Thoughts on Leadership with Kevin Cashman

Originally published in Executive Talent Magazine, the e-magazine of AESC (Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants).  

In January of 2017, AESC spoke with Kevin Cashman, Senior Partner at Korn Ferry specializing in CEO & Executive Development.  Below are excerpts from our discussion about evolving organizational trends and the implications for leaders and leadership.

AESC:  The world has changed: does that mean the traits and qualities of an effective leader are different than they were years ago?
Cashman:  I think there’s a big debate going on in leadership, politics and cultures around the world and it’s really a debate around openness and closedness; should we be inclusive of the world and cultures and leadership approaches, or should we be exclusive and careful?
All of our research would say that the world is going to belong to the most inclusive and the most open.  It’s where all innovations and all breakthroughs come from — the synthesis of multiple points of view.  The world belongs to the most learning agile.
We’ve said the world belongs to the most learning agile and we have that broken down in a research basis to four key characteristics:  how open and self aware are we to our own strengths and our developmental areas; how open are we to colleagues and team members to collaborate; how open are we to innovate; and how open are we to engaging the world to create value.

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How Are You Going to Be When You Grow Up?

By Laura A. Roser.  Originally published in Legacy Arts Magazine, Issue 10, April 2017.  

“I think there’s a fundamental flaw in how we look at careers,” best-selling author and well-recognized leadership consultant, Kevin Cashman says.  “We shouldn’t be asking kids what they are going to be when they grow up.  We should be asking them how they are going to be when they grow up.”

“It’s not about being a fireman or a real estate agent, it’s about becoming in tune with who you are, where your passions lie, and pursuing a career that helps you to become the kind of person you’d like to be.”

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Work-Life Balance Morphs Into Work-Life Integration

By Laime Vaitkus, originally posted on Bloomberg BNA on February 13, 2017.

In today’s work environment, with unrelenting pressure to get more things done in less time and the technological capacity to stay connected around the clock, employees often struggle to balance the demands of their work and personal lives. However, companies can help employees by giving them more flexibility to integrate the two, according to several consultants and studies.

Over half of workers are stressed at work on a daily basis, and 60 percent say that work-related pressure increased in the last five years, according to a survey from Accountemps. More than half of the CFOs in the same survey agreed that their teams are stressed, with the top causes being heavy workloads and deadlines, work-life balance and unrealistic expectations from managers.

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Companies with a purpose beyond profit tend to make more money

By Simon Caulkin, originally published in Financial Times on January 24, 2016. 

One of the paradoxes of business is that the most profitable companies are not those that are most profit-focused.

In a survey titled “The Business Case for Purpose”, a team from Harvard Business Review Analytics and professional services firm EY’s Beacon institute declares “a new leading edge: those companies able to harness the power of purpose to drive performance and profitability enjoy a distinct competitive advantage”.  This is a reprise of the findings of Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, who in 1994’s Built to Last found that between 1926 and 1990 a group of “visionary” companies – those guided by a purpose beyond making money – returned six times more to shareholders than explicitly profit-driven rivals.

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What Job Switchers Want

By Kristen B. Frasch, originally published at Human Resource Executive Online on March 1, 2017. 

The latest chapter in the ongoing book on employees and what they really want from their employer finds them pursuing a slightly different Holy Grail than previously reported: challenge.

In a recent global Korn Ferry survey of nearly 2,000 professionals, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) say that if they were to plan on being in the job market this year, it would be because they’re looking for a more challenging position while the quest for greater compensation comes in almost dead last as a reason to leave.

Trailing far behind that 73 percent, 9 percent say they would be looking elsewhere because they either don’t like their company or their efforts aren’t being recognized, 5 percent would blame the fact that their compensation is too low and 4 percent say it would be because they don’t like their boss.

“What that answer tells HR is if people are thinking of moving for challenge, how do we challenge them?” says Kevin Cashman, senior partner at Los Angeles-based Korn Ferry.

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Exploring the Power of Pause – New Podcast with Kevin Cashman and Innovation Ecosystem


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“Managers assert drive and control to get things done; leaders pause to discover new ways of being and achieving.”

~ Kevin Cashman, The Pause Principle

Let’s pause… take a breath… reflect on the day, on the week, on the month. Let’s create space for our minds to process, our moods to level and our thoughts to mingle.

This episode’s guest wrote a book on this phenomenon based on his extensive experience coaching, advising and researching leaders in some of the world’s largest companies. Kevin Cashman is a best-selling author, top-ten thought leader, keynote speaker, global CEO coach and pioneer of the ‘grow the whole person to grow the whole leader’ approach to transformative leadership. He is the founder of LeaderSource Ltd and the Chief Executive Institute™, recognized as one of the top three leadership development programs globally. In 2006, LeaderSource joined Korn Ferry, where Kevin is now Senior Partner, CEO & Executive Development.

As a thought-leader on topics of personal, team and organisational transformation, he has written six outstanding books on these topics including Awakening the Leader Within, and Leadership from the Inside Out, which was named the #1 business book of 2000 by CEO-READ and is now used at over 100 universities globally. He has written numerous articles for the likes of The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fast Company, Strategy & Leadership, and Directors & Boards Magazine among others. His latest book, The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward, is the culmination of many years researching and working with some of the world’s most successful executives and CEOs: it explores how leaders, and indeed all of us, must deal with the complexities of the highly globalised and digitised world in which we live by stepping back and taking time to reflect, observe and, essentially, “smell the roses”. The book provides a practical process that individuals, teams and organisations can apply to inspire personal growth, developing others and providing space for innovation.

In today’s episode, Kevin and Mark discuss the rationale and research behind The Pause Principle which aligns strongly with the notion of “creating space” explored by previous guests like David Allen, Lisa Bodell and Heiko Fischer, among others; about Kevin’s new interest in the concept of “story mastery”; and finally some fresh insights into the qualities of a great versus a good leader.


Majority of Executives Would Not Take Job of U.S. President

By:  Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media.  Originally posted on on February 9, 2017. 

Eighty five percent of respondents to a recent survey said they would rather be CEO of a company than chief executive of the nation. Here’s some surprising reasons why.

A vast majority of corporate professionals would much rather take the helm of their own organization than become President of the United States, according to recent survey by Korn Ferry. In a survey of nearly 1,500 respondents, only 15 percent said they would choose being chief executive of the highest office in the land over being CEO of their own company.

“In a way, you could consider the incoming U.S. President as the next national CEO,” said Korn Ferry Hay Group senior partner Rick Lash. “While serving as a corporate CEO is generally considered a very challenging role, executives acknowledge the U.S. President faces hurdles that are much higher than those faced by a leader in corporate America.”

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Job Switchers Seek New Challenges Above All

By Roy Maurer, originally posted on Society for Human Resource Management Online, January 30, 2017.

The desire for a new challenge is the top reason workers switch jobs, according to a survey conducted by executive search firm Korn Ferry International.

Nearly three-quarters of 1,958 respondents (73 percent) cited the lack of a challenge in their current role as the main reason why they would look for a new job in 2017. Other reasons given were not feeling recognized and not liking their employer (both at 9 percent), compensation that is too low (5 percent), and not liking their boss (4 percent).

Of those planning to seek a new job in 2017, most (76 percent) said that they would look for another job in their current career, while 13 percent said they would apply for a job in an entirely new career field.

Kevin Cashman, a senior partner with Korn Ferry, said that the survey results mirror a series of studies he’s seen that show that money tends not to be the main motivator for job switching.

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The Global Leadership Dilemma: To Be Inclusive Or Not To Be Inclusive?

By Kevin Cashman, originally posted on

We are witnessing an impassioned debate playing out in our political and cultural worlds. Should we serve our own interests or the broader interests? Should we put America first or the world?  Should we place our company interests first, our customers’ interests, or the environment? Should we place our career success as primary or our team’s success? The answer to these and other salient questions is obvious. “Yes.” We need to do it all.

However, today’s debate tries to force a decision—one or the other— on issues that call for dynamic and tough reconciliation.  All our leadership research spanning millions of senior leaders globally suggests that leadership involves the constant reconciliation of the “I” and the “We” domains of leadership. When do we push and drive for our own way, excluding the views of others, and when do we involve others: listen, collaborate, and synthesize their insights for a more diverse and inclusive view?

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