The ugly truth is this. In fast-moving sectors like tech, 90% of smart and experienced business leaders - like you! - are going to fail to achieve the incredible results they envision.
In the spring and summer of 2018 xquadrant surveyed over 150 senior business leaders in order to understand their top business goals and the organisational challenges that were limiting their ability to execute.
In the first article, we saw who completed the Organisational Leadership Survey and revealed their top business priorities.
In this article we dive a little deeper and examine what leaders found are the biggest roadblocks to attaining those strategic objectives.
We asked respondents to choose which organisational barriers were the biggest roadblocks to achieving their #1 strategic objective for the business.
Growth-oriented leaders are consistently maxed out. The overriding barrier citied by leaders in high-growth contexts is that they and their team are permanently maxed out (47%). This is prevent the strategic thinking needed to get the organisation to the next level.
It’s hardly new news – but digital disruption is now top-of-mind in practically ever sector.
You probably have your own favourite stats on this issue. Here are mine. 63% of industrial players and 81% of tech companies are experiencing significant disruption, or are expecting it within 12 months. (Source: Russell Reynolds Associates).
Digital disruption poses an existential threat to many incumbent players, who need to:
As an organisation moves forward with its digital transformation project, one key topic can easily get overlooked amongst all the discussions on strategy, technology and business processes.
Because at the heart of digital transformation is a leadership and people question: How will our people live this digital transformation – and how can we instill the necessary values, mindset and practices?
I spend a lot of time helping businesses work through the people, cultural and leadership issues that hold back digital transformation. Here are 7 people issues that companies who are serious about genuine digital transformation will need to navigate. >> Read more…
It’s well known that the proportion of M&A deals that fail to create the expected value remains alarmingly high. A survey a couple of year ago from by Aon Hewitt found that nearly 50% of companies had failed to achieve their stated value-creation objectives from the deal. So what’s going on, and what can leaders do about it?
The Aon survey is clear that ‘deal failure’ (failure to create anticipated value) comes from a variety of drivers. What is interesting is that factors #2, #3, #4 and #8 are solidly people factors. Indeed, mismanaged cultural integration ranks as the second leading cause of deal failure. >> Read more…
Put it another way, it promises a lot but generally doesn’t result in lasting organisational impact.
Why is this?
Well, let’s take a typical scenario. Does this sound familiar?
Bob comes back from a two-day leadership training offsite with 40 other VPs from his company. He’s found the program engaging and interesting and is motivated to put some of the management concepts into practice. He walks in to the office with a shiny new binder of material under his arm.
His team groan. Not only are they slightly resentful that their manager has been on another ‘jolly’ whilst they get on with the real work, but they’re now suspicious. What new hoops is their manager going to make them jump through now? What’s the fad of the month?
“Don’t worry,” they whisper to each other. “Let’s just smile and keep our heads down and his enthusiasm will burn off in a couple of weeks.”
And indeed, within a couple of weeks there’s no real sign of any changed leadership behaviour. The team keeps doing what it’s always done, how it’s always done it.
I’ve seen this scenario many times. And to be honest, I’ve probably been in Bob’s shoes myself. I’ve got my fair share of dusty management course binders on my own shelf. Fair cop.
I remember the earliest time I saw this play out. It was early in my career and a senior manager came up with a team plan called “VISTA” – which his team immediately dubbed “Virtually Impossible State To Achieve”! It was dead-on-arrival.
The more we see this play out, the more cynical and sceptical we get about whether ‘soft skills’ can really be improved and whether any of this people-development stuff can really deeply transform an organisation. But before we write off people development, let’s have a look at why the current way of doing things just isn’t delivering. We’ll start to see that there is a better way.
Let’s break apart that scenario a little and understand the six distinct factors that tend to turn leadership development into a dead-end activity. >> Read more…
If you are looking to scale your company significantly and penetrate new markets in the coming year, you’d better beware.
Recently, as part of my leadership consulting work in tech, I’ve spoken with CEOs and COOs of several exceptional start-ups who are on exactly that journey.
Often the focus is on preparing systems and processes to scale – but there are a handful of regular organisational issues that consistently crop up to put the brakes on high-growth firms.
Here are the top five. Plan for them now and set healthy foundations in place.
Your leadership team has some exceptional talent – but also some strong personalities! So are the key leaders really aligned, communicating openly, and performing together at a high level? >> Read more…
“The key differentiator between Tech companies that are built to last, and those that die after launch, is that leaders recognise their intrinsic duty to not just build a product but build a culture.” ~ Granny/Maxfield/McMillan
One of the interesting paradoxes of the tech industry is just how important people are to success! The fast pace, rapid change and constant innovation means that engaged, productive and empowered teams are essential to the success of any firm.
And yet, amidst the whirlwind and pressure, leaders can often be accidental rather than intentional in how they develop their organisational culture and capacity.
Here are seven specific leadership challenges I’ve commonly seen in tech firms, and a question to stimulate your own thinking on each.
Engineering talent is the lifeblood of tech companies, and yet technical leaders are not always naturally strong in, or particularly interested in, people management! However, engaged and empowered employees and collaborative teams are absolutely critical in an industry where responsiveness and innovation are so central.
>> The leadership question: In an ‘engineering culture’, how can I help technical leaders develop the skills and mindset to build high-performing teams? >> Read more…