Top leadership takeaways from Davos 2019
In today’s chaotic world, the future belongs to those who can imagine, influence, create and collaborate, Henna Inam claims. In a Forbes blog post, she provides a detailed recap of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, which took place in Davos, Switzerland, last week. “Throughout the week, I found evidence of leaders collaborating to create eco-systems of learning and action,” Inam writes. “There was a lot of conversation in Davos about the future of work for humans in the age of artificial intelligence (AI).” She recommends Accenture CTIO Paul Daugherty’s book “Human + Machine” to learn more about collaboration with AI in the future. Inam also highlights the Davos conversations on technology policy, climate change, gender equality and the next generation of leaders. “Leaders of the future will be committed to collaborating with others to move forward agendas that are in service of something other than their ego,” she writes. “We are surely not there today, but we need to get there urgently.”
Lead boldly in 2019
Doing the right thing is both good for its own sake and happens to be good for business, writes Bruce Weinstein in this Forbes Leadership Strategy article. He names three principled business leaders as good examples to follow in 2019 and beyond: Accenture North America CEO Julie Sweet, Crazy Aaron’s Smart Putty CEO Aaron Muderick and Klymit CEO Cory Tholl. “One of the most deeply ingrained myths about business ethics is that ethical values vary from culture to culture. But just because a practice is accepted doesn’t mean it is acceptable,” Weinstein writes. “That’s why it was refreshing to hear Accenture North America CEO Julie Sweet proclaim, ‘We have zero tolerance for people who violate our core values.’” He adds that bold leaders have three traits in common: creating a prosperous business, having loyal employees and being likeable people. “Julie Sweet, Aaron Muderick and Cory Tholl are three dynamic, accomplished CEOs who exemplify all of the above. The smart money next year and beyond is on leaders who follow in their footsteps,” Weinstein concludes.
Five ways to inspire workplace creativity
How can HR professionals inspire creativity in their workforces? Adam Grant, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, spoke at the Shift Conference where, according to HR Executive, he outlined five key ways to bring ideas to life: 1. Put your worst foot forward by pre-emptively pointing out flaws in your proposal to persuade others that you have given them due consideration. 2. Make the unfamiliar familiar by exposing an idea multiple times to help it gain traction. 3. Evaluate the agreeable givers (those most visible and vocal about helping make ideas happen) and disagreeable givers (those comfortable challenging the norms and presenting new ideas). 4. Recruit new allies by pitching a project to a team and seeing who can help move the ball forward. 5. Create a psychological safety net, where employees feel comfortable addressing ongoing workplace issues.
The importance of humility in leaders
According to Ryne Sherman, chief science officer at Hogan Assessments, while charismatic CEOs drive up stock prices and generate excitement among shareholders, the most effective leaders are those who have humility. Sherman’s audit of Indeed.com job listings unearthed more than 200,000 jobs stating charisma as a must-have trait, whereas fewer than 4,000 listings mentioned humility. “There’s a myth that the most effective leaders have charisma, and the data suggest that it isn’t true,” he says. Sherman cites research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, based on three studies of 800 business leaders from around the globe and approximately 7,500 of their superiors, peers and direct reports. The research revealed that, as charisma increased, so did perceived leadership effectiveness, but only until charisma reached the 60th percentile—any higher and perceived effectiveness decreased. “Humble leaders empower their teams to be successful, which leads to less turnover and absenteeism and reduces counterproductive behaviors, such as sabotaging their team,” Sherman says. “Additionally, employees working for humble leaders are more engaged and don’t mind spending free time on work, which significantly increases an organization’s productivity.”
The four Ps of leadership
Successful leaders combine the skills and attributes of both leadership and management, claims Tim McClimon, the president of the American Express Foundation. In this Forbes guest column, he outlines what he calls the “Four Ps of Leadership.” 1. Purpose to help inspire others to join in their pursuit. 2. Plan to know where they are headed and how to get there. 3. People that are committed to the purpose and plan. 4. Power to fuel the engine that drives the purpose and plan. “In order to motivate people, contemporary leaders also need to be inclusive,” McClimon writes. “Taking a cue from team sports, every member of the team has a critical role to play, and the success of the team is dependent on everyone being able to fulfill those roles successfully.”
Great leadership is about transforming others
“Great leadership is not about you, it’s about the impact you have on others,” argues Gene Hammett in this Inc blog post. He outlines the four qualities of transformational leadership: 1. Transforming others to grow teams from the inside out. 2. Inspiring confidence by focusing on learning instead of failures. 3. Transferring courage to have tough conversations and take up new strategies. 4. Transforming commitment to work by inspiring passion for the goals and mission of the organization. Hammett suggests having one-on-one conversations with employees about their fears and doubts in their work. “I treat these conversations more like a coaching session than a meeting to delegate new tasks, which makes my team feel appreciated,” he writes. “This results in a shift in their confidence, courage and commitment.”
Execution is key to great leadership
“Great leaders are able to drive their ideas through the organization. It makes no difference if the organization employs 50 people or 5,000, or if the organization is a government or the Allied powers. The test, the measurement of leadership is the same: It’s about getting things done,” writes Samuel Bacharach in this Inc. blog post. He believes there are four common denominators to great leaders when successfully executing their ideas: 1. They anticipate where others are coming from and can temper resistance appropriately. 2. They mobilize coalitions of likeminded individuals. 3. They negotiate the buy-in for their ideas with a bit of give-and-take along the way. 4. They sustain momentum even when an idea that once showed promise limps along.
People, leadership are key to success in digital transformation
“While the motivating factors for digital transformation initiatives differ across industry sectors, six factors generally determine the success of these projects: leadership, people, agility, business integration, ecosystem and value from data,” writes Bob Violino in an Information Management article. He cites a February 2018 study by the technology company Fujitsu Ltd., which surveyed 1,535 C-suite executives across 16 countries. The finance industry has advanced the furthest in digital transformation, the report said, with about 90 percent of respondents in that sector already engaged in digital transformation, and 30 percent of projects showing successful outcomes. Violino also highlighted the study’s findings on artificial intelligence (AI): A majority (68 percent) of respondents think the future will involve people and AI working collaboratively.
Why introverts can make great leaders
While a recent Harvard Business Review poll revealed that 65 percent of executives view introversion as a barrier to being a great leader, executive leadership coach Leo Aspden believes introverts have the potential to be first-class leaders with the right coaching. He highlights some of the many leadership qualities introverts possess, such as listening skills, working in solitude, and making calculated decisions. “The ability to make the right decisions is a key skill that all leaders must possess. Introverts are known for their strategic thinking and clever preparation; they don’t make rash decisions,” Aspden writes. Introverts are also great at being the balancing act to the extroverts in their teams. “While having a team of excitable extroverts keeps the office mood high, introverts can balance this by creating a peaceful, calming atmosphere where colleagues feel safe and accepted to be creative and share their ideas,” he writes.
It’s time to part with the leadership hierarchy of the 1980s
According to Maile Carnegie, head of digital at ANZ Bank, the classical 1980s hierarchy of legacy companies is no longer effective today. In an interview with MIT Sloan Management Review’s Gerald Kane, she advocates for distributed leadership, one that’s about shifting leadership, skills and capability while moving to agile. “Today’s leaders need to lead through influence rather than through command and control,” Carnegie argues. “That’s quite hard for people who have really only had one quiver in their leadership bow, which is command control.” She believes success in the 20th century was defined by managing others who did the work, instead of actually doing the work. “You have people who were at one point a great marketer or a great data scientist or a great software engineer. They then got promoted, and the promotion meant they were no longer actually doing their craft. So, the first thing to focus on is to get people back at being excellent at their craft—their technical mastery.” Legacy companies should also let go of their fear of failure, she argues. “One of the really interesting things you see in these more contemporary companies is that they’re failing every single day to achieve their purpose, and they’re comfortable with that,” she says.
Banks turn to design thinking
Design thinking is simply “applying the principles of design to the way people interact with the world.” This post from The Financial Brand points out that design thinking is not a new concept, yet it is somewhat new for financial services firms. The article gives two examples of banks looking at design thinking solutions: BBVA and Capital One. BBVA launched “Design Thinking for Leaders” to help the bank innovate and design for its customers. “All employees, regardless of their role, should begin to see themselves as a designer that contributes to improving the customer experience,” BBVA’s Head of Marketing, Rob Brown, told The Financial Brand. Capital One hired a former head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group and acquired consulting design firm Adaptive Path in 2014 to help fuel initiatives based on design thinking. “The banking sector is going through a period of disruption, but this is not the end of the industry,” says Dieter Staib, a partner with Oliver Wyman. “Instead, this disruption marks the genesis of the banking sector’s new DNA: a combination of changes in business models, agile execution, and design thinking.”