A Higher Priority

“The business of business is business.” For decades, that old saying has been a guiding light for organizations. But this week, some of the country’s top business leaders have declared that shareholder value no longer has a stronghold on corporations’ bottom line.

On Monday, the Business Roundtable, an association of major US-based companies, released a statement that redefines corporation’s purpose. Whereas maximizing profits was once the main objective of American businesses, that purpose should now be centered on delivering value to all constituencies, from customers to the world at large, the group asserts. The statement was signed by 181 of the group’s 188 member CEOs.

Though provocative, it’s not a terribly outrageous notion, experts say. More and more corporations are starting to lead with purpose, understanding that real value creation comes from serving multiple stakeholders. According to Korn Ferry CEO Gary Burnison, the purpose debate has even made its way into the boardroom. “The vast majority of directors are motivated by the desire to make an impact” he says.

But it’s just not enough for the Roundtable to say, publicly, that shareholder value doesn’t define a company’s purpose entirely, says Kevin Cashman, global leader of Korn Ferry’s CEO & Executive Development practice. “Purpose is not just a nice statement,” he says. “It requires developmental transformation to make it happen.”

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Enterprise Leadership: Five Big Resolutions for 2019

By Kevin Cashman; originally posted on his Forbes blog:  Pause Point on January 15, 2019. 

One of the toughest development challenges is to elevate a critical mass of talent from executive management to true enterprise leadership.  To move key talent from controlling systems, processes and financial performance to courageously create value creating significance, sustainability and purpose across an enterprise is no easy task.  To move senior people from thinking and behaving downwards into a function, a geography, a division or a single team, to thinking, and collaborating and inspiring across all functions, across all geographies, across all divisions, across all teams and across all customer groups is a very complex and critical shift.  Accelerating the development of executive managers into enterprise leaders may be the single most important factor in achieving your strategy and creating a more valuable and sustainable future.

In 2019, as you consider elevating leadership more authentically to the enterprise level, I suggest reflecting on five resolutions to help you to do so…

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Accelerating Change On-Purpose

By Kevin Cashman; originally posted to his Forbes blog, Pause Point on December 28, 2018. 

Although it may be true that we can’t “step into the same river twice,” as Heraclitis said, once we step in, we are part of that river’s flow.  Since birth, we have been swept up in a raging, constantly changing never-ending flow of experience.  Sometimes we love the flow of life, sometimes we hate it and resist it.  But because the flow of the river is constant, we have no choice in the matter.  We have to change.  It is part of the price of admission to life.  Every moment our cells are changing; our thoughts are changing; our emotions are changing; our relationships, our marketplace, our finances.  Change is endless and relentless.

We have no choice in the matter except for one aspect—accelerating our growth through change by adapting and learning.  Most leadership research illustrates that as we go up the executive ladder, we need to become increasingly comfortable with uncertainty and sudden change.  As leaders, we have to have the “integrative ability” to weave together and make sense of apparently disjoined pieces, crafting novel and innovative solutions.  At the same time, we need to have the self-confidence to make decisions on the spot, even in the absence of compelling, complete data.  The qualities needed at the top—courage, openness, authentic listening, adaptability—also indicate that leaders need to be comfortable with and able to embrace the “grayness” that comes from multiple points of view coming at us at once.  In other words, we have to master our adaptability mentally, emotionally, strategically, and interpersonally.

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Profit vs Purpose: The Duel Begins

By Russell Pearlman, originally published in issue 35 of Briefings Magazine, and posted on KornFerry.com on May 15, 2018. 

Kurt Graves had just heard from multiple investors in Intarcia Therapeutics, the pharmaceutical firm he runs, asking him a single question: Why wasn’t he putting Intarcia up for sale?

Intarcia is one of those “unicorns,” a firm with a multi-billion-dollar valuation. Its big product is a pushpin-sized pump that, when placed under a patient’s skin, will deliver medicine without trouble for a year. It’s a potential life changer for diabetes patients, many of whom have trouble keeping up with all the injections and pills to keep their disease at bay.

But the treatment, while succeeding in many clinical trials, was still facing months of regulatory review. Selling now, or taking the company public, the investors argued, would let the owners earn some quick short-term profits.

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Leadership from the Inside Out

By Skip Prichard, interview with Kevin Cashman.  Originally posted on SkipPrichard.com on March 12, 2018. 

I first read Leadership From the Inside Out years ago. It is one of the books that helps build a foundation of knowledge for leaders. That’s why I was excited to see that it is now out in a new version with updated chapters, new case studies and stories, and even more practical exercises to help everyone achieve their leadership potential.

Author Kevin Cashman is the Global Leader of CEO & Executive Development at Korn Ferry. He has advised thousands of senior leaders across almost every industry.

We recently talked about his updated book and his leadership views.

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Leadership from the Inside Out: Growing a Person Into a Leader

Enjoy this new episode of Dr. Diane Hamilton’s Take the Lead podcast, featuring Kevin Cashman.
Click on the photo below to visit the podcast website.

Podcast Capture

On Transformative Leadership: Step Back to Lead Forward

Sponsors Play Key Role in Advancing Women to CEO Level

By Kathy Gurchiek, originally posted on SHRM.org (Society for Human Resource Management) on November 29, 2017. 

Women who are chief executive officers typically did not see themselves in that role until a supervisor, mentor or sponsor urged them to seek the position.

That is among the key findings of Women CEOs Speak, a new report from the Korn Ferry Institute based on extensive interviews with 57 current and former female chief executives in the U.S. and psychometric assessments with two-thirds of the study participants.

Korn Ferry conducted the study to learn what qualities drive the women who make up 6.4 percent of U.S. CEOs. It conducted its research from February to July 2017 with 38 current and 19 former CEOs. Among participants, 23 are or were at Fortune 500 companies, 18 are or were at Fortune 1000 companies, and 16 are or were at privately held companies.

The findings point to the importance of sponsors and mentors in preparing women for leadership positions.

Resilience is a Dynamic Process

By Kevin Cashman; originally posted on Thrive Global on November 27, 2017. 

Developing resilience is not a static, rigid process; it is a type of centered fluidity that lets us go in any direction with ease and agility. Being resilient means we can recover our balance even in the midst of action. Separating our career, personal, family, emotional, and spiritual lives into distinct pieces and then trying to balance the parts on a scale is impossible. Managing the entire dynamic is the key. We need to identify the dynamics that run through all the pieces and then influence our resilience at that level.

Mastery of Resilience is about practicing inner and outer behaviors that keep us grounded and centered so we can deal with all the dynamics outside. As we build more resilience, we can do more with ease. Actually, when we are resilient, we can shoulder more weight with less effort, because we are strong at our very core. We have a strong foundation to handle unforeseen crises, instead of the anxiety and constant fear that one more unexpected problem will take us down. Finding ways to build that resilient foundation from the inside out is the key to Resilience Mastery.

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3 Simple Questions to Help You Stand in Your Own Power

By Christina DesMarais; originally posted on Inc.com on November 25, 2017. 

Stress is a subjective thing. If two people are stressed the same way, one may collapse and the other may thrive on the challenge. So, if you want to be someone who’s strong and resilient, you need to be intentional with your thoughts and how you process what’s happening. That’s according to Kevin Cashman, author of Leadership from the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life. Here are his words on three simple questions to help you handle stress with dignity.

1. What can I control in this situation?
When managing stress, control is best applied in our self-management versus trying to manage others.  This involves deeper awareness of our responses to stress, especially to any reactive behaviors that don’t improve the situation (or that actually make things worse). You can’t control circumstances, but you can control how you respond to them. Taking charge of our well-being practices–fitness, self-care, sleep, diet, and meditation practices to build resilience is an important aspect of maintaining self-management during stress. When it comes to stress, it is best to control oneself to influence others.

2.  What can I do to influence this situation?
There is a difference between control and influence. You can’t control the circumstances or people surrounding a stressful situation, but you can influence them. Influence is the language of emotional intelligence.  It converts stressful, potentially volatile situations into opportunities for growth and collective aspiration. However, to be effective and not controlling, your influence must be both authentic and highly relevant and important to others. Take Jim, a crusty “old-school” executive, who was extremely bright and, for the most part, got exceptional results. But when stress was high and he was responsible for navigating the team through the chaos, he “bored holes” right through people. During coaching we discovered that he didn’t mean to have such a negative impact on people. He just didn’t know any other way. He was reacting as a string of role models around him had. It turns out that, despite his behavior, he was a thoughtful, caring, and character-driven person. He just needed to find congruence between who he was on the inside with  the results-oriented, intelligent leader he was on the outside. Once he started living the authentic change, he and his team were more effective.

3.  What do I have to accept here?
If control and influence are not generating the impact we hoped for, then we have to step back to discern and accept something that may be within or outside of ourselves. For most professionals this is the most challenging stress reliever because it goes counter to our ambitious action-orientation. When we sometimes admit that investing additional energy, time and other resources will not create an acceptable return, it frees us up to use all those resources to create new value-creating visions.

Distress is usually the by-product of wasting energy by trying to control things we can only influence or accept, or accepting things we could influence or control. Take action on what you can control or influence, and more clearly face what you have to accept.

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