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

Tomorrow Will Be Different. Will You?

Even without COVID-19, the current and projected level of social and economic disruption dramatically changes, irrevocably, what it means to be successful both as an organisation … AND as an individual.

A more relevant approach to resilience involves pushing to the edge, being comfortable with being uncomfortable, adapting to the new state, reflecting on the experience and developing new ways to behave. It's a dynamic rather than a static process. It's about leading and learning; not absorbing and then acting as before. Resilience means not only weathering the storm … but being strengthened by it.

Tomorrow will be different, will you?


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

What Is Resilience?

Disruption, uncertainty and exponential change

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

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

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

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

Being strengthened by the storm

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Why leadership balance is a business imperative

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

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

Two key results emerge.

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

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

HEAD & HAND - The Hunting Ground:

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

HAND & HEART - Breaking New Ground:

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

HEART & SPIRIT - The Playground:

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

SPIRIT & HEAD - Moving To Higher Ground:

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

Inspirational leadership

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

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

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

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


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

Leaders Are Legacy Leavers

The seeds of greatness are sown in how the leader in question deals with the unexpected, with crisis, with personal disappointment. Many, bruised by failure, dial back on their own personal goals and look for a position away from the heat of the kitchen. Others, stripped of self-confidence, recalibrate their personal value proposition and, as likely as not, look for an "advisory role". A precious few - those with character, those with tenacity, those drawing from a deep well of resilience - see setback as merely one more brick in the road to success.

Few of us are going to literally change the world. On the other hand, not too many of us want to be quickly forgotten. Sadly, the accepted definition of success is somewhat shallow. It tends to focus on the 3Ps: power, position and personal wealth. Ultimately, success isn't about what you have; it's about what you create. It's not about how big your garden is; it's about what you plant there.

Not all leaders are cut from the same cloth: start-up, growth, running a mature business and turnaround demand very different skills. At successive stages of personal maturity different motivational agendas also tend to put in an appearance: "to make a career", "to make money", "to make my family proud", "to make a business" and "to make a difference". Important and rewarding as the latter is, the very best leaders are compelled to do even more. They are on a quest. They are driven to "make a legacy". Legacy leavers believe that they are on a mission.

Pressure from the capital markets makes success in the short term an imperative. An executive who fails to make money won't be around long enough to leave a legacy. To succeed is to dance to the tune played by the capital markets. Legacy leavers understand that but they still do more. They rarely follow the accepted path. They find a better way. They ignore the cynics and the naysayers. They turn a deaf ear to the critics, especially those who themselves have not ventured into the arena. They part company with the timid and those of a tepid disposition. They blaze their own trail. Does that mean they do it on their own? Not at all! They draw like-minds to the cause. Legacy leavers chart their own path.

Insights from "Leaders Leave a Legacy".


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.

Successful Transformation Requires A Holistic Roadmap

TRANSEARCH survey concludes that successful transformation requires a holistic roadmap, the alignment of purpose, tools and clear rules.

Results

  • The relation to existing customers did not suffer during lockdown.
  • Fewer costs and expenses (e.g., travel, fairs, etc.).
  • Processes worked smoothly during lock-down.
  • Remote processes drove efficiency .

Conclusions

  • Companies will continue their transformation and optimisation processes. Dealing with permanent changes will be the "new normal".
  • Corporate resilience will be the new buzzword.
  • Digitalisation opens up new potential for efficiency improvement and allows easy access to new entrants. Mediocrity will be punished by a click.
  • Freed-up budget needs to be reinvested in value-add areas.
  • Communication, transformation and digital skills will become scarce resources. Online co-working will require stricter rules for achieving better results.

Recommendations for action

  • Think from the client's perspective and adjust all activities and projects accordingly.
  • Make the client successful instead of just providing a service - or you are out of business.
  • Strengthen digital sales, transformation/change projects and digitalisation roles.
  • Focus on executive and talent development and select the right people for system-critical positions to adapt to the "new normal".

For further information 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.

Servant Leadership Will Be The "New Normal"

A recent TRANSEARCH survey highlighted that servant leadership will be the "new normal". Trust, empathy, resilience and the ability to lead virtual teams will be key.

Results:

  • Decisions based on transparent KPIs will be more important than ever.
  • The employees are highly motivated to find solutions for new requirements.
  • Leaders spent more time communicating with employees.
  • The speed of decision-making was improved by using digital meetings.

Conclusions:

  • In times of uncertainty, clear communication helps.
  • Employees seek purpose in their daily tasks.
  • Leaders need to set clear guidelines and act as coaches. The hierarchy-oriented leadership style will fall into decline.
  • Strict time management should be supported by trust, transparency and clear KPI settings.
  • New possibilities of flexible working arrangements may help improve productivity and work-life balance.

Recommendations:

  • Act as a servant leader.
  • Check whether your current leaders match your future employees' expectations.
  • Manage by targets and results. Avoid micromanagement.
  • Adapt your performance management system to the requirements of the "new normal".
  • Boost resilience, lean back and trust your people.

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.

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.

Leadership And Discontinuous Change

The three scenarios

Agility and its companion, learning, represent a journey, not a destination: a journey covering three Territories, (T1 - instruction, T2 - exploration, T3 - play); a journey dependent upon the right leadership; a journey punctuated by inherent discontinuity.

The three scenarios portray how learning unfolds in virtually every walk of life. Much as one might peel an onion, beneath agility and learning lies individual and, by implication, the team's mindset: how each of us interprets the world - the mental model we access to define reality. Our assumptions about work and organisational success frame our behaviour.

To survive in the white-water we have entered demands culture savvy and, above all else, an ability to quickly appraise and respond to the ever-changing world around us. The new reality? Personal survival is ultimately about how resilient and agile we are as a leader. And resilience isn't simply about "bouncing back." It means coming out of a world shaking event like COVID-19 even stronger.

Traditional hierarchy

The journey from T1 to T2 and then on to T3 is not for every organisation. Those operating within a commodity-type market, where the value proposition is exclusively drawn out of the price of the product or service, often decide that a T1 organisation is an appropriate fit with a business model built around being the low-cost producer. Managing a group of young software engineers on another continent and a T1 approach may be the way to go. Operating a mine in a developing country where the work population is poorly educated and/or where they lack a common language, then T1 may well be a sound decision.

This does not mean that all T1 businesses eschew empowerment and employee involvement. Through an ethos of continuous improvement and employee development (instruction), a number of leaders have pushed the T1 model to the very edge of what is possible ("enlightened" T1). The dilemma being, because such organisations are very slow to change they are ponderous competitively. The very antithesis of agility.

The process organisation and beyond

A good many organisations (e.g., Toyota, 3M, Google) have evolved, what can best be described as, a "parallel structure" - organisation forms where, although the day-to-day work gives little opportunity for initiative (T1), time is set aside to allow front-line teams to redesign the business process that contains the work being undertaken (T2), and/or are given the opportunity to help create tomorrow's product/service (T2/T3).

Other business sectors have little choice but to move to an organisation form dominated by T2 and beyond. Here we start to find a far more engaged and fully contributing employee. Teams who, as the culture moves into T3, start to self-organise. Organisations that embrace innovation and reinvention as an extension of the freedom to act that a T2 or T3 culture affords. Businesses where the design of the organisation (structure) mirrors, given the choice, how people would choose to work together.

Customers vote with their feet

The ultimate arbiter of organisational effectiveness is the marketplace. Where the value proposition is based on a compelling customer experience, where the business model means the product or service must be continuously reinvented, or where access to intellectual capital defines market success, a T1 way of working will not deliver the level of innovation, organisational agility, or speed of responsiveness needed. Artificial Intelligence/robotics will change this assumption in the future but, as a simple economic reality, T1 work, everything else being equal, sooner or later migrates offshore to a low-wage economy.

Not so fast! The need to be close to the market, tax advantages, security, transportation costs, and a host of other reasons often mitigate against moving offshore. The T1 organisation isn't a throwback. It isn't obsolete. Indeed, even in advanced economies, in more than a few business sectors, it is still the dominant form - and from our own work with clients, far more prevalent than you might think. Microsoft, Apple, and Google get all the publicity but, in truth, they are outliers.

The journey being described (T1 to T2 and, where needed, to T3) is not a journey every organisation will want to embark on, and it is equally not a rite of passage that all leaders are capable of charting.

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

Agility and Speed of Learning

Riding the crest of change

In a world with a significantly heightened level of uncertainty, business leaders have little choice but to forge, to the extent possible, alignment between the organisation's emerging culture and (1) factors external to the business that cannot be anticipated (ongoing disruption), and (2) what tomorrow's customer will be willing to purchase (business model).

To succeed and even survive, leaders must learn how to ride the crest of change, how to use the challenge in inherent uncertainty to propel the business into a successful future, and how to harness the energy drawn out of creative tension and a compelling purpose.

In terms of day-to-day performance, creative tension involves two organisational imperatives - agility and organisational learning. First, agility and with it, by implication, the need to push decision-making as close to the customer as possible. Agility, meanwhile, no matter the form it takes, draws on the abiding quest for simplicity. That being understood, simplicity and, its alter ego, responsiveness are far more about mindset than, essential though it is, process reinvention.

To be agile you have to program yourself to "think simple". But not too simple. The second imperative, organisational learning, is a topic that has garnered a great deal of interest but is poorly applied. Without an inherent ability within the body of the organisation to learn from experience, reframe established practices at critical points on the journey, develop a heightened capacity to act, and, as needed, reinvent how the business does business, tomorrow is destined to be a replay of the past. COVID-19 is many things but, perhaps above all else, it's a wakeup call for society and business alike.

Make no mistake … tomorrow will be different! The pertinent question becomes, "Will you?"

The leadership journey

Learning is initiated by an experience. An action which, in turn, spawns a question. The quality of the question dictating the nature of the learning. Learning unfolds in one of three ways:

1) Simple learning - striving to do what we have always done, but better (instruction).
2) Learning how to learn - moving down a new path (exploration).
3) Learning how to learn limited by the imagination of those involved - transformation, innovation, creative destruction, and reinvention (play).

Each of those learning approaches shapes not only the outcome but at each stage the speed of learning increases exponentially. Arguably, the only truly sustainable competitive advantage is speed of learning. Without time set aside for meaningful reflection, of course, there can be no learning.

Learning to act and think about the world in a new way is not a linear process. It is much more like climbing a mountain. A base camp is established, and only once the base has been consolidated can the next camp be set up and supplied. Equally important, assumptions about what it means to be a leader have to be redefined at each stage of the journey.

Leadership and discontinuous change

Agility and its companion, learning, represent a journey, not a destination: a journey covering three Territories, (T1 - instruction, T2 - exploration, T3 - play); a journey dependent upon the right leadership; a journey punctuated by inherent discontinuity.

The three scenarios portray how learning unfolds in virtually every walk of life. Much as one might peel an onion, beneath agility and learning lies individual and, by implication, the team's mindset: how each of us interprets the world - the mental model we access to define reality. Our assumptions about work and organisational success frame our behaviour.

To survive in the white-water we have entered demands culture savvy and, above all else, an ability to quickly appraise and respond to the ever-changing world around us. The new reality? Personal survival is ultimately about how resilient and agile we are as a leader. And resilience isn't simply about "bouncing back." It means coming out of a world shaking event like COVID-19 even stronger.

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

Hire With Tomorrow's Culture In Mind

There are four kinds of change:

1) Transactional change – do what we have always done, better.
2) Transitional change – significant change but we have time to evolve.
3) Transformational change – significant change now.
4) Exponential change – increasingly impactful and unrelenting, continuous step change enacted in a compressed period of time.

Transitional and even transformational change have, for a brief period of time at least, a potential end-state. Exponential change is like compound interest, each step is significantly greater than the one that went before. Success leaves its own fingerprint (or not).

Any form of change that moves beyond improving "what is" implies working on the organisation's culture. Here we have to face the harsh reality: the so-called, "modern organisation" – perhaps the 20th century's greatest innovation – is ill-equipped to deal with the scope, complexity and speed of change we now face.

Good intentions and/or edict won't turn a hierarchical, bureaucratic, head and hand way of thinking into an innovative, entrepreneurial, first to market, breakthrough business. Think reinvention … not rework.

In a world where agility, ideas, collaboration and global reach dictate who wins and who fails, tomorrow's organisation will, of necessity, be fast, flat, flexible, focused and structured as a network of networks.

Think of a team of teams … not traditional top-down leadership. Think jazz ensemble … not a marching band. Think work … not employment. Think community … not tribe. Think contribution … not title. Think collaboration … not cooperation. Think ideas … not ideology. Think values … not rules.

As for leadership, the market for talent will put a premium on software savvy, the capacity to leverage big numbers, speed of learning, comfort with ambiguity, personal resilience and the capacity to build community. The dilemma: top talent is going to be more difficult to find than ever.

Think hiring with tomorrow's culture in mind … not hierarchy. Think leading the charge … not being in charge. Recognise that we will need super teams more than we need superstars.

Insights from "If It Can Be Digitalised, It Will Be Digitalised (PDF)".


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

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".


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.