at the top.
As an applied discipline, leadership follows a pattern of linear development in which the individual first gains mastery of himself/herself by learning how to create value through individual contribution. Leading self culminates when the individual attains mastery in role based on technical depth and domain expertise. The individual now has a platform of credibility.
Leads the Team
The nature of contribution then fundamentally shifts from direct to indirect when the individual assumes leadership for a team. At this point, the individual must undergo a deep psychological transition in order to embrace the new role to direct and coach others, achieve results through the team, and find satisfaction and reward in the development and progress of the team and its members. Success becomes a function of creating an engaged cooperative system that can thrive in the process of value co-creation.
Leads the Business
The final domain of leadership assumes responsibility for the direction and growth of the business itself. The individual’s perspective gradually shifts from short-term to long-term, tactical to strategic, and functional to enterprise. Tasks also transition from basic and routine to complex and ambiguous. Finally, the individual becomes scalable as she or he develops systems thinking capability and the ability to influence stakeholders across the organization to build coalitions and lead large-scale change.
Services and solutions in this area are customized based on the specific needs of the client. We offer services in the following areas:
Large-Scale Change & Transformation
Strategic Planning / Executive Session Facilitation
Executive Team Assessment and Development
What is the role of a senior leader? What is the job to be done? For years we have focused on trait-based theory, but that has given way to the much more powerful functional view. Based on our work with Stanford University and a consortium of leading companies around the world, we have synthesized the stewardship of a senior leader into five indispensable and mutually reinforcing functions.
Function 1: Vision & Strategy
Vision and strategy represent the direction of an organization. Inherent in the leader’s role is the commission to give the organization sight by painting a portrait of the future and inspiring others toward it. To achieve the vision, leaders must apply the principles of strategy to achieve competitive advantage based on the levers of value and cost. The essence of strategy is the deliberate reduction of alternatives to determine how value will be created.
Function 2: Alignment & Execution
Alignment and execution represent the function of creating value based on a set of mutually-reinforcing decisions which become the business model. To align an organization is to load-balance and pace the organization, and then cognitively and emotionally prepare people to achieve the vision and execute the strategy based on specific goals. It is to consolidate institutional commitment by merging priorities, plans, incentives, expectations, and measures. Through alignment and execution, leaders convert vision into plans and plans into concrete activity.
Function 3: Change & Innovation
By definition, leaders have a contradictory role. On the one hand, they are charged to preserve the status quo in order to create value today. Yet they must also disturb the status quo in order to create value tomorrow. Organizations change for three reasons: 1). To achieve higher value, 2). To achieve lower costs, or 3). To ensure compliance with legal, regulatory, and safety requirements. The need for change and innovation is based on the premise that competitive advantage is by its very nature perishable. Thus, strategy and sources of competitive advantage are in a constant state of decay and amortization. It’s the leader’s role to initiate change and innovation in order to gain, maintain, or reclaim competitive advantage.
Function 4: Talent Acquisition & Development
The fourth function is to acquire and develop human capital. Given the transitory nature of competitive advantage, the true source of sustainable competitive advantage is ultimately people. They are the source of ideas and action—the two assets most responsible for organizational performance. Senior leaders must be deeply committed to and engaged in acquiring and developing talent. Indeed, they are in large measure defined not only by what they do, but also by what they leave behind in the leadership pipeline. Leaders who develop a climate of psychological safety and cultivate a high tolerance for candor engage and retain their people at much higher levels than the competition.
Function 5: Values & Culture
Values and culture represent the fifth and final leadership function that anchors the other four. Values are the primary ingredient in any culture. Research confirms what we now call the culture formation hypothesis--the modeling behavior of leaders is the central factor in culture formation. Leaders either show the way or get in the way. Conventional wisdom once considered corporate culture a residual category. That thinking has been completely turned on its head. This central question now becomes: Culture by design or by default? Because intellectual diversity alone produces nothing, a leader’s most important job--perhaps second only to setting strategy--is to act in the role of social architect and nourish a culture in which professed values become de facto values.