A CEO's role is akin to the captain of a ship. They are tasked with setting the course and ensuring that the entire crew is working cohesively to reach the destination. This involves transforming a vision or strategy into tangible results - a task that is easier said than done. A vision without execution is just hot air, and it is in the execution phase that many CEOs encounter significant obstacles.
The challenges CEOs face during this transformative process can be multifaceted. They range from clear communication and coordination, navigating conflicting personalities and priorities within their own Executive Leadership Team (ELT), to creating a cohesive culture.
In this article, I aim to delve deeper into these issues and highlight a few examples from industry leaders as well as my own experience as an Executive Leadership Coach and my research on Self-leadership.
One of the most crucial elements in executing a vision is clear...
The Executive Leadership Team (ELT) typically consists of the most senior leaders of a company, often with a CXOs title such as CEO, COO, CFO, CPO, CTO, and CRO. When the ELT works as One Team, the positive impact on culture and performance can be phenomenal, unfortunately, the majority of ELTs aren't even a team, they are a workgroup at best.
Just because your call it a team doesn't make it a team. A team operates with mutual accountability. Team members work together towards a common goal, tasks are shared, and success depends on collective performance. In a team, leadership is often distributed, and communication is more collaborative.
A workgroup operates with individual accountability. Each member has their specific tasks, and the group's success is the sum of the individual efforts. There is less interdependence compared to a team, and the focus is more on departmental or vertical achievement than collective...
The leader-employee gap is not new but as the workplace is transforming and employee expectations have changed, its impact can be more readily seen in misalignment reduced productivity, diminished engagement, and The Great Resignation.
Bridging the leadership-employee gap is crucial for fostering a thriving work environment, maximizing human capital potential, and delivering accelerated results, yet many managers and leaders struggle to acknowledge or address this issue. Fearing a lack of control and not trusting their employees to take ownership and responsibility can transform the gap into a chasm.
Way back in the 1950s, Douglas McGregor proposed Theory X and Theory Y. These two theories contrast assumptions about human nature and their impact on leadership styles.
Theory X: Theory X assumes that employees inherently dislike work and will avoid it if possible. It suggests that individuals are primarily motivated by...
The problem with leadership development is that everybody will agree that it is essential but nobody wants to admit that it's their leadership that needs developing!
Imagine if dentists approached you in the street and said, "Your teeth need fixing", you would likely be highly offended and unlikely to book an appointment. Dentists wait until you are in pain and come to them.
Chiropractors are more proactive in marketing their solutions. You will find them in shopping centers with two bathroom scales, offering a free health assessment. When you see that you are not balanced they offer you a package of adjustments.
In companies, the realization that leadership is 'out of balance' comes in the form of an engagement survey, from a great resignation, or loss of market share.
As we emerge from a forced experiment in hybrid and remote work, it is essential to rethink the practice of leadership when employees have made it abundantly clear, through...
Newton's first law of motion, also known as the law of inertia, states that an object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force. This means that an object will continue to do what it is currently doing unless something else intervenes to change its course.
This law has significant implications for human success. In order to achieve success in any endeavor, individuals must apply force and momentum to move themselves or their circumstances in a desired direction. However, inertia can often be a formidable obstacle to this process, as it tends to keep things moving in their current direction.
To overcome the inertia from established systems and patterns, individuals must apply force through self-leadership.
"Self-leadership is the practice of intentionally influencing their thinking, feelings, and 𝙖𝙘𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣, toward their objectives." (Bryant & Kazan 2012)
For example, if an individual wants to...
Leadership is essential to the success and sustainability of any organization, especially during times of rapid change. It is therefore worrying that a recent leadership forecast showed a 17% drop in the number of leaders who reported their company had high-quality leaders. At only 40%, this is the steepest decline in leadership quality in a decade. The last time it was this low was between 2007–2008, the height of the global financial crisis.
This begs the question:
"What's going wrong?"
Surveys suggest less than half of people have faith in their immediate supervisor and less than a third trust their senior leaders, and CXOs.
Where has the trust gone?
The recent Global Health crisis with a shift in work practices coupled with digital transformation, the rise in AI, and a pending environmental catastrophe have exposed the weakness of the old leadership model that we could trust that our leaders knew what to do.
The old hierarchical model of...
"I've got your back" might just be the most powerful leadership and team-building phrase.
The effect of this phrase to encourage, empower, and build trust was recently highlighted by a member of a team that I lead. This individual, filled with enthusiasm, had bypassed a guideline and made a decision, that would normally be mine.
Roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities are important but in a startup or agile team that is 'falling forward,' it is also important to encourage ownership and progress over perfection.
I believe that leadership is a conversation, a one-to-one conversation, or a one-to-many conversation. In the New Leadership Playbook, I outline twelve conversations that leaders need to have with their team or organization.
The conversations are guided by seven principles, one of which I have already mentioned, progress over perfection. Waiting for things to be perfect can stifle creativity and productivity. The leadership principle that...
I recently received this request from the Executive Education department of a university.
Not being a woman but understanding the speaker's intent, I smiled and answered, "No", but having coached many women, I can talk about leadership challenges that women face.
This being #InternationalWomensDay, I am going to be courageous and share some things that I believe should be part of the conversation, even though I am an older, white, male.
I am the son of a mother, brother to sisters, father to daughters, and husband to a wife. I have worked to advance women whenever and wherever I can. I have taught executive presence for women, I have mentored women, and I have taken a pledge to never appear on an all-male panel. My friend and colleague, Dr. Tanvi Gautam, says this makes me a #heforshe.
The number one thing that upsets me is women tearing down other women. If a woman is successful this should be celebrated because it...
Collaboration is the behavior of working with others, in-person or virtually, to produce something. It is the nature of business and a key factor for success, yet it is often lacking.
Some years ago, I was asked to run a conflict management training for a software company in Singapore, I explained to the client that giving people conflict management strategies is a great idea, but the conflict would remain unless the underlying causes of the conflict were addressed. I asked:
"Who is in conflict with whom, and about what?’"
With more gentle probing, I discovered that the engineering team was motivated and rewarded to keep the servers online and secure. The innovation team was motivated and rewarded for developing new solutions and selling them to market.
‘I’m curious,’ I probed further. ‘Does the innovation team need to test their beta software on the engineering team’s servers?’
The answer was...
My coaching client, let’s call him Terry, was frustrated. Like many people, he valued harmony, and to achieve it he often didn’t speak up but when things didn’t go the way he thought they should. But, despite his best efforts, his frustration would often leak out, derailing his plans.
Harmony, I explained, takes work. It requires awareness of your own needs, wants, and beliefs as well as being curious about the needs, wants, and beliefs of others. With this awareness, you can communicate assertively to reach collaboration. In short, you must lean into difference rather than avoid it and pretend it doesn’t exist.
In this post, I share a framework that can help you have more harmony in your work and personal life.
A need, like food, water, clothing, and shelter, is a must-have. If a need is not met, we will consciously or unconsciously behave in ways to fulfill our needs. Beyond the physiological needs, Abraham Maslow...