conversely, a meaningful process displays all the attributes of a good map. It allows you to identify where the beginning of the journey is, where you need to get to and the key steps along the way.

The need? A rigorous and transparent succession process that allows the Board to understand the thinking and methodology behind "the names on the charts". A succession process that delivers a distinct and sustainable competitive advantage.

3. Confusing 'succession' with 'replacement'

'Succession' and 'replacement' planning build on very different assumptions. Replacement is essentially tactical - a contingency plan to put into effect should a mission-critical role unexpectedly become open. Succession is strategic - it's about tomorrow's leadership.

The need? Recognise the inherent value of both replacement and succession but don't confuse the two. Leaving a mission-critical role unfilled for an extended period of time can be horrendously expensive. It may even put the very future of the business at risk.

4. Casting too wide a net

The shorthand for focus is "less is more". This is especially the case when it comes to succession. The challenge? To identify mission-critical roles.

The need? Restrict the work on succession at the top of the organisation to mission-critical roles – the roles that really matter; the roles that, if filled poorly, can sink the ship.

5. Confusing 'high performance' with 'high potential'

Like riding a rocking horse, not everyone who 'rocks' is going places. It's a mistake to assume that outstanding performance translates into high potential.

The need? Define the specific competencies that describe future success in both the mission-critical role and the generic competencies that capture what it means to be 'high potential'. Selection isn't an exercise in abstract thinking. Make both succession decisions and identifying high potential candidates evidence based.

6. Poorly defined leadership competencies

A leadership competency describes future success in the role. It also captures the behaviours that separate an outstanding performer from one who is merely middle of the road. Three common pitfalls: falling back on generic terms; a myopic focus; relying too heavily on the manager in the role to capture the characteristic of future success.

The need? A comprehensive, up-to-date library of future-looking, thought-leadership-based, context-oriented, role-specific leadership competencies that embrace leadership balance.

7. Future culture is a "best guess"

Your culture is your brand. Succession based on wishful thinking is to place a blind bet on the future without any understanding of what you are actually betting on and without appreciating the damage you are doing to the brand.

The need? Responsibility for culture lies directly with the top team. What you don't measure, you can't manage. It is essential to (really) know: 1) where your organisation culture is today, and 2) where your culture needs to be to compete successfully in the future.

8. Coaching is "something we need to get to"

You can't grow the organisation unless you grow the people in the organisation. At the heart of 'growing' people lies coaching. Coaching isn't a 'sometime skill'. It's a systemic way to think about what it means to be a leader.

The need? As the business environment evolves, new knowledge, skills and capability are demanded. Without coaching, succession is an engine of future performance that is not firing on all cylinders. Those at the top must strive to become masterful in the art of coaching.

9. Misunderstanding what it means to be a team

It is little short of managerial incompetence to enter into the succession conversation without the key decision-makers stepping back to assess the future nature, needs and norms that shape the behaviour of the team(s) involved. And it matters … because tomorrow's organisation will be a team of teams.

The need? Factoring in the makeup and working approach of tomorrow's team(s) is a business imperative. As is uncovering meaningful ways to assess the team.

10. Succession candidates are poorly integrated into the new role

Derailment, no matter what form it takes, destroys value. If they don't land, they won't stay. It's not just a matter of fulfilling all of the requirements of the new role. The challenge is to do so as quickly as possible.

The need? A comprehensive executive induction process supported by both an internal mentor and an external coach. Assessment tools, access to supportive materials and the full support of both the hiring manager and HR are clearly essential. We have also found that a well designed and easy to access workbook is invaluable.

What next?

There are a good many issues that can derail a successful business. None, however, contain the potency for failure as having the wrong leader in the wrong role at the wrong time. Succession is a critical investment that you cannot afford to get wrong.

Why is succession so often adjudged a failure? Limited strategic awareness is the start of it. Being overwhelmed by the problems of the day is clearly part of it. But, more often than not, lack of practical intelligence is at the heart of it. To speak to a TRANSEARCH consultant about shaping tomorrow's leadership success today, please get in touch.

It's Time To Rethink Succession

COVID-19 has cast a lasting shadow on our lives. At no time during the past hundred years has our kind been made to appear so mortal. The organisation that got us here isn't going to get us where we need to be. Not even halfway.

The engine that moved the developed world from poverty at the beginning of the 20th century to the extraordinary standard of living we currently enjoy was the so-called "modern organisation". Hierarchical, control-dominated and ideally suited to a slowly unfolding world (built to last) it may have been, but it created unprecedented wealth. The dilemma? Breakthrough technology, uncertainty, the increasing speed of change and the redefinition of "work" demand an organisation that is a fit for the 21st century (built to change).

We are describing not just a better, but a very different kind of way to operate. An organisation where disruption, agility and speed of learning dominate the leadership conversation - one that redefines what it means to be a leader - one that demands a more robust process to identify and develop future leaders. We refer to it as "succession planning". A better description would be "planning for success". There are a good many issues that can derail a successful business. None, however, contain the potency for failure as having the wrong leader in the wrong role at the wrong time.

Without talent, mediocracy is a given. And without effective succession planning tomorrow will, at best, be a replay of today. The evidence is that few organisations have a highly effective succession process. There is every reason to believe it's time to rethink succession. The "It's Time To Rethink Succession" Executive Playbook invites you to assess your current process and, where deemed necessary, align succession with the unprecedented challenge and opportunity this century represents:

  • Coming Down the Mountain
    • All Learning Starts with a Question
    • The Succession Imperative
  • Why Does Succession Fail?
    • Lack of Direction from the Board
    • A Broken or Incomplete Process
    • Confusing Succession with Replacement
    • Casting Too Wide a Net
    • Confusing High Performance with High Potential
    • Inappropriate Leadership Competencies
    • The Future Culture Is a "Best Guess"
    • Coaching Is "Something We Need to Get To"
    • What It Means to Be a Team
    • Succession Candidates Are Poorly Integrated into the New Role
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix One
  • The TRANSEARCH Succession Process

Download "It's Time To Rethink Succession".

Admitting Failure (And The Lessons It Provides) A Key Test Of Leadership Capacity

Beware the executive who can't describe their biggest business failures and who doesn't harbour some emotion about them, whether in the form of profound disappointment, frustration, regret or gratitude, perhaps.

While it may seem counterintuitive or selfishly counterproductive to any executive being interviewed for what could become their next management career opportunity, the collective insights of executive talent masters suggest getting the candidate to open up about their business missteps and what they learned from them - assuming they did - is a critical prerequisite for determining whether the individual is poised for success in a new leadership role.

Experience, is, after all, a great teacher. Imminent business decisions may summon the wisdom of smart manoeuvres that led to past glories, but they must also surface the lessons of poor judgments and outright flubs so they aren't repeated.

Executives unwilling or unable to detail at least one bad business decision during a recruitment interview actually relate volumes about their ego and lack of self-awareness, as do those who find themselves likewise challenged by an inability to spread the praise for excellent outcomes widely.

Of course, the real challenge of failure as set against today's contemporary business pressures is not only to learn from it but also to avoid the loss of energy and confident contemplation that can impinge on sensible decision-making.

In some sense, the lessons of failure are most instructive if leaders retain them in their collective memories, but also forget them just long enough so they don't become obstacles to personal and organisational growth.

Culture Assessment

Download your complementary copy of "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis" and go through the assessment either individually or with your team. Review the assessment with two central questions in mind. "Where are we today on the 5-1-5 scale?" And using the same scale, "Where do we need to be?"

Consider, which descriptor best describes where your organisation is today? Score (X) to capture your level of agreement with that statement (5, 4, 3, 2, or 1). A "5" suggests you strongly agree. Repeat to describe where you believe you need to be (✓). How far you look into the future is a factor of the business sector you are in. A good default assumption, however, would be 24 months. It is quite possible, that on any single question, where you are is where you need to be.

In thinking through "Where do we need to be?" consider the following:

  • What did you learn from the Covid crisis?
  • What is special about your business that you must retain?
  • What do tomorrow's customers want to buy and how do they want to buy it?
  • What would it take to attract the customers that are currently out of reach?
  • What would it take to attract and retain the very best people?
  • Digitalisation isn't simply a matter of investing in technology. How are you going to "rewire" the organisation in order that you optimize the return on investment from that technology?
  • What do you need to do to become more agile?
  • What will it take to move faster?

It is also important to ask: "Do we have the leadership in place to make this happen?" "Are all of those in pivotal roles totally committed to this degree of change?" After going through the assessment (including any "From What to What?" dimensions you may have added) identify:

  1. What elements of today's culture are critical to tomorrow's success (Roots); and
  2. The five to seven key changes demanded if we are to start to create tomorrow's culture, today (Wings). More than seven will make the challenge overwhelming.

Joining the points that describe where we are and, similarly, joining the points that describe where we need to be, will give a very helpful, visual "map" of the cultural journey.

Download your complementary copy of "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis" today.

Leaders Must Lead!

There is no substitute for inspirational leadership, someone who:

  • Takes people where they otherwise would not go;
  • Employs the head, empowers the hand, engages the heart and enriches the spirit;
  • Builds a great team;
  • Creates tomorrow in the room today;
  • Is skilled in orchestrating "change".

To those core attributes add resilience, digital savvy, coaching mastery and all that is implied by the word 'focus'.

Here the waters are somewhat muddied by a past body of work defined as "change management". Its origins lie in a time before digitalisation, before ongoing disruption, before today's blazing speed of change and before the need to continuously reinvent possibility. Still an overriding theme in many organisations and, no doubt, invaluable in the past, it is a body of work that needs to be revisited.

Push technology aside today at your peril. That is not to suggest - as many appear to do - that digitalisation/technology/AI, etc., are, on their own, a source of lasting competitive advantage. Culture is a dynamic system and technology an integral part of that system. Culture is the stage - technology one of the lead players. And sitting in the audience? The ever-vigilant customer.

The resilient nature of culture is that it is essentially a series of deeply enshrined habits. And changing a habit doesn't happen overnight. Culture will thus, especially in the short term, always have primacy. For that reason, launching new technology into a culture that doesn't fully support it is a pretty good way to destroy value. For example, although AI has the potential to move the business to a whole new level, implementation is lagging expectations.

In introducing breakthrough technology, organisations need to similarly start with a rich and compelling 'why'. For an intervention that will, literally and irrevocably, change their lives - higher productivity, faster response times and/or a greater understanding of who buys the company's product and/or service are, on their own, a tough sell to the typical employee. Motivation without meaning is change without commitment.

And what does a great 'why' sound like? A group of young executives in a bionics company were asked why they do what they do. They answered, "To make the wheelchair redundant". Where do I sign up?

None of this takes anything away from the value of a holistic template (model) - one that captures how all of the various elements of change come together. Indeed, the further you venture into the upper levels of management, the greater the degree to which learning how to learn comes to the fore. Provide that map but recognise that leaders must lead. Acknowledge that leaders, real leaders, do lead!

Insights from "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis".

The World Continues To Change. Has The Way You Interview Kept Pace?

Change has, of course, been with us forever. The current rate of change, however, is new.

This shift is so profound that it challenges the very essence of what it means to be a leader. From a recruitment perspective it also means revisiting the multi-headed hydra known as "FIT". For example, in discussions with CEO's and Boards, it is commonplace to hear "comfort with risk," "learning agility" and "global reach" as critical leadership competencies.

The need for robust dialogue around the leadership competencies required for turbulent times is undeniable. Often absent from this discussion … how to assess these competencies during the interview. Now more than ever, the interview is a make or break issue.

Technique

Although engaging the candidate is an important facet of the interview, make sure to:

  • Approach the interview as if it were a critical business meeting, e.g., develop a game plan prior to the interview.
  • Remember, "success" draws verifiable evidence of past success.
  • Employ a consistent approach when dealing with multiple candidates.
  • Make the candidate feel comfortable and be transparent about your organisation and the mandate at hand (this is ultimately in both parties best interest).
  • Write-up the interview.

Process

Within a multi-stakeholder environment several key questions emerge:

  • Have the appropriate stakeholders been engaged in the process to solicit their insights on the ideal candidate profile?
  • Does everyone interviewing the candidate know their specific role and respective focus/probe areas?
  • Is there clear alignment amongst all stakeholders as to what the role-specific leadership competencies are?
  • Does each interview add value?

Shortcomings in either technique or process lead to poor decisions when evaluating "FIT". They become even more concerning when set against the new lexicon of leadership. Anyone who interviews as part of their role should ask "What am I and my organisation going to do to improve the way we interview?" Your capability to attract and assess top talent will continue to be critical to both your personal and your organisation's success. Indeed, it just might be dependent on it.

Insights from "The world continues to change … has the way you interview kept pace?" by Darren Raycroft.

Outstanding Leaders Focus On Culture

Outstanding leaders focus on culture because they understand that what they do today determines whether or not the business will win tomorrow. From a leadership perspective we are describing two essential, twenty-first century leadership competencies:

* Cultural Reach - the ability to work successfully in very different cultures on the same day; the capacity to introduce, as needed, a range of strategic scenarios, structures, processes, measurement tools, leadership approaches and team interventions.

* Culture Savvy - the ability to take people places they otherwise would not go; recognising that culture is managed from the outside-in but demands leadership from the inside-out; providing structure and guidance into how to have the culture conversation; become a storyteller; working diligently to uncover (global) best practice to improve it.

We used to talk about management being about the "hard stuff" (a focus on results) and the "soft stuff" (everything to do with people). Well, we have entered an era where the soft stuff is now the hard stuff.

Insights from "Leadership: Moving Beyond The Crisis", a complementary book series specifically aimed at enhancing how leaders respond to times of crisis. Download your copy today.

Leadership Skills Of A Sustainable Leader
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Leadership is evolving to tackle the complex challenge of implementing an environmental and societal transition from a "People / Profit" model to a "Planet / People / Profit" model.

A recent study by TRANSEARCH International Paris, based on interviewee testimony and the analysis of "leadership competencies" from TRANSEARCH International's proprietary tool, reveals the core leadership skills of a Sustainable Leader.

Read "Leadership Skills Of A Sustainable Leader" leadership insights

The Culture Conversation

Culture isn't an end in itself. It's the engine that enables the business to win in the marketplace. In a successful organisation, it also shapes every aspect of the leadership conversation. And, if you get it right, it's the one thing the competition can't copy.

Moving beyond today's crisis isn't simply about having a better plan. To come out of this stronger means thinking differently about the business that will emerge. Some aspects, those that make the business special, must be protected. Other elements will have to be transformed. Elsewhere, the challenge means initiating "a new beginning".

Pulling everything together; the container that allows diversity to flourish; the system that provides meaning and supports momentum; the performance platform that enables a winning value proposition - are described by one simple term: "Culture". The challenge? The culture conversation we have now will determine not only what is possible but, more importantly … what becomes possible!

When tomorrow will be different, it's not enough to continuously improve on what you have always done. Two things are clear:

  1. Today's leaders see culture as essential to future success.
  2. Though it may be important, top teams don't spend much meaningful time on it.

The central question becomes "why?"

That culture is perceived as a slippery and esoteric concept is the start of it. That measurement is largely ignored is also clearly part of it. But the heart of it? Top teams struggle in knowing how to have the culture conversation.

"The Culture Conversation" explores critical issues:

  1. The Culture Carriers
  2. Look, Listen, Learn
  3. The Building Blocks
  4. Is the Organization Managing Its Culture?
  5. What Makes the Business Special?
  6. One Culture or Many?
  7. Measurement
  8. Strategy Versus Culture
  9. A Team of Teams
  10. Without Leadership You Ain't Got Much
  11. The Orxestra Change Model
  12. CULTURE ASSESSMENT

Download "The Culture Conversation" today » https://www.transearch.com/orxestra/downloads

10 Candidate Questions That You Must Know How To Answer

Where the interviewee is truly a top candidate both parties are being fully evaluated. As a recruiter, there are candidate questions that you must know how to answer.

Although by no means replete, in some ways, the 10 questions outlined are an acid test of how prepared you are for the turbulent talent management path that lies ahead.

Head

  1. As a business, why do you do what you do? Specifically, where and how are you striving for excellence? How are you going about the latter? How will you be different five years from now?
  2. What makes the business special? Specifically, what are you doing to protect/nurture that capability? What concerns you most about doing what the competition is doing?

Hand

  1. How and in what ways is digitalisation changing the way the organisation does business?
  2. Assuming you have built a scorecard for this role, where is the greatest "stretch" demanded to meet future performance goals?
  3. Moving forward, what role-specific leadership competencies define success in this role?

Heart

  1. How good a coach is my new "boss"? Does this role build on and extend my core capability: talent, skills, and leadership competencies? Will I continue to grow and develop in this role? How and in what ways?
  2. What constitutes a great team in your organisation? How do you assess team effectiveness? How and in what ways is "team fit" central to hire and promotion decisions?

Spirit

  1. What are the organisation's espoused values? How do you live those values?
  2. What culture do you need to succeed tomorrow? How do you measure culture? What are you doing to make tomorrow's culture come to life in the room today?
  3. How and in what ways does the organisation give back? How do you make a difference in people's lives?

Insights from "Great Candidates Ask Great Questions".

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