(250) 516-6432 rob@robertscooke.com

Rethink executive leadership fundamentals

It might be the state of the economy or just the turbulent times we live in, but it seems that the dramatic pace of change is constantly eroding the impact of many traditional management practices. What traditional organizational solutions am I talking about? I mean the way we’ve tried to improve business over the last 25 years. Whether it’s the tired annual performance review or redundant strategic plans – we’ve held on to these things because they’re familiar. We are used to doing them even though we know they yield lackluster results we often ignore. While we would like to believe otherwise, what we have learned is that there are no ‘silver bullets’. The need for executives to develop new ways of leading in an environment of rapidly changing conditions is essential. In order for that to happen it’s time to take stock of the practices we’ve been doing for so long and get real with what they offer us. The practices I encourage us to rethink are: the strategic plan in its concept and execution, the annual review, and leadership and team development. 1. The Strategic Plan The first practice I ask us to reconsider is the strategic planning process. Leaders, often assisted by consultants, have been creating strategic plans for decades, and with every year that goes by they seem to further lose their relevance. This could be because of increasing business volatility and uncertainty.  Organization leaders used to develop 20-year strategic plans, then 10, then 5 and now it’s about next year. Do leadership teams create strategic plans for their own amusement? One might think so,...

What sets successful CEOs apart

HBR May-June 2017 by Elena Lytkina Botelho, Kim Rosendoetter, Stephen Kincaid and Dina Wang  This article identifies four key behaviours that successful CEOs, and executives who aspire to be CEOs, excel at. The conclusions are based on a 10-year study that assessed over 17,000 executives. The following are the key points from the article and the research.  I believe these are attributes of every successful executive. Overview There has been a visible disconnect between what many Boards think make for an ideal CEO and what actually leads to high performance. Boards often gravitate towards charismatic extroverts; however, introverts are slightly more likely to surpass the expectations of their Boards and investors. Educational pedigree (or lack thereof) in no way correlates to performance. High confidence more than doubles a candidate’s chance of being chosen as CEO but provides no advantage in performance on the job. Successful CEOs tend to demonstrate four specific behaviours identified below that prove critical to their performance. The Four Behaviours  1. Deciding with Speed and Conviction High performing CEOs do not necessarily stand out for making great decisions all the time; rather they stand out for being decisive. They make decisions earlier, faster, and with great conviction. Low performing CEOs decide too little, too late. High performing CEOs understand that a wrong decision is often better than no decision at all. Decisive CEOs recognize that they can’t wait for perfect information. They frame decisions from two perspectives: what’s the impact if I get it wrong? How much will it hold other things up if I don’t move on this? Once a path is chosen, high performing...

Taking on the new executive position

Congratulations on your new appointment. This is a great opportunity and the actions you take during your first few months will have a major impact on your ultimate success in the new role. Transitions are pivotal times, in part because they are when everyone expects change to occur. They’re also times of great vulnerability, when new leaders lack established working relationships and detailed knowledge of their new roles. If you fail to build momentum during your transition, you will face an uphill battle from then on. You may be coming into this role from elsewhere and have little knowledge of the function you have inherited.  You may have heard rumours, had some interaction or you may have been in another role within the Organization.  In most cases, you are being brought in to make changes whether to improve service quality and productivity or to deliver better outcomes. Regardless of where you have come from I would ask “do you really know enough to know where the greatest opportunities for change are or what the best solutions would be?” While your boss will have high expectations for you, it would be unrealistic for them to expect immediate results and they need to recognize that it will be more important for you to get it right.  You have a window of opportunity during which time you don’t own the current problems and performance and you should use the window to truly explore what you have inherited. Being new in the position you likely have limited knowledge and should exercise great caution as you strive to get your bearings. Because expectations for...

The future of leadership development

Every organization wants to maximize the potential of their leaders in order to achieve superior results and the need for leadership development has never been greater than it is today.  This paper outlines some principles for ensuring meaningful and impactful leadership development. What’s Broken? In my early days in leadership development we delivered two to three week off-site in-residence programs for organizational leaders. We delivered great content which included contemporary management processes and theories as well as case studies, simulations, and on-the-job applications. The trouble was that when program participants returned to their real work place world there was never really much change. Over the years I have been involved in or observed a multitude of leadership development programs in action. Sadly most programs just don’t come close to accomplishing what they were designed to do – build better leaders.  In many organizations leadership development is nothing more than a series of disconnected programs that are divorced from the current reality of business issues. Looking Ahead   There is a need for a new-era of leadership development – an era that will enable leaders to more effectively address and capitalize on the challenges of our complex and rapidly changing world.  Based on what I have read, seen and heard from my clients I have identified what I believe are essential elements and criteria for today’s leadership development programs. 1. Focused and Relevant Content There is an important set of foundational leadership models, processes and principles that every leader needs to understand. What makes leaders successful, however, isn’t the understanding of these models, processes and principles it is their practical...