Leadership Changes Everything

Pathways from Management Effectiveness to Leadership Excellence

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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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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The Best Companies Know How to Balance Strategy and Purpose

By Laurent Chevreaux, Jose Lopez, and Xavier Mesnard.  Originally posted on HBR.org (Harvard Business Review) on November 2, 2014. 

Most companies have articulated their purpose — the reason they exist. But very few have made that purpose a reality for their organizations.

Consider Nokia. Before the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, Nokia was the dominant mobile phone maker with a clearly stated purpose — “Connecting people” — and an aggressive strategy for sustaining market dominance. Seeking to extend its technological edge (particularly in miniaturization), it acquired more than 100 startup companies while pursuing a vast portfolio of research and product development projects. In 2006 alone, Nokia introduced 39 new mobile-device models. Few imagined that this juggernaut, brandishing vast resources with such steely determination, could be quickly brought down.

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How to Know When You’re on Thin Ice at Work

By Sue Shellenbarger, originally printed in Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2017. 


It starts with an uneasy feeling: You’re left out of meetings you used to attend. The boss stops offering suggestions. Once-friendly colleagues turn cool.

How can you be the last one to know you’re failing or flailing at work?

“I never saw it coming,” says Nancy Halpern of a layoff on a previous job years ago as a division head for a retailer. “I thought I did a great job. I ran a department and had achieved great results. I prided myself on being very dedicated and committed,” she says.

She sometimes had disagreements with her boss, and her boss occasionally canceled meetings with her, Ms. Halpern says. But she didn’t respect her supervisor enough to try to forge a closer bond.

She realized too late that her boss placed a high value on loyalty and saw her behavior as insubordination. She should have asked her for frequent, specific feedback, such as, “What should I do less of? What should I do more of?” says Ms. Halpern, principal of KNH Associates, a New York leadership-development consulting firm. And she might have taken a few cues from peers her boss favored and picked up on strategies they used.

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9 Authentic Actions That Build Trust


By Steve Watkins, originally posted on Investors.com on September 26, 2017. 

When a leader acts authentically, plenty of good things happen.  Be open, honest and match your actions with your words.  Others will trust you.

“If people trust, then they’ll engage,” Kevin Cashman, a senior partner at the executive search and recruiting firm Korn Ferry, told IBD. “If you show up with authenticity, others trust that and then you can marshal people.”

Here’s how to build that authenticity.

Make it bigger. It’s vital to not just be true to yourself but to serve others while doing it, says Cashman, who wrote “Leadership From the Inside Out” and leads his company’s CEO and executive development group.

“The test is if we’re creating value for others too,” Cashman said.

Show vulnerability. David MacLennan, CEO of food and agriculture company Cargill, told Cashman it’s vital to own up to your mistakes and shortcomings. It builds trust, encourages communication and creates powerful teamwork.

“Those are the leaders who earn the right to leadership, and it’s irresistible to follow them,” Cashman said.

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The Rewards of CEO Reflection

By Roselinde Torres, Martin Reeves, Peter Tollman, and Christian Veith.  Originally posted by the Boston Consulting Group  on June 29, 2017. 

CEOs live on a nonstop treadmill. They are under constant pressure to perform, live in a 24-7 spotlight of social-media attention, and swim in a deep pool of information. One CEO told us that she had received some 1,000 pieces of advice during her early days as the chief executive.

Corporate organizations are more complex than ever before. BCG’s “index of complicatedness” of major companies has been rising by nearly 7% per year for the past 50 years.

Deep thought and reflection are casualties of this high-pressure and high-stakes environment as CEOs rush from event to event and decision to decision. Downtime is often regarded as wasted time.

CEOs who do make time to reflect, however, say that it is time well spent, and our research on CEO success validates that view. Reflection leads to better insights into innovation, strategy, and execution. Reflection gives rise to better outcomes and higher credibility with corporate boards, leadership teams, workforces, and other stakeholders.

The most famous and successful practitioner of reflection is, perhaps, Warren Buffett, who says that he spends about six hours a day reading. “He has a lot of time to think,” says his partner Charlie Munger. “You look at his schedule sometimes, and there’s a haircut. Tuesday: haircut day.” Tuesday, in other words, is a thinking day.

Most CEOs do not have the luxury of limiting their daily calendar to a single act of reflection, but many of them could spend more time reflecting. It takes discipline, practice, and structure, but by routinely setting aside time in their calendars, CEOs can reap the rewards of reflection.

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Leadership From The Inside Out – New 3rd Edition Announcement


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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