Great Organisations Are Built Around Great Teams
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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

What Is Leadership Reach?

Leadership reach is one of the five TOP leadership competencies emerging as having future primacy.

There are basically four formative conversations that take place at work: 1) tell and listen; 2) tell and sell; 3) shared problem solving; and 4) coaching (where the way forward lies with the coachee). Leadership reach embraces mastery in each of these situations. It also describes a leader who approaches each new challenge with a beginner's mind … equipped with a rich toolbox of processes, models, ideas and innovative ways forward.

Leadership reach means having a global mindset. It also implies interpreting how local political and social norms/policies shape the business options. Finland doesn't really have a word for collaboration. Teamwork in South Korea is a very different proposition from teamwork in South Wales. If you don't appreciate the humour in Australia, you will always be on the outside looking in. Roads in Iceland are designed not to upset the elves. To a visitor they look somewhat the same but Canadian business is way more collegiate than its big cousin to the south. And candour in Holland has an openness and edge to it that shocks those used to a less confrontational culture.

A leader who displays leadership reach enters the prevailing context with elegant ease. Be it turning around a very traditional, hierarchical business, moving a highly engaged team to the next level, working with gig employees, and/or successfully collaborating with a business that operates in virtual space … leadership reach is to quickly understand how to make a difference.

In a similar vein, a start-up in Singapore, an overly aggressive trade union in Australia, a turnaround in Turkey and/or an innovation challenge in India … all sit comfortably on this leader's shoulders.

And the difference that makes a difference: Provide international experience early, make "customer-centric" a way of life, don't trap high performers within functional silos and don't come to the rescue too quickly when testing the character, commitment and performance ethos of those you deem "high potential".

Insights from "Tomorrow's Leadership Will Be Different".


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.

Five TOP leadership competencies

"The shortage of talent"

It's a pretty good bet that, as you read this, somewhere in your competitor's camp there is an ongoing conversation about the qualities that describe tomorrow's leadership. Be it talent acquisition, succession, identifying high potential talent and/or shaping the investment in leadership, one thing is assured … tomorrow will not be a continuation of today.

We commonly see references to "the shortage of talent." Paradoxically, there is no shortage of talent. The growing number of business schools around the world, combined with the billions of dollars spent globally on leadership development means that there is actually a surfeit of candidates. The problem? The vast majority of those candidates are a great fit for a business environment that served us well in the past.

TOP Talent

A more integrated, faster and, by a quantum step, more complex business environment demands not just a new way to think and act but a new definition of "leadership success." Exponential change fuelled by ongoing leaps in technology … exacerbated by unprecedented disruption on a global scale … is, indelibly, redefining what is meant by the term "TOP Talent."

As we move into unchartered territory - where only those organisations that are fast, flat, flexible, focused and fertile (to new ideas) will survive - TOP (Transforming, Outstanding, Performance tested) Talent refers to those fully equipped to excel in a, hitherto unknown, level of business and societal uncertainty.

TOP leadership competencies

Other than know-how in technology, which is a given, leadership competencies differ depending upon the role. This emphasises the need to develop "role-specific" leadership competencies. Generic competencies have value, e.g., the broad leadership development agenda, but they are less than useful, however, when making hiring and succession decisions. That understood, five TOP leadership competencies are emerging as having future primacy:

  • A Passion to Learn
  • Leadership Reach
  • Comfort with Ambiguity
  • Resilience
  • Culture Savvy

In a world dominated by ideas, a move from cooperation to collaboration is essential - and inevitable. The environment and a new generation dominating the workplace mean that tribal loyalty will, of necessity, give way to a stronger sense of community. A community mindset, meanwhile, ushers in the dominance of stakeholder capital. How does your team make a difference in people's lives?

Although many are served by a more defused definition, "employee engagement" is about building a culture where opportunity and capability are aligned. To that end, any falloff in the fit between the speed of change in the business environment and a sense of personal growth - a perceived lack of currency in the job market - will quickly disillusion those the organisation most wants to retain. Why do your best people stay?

Finally, the fallibility of strategy means that, rather than being the by-product of a singular, linear direction, the organisation's culture must enable a range of potential future options to unfold. Becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable becomes the new norm.

Insights by John Burdett. Orxestra Inc., © 2018.

Insights from "Tomorrow's Leadership Will Be Different".


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.

Five TOP leadership competencies have future primacy

As we move into uncharted territory, TOP (Transforming, Outstanding, Performance tested) Talent refers to those fully equipped to excel in a, hitherto unknown, level of business and societal uncertainty. Five TOP leadership competencies have future primacy:

  • A Passion to Learn
  • Leadership Reach
  • Comfort with Ambiguity
  • Resilience
  • Culture Savvy

Which of the five leadership competencies outlined do you excel in? If you worked for you, what would you want you to change? Tomorrow's leadership WILL be different. Will you?

Insights from 'Tomorrow's Leadership Will Be Different' by John Burdett.


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.