Leadership Competencies Today And Tomorrow

A leader who only gets better at what they have always done is ultimately sowing the seeds of their own failure. What will success in the role look like three to five years from now? What role-specific competencies define future performance?

The accelerating rate of change, the digital revolution that is engulfing us, shaping an organisation that, of necessity, will look very different from organisations in the past – means that tomorrow's leadership will be very different. It doesn't stop there, though. What social, economic, political, marketplace and forces internal to the business define tomorrow's challenge/opportunity? How will iGen and millennials define the emerging organisation culture? How will gig employment, crowdsourcing and social media define the nature of work? What disruptive technologies lie just over the horizon? In what ways will the shortage of top talent limit what's possible?

When the context changes it changes for every organisation – no matter the size and location – and every leader.

Five competencies, in particular, would appear to have future currency:

  1. Digital direction: Anticipating where and how the emerging technology will change the strategic fortunes of the business. A willingness to act.
  2. Leadership reach: The ability to work concurrently with very different people, in very different businesses, in different parts of the world.
  3. Comfort with ambiguity: More interested in doing the right thing than being right, risk oriented, fails fast and moves on, leads through values and not edicts, comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  4. Learning how to learn: Someone who reads, the courage to let go, curiosity, constantly challenging the status quo, willing to explore what's possible, pushing to the edge, a natural collaborator.
  5. Culture savvy: Creating tomorrow's organisation today. Hiring and coaching with tomorrow's culture in mind. Building an organisation that displays a quality best defined as "StrAgility".

Defining tomorrow's leadership success is an imperative for: (1) the current leader; and (2) as a platform for developing a successor. Can the incumbent succeed into the role-specific they are currently in? Do they have a successor? Developing a successor is a fiduciary responsibility. It also means mastery in coaching.

Insights from "Coaching The CEO" by John O. Burdett, Orxestra Inc., © 2019

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 Bedford Group TRANSEARCH 2021 HR Leaders Survey Report

Bedford Group/TRANSEARCH's expertise in executive search and talent strategy solutions has provided first-hand experience with the trials, tribulations, challenges and opportunities that HR leaders faced over the past year.

This snapshot report provides valuable insight to help you approach and position your organisation for success in 2022 and beyond.

Read "The Bedford Group TRANSEARCH 2021 HR Leaders Survey Report" leadership insights

Great Organisations Are Built Around Great Teams
transearch.com (PDF)

Leadership, as it must be, is strategic. It's to step back, see the big picture and, to the extent possible, create tomorrow in the room, today. Covid is but one piece of a chaotic and ever changing political, economic, societal, business and interconnected leadership puzzle. At the centre of all of this is 'the team' … a basic and fundamental blueprint for organisational and personal success.

What follows is intended as a practical guide for:

  1. Setting the scene for a virtual team.
  2. A new or established leader who needs to take the team to the next level.
  3. The executive who feels that, as the organisation navigates the turbulent waters of change, the team is losing its impact.
  4. The HR executive, division head or external recruitment specialist (e.g., the executive search consultant) who, in orchestrating team fit, needs to understand the team they are hiring into.
  5. A manager or external resource faced with the challenge of coaching the team.

Read "Great Organisations Are Built Around Great Teams" leadership insights

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.

Women's Values of Sustainable Leadership
transearch.com (PDF)

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.

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 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".

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.

Key Dimensions To Focus On In Disruptive Times

A recent TRANSEARCH survey among C-Level leaders regarding their experiences and priorities in a shift to the "new normal" identified four key dimensions to focus on in disruptive times:

  1. Culture - The adaptation to the "new normal" is reflected in the importance of corporate culture & the understanding of leadership.
  2. Leadership - Servant leadership will be the "new normal": trust, empathy and resilience and the ability to lead virtual teams will be key. Leading virtual teams needs a different skillset.
  3. Transformation - Successful transformation projects require a holistic roadmap, an agile organizational set-up, the alignment of purpose, tools and clear rules.
  4. Innovation - Innovative strength is generally regarded as an indicator of future competitiveness. Therefore, you should hire the smartest people in system-critical positions and let them tell you what to do. Listen well!

The four key dimensions can be tackled successfully with a strategic HR management positioned at C-Level.

Importance of the four dimensions plus enablers:

  • Dimensions
    1. Adapt the culture to the new necessities.
    2. Improve leadership competencies.
    3. Transform processes to enable remote efficiency.
    4. Innovate with a focus on customer success.
  • Enablers
    1. Install strategic HR management.
    2. Recruit and retain the smartest people for key positions.

TRANSEARCH provides a platform to its network of C-Level leaders for discussions on how to come out of the crisis stronger. For further information about the survey or discussion platform please get in touch with Dr. Carlo Mackrodt or Dr. Stefan Schwaenzl.

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.

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.

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 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.


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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

1 2 3 5