Executives Team Must Personally Transform

The 2016 Edelman Trust Barometer found that in Australia only 54% people trust the company for which they work and only 25% believe that CEO’s are performing when it comes to treating employees well. Amalgamate this research with the eye-opening research by The Future of Work in Australia (an Oxford Economics Survey sponsored by SAP), which found that only 34% employees state that leadership at their companies is equipped to lead their organisations to success. Thus, it’s not hard to draw the conclusion that companies need to urgently focus on building leadership capability to counter disruption and remain relevant in the future.

In a genuine attempt to make themselves prepared for 21st century disruption, many executive teams waste time with old-fashioned management consultants developing vision, mission and values statements that tend to end up in very well designed ‘spin’ gracing hallways and tearooms. These are often accompanied by dry 1 hour ‘download’ sessions telling employees what the executives have most recently been spending their time on, creating yet another and wider knowing-doing gap.

Organisations must have a vision, mission and set of values.  The most important thing is that these have to be real, authentic as well as meaningful and be the beginning of a transformational journey and not just a two-day event. Transparent culture work and genuine leadership development must be part of the same journey and integrated into the vision, mission and values of the organisation.

Although culture transformation and leadership development are company-wide programmes, the first step of transformation must begin from the very top, with the personal transformation of each executive member to first challenge their mindset about what it means to be a leader as well as to help them face their fears of giving up the control that traditional hierarchical leadership brings.  The culture of any organisation has been shaped from the personal values, beliefs and attitudes of each executive team member, or it has been allowed to develop from the legacy of past leaders.

The executives’ ‘shadow’ or ‘blind spots’ are actually the organisation’s ‘shadow’ or ‘blind spots’.  As an example, I worked with a driven CIO last year, who had an autocratic leadership style.  Through the ‘top team alignment’ workshop supported by 360° feedback, it was discovered  that his style was directly slowing down the speed of their product to market. Whilst he was blaming his own team members for the delay, he was unaware that the true cause of the delay was his unwillingness to let go of even minor decision-making. Every decision had to go through him and he used to change his mind so often that the product development and delivery teams gave up being enthused about their work.

Through an executive coaching programme, we worked with the CIO to acknowledge the feedback, accept it, understand how it may be blocking the organisation from achieving its objectives and worked with him to transform the fear and belief associated to autocracy. The CIO began to see the value of empowering his staff to make decisions. He was committed to change his old habitual ways of reacting and learnt how to listen deeply, instead of jumping in with all of the solutions.

In conjunction with the coaching, he, along with all executive team members, attended the same leadership development programme that every other leader in the organisation attended. Together they learnt how to build high performing teams, empower leaders to make decisions and build an innovative culture. This is a vastly different approach than having a ‘special’ programme for the executives, which is often shortened and academic rather than experiential.

Peter Drucker is often quoted for famously saying “What you can measure, you can manage.” After working with dozens of organisations, we have found that measurement is the critical step to building sustainable momentum for change. The simplest and most effective tool to measure culture is the Cultural Values Assessment by the Barrett Values Centre, which we use in conjunction with individual LSI’s for Executives and leaders. The personal transformation of each executive works in tandem with the transformation of the culture of the organisation, so both tools are essential. There is really no short cut.

Some of the measured improvements of cultural and leadership transformation programmes include improved engagement scores, lower employee turnover, quicker speed to market of products and services, steady growth and improved market trust.

Building leadership capability and focusing on developing innovative, collaborative and agile cultures is essential to counter disruption and must become a key priority for businesses. The hardest part is for the executives to realise that their personal transformation is the starting point for the organisation’s transformation. It is only those executives courageous enough to jump on board that not only reap the commercial benefits but also the personal benefits, which extend way beyond the  bounds of the office.

Kristyn Haywood is the Founding Director of People for Success.  Kristyn, also known as the Gift Spotter, provides unique yet challenging expertise to the companies who are ready to re-shape their cultures and adapt to the current pressures of the 21st century through delivering executive coaching, team alignment workshops and cultural transformation journeys.  

Kristyn will be giving presentation about these topics at the following events:

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