In “Two Minute Commentaries,” we share our perspective on today’s most important business topics based on our current observations from our client work with public companies, private equity and investor owned concerns and family enterprises.
Here’s our latest which we trust you’ll find helpful and perhaps, provocative.
As always, we are interested in hearing your thoughts.
Turning the Tide
As our colleague, Andreas von Specht recently reminded us; “Fear is a reaction-but courage is a decision.” -Winston Churchill.
To address uncertainty, CEOs realize that enterprise (and their personal) success requires that they lead differently… balancing granularity, stakeholder and shareholder expectations with heightened norms of agility and resilience. For many, who “made their bones” in a different era, oftentimes it’s a tough adjustment in evaluating truly relevant executive talent that will succeed now.
Fundamental Questions That CEOs Must Ask Now
These are three interrelated core questions that drive successful performance which CEOs and leaders find extraordinarily given their current organizational constructs and therefore, tricky to implement.
What are our specific priorities and talent attributes to achieve them which we need now and how can we be sure we are right?
How should I guide our leadership team to fully embrace strategic and operational pivots with speed, effectively realign our enterprise to be positioned ahead of the curve?
To achieve that, what specifically should our executive teams expect from my leadership?
A Frequent Client Case
These three questions were the focus of a recent leadership evaluation and subsequent search we conducted for a company purchased by one of the world’s largest private equity firms. The CEO of the acquired company was fully supportive of the deal but realized at the outset that the capabilities to take advantage of market opportunity and the pace of change expected by the company’s new owners, were, in many cases, beyond the quality, depth and competences of members its leadership team, operationally and functionally. Figuring out what needed to change now and why, and then to successfully pivot and align to value was this CEO’s most critical leadership challenge. Without the necessary “players” in place to lead a change in priorities successfully executed, the deal would fall short of expectations and the CEO’s own future would be at risk.
Making Your Mark to Enhance Payoff
To win, here’s what should be addressed.
Clearly acknowledge that executive talent is your number one value driver… Evaluate the true depth and quality of your key leaders, recognizing that you can’t win without the best… leaders who innovate, develop smart strategies and leverage appropriate platform resources…capital and technology, with granularity… and acknowledging when certain priorities no longer deserve the effort or resources.
Don’t fool yourself or be “organizationally spun” by letting the current system dictate change… Openly challenge the status quo by asking the questions that start with “what, how and why.” Start by reviewing your current talent expectations… benchmarks position by position. Decide and set out on the necessary talent and team requirements to gain transformative traction. Close the gap.
Listen carefully and frequently communicate a consistent message… Be clear about why this is an imperative and the process that you intend to follow. Be vigilant, fair, ethical and involved. Make it known that this is your priority at all senior organizational levels.
When mistakes happen, move quickly… Accept that executive hires may not live up to expectations or that benchmarks of success and the priorities for their role have moved away from their ability to meet expectations. In those cases, don’t procrastinate and hope for a turnaround that rarely pays off. Moreover, your top performers who are impacted by lagging executives will expect you to act. If you don’t, expect departures.
The Bottom Line
We agree with Marshall Goldsmith… “What got you here, won’t get you there.” And, with the futurist, Cathy Hackl… “If you think we currently have a talent war, just wait. It’s about to get a lot harder.”
Act… Don’t procrastinate or play the “hope game.”
With uncertainties, swans, and advancing digital transformations, executives with the talent, courage and conviction to drive outcomes are in great demand. Truly, prioritizing and upgrading your executive talent and the way it aligns is a controllable strategic investment that will pay off in enterprise value.
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