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Issue 29 January 2015
Trump Card to Master Change
In view of unprecedented change globally, leadership potential is the new trump card for companies, says Egon Zehnder CEO Rajeev Vasudeva in interviews with CNBC and the Huffington Post. Companies that continue to focus narrowly on executives' past experience and competencies, rather than also factoring in their future potential, will probably fail to identify those leaders who can succeed in the dramatically different work roles and environments of high-velocity change. “Organizations have remained wedded to ‘competencies’ and experience as the best predictors of future success” noted Vasudeva at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. But today leaders: “must have the ability to master changing complexities while orchestrating processes that promote continuous creativity in the organization.”
> Full story: Rajeev Vasudeva, “Too Much Unprecedented Change, Too Few Leaders” in CNBC (20th January 2015)
And: “A Misunderstanding of Talent: Unlocking Great Leadership Potential in the New Global Context” in Huffington Post (22nd January 2015)
A New Balance of Power
The patterns of power are shifting. Corporate Goliaths world can be challenged by upstart businesses just as easily as governments can be brought down by political protesters armed only with social media. This nascent transformation is driven by a growing tension between two distinct forces: old power and new power, write Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms in the Harvard Business Review. Where old power is leader-driven, closed, and based on control, new power is peer-driven, open, and collaborative. How can companies capitalize on this new pattern, they ask? Simply engaging in social media will not cut it; traditional organizations seeking to harness new power must first embrace its values, argue the authors. However, old and new power models can intersect, as shown by a few tech companies. They rely on mass participation for their business model, while sticking to old patterns of control by refusing to share power. The authors, however, call on those capable of channeling the power of the crowd to redesign social and corporate structures by including and empowering more people.
> Full story: Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms, “Understanding “New Power”, in the Harvard Business Review (December 2014)
For further insight: Jeremy Heimans and novelist Taiye Selasi explore how the millennial generation is driving a momentous shift in how we approach politics, conduct business, and engage in the critical issues shaping our future. Print and Video
Chief External Officer: a Potential Game-Changer
Corporate players on the global stage grapple with a multitude of complex issues such as environmental concerns, governmental regulation, labor rights in emerging economies and cybercrime. To date most organizations have left their legislative affairs offices or community relations departments to deal with these sociopolitical issues. Often, the reaction is piecemeal and too slow, especially when potential game-changing events are at stake. Multinational firms should elevate external affairs to the same level as other top management spheres by creating a Chief External Officer, argues Matt Palmquist in Strategy & Business. Case studies at a wide range of companies show that developing cohesive responses to outside pressures can even build a competitive advantage via strategic responses to so-called non-market issues.
> Full story: Matt Palmquist, “A Different Kind of C(E)O” in Strategy & Business (11th December 2014)
Lean, Not Mean: Treating People With Respect
“Of course we treat every employee with respect!” This is the credo in most companies. But, as Karyn Ross writes in Industryweek, the current definition of respect as “treat others as you would like to be treated yourself” only scratches the surface of what the notion can really mean in a lean environment. The author argues that in leading organizations like Toyota, respect also means challenging everyone to think critically and improve, so that each person can develop and contribute to their fullest potential, both as workers and as human beings. It may seem a little painful, when lean leaders ask their teams to think and act differently in their daily work, but Ross feels that leaders, who encourage people to learn new ways of thinking and doing, show the greatest possible respect.
> Full story: Karyn Ross, “How Lean Leaders Really Show Respect” in Industryweek (20th January 2015)
More: Egon Zehnder's Industrial Practice