Leadership Styles Must Change In The New Era Of "Always On" Transformation

Transformation Can No Longer Be a One-Off Effort or One Focused Merely on Cutting Costs; It Must Be Sustained, and That Demands Avoiding Common Missteps While Leading Inclusively, Says New E-Book from BCG

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(businesspress24) - BOSTON, MA -- (Marketwired) -- 01/04/17 -- In the face of disruptive technologies, globalization, and a volatile marketplace, leading companies are committing to a new kind of transformation.

Instead of pursuing it as a onetime, crisis-driven initiative and instead of focusing primarily on cutting costs, they are committing to "always on" transformation -- profoundly changing their strategy, business model, operating model, people, and organization on an ongoing basis in order to stay ahead.

The new approach demands a new kind of leadership -- leadership that is not just directive but also inclusive and that has an appetite for risk, says a new e-book published by . draws on the firm''s work in more than 400 transformations that generated a median annual impact exceeding $340 million through cost cuts, revenue increases, the application of capital efficiency levers, and improvements in organizational performance.

"CEOs, boards, and leadership teams need to incorporate transformation as a way of working," says Jim Hemerling, a senior partner at BCG and one of the editors of the e-book"That means shifting from treating people as a means to an end -- or, worse, as collateral damage -- and instead putting people first. The behaviors that leaders need include listening, empathizing, inspiring, empowering teams, and building long-term capabilities to sustain change over time."

Constant change translates into relentless pressure for CEOs and boards. Those that commit to undertaking a transformation risk several potential missteps, ones that the most effective leaders avoid. Among them:

Leaders frequently use a "forced conscription" approach to staffing transformation teams and then seek to motivate people with carrots and sticks. But when change is constant, this approach fails to trigger the intrinsic motivation that is needed to deliver and sustain performance. Instead, leaders need to invest in and create an organizational context that allows people to thrive, including cultivating a deep sense of purpose, allowing a degree of autonomy, embedding opportunities for personal growth, and orchestrating personal affiliation among the members of project teams.

In many cases, companies focus too much on specific "finish line" goals and not enough on the capabilities they must build and strengthen in order to transform sustainably, such as skills, knowledge, systems, and analytics and resources. Leaders who effectively drive transformation instead define the capabilities that the company will need in order to sustain the transformation, and they ensure that these capabilities are developed.

A joint BCG/Spencer Stuart study of 400 new S&P 500 CEOs over the past ten years shows that many CEOs struggle during their first few years. Perhaps the most important finding was that thriving CEOs were quicker than ousted CEOs to have made bold moves during their first year. They were also more inclined to "go for it" -- to launch ambitious and innovative initiatives.

In a transformation, leaders need to define a vision and a roadmap with clear milestones and to hold employees accountable for results. In other words, they need to be directive. But given the demands of always-on transformation, leaders also need to be inclusive. They must reach out early and often to listen to employees, actively engage and inspire them, and provide opportunities to contribute their creativity and energy to the transformation. Inclusive leaders:

The most effective transformational CEOs engage and seek input from employees and outside stakeholders about the state of the company, in order to set the right ambition from the outset.

Starting with a deep commitment to the organization''s purpose and a clear vision, they build a compelling case for change, ensure that the leadership team speaks with one voice, and inspire employees to come along on the journey. Tone matters -- authenticity and urgency are critical, and messages must be rooted in a deep sense of purpose.

Transformations have an enormous impact on all the areas where HR plays a critical role, including organization design, leadership and talent development, engagement, and culture and performance management. To make sure the transformation lasts over the long term, the most effective CEOs bring HR on board early as a strategic transformation partner, making sure the organization has the right people -- and people processes -- to support ongoing change.

Many of the skills required during a transformation are well within most CEOs'' capabilities, but leaders often do struggle with being inclusive. Emotional intelligence and the ability to tap into intrinsic motivation are critical. "The imperative to change is usually a given -- but how CEOs respond is not," says Lars Fæste, senior partner at BCG and an editor of the e-book. "CEOs who are inclusive, leading with emotion and empathy, are more likely to succeed in creating lasting change."

Transformation: Delivering and Sustaining Breakthrough Performance is available for download at .

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or .

is a senior partner in the Copenhagen office of The Boston Consulting Group and the global leader of the Transformation practice. You may contact him by e-mail at .

is a senior partner in the firm''s San Francisco office. He is a leader of the People & Organization and Transformation practices and a BCG Fellow. You may contact him by e-mail at .

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world''s leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises. Our customized approach combines deep insight into the dynamics of companies and markets with close collaboration at all levels of the client organization. This ensures that our clients achieve sustainable competitive advantage, build more capable organizations, and secure lasting results. Founded in 1963, BCG is a private company with 85 offices in 48 countries. For more information, please visit .

features the latest thinking from BCG experts as well as from CEOs, academics, and other leaders. It covers issues at the top of senior management''s agenda. It also provides unprecedented access to BCG''s extensive archive of thought leadership stretching back 50 years to the days of Bruce Henderson, the firm''s founder and one of the architects of modern management consulting. All of our content -- including videos, podcasts, commentaries, and reports -- can be accessed by , mobile, , , , and .

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Date: 01/03/2017 - 23:01
Language: English
News-ID 1478430
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