Leadership from the Inside Out – Updated 3rd Edition Overview

The new edition of Leadership from the Inside Out will be available on Amazon on October 30, 2017.  Pre-order your copy here.

A True Measure Of Leadership Success: Seven Guiding Principles

By Kevin Cashman, originally posted on his Forbes.com blog, Pause Point, on September 5, 2017. 

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Taking a true measure of our leadership success is no easy task. Do we measure net profit? Gross revenue? Customer satisfaction and loyalty? EBITDA? Quarterly results? Stock price? Social responsibility? While all these yardsticks are crucial, do they really get to the essence of what sustains leadership for the long run?

Recently, a 70-year-old CEO reflected with me, “In the end, the real measure of success will unlikely be our accomplishments or achievements. Rather, our most authentic measure will likely be the lasting impact we had on the lives of people.” I doubt many of us will lament in our final hour, “If only I had pushed for one more percentage point of profit in my last quarter!” Likely we will reflect on our key relationships, on the people we have impacted, loved, grown and been influenced by.

In the 75+ year Grant and Glueck study at Harvard, the longest continuous research study with four research leaders to date, there has been one consistent finding across the decades, across generations and across geographies:  that the true measure of success and satisfaction rests on one thing, relationships.

In a leadership context, relationships play out in a multitude of ways in teams, collegial connections, culture and customers. In many ways, all leadership is in relationship, a way to add enduring value with and for people. However, I posit that there is one fundamental measure to our leadership effectiveness:  how many leaders have you produced?

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Drive and Connection

Agility: The Power to Make Change Stick

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By Russel Pearlman, originally published in Korn Ferry’s Briefings magazine, Volume 8, 2017. 

As Rita McGrath tells it, it was a great strategy for a firm that needed one. For years a U.S.-based multinational company had been focused on selling commodity chemicals while giving away the expertise on how to use them for free. Now it planned to flip that business model on its head, developing long-term consulting contracts with its customers to capitalize on that highly valued advice. Projections showed that the firm could increase its profits from around 5 percent of sales to around 30 percent of sales.

But the reality never quite turned out that way. For two years the sales force never focused on creating consulting contracts—it just kept doing what it had been doing for years, selling as many tons of chemicals as possible.

McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School, came in and quickly diagnosed the problem. The company hadn’t made the structural adjustments needed to pull off its grand strategy. That inflexibility brought everything to a standstill. “It’s inertia,” McGrath says. “People like to continue to do what they’re doing.”

In today’s ever-shifting global economy, brilliant minds are coming up with great strategies to get ahead. Yet an overwhelming number of these business innovations, cultural transformations and other great-on-paper ideas fail. Leaders will often publicly blame the economy, an upstart rival, the political environment or even the weather. But the truth is a lot simpler: Many of these plans start, but the firms and their leaders aren’t agile enough to make them stick.

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Purpose with the Power to Transform Your Organization

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Cathy Carlisi, Jim Hemerling, Julie Kilmann, Dolly Meese, and Doug Shipman; originally posted to BCG.com on May 15, 2017.

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Everywhere these days, people are talking purpose. As big believers, we’re encouraged by all the interest. Yet we’ve observed that many organizations are merely scratching the surface; they’re missing the full power of the kind of purpose that can transform.

Many organizations do a superficial job of articulating why they exist, settling for vision-setting exercises that lead to little more than catchy slogans and posters. Some craft purpose statements that are so generic they could apply to just about any company. Other efforts are inauthentic, like the politically correct promotion that has no connection to the company’s DNA. But even among organizations that articulate their purpose effectively, many are guilty of going no further. They do almost nothing to integrate purpose into the day-to-day experiences of their employees and customers. This “surface purpose” amounts to a thin veneer that doesn’t ingrain new beliefs and behaviors. Despite the hype, the organization remains unchanged.

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Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were

By Susan Chira, originally posted on New York Times on July 21, 2017.

A year ago, dressed in suffragette white and addressing a cheering, weeping convention, Hillary Clinton stood for possibility. Now she is a reminder of the limits women continue to confront — in politics and beyond.

More than 40 years after women began pouring into the workplace, only a handful have made it all the way to the top of corporate America. The percentage of chief executives of Fortune 500 companies who are women just passed 6 percent, creeping up (and occasionally dropping back) at a glacial pace.

Why don’t more women get that No. 1 job?

Consider the experiences of the people who know best: Women who were in the running to become No. 1, but didn’t quite make it. The women who had to stop at No. 2.

What their stories show is that in business, as in politics, women who aspire to power evoke far more resistance, both overt and subtle, than they expected would be the case by now.

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Playing the Keys to an Electric Leadership Legacy

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Leo Fender was a pioneer in the design and improvement of the electric guitar.  As innovative as he was to music, his leadership was electric too.  His resonant tones moved millions but so did the progressive tone of his leadership.

Occasionally, the world produces one of those rare leaders who alter the course of history.  Disney reinvented entertainment, Einstein revolutionized science, Edison lit up our lives with the light bulb, Bell got the world talking with the telephone – and Fender electrified music.  Leo Fender has influenced every person on earth today – at least everyone who has ever heard a song.

When Leo released his Telecaster guitar, people laughed at him.  Noting their strange, flat design, his critics said that all his strange guitars were useful for was to paddle boats.  Yet, Leo’s guitars went on to be used by everyone from Elvis Presley to Eric Clapton and from Jimmy Page to Jimmy Hendrix.  Indeed, Rolling Stone Magazine published a list of the world’s top 100 guitarists, and 90 of them played a Fender on stage.

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Nelson Mandela and the Power of Purpose

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Today’s leaders certainly face tough challenges, but few can argue that they pale in comparison to what Nelson Mandela had to overcome: poverty, institutionalized racism and prison, to name just a few. Yet Mandela was able to accomplish something remarkable in a way that experts say leaders in government and the private sector can learn from.

Mandela’s legacy was honored July 18, on what would have been his 99thbirthday. He infused a clear sense of purpose—to create a free society—in both his words and deeds; and it’s that unwavering sense of purpose, experts say, that CEOs should take to heart. Leaders who can inspire groups to “serve something larger than ourselves,” can create organizations that are more productive, profitable and beneficial to society, says Elaine Dinos, a principal in Korn Ferry’s Global Consumer Market practice.

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Great Leaders Are Great Storytellers

What is Emotional Self-Awareness?

By Dan Goleman, excerpted from Emotional Self-Awareness:  A Primer, and posted on the Korn Ferry Institute

Emotional Self-Awareness is the ability to understand your own emotions and their effects on your performance.  You know what you are feeling and why – and how it helps or hurts what you are trying to do.  You sense how others see you and so align your self-image with a larger reality.  You have an accurate sense of your strengths and limitations, which gives you a realistic self-confidence.  It also give you a clarity on your values and sense of purpose, so you can be more decisive when you set a course of action.  As a leader, you can be candid and authentic, speaking with conviction about your vision.

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