Presumably, in those kinds of circumstances, the leader is overindexing on execution. We mentioned alignment, execution, and renewal as being the three key tasks of leadership. It sounds like this is something we come across quite often: that leaders are extremely good at execution. I mean, as you say, that’s what got them to where they are.
It needs renewal. It needs a little bit less focus on the direction and the execution. Is that a fair reflection? That is a fair reflection. What I’d like, though, to highlight is that it is not instead of. Often, and maybe it’s encapsulated a little bit in this phrase of “expanding their repertoire,” as leaders grow, they don’t need to throw out all that they’ve learned before.
It created a lot of values for the organizations in which they lead. The way we think about this is, we want them to be able to expand their skill set. So as they grow in an organization, they add new dimensions on to the execution dimension. They will have to learn to allow the organization to renew.
They have to be able to inspire their people. For us, it is more about expanding and learning new capabilities. It’s not this classical, “What got you here won’t get you there, and you have to forget what you have done so far.” That’s not how it works in practice.
When we’re working for organizations, are we typically working with one or two people at the top? Or is it helpful to think about leadership and leadership development across an organization? We believe that there is a huge “unlock” for organizations to develop a cadre of leaders, a sizeable cadre of leaders.
And that’s a reason why we’re focusing our work on developing a large number of people in an organization. How many is a large number? How many people do you need to touch in an organization for this to be effective? Well, for us, when we talk about leadership at scale, we start from 50 to thousands of people.
It’s about making sure that team leaders, department leaders, divisional leaders all learn in a facilitated way a set of leadership skills that will make them, and as a consequence, the organization, more effective. Bear in mind that when we talk about the leadership capabilities of an organization, the organization, per se, is not a human being.
The more people lead in a consistent and effective way, the more effective the organization will be. And to build on that, individuals who are not engaged directly by leadership programs should all have an understanding of what great leadership looks like. All the individuals, the thousands upon thousands who are not directly touched in going through, let’s say, a formal leadership-development intervention, they need to have a very clear understanding of what type of leadership works around there.
It’s just one of the four things that we believe are critical to be able to develop leadership at scale. And give us the others. What are the other three? We did a lot of primary research for the book, trying to answer the questions around, “What constitutes effective leadership at scale? And how do you make that happen in an organization?” As Claudio mentioned, the first prerequisite is looking at the specific leadership behaviors, the specific shifts, that are needed to enable the strategy.
Some call it a competency model. But it is a relatively top-down set of behaviors that are needed to implement the strategy from a leadership point of view. And that’s the situational piece, right? Just to sort of make that clear. It’s like, “What’s going to work for us as an organization, given our context?” Correct.
That’s step one. The second prerequisite is then looking at who needs to be involved, and engaged very actively, in the leadership-development program. What we find is that you need to engage a critical mass of what we call “pivotal influencers.” It needs to be a critical mass of people in the organization who are engaged and who change the way that they lead in line with the leadership model.
The broader organization people, they change the way that they behave, given the context. And role modeling is a very powerful element of that context, especially role modeling by leaders. That can be superiors, leaders in the organization. But it can absolutely also be peers and subordinates who have an influential role, a visible role, in the organization, who the rest of the organization will take notice of.