2010 IBM Global CEO Study & How To Ignite Creative Leadership In Your Organization

I’m sharing an article from HBR blogs that summarizes and adds to the 2010 IBM Global CEO Study, a wonderful and insightful piece of work to energize today’s corporations. Go thru the article, and download IBM study here.

IBM just released its 2010 Global CEO Study based on face-to-face interviews conducted with over 1,500 CEOs spanning 60 countries and 33 industries.

Here are some key points from the study:

Even if the recession is over, 79% CEOs expect the business environment to become even more complex in coming years.
More than half of CEOs doubt their ability to manage this escalating complexity.
Western CEOs anticipate economic power to rapidly shift to developing markets, and foresee heavier regulation ahead.
A majority of CEOs cite creativity as the most important leadership quality required to cope with growing complexity.
Creativity in this context is about creative leadership — i.e., the ability to shed long-held beliefs and come up with original and at times radical concepts and execution. And this requires bold, breakthrough thinking. We believe, however, that this isn’t about having a lone creative leader at the top but rather about creating a “field” of creative leadership, by igniting the collective creativity of the organization from the bottom up. In essence, creative leaders excel at creating creative leaders.

The report identifies a group of standout organizations which delivered solid business results even during the recent downturn. Their revenue growth was six times higher than the rest of the sample and they plan to get 20% of revenues from new sources in the near future.

Peter Drucker: Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Many of today’s manager underestimate the essence and impact of their organizational cultures. The elements that control the work places, the values, the ethics, and the untold rules are sometimes ignored, and business strategies, alone, are assumed to do the job. Drucker’s statement “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is wholeheartedly presenting the pain people faces in their workplaces. Growth plans and articulated business tactics can not be sustainable without a framework of cultural values and rules. Fix the culture first then define a strategy. If you operate within a culture of deception, ignorance and lack of accountability, no matter how robust or concrete business plan you develop, it will fail its first encounter internally before externally with market. In HBR management tip, the author rightly noted that leaders should “give employees a reason to care about your customers, their colleagues, and about how to do business right in a world that rewards cutting corners and compromising values. During a turnaround, don’t focus exclusively on distinguishing yourself from the competition; find what brings you together as a company. It may be values, a vision, or a set of shared emotions. Articulate this sense of unity well and the business will follow.”

What Develops In Leader Development?

“The goal of leadership initiatives is to improve the ability of individuals and organizations to set direction, gain commitment and create alignment. But what specifically can be developed in people that will contribute to their effectiveness as leaders?

The new edition of The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development addresses this issue, describing a range of capabilities associated with self-management, leading others and leading the organization. They include:

Self-Awareness. A key aspect of understanding oneself is having awareness of what one does well and not so well; what one is comfortable with and uncomfortable with; which situations bring out one’s personal best and which are difficult to handle.
Ability to Learn. This includes recognizing when new behaviors, skills, or attitudes are called for; accepting responsibility for one’s own development; and engaging in activities that provide the opportunity to learn or test new perspectives and behaviors.
Ability to Build and Maintain Relationships. The foundation of this ability is the capacity to respect people from varying backgrounds and to understand and value the diverse perspectives that they bring.
Ability to Build Effective Work Groups. People in leadership roles need not only to develop their own relationships with others, but also to facilitate the development of positive relationships among others who work together.
Ability to Develop Others. This includes the ability to help others diagnose their development needs, provide appropriate feedback and other learning opportunities, coach and encourage changes in their behavior and recognize and reward improvements.
Ability to Think and Act Strategically. People who can think and act strategically have a clear sense of the desirable collective future. They make decisions, set priorities and support initiatives that will bring the current reality more in line with the desired future.
Ability to Initiate and Implement Change. This includes establishing the need for change, influencing others to participate in the change, and institutionalizing the new ways of working.”

HBS: Ruthlessly Realistic: How CEOs Must Overcome Denial

This is an interesting article and interview with Tedlow, the author of “Denial: Why Business Leaders Fail to Look Facts in the Face-and What to Do About It.” The author talks about the impact of denial which controls CEO’s minds and actions, though they don’t admit it, on their organizations and companies. He defines denial as “the unwillingness to acknowledge and deal with reality, or “knowing with not knowing” or “seeing but not seeing”. No matter how he defines it, Tedlow argues that the problem is “ubiquitous” in today’s business environment. He discussed cases of denial from the US economy and history such as GM, Ford and A&P.

Forbes: To Succeed You Must Seriously Disrupt

As rightly Adam Hartung wrote: “We are taught, trained and indoctrinated to go along and get along, to not disrupt. In fact we’re constantly told to seek harmony”, though we live in a dynamic, continually changing world. Challenging status-quo is something leaders consistently emphasize on. change is live, and as said; if you stop changing; you die.

What’s important in Hartung article is not only the action of disruption and the status quo challenge, it is the perseverance and patience such change and bold moves require. Such disruption at Sun, or Honda, the two cases Hartung articulated requires taking long breathe and hold it for years, for fruitful results to unveil. It requires courage and momentum, it requires sacrifice and pain, it requires energy and energizers. How many leaders and companies do you think will have such mysterious blend! How many supportive boards executives are there!… Eventually, it narrows down to instilling a leadership, or say, disruptive culture at first place, so such bold moves and actions are welcome and entertained.

Here is snapshot from Hartung article, while you can visit Forbes to get it in full.

“From the day we start kindergarten we fear the teacher’s call to our parents saying, “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Smith. I’m sorry to tell you that Mary has been disruptive in class.” We are taught, trained and indoctrinated to go along and get along, to not disrupt. In fact we’re constantly told to seek harmony. But in business that can destroy your entire value.

Eight Things Your Employees Want From You

I often have to remind the dedicated, smart CEOs I work with that leading takes time and energy. Directing the feelings, attitudes, actions, and behaviors of a team is a big task. Often, I also hear the secrets of these CEOs’ employees, about what truly aggravates them and what they love about their bosses. To keep top executives on track, I’ve created this list of what employees want their leaders to do.

1. Tell me my role, tell me what to do, and give me the rules. Micromanaging? No, it’s called clear direction. Give them parameters so they can work within broad outlines.

2. Discipline my coworker who is out of line. Time and time again, I hear, “I wish my boss would tell Nancy that this is just unacceptable.” Hold people accountable in a way that is fair but makes everyone cognizant of what is and isn’t acceptable.

3. Get me excited. About the company, about the product, about the job, about a project. Just get them excited.

4. Don’t forget to praise me. Motivate employees by leveraging their strengths, not harping on their weaknesses.

5. Don’t scare me. They really don’t need to know about everything that worries you. They respect that you trust them, but you are the boss. And don’t lose your temper at meetings because they didn’t meet your expectations. It’s often not productive. Fairness and consistency are important mainstays.

Micromanage at Your Peril: Another perspective

This article by Christina Bielaszka-DuVernay published in Feb 2008 is quite interesting. The article was quoted recently by a leadership guru; Marshall Goldsmith in 18 Feb 2010 article titled “The Mark of a Great Leader”. Though Goldsmith main focus on his article was Self-Awareness as a leadership skill, he contended that micromanagement is one of the first things leaders should notice about their leadership style, and simply, stop doing it!

For Christina, though she contended that micromanagement is a ‘natural tendency’, and ‘might reveal opportunities for improvement’, she concluded that the typical result of such out-dated style is ’employees’ disengagement’. She presented wonderful cases and demonstrated solid numbers to expose the cost and perils of micromanagement. Please go thru her article.