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Leadership, the fine balance

Leadership, the fine balance

The balance between Andrew Strauss and
Andrew Flintoff seemed to work well, with Strauss the cool and steady decision
maker, and Flintoff the one with moments of brilliance and times of
underperformance. Christian
Hasenoehrl, Partner at Gallup, steps up to the crease.

How common is this in business? Take a
look at any FTSE 100 organisation and the safe bet is that you will not have a
Leadership Team with a consistent make up of five to 15 well rounded generalists
with vast levels of experience and consistency in their management style.
Indeed, not even the CEO is always selected for their management talent versus
their years of running other large organisations.

In fact, more
often than not, companies do not apply a terribly objective approach to
leadership selection. Often leaders have extreme personalities or particular
strengths, experiences or knowledge in certain areas that made the difference
for the search committee. The most successful companies that we have studied, however,
implement an objective approach to leadership development, selection and
succession planning that includes a focus on strengths, and a combination of knowledge,
skills, experience and talent.

Clearly certain
benchmarks must exist. A retailer may find that someone with ten years
operating experience makes for a better chief executive than someone that has
never operated in a retail environment, but equally there are many candidates
with that particular experience. 

How do you
differentiate from so many qualified candidates? We have found through
partnership with our clients and in interviews with over 47,000 C-Level
executives from over 200 organisations worldwide that leaders require strong
talent in five core areas which I’ll call: direction, drive, influence,
relationship and execution.

Our research
shows that leaders who are clear about the level of each of their leadership
talents and who work to enhance their leadership strengths have a significant
impact on wider business results. Similarly, understanding aspects of
leadership that are less natural and how to best manage these aspects forms the
basis of personal leadership effectiveness.

How do you fine-tune
a diverse leadership team? First and foremost, you must understand the talent
profile of each of the individuals, and equally of the team. For instance, if
only one exhibits strength in the Direction theme then it will become crucial
to replace that person with someone that is equally equipped to provide strong
guidance to the team.

If all five are
talented in providing direction but they lack a balance in relationship or influence
then how will the team ever reach a consensus? Five leaders running in five
different directions does not often work out. What we have found is that the
best leadership teams have a strong balance of these five attributes. Leaders
can come from all different backgrounds, but paring them with individuals that
can complement their extreme talents is not just crucial, it is necessary for survival
and for succession planning. So a star player with lots of drive like Flintoff
will truly shine with some guidance from a manager with direction and execution,
like Strauss.

Hasenoehrl, Partner
at Gallup