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MAKE ROOM FOR HER
WHY COMPANIES NEED AN INTEGRATED LEADERSHIP MODEL TO ACHIEVE EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS
By Rebecca Shambaugh
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2013Rebecca Shambaugh
All rights reserved.
The Need for Integrated Leadership
Not long ago, I sat down over coffee with the CEO of an IT company. The CEO—we'll call him Robert—shared with me that his organization had been the market leader in its industry for the past five years and had enjoyed consistent growth and profitability. The company's success to that point, he believed, was based on its leadership and its employees' sheer drive and relentless focus on key results.
Yet despite its past success, Robert confided that he had deep concerns about the company's future. A competitor with a creative, new technology had recently overtaken Robert's company as the market leader, and he had just learned that his company had lost one of its key customers to this competitor. To make matters worse, the organization's most recent employee survey revealed that morale was low, people were burned out, communication was lacking, and employees had lost faith in leadership.
In strategy sessions with his executive team, Robert had sat and listened as various leaders rationalized that the competitor's innovation was nothing more than a fad that would quickly run its course, and when that happened, customers would come back. Robert shared, "That was when it hit me that this was the kind of thinking that got us where we are today ... in trouble. Looking around the table, I realized that I have a team full of left-brain thinkers who are proficient in fact-based decision making, efficiency and process oriented, and extremely results focused. But we are sorely missing creativity, collaboration, a big-picture perspective, listening skills, and emotional intelligence. When our big customer left for the competition, they told us that they felt we didn't listen to or understand their needs."
Then Robert told me about a woman who had been on the executive team until she was hired away by another company. She had always been the "voice of the customer" and had communicated that the key customer wasn't happy. Somewhat embarrassed, Robert confessed that the rest of the executive team had discounted her input. "Now I see the different perspective and value she brought to our organization," he said and then concluded, "I think we need some balance on the leadership team."
In my leadership development and executive coaching practice, I see many talented executives and profitable organizations that have achieved measurable success and yet suddenly find themselves falling behind the market and the competition. Consistently, I find that the primary reason for this shift is that these leaders and organizations continue to rely on the same leadership approach that garnered them success in the past. And why shouldn't they? If it's not broken, don't fix it, right? While current leadership models aren't necessarily "broken," the reality is that they can't and won't drive success in today's business environment. In other words, what got you where you are isn't going to get you where you want to go in the future. The world is a very different place than it was just 10 short years ago. You simply can't run a successful company in today's complex global marketplace the same way you did in the past. The truth is that we can no longer use the same thought and decision-making processes and expect to be successful ... twentieth-century leadership models won't work for twenty-first-century organizations and twenty-first-century problems. We need a different leadership model—a shift to a new model of leadership that gives organizations a better chance of not just surviving, but thriving, both now and in the years to come.
Successful organizations of the future will be led by fully engaged, balanced teams of men and women working together synergistically to produce extraordinary results. I call this Integrated Leadership. Leaders who create high-performing organizations and get lasting results are those who value and leverage the broad spectrum of gender intelligence—an intentional balance that enables an organization to deal with the complexities in today's marketplace. A balanced, Integrated Leadership team is the new competitive advantage.
So what happened to Robert and his organization? Through the course of our conversation, he came to understand that he had been operating with only half of his potential leadership capacity. He also realized that if his organization was going to continue to succeed in the future, he would need a broader range of leadership traits, thinking, and perspectives in order to respond to market dynamics, challenges, and opportunities.
In the following months, Robert worked to shift his leadership team. He brought on new leaders who possessed a diversity of perspectives, styles, and traits and represented both left- and right-brain thinking. With a balanced, Integrated Leadership team in place, over time his organization earned back customers it had lost, and it regained market share.
A New Approach to Leadership
The idea of a new leadership model is not only interesting; it is now essential for most organizations to be successful in our ever-changing and always challenging global business environment. I've interviewed more than 50 successful top executives on this topic and discovered that I'm not the only one who recognizes the urgency for a new approach to leadership. Many business leaders already sense that the leadership style that worked for them in the past is less effective in the context of today's realities. Gary Stuggins, executive vice president of the World Bank, shared with me that there is an underlying force causing organizations and leaders to rethink how they plan, make decisions, engage employees, and interact with clients. This new way of thinking and operating is reshaping leadership in organizations.
Dottie Brienza, chief diversity officer and head of Executive Talent at Merck (former senior vice president of Global Talent Management for Hilton International), shared a similar perspective:
The level of complexity that organizations are dealing with, as well as the level of ambiguity and the challenges of our global focus, has increased significantly. If you think back about 20 years ago and consider typical Fortune 50–100 leaders, their job was probably very centric to the country in which they were operating. Maybe they were just starting to venture out in other parts of the globe. Or if they were already established in other parts of the world, the company was structured such that the local management in those areas was only worried about things that were happening in that part of the world. Now our leaders need to think about all the events happening around the world to determine and address their impact on all phases of their business operation. To do this, they have to integrate a variety of information sources into a more holistic perspective to determine appropriate courses of action—organizationally and interpersonally. This requires strong analytical skills along with a higher level of emotional intelligence than they have ever needed before.
Our customers, like our planet, are diverse, with different likes and needs. If we only have one type of executive—whether that be all women, all male, all whatever—when we're dealing with human beings and relationships, we will be limited—only recognizing that narrow slice of the world—and we'll miss all kinds of opportunities, even conversations that are ultimately crucial to our success. And as a result, we will miss a critical chance for the continuous learning that will keep us at the top of our industry today and give us that competitive advantage we need to remain there in the future. That's why I believe we need what you are calling "Inte
Excerpted from MAKE ROOM FOR HER by Rebecca Shambaugh. Copyright © 2013 by Rebecca Shambaugh. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
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