In the past, executives were seen as managers, but today they are seen as leaders. The distinction has become an opposition, and leadership has turned into a cult of celebrity-heroes. It exaggerates their impact and encourages narcissistic behaviour, with dire consequences. A longer view suggests that we should stop denigrating management and distinguish leadership from what the military call ‘command’, the art of directing. Each element of the executive’s trinity of leadership, management and directing requires different skills and behaviour. Most of them can be learned, and executives should develop a level of competence in all three. However, most people are more suited to one or the other, and top teams need to provide all three. As individuals, we need to be more self-aware about which mode we are operating in. In selecting people, we need to give more weight to directing skills in senior roles. And in developing people, we need to inculcate each skill in different ways, paying more attention to what is required to set clear direction.
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Categories: Why Leadership Teams Matter.

Why are Leadership Team meetings so ineffective?

In my career as a leader, and latterly as a consultant, I have sat in on a huge number of Leadership Team meetings. Some are better and others worse but, overall, the standard of them is surprisingly poor. Over ambitious agendas, rambling updates, visibly disengaged participants and, most importantly, superficial discussion that don’t seem to be getting to the heart of the issue are the norm.  Given the calibre of the people in the room, how can this be? Why do we put up with such poor meetings – and how can we change them? The evils of the ‘Update’ Leadership Teams are comprised of human beings and are just as susceptible to falling into bad habits. These habits are a big part of the reason why groups of talented and experienced people keep doing things that clearly aren’t working. They just aren’t getting the most out of the enormous resources of knowledge and experience in the room when the Leadership Team gets together. The most pernicious of these habits
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Categories: Changing Your Team and Why Leadership Teams Matter.

EXECUTING STRATEGY – An Old Problem with an Older Solution

Stephen Bungay takes a new look at the problem of making strategy happen and finds an old solution from somewhere unexpected. The reason that executing strategy continues to be a problem for companies across the world is that we are still constrained by a legacy model of the organisation as a machine. In the fast-changing, unpredictable environment of modern business, successful execution means closing the gaps between plans, actions and outcomes: the knowledge gap, the alignment gap and the effects gap. The approach allowing us to do so was developed by the Prussian Army in the 19th century, and is based on the model of an organisation not as a machine but as an organism, a set of human relationships. They closed the knowledge gap by formulating a clear intent; the alignment gap by a rigorous method of briefing the next level down and backbriefing to agree the implied actions; and the effects gap by giving individuals freedom of action within bounds.
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Categories: Delivery Conversations.