It seems lately that our world is experiencing dramatic shifts affecting us all. Whether it’s events such as the world financial markets, the earthquake in Japan, bi-partisan budget wrangling or re-defining healthcare, the world lately seems to have shifted a bit on its axis. Another area that I’ve observed recently that’s also dramatically shifting right under our feet, is the concept of leadership.
In the past, the power of hierarchy was sufficient to maintain control. The recent events in the Middle East reinforce the notion that this paradigm has also shifted. In today’s corporate environment, success requires taking a unified and integrated approach that I call, “Balanced Leadership”. There’s a new equation for this kind of leadership and it can be scaled to work in organizations, institutions, and even nations. Balanced Leadership can create a beneficial revolution in the way we get the work done today and in the future.
Balanced Leadership is comprised of the following ingredients:
- Innovation and Creativity
- Integrated Leadership
- Collective Intelligence
- Inspirational Vision
Many of these concepts aren’t new. However, my hypothesis is that this transformational “Balanced Leadership” occurs when the combination of these ingredients are thoughtfully mixed together producing superior business results.
Innovation and Creativity:
Leaders have to create new business models on entirely different assumptions in order to effectively deal with today’s business complexities. Balancing perspectives, experiences, and collective intelligence is the new currency for this ingredient. We must create new ways to work and collaborate in response to today’s questions, challenges, insights, and opportunities. It’s no surprise that a recent IBM survey of CEO’s found that creativity is the #1 attribute organizations need today. The question is, how does a company truly unleash innovation and creativity when cynical employees believe they’ve heard it all before.
SHAMBAUGH advises and consults with hundreds of organizations. No matter the organization’s size, location, or industry, the first two questions we ask are: What is your organization’s vision for the future and Do you have the right leadership balance to get there? We at SHAMBAUGH have noticed time and again it’s an organization’s collective intelligence that makes it smart, resilient, and successful. The benefit of truly breaking out of a silo leadership mindset is the nurturing of fresh perspectives that typically would rarely see the light of day. Since most ideas don’t get heard, potential competitive advantages are lost and solo creations don’t get integrated into other parts of the business. As Betty Spence, President of the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), commented at a recent awards ceremony, “Business survival is linked to innovation and innovation requires inclusion.” Melanie Healey, a senior executive at Procter & Gamble, agrees, “It’s having different perspectives that create Wow! solutions – the thoughts that no one had ever thought of before.” Integrated leadership requires looking less at hierarchical roles and more on where the intellectual capital resides and then how it can be harvested.
Several studies and bodies of research indicate that companies with a blend of women and men in the senior ranks typically achieve better overall performance, greater market share, and improved profitability compared with companies that have less balance in their executive team. So if you know that having a blended and balanced leadership culture creates better results for all, why do women make up only 11% of senior executives? Why are less than 8% of corporate board seats held by women? And why are a mere 3% of corporate board seats occupied by women of color? I ask these questions not to play advocate as a woman for just women, but rather to question why company leaders don’t seem to be getting what the hard stats are saying.
Now more than ever before people are looking for leaders that can move beyond the day to day minutia and have a vision that inspires others – one that people feel connected to and can discover the intrinsic value of their work. Studies indicate that close to 70-75% of the U.S. workforce is disengaged which can only limit the level of commitment, focus, and performance of an organization. Having an inspirational vision can be the catalyst for engaging employees. This calls for less of a self-serving agenda but one that integrates a diversity of human needs, experiences, and competencies. Talking to people is not enough. An inspirational vision connects all the parts into a whole operating enterprise. Therefore, leaders must encourage and listen to the ideas and thoughts of their staff, to help form the vision or minimally, the goals and action plan. This calls for strong communication and tight interconnections among leaders.
The most progressive and savvy companies appreciate that consciously cultivating a broader mix of leaders will make them better at meeting consumer demands and positioning themselves in the U.S. and world marketplace. My next blog will focus on how to create a coaching climate within your organization to foster “Balanced Leadeship.” Stay tuned!
To find out how SHAMBAUGH can help you shape your leadership and identity, please visit www.shambaughleadership.com to learn more about SHAMBAUGH’s leadership development and coaching services.