Developing Leaders ISSUE 25: 2017 Big picture leadership, fine-tuned Quarterly
Sleep is a Leadership Issue Vicki Culpin Seeing the Whole in Exec Education Steven D’Souza and Andrew White Building Relational Capital Tim Young Heading into the Cloud Microsoft and INSEAD
Insights from Ashridge Executive Education, Darden, INSEAD, Oxford Saïd, Warwick Business School and others Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age
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Developing Leaders Quarterly
A Time for Critical Reasoning A Conversation with Vincent Bryant, Executive Director, Executive Education at Warwick Business School 10 Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age Edward D. Hess 17 Executive Education Fit for the Future Jason Cassidy, President, Ashridge Executive Education at Hult International Business School, in Conversation Executive Education 22 Seeing the Whole Steven D’Souza and Andrew White 28 When Sleep Is a Leadership Issue Vicki Culpin 38 Relational Capital for Performance and Wellbeing Tim Young 48 Collaborative Learning Matthew Farmer 54 Leadership Research Data Focus
In this issue Corporate Practice 56 Heading Into The Cloud
Microsoft and INSEAD Development Program
Exec Ed Up Date 64 Book Reviews 68 Directory 71 Exec Ed News
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Developing Leaders Issue 25: 2017 | 3
Welcome to Developing Leaders from IEDP
It is only when things change that we can see clearly how stable they were before. In organizations leaders frequently leave and are replaced not because wider change is sought or required but because the individuals wish to move on to other challenges (or to enjoy their accumulated spoils of power). In these cases the replacement leaders often feel the need to stamp their new authority with sweeping reorganizations, or strategy changes, whether required or not, and so set the foundations for how their leadership time will be judged. The change is therefore more about them then the organization. Today’s world is different. Electorates in the UK and the USA have voted for material change from the status quo. New leaders have been installed, either directly or as a consequence, and change is being planned. As we go to press however, no significant changes have actually occurred (President Trump’s immigration executive order having been overturned). Yet the new directions (and the possibility of further such changes in the Netherlands, France and Italy following) are unnerving swathes of people across the globe. For many the uncertainty these potential changes will bring highlight how much certainty there was before, and the benefits being claimed are far from either certain or worth the pain. In such times it is not the strategy that leaders follow (in the UK and USA these have been loosely outlined in the campaigns) but the style and manner of their implementation that will count. It is not ‘strong’ leadership but ‘good’ leadership that is required. Bringing disparate and conflicting parties together. Creating consensus and momentum as the road of change is travelled. These are softer more nuanced skills than the salesman rhetoric of the campaign trail, but if the rhetoric is to be translated into benefit for the greatest number then they are the necessary follow ones. These are the skills we have been covering in Developing Leaders for all our 25 issues over the last six years. They are skills sets that are well understood by academics but inordinately difficult to practice well and consistently. But from countries leaders down we all must continue to try.
Roderick Millar | Editor
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4 | Developing Leaders Issue 25: 2017
A Time for Critical Reasoning A Conversation with Vincent Bryant, Executive Director, Executive Education at Warwick Business School (WBS)
D ays after Donald Trump’s election and a few months after the Brexit vote, it was important to ask Vincent Bryant about the challenges business leaders face leading through uncertain times. And also to what extent he believed a lack of public trust in business had contributed to voters’ disillusionment. Brexit creates huge uncertainty, Bryant stresses, not just because of the unknown long term outcome, but also around the short term political solutions and the unravelling of the UK’s relationship with Europe. Bryant, who took his MBA at Warwick Business School, became its Executive Director of Executive Education this year a month after the referendum and shortly after returning from Vancouver, where he had spent the previous five years consulting and teaching executive education programmes at UBC Sauder School of Business. In fact, he does not believe the Brexit vote was an anti-big business protest. “It was far more emotional, based on a perception of things like healthcare costs, foreigners are taking our jobs, basic things that actually don’t stand the test of critical reasoning.” The Trump election, in a sense, replicated what happened in the UK. It revealed a gap between the political establishment and the people on the ground, and a lack of understanding of the pent-up emotion within individuals, communities and regions.
By Peter Chadwick
Developing Leaders Issue 25: 2017 | 5
Bryant’s key observation, one that underpins his attitude to education, was that the Brexit vote was largely based on a lack of understanding due to people’s inability to critically examine the information or misinformation in front of them. “I think the absence of critical reasoning is going to lead us in all sorts of directions. But it’s something certainly education and executive education can help resolve.” This failure to critically examine was revealed, during the debate on immigration, by the lack of appreciation of the importance of diversity. “Diversity is in my view very important to the quality of our lives, our organisations, and the quality of our thinking and decision making,” Bryant says. “It is too easy for people to become very polarized and follow their own cognitive biases and predetermined ways of thinking and making decisions not necessarily leading to an optimal outcome.” His positive experience of both Vancouver and London is of cities whose success is driven by their diversity. During the referendum and the Presidential campaign, critical reasoning was also undermined by people’s reliance on social media soundbites, headlines without evidence, and even by ‘false news’. It is a regrettable macro trend that people form opinions very quickly without understanding. “Many people have lost the appetite, or where-with-all, to challenge some of the things they’re reading and hearing,” says Bryant. “At all levels of education, there needs to be more emphasis on critical reasoning and making sure you understand the problem before you actually start developing solutions.” This of course does translate into the corporate world where even very large corporates can make bad decisions if they don’t actually fully understand the system they’re operating in. The financial crash of 2007/8 provides a salutary example. Some of the senior leaders running the large financial institutions really did not fully understand the magnitude of the systemic and business risk arising from their use of exotic instruments, collateral contracts and the degree of interconnection between firms. Bryant’s personal appreciation of these failures of leadership, and of the potential for executive education to develop leaders able to do better in the future, comes from his own experience as a business leader. During a career, mainly spent at management consulting firms such as KPMG, he had a successful track record of achieving strategic transformations, merger integrations and operational and profitability improvements in a range of cross-sector organisations.
Lenscap Photography / Shutterstock, Inc
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“The absence of critical reasoning is going to lead us in all sorts of directions. But it’s something certainly education and executive education can help resolve”
As the orchestrator of several successful turnarounds himself, he accepts that there is a place for command and control leadership, but only when organisations need to overcome an immediate crisis. To achieve sustainable growth in today’s volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world, organisations must go beyond the more traditional command and control style as, in the long-term, it fails to recognise and release the enormous potential of people. “Many organisations have adopted or are very much moving towards a model of leader as role model, leader as facilitator, leader as sounding board, and leader as an enabler. Those organisations are reaping the benefits. Crucially leaders need to be strong on values; strong on the ‘Why’ and the ‘What’ but flexible on the ‘How’’ “The role of leader is to enable the ‘how’ and provide a supportive environment in which to work, in which to question, in which to challenge”, he says. “Enable people to actually add their various opinions… arising from diversity or something that’s worked for them in a different part of their lives.” Leaders need to listen, take account of what they hear and aim for their people to leave the room fully fired-up to achieve what’s expected of them. Command and control leadership also flies in the face of another vital leadership role: the need to foster innovation. The charismatic leader who is the sole manufacturer of the company’s ideas can succeed for a while, but such leaders are few and far between. For new ideas to get to market and innovative business models to be developed, leaders need to create an innovation culture that values diverse opinions, and gives people the opportunity to question the status quo, try new ideas and be open to learning from failure. Especially in uncertain and fast changing times organisations should place far more emphasis on scenarios as opposed to finding fixed solutions. “Whatever we’re planning as a leadership team we need to be thinking of worst case, best case, most likely case, and on building a real agility within the organisation. We know, when we embark on a particular strategy, an unforeseen event tomorrow could require a fundamental shift in our strategic priorities.” The important thing is to be very clear on corporate values, on strategic objectives, but flexible in terms of how we actually achieve these. Warwick Business School (WBS), which by the way, celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, shares the dynamism associated with its parent university – perhaps the most successful and prestigious of the ‘new’ universities established in the 1960s, in the era of Harold Wilson’s “White heat of the technological revolution”. This dynamism was exemplified, in 2015, by the School’s forward thinking move to open WBS London at The Shard and continues with the development of the Warwick in California Graduate School. Looking at the sensational view of the city from The Shard is a reminder that, whatever the outcome of Brexit, London is a mega-city of enormous international significance and the perfect location for a truly global business school.
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Bryant believes that the greatest opportunities for WBS come from the school’s history and vision, and the trajectory it has been on for the past 50 years. He describes this as “Our totally international perspective, our leading faculty, and leading research, our world- class on-line and blended learning capability, and our complete understanding and belief that we need to innovate as fast as or faster than the marketplace to maintain our edge”. He believes in the power of education at all levels, but specifically that through executive education business schools have an opportunity to shape the global, political and economic agenda. At WBS programmes on design-thinking or digitization, or seminars exploring the implications of Brexit can raise people’s awareness and identify new opportunities for development and growth and in general help shape the strategic agenda. “One thing that differentiates WBS,” says Bryant, “is the ability to focus on not just strategy, but the process of execution and on the business as a system”. The end game for WBS executive education programmes is not just strategy in itself, but rather enabling successful execution and building sustainable and globally competitive organisations. Executive education at WBS brings to bear very high quality research and faculty who have spent their lives not just as academics but also as practitioners and consultants. “We have a particular group called Professors of Practice within WBS. They are professors not just because they have real depth in their subject area, but because they’ve held senior positions in industry …and they can help people who are facing a comparable range of opportunities and challenges.” WBS offers both open enrolment and custom programmes, about which Bryant says “I see these programmes as an important and highly beneficial investment in an organisations most important asset – their people”. The value add can be huge and sustainable because we are building organisational knowledge and self-sufficiency. This is different to the typical consulting model which is generally seen as most effective when focused on solving a specific problem; knowledge transfer may take place as a derivative benefit but it’s not the central point. Whereas for us, sustainability, building knowledge and skills, self- sufficiency, and providing a catalyst for inspiration are central to the way we co-design our programmes and operate with our executive education clients”.
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A key role educators have to play is to push back in order to influence outcomes and to say things to clients that are not necessarily popular. To change people’s thinking if their thinking is likely to lead them down the wrong track. Executive education can transform organisations through people and through developing their knowledge, often the scope of a programme is to influence the behaviour and operating norms within the organisation - inevitably a long-term game plan that needs to be owned by the leadership team. Bryant described one new Executive Education initiative at the school, an innovative approach to motivate SMEs to benefit from Executive education. “SMEs are an important engine of entrepreneurship and growth and the more we can do to support their ability to thrive and compete in the global market the better. The idea here is that whereas an individual SME may not feel it can afford a programme, we believe it is possible to create affordable programmes at the SME industry or sector level and, when appropriate, do this in association with industry bodies. The sharing of development costs and some form of participation based pricing model may provide better access to our world-class programmes.” While the take-up of business school custom programmes is still largely by big organisations this is a further way to spread executive education and skills deeper into the economy. As the recent CBI growth report summarises; the importance of education to our economy and well-being is huge – “Education is the single most important driver of productivity differences across the UK”. Looking ahead Bryant is optimistic, the school is in a strong position and has great ambitions for the future. The main threats he sees are currently at the macro level and as an optimist, whose first degree was maths, he believes the challenges ahead are surmountable and the problems solvable. “One of the biggest dangers we face is the lack of systems-thinking in the world.” He points out that in our complex world with so many things going on, people do actually need to pay attention to understanding the complexity of system impacts and of cause and effect. If not we will remain in an expensive and spiralling cycle of short-term inadequate solutions. We need critical reasoning, not to the point where we encounter paralysis through analysis, but to a point where political and business leaders understand, and anticipate, the unintended consequences as well as the intended consequences of the decisions we make. “We are in uncharted territory, so it is important for people to stand back and learn and consider their options before embarking on a particular course. That’s where the positive role for executive education lies”. Bryant believes education to be the most important transformational mechanism for individuals, families, communities, regions and countries. It has a huge role to play in making the world a better place to live in. The role of business schools is to produce great research and ensure the findings are well communicated and acted on. “Business schools in themselves aren’t empowered to change the way businesses operate directly. We achieve this indirectly through the process of education, the process of providing information, the process of doing research and by demonstrating what works well and what doesn’t, and then presenting this to senior executives and their teams in a meaningful way that fits their context. The end game...not just strategy in itself, but rather enabling successful execution and building sustainable and globally competitive organisations
Developing Leaders Issue 25: 2017 | 9
Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age The Power of Human Emotions
W e as a society, as a world, and as individuals are on the leading edge of a transformation that will likely be as challenging and transformative for us as the Industrial Revolution was for our ancestors. The Smart Machine Age (SMA) will fundamentally change the availability and nature of human work and make obsolete the Industrial Revolution model of business organization and leadership. Business excellence in the SMA will be driven by technological and human excellence rather than by human scale and efficiency. The Old World Model Under the Industrial Revolution model, human beings served as resources, tools, and units of production and were used to perform certain tasks in a standardized manner. Humans were trained to be machine-like. Leadership and management models were designed to command, control, and direct those workers. Good managers were bosses who extracted the best results out of workers. Leaders were to be obeyed and followed ‘or else’. Cultures of compliance and fear were prevalent. Ultimately, that business model evolved to where employees agreed to those conditions in exchange for a good retirement cheque. In the years after World War II, in some areas of the world, a more positive, humane approach to employment began to appear. That led to the development of high employee engagement models of leading and decades of productivity gains being equitably distributed among workers. In recent history, however, in many cases that humane and equitable approach has receded. We have seen the decoupling of productivity and gain-sharing and, for large numbers of people, the replacement of fulltime employment opportunities with piecemeal work in the form of independent contracting, freelancing, or what is now called the ‘gig economy’. We are on the leading-edge of the next big work transformation in which it is quite likely that technology will take over more and more jobs, including those in the professions. Human beings will only be needed to do the types of tasks that technology cannot do well. This will be a staggering challenge for the world and society impacting hundreds of millions of jobs globally.
By Edward D. Hess
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The Smart Machine Age Model In the SMA, human work will be limited to the hard tasks of complex critical, creative, and innovative thinking; emotionally engaging with other humans to meet their needs; and real-time problem solving that requires complex physical dexterity. Most organizations will be staffed by some combination of smart robots, artificial intelligence systems, and humans. Humans will complement the technology and vice versa. This organizational model will differ from the Industrial Revolution model in three aspects: (1) efficiency and scale will no longer be sufficient because organizations will have to be agile, adaptive learning organizations; (2) the command-and-control leadership model that worked in the Industrial Revolution will inhibit the highest levels of human performance, requiring a whole new approach to leadership; and (3) the work environment necessary to enable the highest levels of human excellence will be an environment based upon three psychological principles: Positivity, Self-Determination Theory, and Psychological Safety. In the SMA, innovation and organizational adaptation will become necessary capabilities, and both of those require continuous iterative learning by smart machines and human beings. An organization’s competitive advantage from a human perspective will depend on how well its humans overcome their humanness—their natural proclivities to be confirmation-biased, emotionally defensive thinkers whose thinking and abilities to effectively work in teams are sub-optimized by ego and fears. Under what conditions do humans learn best? The answer to that question is not found in strategy or finance books nor in classical economics or in efficiency studies. A large part of the answer is found in psychology—the psychology of adult learning, cognition, emotions, and motivation. If your business requires continuous iterative human learning and innovation, then a model of leading, managing, and training humans to be predictable, reliable machine-like production units will not produce the optimal desired results.
Developing Leaders Issue 25: 2017 | 11
Technology advances will require humans to continuously evolve and develop their thinking and emotional skills at a pace much faster than most of us are used to
Smart Machine Age People-centric Iterative learning Invite and engage
Command, control, direct
Join with me
We win Meaning
Transactional Culture of fear Competition
Technology advances will require humans to continuously evolve and develop their thinking and emotional skills at a pace much faster than most of us are used to. To attract, develop, and retain the best human learners—the best human talent—an organization must be designed using the science of adult learning to create the type of environment that enables and promotes mindsets and behaviors that optimize learning and discourages those mindsets and behaviors that sub-optimize learning. It’s All About Emotions: How We Feel Learning is both a cognitive and an emotional process. Most businesses have analytical thinking processes and innovation thinking processes. Those processes are necessary, but not sufficient. What has not been emphasized enough in most organizations is the emotional parts of effective learning—the emotional parts of critical thinking, creativity, innovation, collaborating, and engaging with other humans. In the SMA, optimal human performance will require high emotional competencies, including emotional intelligence and the abilities to manage one’s ego and fears and emotionally connect with and relate to others. What kind of work environment enables those results? Decades of research in psychology, organizational behavior, and leadership strongly suggests the answer: Humans are more likely to consistently excel if they work in an environment that cultivates Positivity, meets their innate needs for Self-Determination, and provides Psychological Safety. The Power of Positive Emotions Leading research by cognitive, social, and positive psychologists including Barbara Fredrickson and Alice Isen has produced strong evidence that positive emotions enable and enhance cognitive processing, innovative thinking, and creativity and lead to better
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judgments and decision making. Research has also shown that negative emotions— especially fear and anxiety—have the opposite effect. Fears and anxiety in the workplace can take many forms, including fears of looking bad, speaking up, making mistakes, losing your job, or not being liked. All of us are insecure and fearful to a certain extent and in certain situations. We want to be liked. We want to be accepted by the team. We want to fit in. The differences are just a matter of degree and how we handle them. The work environment must be designed to reduce fears, insecurities, and other negative emotions. Our Needs for Self-Determination Self-Determination Theory (SDT) is the work of psychologists Edward L. Deci and Richard Ryan. It is one of the most well-known theories of human motivation. According to SDT, intrinsic motivation—the tendency to seek out new and challenging situations in order to learn—is enhanced when three innate human needs are met: autonomy, relatedness, and competence . What does it mean to create an environment that satisfies the innate human need for autonomy ? It does not mean simply providing independence. Nor is it merely a lack of micromanagement or giving people a superficial sense of control over their daily job tasks. It requires giving people the opportunity to be heard and have input and choice by engaging them in making meaning of what they are doing. It means providing people with a feeling of being respected and cared about as unique individuals as opposed to feeling like cogs in a wheel. A recent company-wide research project at Facebook evidenced the importance of this. In 2016, Facebook disclosed the findings of a study of its highest performing teams. The purpose was to learn what the managers did to get that high performance. The number one finding was that high-performance managers at Facebook cared about their team members as individuals. 1
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The second part of SDT— relatedness —is provided through having meaningful close personal relationships at work. That requires an organization to create the opportunities for people to connect, relate, and build trust with others at work. It means allocating time and designing work environments that bring people together to connect and relate about non-work matters. Building meaningful relationships at work takes time and involves more than just doing the work. The third innate psychological need according to SDT is to be effective and to utilize our capabilities to their fullest. I call this helping people ‘be all they can be’. That requires a manager or leader to take the time to really get to know a person—their strengths, weaknesses, and goals—as well as to help them get the right training or opportunities to develop themselves. Psychological Safety As renowned humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow stated, a person “reaches out to the environment in wonder and interest, and expresses whatever skills he has, to the extent that he is not crippled by fear, to the extent that he feels safe enough to dare.” 2 That is what Psychological Safety is all about: feeling safe enough to have the courage to try, to speak up, to challenge the status quo, to disagree with a higher ranking person, etc. Without Psychological Safety, people will not fully embrace the hard parts of thinking and innovating. And those hard parts are: the giving and receiving of constructive feedback; asking and being asked the hard questions; being non-defensive, open-minded, and intellectually courageous; and having the courage to try new things and fail. Harvard Business School professor Amy Edmondson has conducted some of the best research on Psychological Safety and found that it is an essential element of organizational and individual learning. Feeling psychologically safe is feeling safe from retribution, which could be social ostracism, being passed over for good assignments, having bonuses or raises reduced, or even being transferred out of the team or fired on trumped-up charges. Psychologically safe environments have cultures of candor, permission to speak freely, and permission to make learning mistakes (within financial risk parameters), and they offer all employees a voice by devaluing elitism, hierarchy, and rank (other than with respect to compensation).
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It is not enough to give permission to speak freely. Speaking freely should be acknowledged and emotionally rewarded publicly. And leadership/manager behaviors that negate Psychological Safety should not be tolerated. A powerful example of Psychological Safety research was published on Google’s blog by a company analyst in a 2015 post entitled ‘The Five Keys to a Successful Google Team’. 3 Like all good researchers they had a hypothesis. They believed that the right mix of individual traits and skills was the most important aspect of a great team; however, because they were thinking like scientists and being open-minded and willing to follow the truth wherever it took them, they found that their hypothesis was wrong. Instead, they discovered that how team members interact was much more important. Moreover, the key factor regarding team effectiveness by a material margin was Psychological Safety— whether team members felt safe taking risks and being vulnerable in front of teammates. And it turns out that employees who work on teams that have Psychological Safety are more likely to stay at Google and are more effective and productive. Positive Regard and the Power of Caring and Trust Coming technology advances will transform how most organizations are staffed, operated, and managed. In most cases, success will depend on both technology and the speed and quality of continuous learning by human beings. I believe that such continuous learning requires a work environment and leadership model that emotionally engages people in the daily pursuit of human excellence cognitively and emotionally. By displacing more workers, technology will dehumanize many workplaces, but technology also will require those workplaces to become more humanistic, emotionally positive environments that meet humans’ emotional needs. Most people agree that in this new technology era, data-driven critical and innovative thinking and iterative learning will be key skills. I believe that as important for human excellence is getting the emotional work environment right. To do that, organizations must cultivate environments that encourage leaders and managers to have positive regard for their people as unique individuals and to behave in a manner that shows they truly care about them. That is how you build the kind of trust that underlies Psychological Safety and gives people the courage to embrace uncertainty and continually learn. Organizations must cultivate environments that encourage leaders to have positive regard for their people as unique individuals and to behave in a manner that shows they truly care about them
Ed Hess is professor of business administration and Batten Executive-in- Residence at the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business and co-author of ‘Humility Is the New Smart: Rethinking Human Excellence in the Smart Machine Age’ (Berrett-Koehler, 2017).
(Endnotes) 1 Richard Feloni, “Facebook’s HR Chief Conducted a Company-Wide Study to Find Its Best Man- agers and 7 Behaviors Stood Out,” Business Insider , January 27, 2016, http://www.busi- nessinsider.com/facebook-best-managers-exhibit-these-7-behaviors-2016-1. 2 Abraham H. Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being, 3rd Edition (New York: Wiley, 1998), 65. 3 Julia Rozovsky, “The Five Keys to a Successful Google Team,” Google re:Work website, Novem- ber 17, 2015, https://rework.withgoogle.com/blog/five-keys-to-a-successful-google-team/.
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Executive Education Fit for the Future
Jason Cassidy, President, Ashridge Executive Education at Hult International Business School in Conversation
J ason Cassidy is optimistic about the huge opportunities that lie ahead for business schools – albeit he says the traditional executive development model needs to undergo transformational change. At Ashridge changes are already well underway. Launched as Ashridge Business School in 1959, Ashridge has been at the forefront of management education in the UK for over 50 years. In 2015 it operationally merged with Hult International Business School, a truly global school with campus locations in San Francisco, Boston, London, Dubai, Shanghai, and New York City. The merger allows the renamed Ashridge Executive Education to focus on its core strengths of research and executive development, while joining Hult in its mission to become ‘the world’s most relevant business school to employers globally’. With a corporate rather than academic background, US-born Cassidy has the credentials to ensure the inevitable changes brought about by the merger with Hult are both client-centric and globally focused. His career has been in business-to-business media, technology, and financial services. Prior to joining Ashridge in May 2015, he was responsible for strategy and operations at Asset International, a provider of business intelligence to the global asset management community. Previously he held senior positions at Reed Elsevier where, as witness to major industry-wide disruption, he gained valuable experience in leading organizational change.
By Peter Chadwick
Developing Leaders Issue 25: 2017 | 17
As a non-voting spectator to Brexit, Cassidy admits to real surprise at the outcome. For him, it demonstrated a real lack of trust in businesses and their leaders, and offered up a key challenge for executive education providers globally - how could we work to rebuild that trust? For Cassidy, this starts by considering his own personal leadership standpoint. “Absolute honesty is the key to getting trust,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of difficult decisions to make since joining Ashridge but have never shied away from having difficult conversations. To build trust you can never communicate enough, but it is essential not to sugar-coat the message.” Since the merger with Hult, it has been important for Cassidy to establish underlying strategies for Ashridge and to set its future direction, and then to communicate this clearly through the organization and to clients. Cassidy has focused on two key strategies from the outset: The first strategy is about building resilience in organizations. This is based on what Cassidy describes as the core philosophy for Ashridge and Hult: “The way we approach program design at Ashridge is all about preparing individual leaders to have the skills, intuition and flexibility to deal with ambiguity and difficult situations. We talk about ‘muscle memory’ and how personally you are going to react to and be prepared for any situation.” He links this to observing participants at several post Brexit seminars, held at the Ashridge and Hult London campuses, who predictably sought ‘10 steps to how to respond’. The answer of course is ‘no one knows’ – but get ready as a leader to lead your organization through the uncertainty and change that Brexit and many other disruptive forces are bound to bring. The second key strategy is to build on Ashridge’s unquestionably strong research capabilities, developing client focused research in collaboration with Hult. Cassidy points to two core strands of research. The first is transforming behavior, which relates to the continuous improvement of organizational and personal leadership practices. Leaders rarely know which methods effectively improve individual and group performance so the team attempt to solve this issue by tackling questions such as, “How do training and enablement programs impact employees long-term?” Some current research in this area looks at people’s responses to stress using heart-rate variance monitors, the ROI of various teaching methods – from classical lecture style to fully virtual, and at the readiness of organizations to engage in leadership development.
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The first strategy is about building resilience in organizations… The second is to build on Ashridge’s unquestionably strong research capabilities, developing client focused research in collaboration with Hult
The second research strand is creating disruption which relates to strategies: the actions that organisations take to anticipate, react to, and shape changes in markets. This includes the creation, implementation, and assessment of strategies to optimize performance, especially when operating in international markets. Ashridge and Hult will tackle questions such as, “What trends and scenarios will disrupt current markets?” and “Which strategies successfully create disruption?” Underpinning these two key strategies is the move to align Ashridge with Hult as a truly global player. While Ashridge already has considerable overseas business, it now has the opportunity to leverage the global reach provided by Hult. It can access Hult’s global faculty and alumni networks and run programs from its six campuses around the world. That this process is already underway is witnessed by Ashridge recently running an executive program at Hult’s San Francisco campus and by the fact that Cassidy has already made three client visits to China since joining the business school. “If your offering is not global you cannot play in this space” says Cassidy, adding that to take on the global challenge, “mind-sets at Ashridge and Hult are in the right place.” This is one reason Cassidy is optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead for Ashridge. Another reason is his conviction that Ashridge and Hult are both uniquely well positioned to understand and adapt to the transformational changes executive education provision will undergo over the coming years, as the traditional model is disrupted by emerging technologies and the new needs and requirements of clients as they too undergo change. In fact, Cassidy is optimistic about the opportunities that lie ahead for global business schools per se. He believes the future of executive education will be about helping leaders navigate a lifelong journey and working with organizations, not merely to provide one-off solutions, but to be there for the long-term as a partner in their development and growth. Critically, this will be enabled by the innovative deployment of digital learning technologies, underpinned by deep research into, and the development of, sophisticated pedagogy.
Developing Leaders Issue 25: 2017 | 19
The future of executive education will be about helping leaders navigate a lifelong journey and working with organizations, not merely to provide one-off solutions, but to be there for the long-term as a partner in their development
“Taking the widely accepted 70:20:10 learning and development ratio, alongside continuing to play in the 30%more traditional space, we think that we can enable the 70% of learning that takes place on the job with our proven methodologies and new technologies”. Cassidy adds, “Technology enabled job development and workplace solutions will become the norm, powered by greater connectivity and the use of diagnostics. Wearable technologies and even virtual and augmented reality, as they become mainstream options, will add to a mix where immersive learning will be prominent, as will blended learning, with online delivery supported by face-to-face modules and peer group sharing.” Not only is technology pushing in this direction, so too are the pressure points felt by clients: the need to contain costs, the reluctance to spare time away from the workplace, geographically dispersed workforces, and the need to spread learning deeper into the organization. Business school education has traditionally been for senior leaders and high-potential executives. At a time when traditional ‘command and control management’ is giving way to more democratically dispersed leadership structures, where the prerequisite is for leadership at every level, the call for sophisticated lifelong learning across and deeper into organizations will grow. The challenge for business schools will be to educate the market about these new opportunities and to make sure clients really understand the value business schools can provide and encourage them to allocate the time to realize this value. The flipside of the opportunities provided by digitization is that these changes open up the space for increased competition. Cassidy says he sees competition from all sides – from technology providers, Google et al, management consultants, and from cheaper offerings that can undermine the credibility of all methods of learning. There is naturally anxiety across the sector as it contemplates the changes ahead. Cassidy quotes his experience at Reed Business Information – where a decade ago industry trade shows were thought to be doomed in the digital age of videos and virtual shows. In fact, enabled by digital technology to both enhance the experience they offer and to galvanize their marketing efforts, trade shows still have a strong position today. A corollary to this is that much of this is to do with their function as a place for networking and peer-to-peer discussion – something that business schools also provide and in an even deeper way. With its campus housed in a magnificent 18th century mansion in Hertfordshire, Ashridge is very much outward looking and future facing today. Cassidy emphasizes that, while companies will still send C-level and high-potential executives for intensive programs, a big opportunity exists for the School to spread learning to a broader constituency. Cassidy concludes “Ashridge is well positioned, with its passion for enabling leadership development, and knowledge of pedagogy and diagnostics, to deliver executive learning globally for all levels within organizations. I think this is the way the world will go and Ashridge and Hult are keen to be at the forefront of this.”
20 | Developing Leaders Issue 25: 2017
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Seeing the Whole Reflections on Contemplation and Leadership Development
By Steven D’Souza and Andrew White
“I used to think that the top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address those problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation.” Gus Speth, US Advisor on Climate Change R ecent corporate scandals suggest that many business education offerings are simply not helping executives meet the challenges of 21 st century leadership. Business schools played a key role in educating those at the top of many organizations that were subsequently found to be wanting; and there has been very little radical innovation since, beyond making ‘programs’ shorter, faster, or more experiential, with much learning still based in the classroom with a teacher funnelling wisdom. Whether educational institutions are achieving scale online or teaching via learning apps and the use of simulations, we argue that we need to go beyond ‘content’ and help address the meta challenges of how executives can learn for transformation rather than receiving information. While the world of work is becoming increasingly complex and demanding, we have seen a paradoxical rise in popularity of older practices such as meditation, ritual, and silence as a way to help leaders meet these challenges. These are increasingly being used as part of leadership development offerings. ’Mindfulness,’ for example, is now a mainstay within Silicon Valley; Google’s ‘Search Inside Yourself’ is the best-known example. But mindfulness meditation is also being adopted by organizations as diverse as General Mills and the US Army and police services. While research shows the efficacy of mindfulness programs in reducing stress and increasing efficiency 1 there have been many criticisms, often under the label ‘McMindfulness’, that the practices have been stripped from their religious origins. There is also concern that they may only serve to make people content and therefore work even harder – rather than challenge inhumane or unjust work systems; and could be seen as a further step of corporate interference in the domain of an individual’s personal life, their faith and belief taken over and used for commercial ends (Carrette & King 2004) 1 . We must be careful that contemplative practices are not simply the corporate use of ‘spiritual bypassing’ – avoiding tackling what is difficult by jumping to the esoteric or abstract, or ‘flavour of the month’ initiatives, mandated by an enthusiastic CEO. While mindfulness has received a lot of press, it is only one contemplative practice among many. So how are we to think more broadly about how contemplative practices may enable leadership development? 1 Hulsheger et al 2013 - Benefits of mindfulness at work: The role of mindfulness in emotion regulation, emo- tional exhaustion, and job satisfaction. Hülsheger, Ute R.; Alberts, Hugo J. E. M.; Feinholdt, Alina; Lang, Jonas W. B. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 98(2), Mar 2013, 310-325. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0031313)