Stories: Effective Leaders’ Must-Have Tools

By Roger Dean Duncan, originally posted to DuncanWorldwide.com on January 15, 2018. 

Good stories have a power all their own. They can make complex issues understandable. They can give people a sense of community. They can call people to action in ways they never imagined.

As a young journalist many years ago I covered large events ranging from business conventions to religion conferences to political rallies. I always watched and listened to the speakers very carefully. But most revealing was what I observed in the audiences. When a speaker said something like “Let me illustrate with a story,” the audience would always become more alert and attentive. It was as though the listeners were thinking “Okay, here comes the really good stuff.”

So why don’t more leaders have storytelling in their toolbox of skills? That’s always been a mystery to me. But one thing’s for sure: the value of good stories and effective storytelling cannot be overemphasized.

Kevin Cashman certainly knows this. In the updated edition of his fine book Leadership from the Inside Out he highlights many of the whys and wherefores of good storytelling. He shared some of his insights in a recent interview.

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8 Resolutions on the CEO’s Desk

Originally posted on Korn Ferry Institute on January 10, 2018. 

Some may be obvious but still get missed as the grind of the business year cycles through. Others are new and unique to 2018. Either way, the breath of this year’s resolutions that experts believe CEOs need couldn’t be wider.

A tight focus on culture, to prevent so many of crossed wires that befelled many too CEOs last year. Some real change–more than talk–about diversity at all levels. A much deeper pipeline of talent to fit the fast improving job market today. And so on, as Korn Ferry experts provides the following overview:

Create an effective culture.

As business leaders look ahead to 2018, many of them are looking for ways to drive cultural change. It makes sense: five years ago, salary and benefits were the No. 1 reason a job candidate would choose one company over another; today, culture is No. 1. Organizations have found that when they lead with purpose, transparency, fairness, and accountability, they’re able to attract and retain better talent, and inspire greater creativity and innovation—all of which ultimately helps their bottom line, experts say. And while culture permeates every aspect of a business — from its systems to its ethics to its processes — as a business leader, a change in culture starts with you. “It’s a mistake for top leaders to believe that culture is somehow separate from themselves or a separate project,” says Arvinder Dhesi, a Korn Ferry senior client partner. “Everything that we do contributes to the culture. There’s no culture-neutral behavior.”

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Forget the Score Just Play

By Evelyn Orr, originally published in Korn Ferry’s Briefings magazine in November, 2017.   Evelyn Orr, the chief operating officer of the Korn Ferry Institute, writes regularly on the intersection of career, relationships, and gender and the impact on familes and firms.

Parents’ hopes and expectations of their kids can be intense. Our hearts are in the right place. We want our kids to be prepared for the real world, to discover their potential, to be able to compete and achieve great things. But it can be tough keeping things in perspective; we think that every move from preschool on will heavily influence our children’s destination.

Take sports, for example. As our kids’ soccer tryouts approach, my husband and I hold our breath. We feed them high-energy foods, make bedtime stricter than finals week, and anticipate any heartache they may experience. It turns out that all that effort and excitement in this case may be well worth it—especially for girls, whose access to sports hasn’t always been a given. Whether or not a child ever gets a scholarship or turns pro, sports participation apparently has a strong correlation to success in the C-suite. One wonders: Can the great female CEOs of the future have anything to learn from this field of dreams?

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Read to Lead Podcast #194: Leadership from the Inside Out with Kevin Cashman

readtolead
Kevin was recently interviewed by Jeff Brown with the Read to Lead Podcast about the updated 3rd edition of Leadership from the Inside Out.

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The Reading Lists with Kevin Cashman

By Phil Treagus, originally posted on TheReadingLists.com on October 30, 2017. 

How do you describe your occupation?

As the Global Leader of CEO and Executive Development at Korn Ferry (with 130+ offices and consultants around the world), we foster the accelerated growth of CEOs and CEO Successors to ensure sustainable, purpose-driven enterprise growth. Also, I authored Leadership from the Inside Out and The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward; am a worldwide keynote speaker, and write a leadership column for Forbes.com.

Talk us through a typical day for you…

How about an ideal ‘typical’ day? A day that balances pause, purpose and connection is ideal. On these days, I feel rested when I awaken, take Leo, our Golden Retriever on a walk through the woods along the lake, hopefully gathering inspiration and creative clarity. My best writing often emerges on these walks! I enjoy some time to exercise a bit more, then some writing, maybe a new Forbes article, a keynote or book project. Shifting focus, I work with CEO and CHRO clients, co-creating meaningful breakthroughs. I engage with my team and consultants in the office. At home, in our meditation studio, enjoy dinner and conversation with my family, then maybe a movie or a good book in front of the fire, while Leo jumps in our bed and snuggles-up to sleep.

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Finding the Keys to the Corner Office

By James Lewis, Senior Director, Research, Korn Ferry Institute.  Originally published February 13, 2017 on Korn Ferry Institute. 

It matters in wars, in most sports and, to some extent, in games of chance. But does it really take courage to get into the upper echelons of a company?

Slowly but surely, science is finding ways to measure the traits and skills that tend to succeed in corporate hallways, and it’s getting more exact by the day. In fact, based on executive responses from Korn Ferry’s Four Dimensions of Leadership Assessment (KF4D) tests, it’s possible to rank the skills in two ways: those more common among C-suite types than midlevel managers, and those in more successful or engaged top executives. In other words, a guide to getting into the corner office—and staying there.

Looking at these traits by industry, it turns out fortune does indeed favor the bold, with courage the top trait in the financial services sector, and the second highest in professional business services. It’s also in the top five of at least three other major fields. But a bit of advice for C-suite executives: tuck that brashness away once you’ve made it to the top. Managing ambiguity, instilling trust, planning, persuading—these are the top traits for highly engaged versus low-engaged C-suite types.

Of course, no guide is perfect, and few people can pull off a personality makeover. The takeaway: Try. “It’s not easy for someone who doesn’t innately possess specific competencies to start exhibiting them,” says Stu Crandell, senior vice president, Korn Ferry Institute. “But proper development and practice can help.”

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The Bitcoin Disruption

By Melissa Swift, John Petzold, Kevin Cashman, and Leslie Gordon; originally posted on Korn Ferry Institute on December 6, 2017.

A recent headline in Barron’s announced it quite plainly: “Bitcoin Storms Wall Street.” And, no kidding, the cryptocurrency has jumped in value more than 10 times since the start of the year, making this year’s stock market gain look boring. Last week, it joined the financial world’s mainstream when US regulators approved the trading of bitcoin futures. Two of the world’s biggest exchanges, the CBOE Futures Exchange and the CME, will offer investors bitcoin-related products later this month, with other exchanges around the world likely following suit next year.

At this kind of pace, experts say, both the currency and blockchain, the technology behind it, represent a clear threat to the way many businesses may operate in the future. And yet many corporate leaders may be still be clueless about it all. “Things are moving so fast that decisions are being made with incomplete information,” says John Petzold, senior client partner, global leader, CXO Optimization at Korn Ferry.

To some degree, however, CEOs and others can rely on various formulas from the past to deal with disruptions, even on this level. Here’s a brief roadmap […]

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New Podcast with Talent10x: Why Leadership is More Important Than Ever

By Frank Kalman; originally posted on Talent Economy on December 6, 2017. 

Managing Editor of Frank Kalman interviews Kevin Cashman, senior client partner at executive recruiting firm Korn Ferry and author of the book “Leadership from the Inside Out.”  The two talk about how leadership has evolved in recent years as well as why the skill has become more important in business than ever before.

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On Transformative Leadership: Step Back to Lead Forward

The power of purpose

By Rick Lash and Peter Aceto; originally posted to The Globe and Mail on December 2, 2017. 

Having a strong purpose is a fundamental component to a happy, fulfilling life. People with a positive, engaging purpose tend to be more focused, optimistic and successful in what they do. They love going to work every day because they’re doing work that is most meaningful to them and they feel they’re working for an organization that is making a positive difference in society.

But many millennials report that they are experiencing a lack of purpose at work. Part of the reason is what Craig Ryan, director of social enterprise at the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), calls pervasive short-termism. “Companies that drive too quickly to targets create an imbalanced view of what value is.” For many millennials, he says, there is a dismay with conventional businesses that only focus on driving profit to the exclusion of all else. Customer service reps are feeling pressured to sell financial products to customers who don’t have a need; people hoard work or sales opportunities to meet their own numbers instead of collaborating and supporting each other.

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