Relish or Perish?

Four characteristics for new CEOs to quickly relish or potentially perish

The announcement of a new CEO is an exciting time. Exciting for them personally as this is usually a culmination of many years effort, exciting for their family who have supported them along the way, exciting for the Board who have endorsed this individual and hopefully, exciting for the organisation who look forward to the upcoming ‘reign’ of the new leader. I imagine they are hoping for less of the Games of Thrones type of reign and more of the Tim Cook or David Thodey style!

The infamous book title of “What got you here won’t get you there applies to new CEOs now more than ever. When the Fortune 500 was launched in 1955, according to a 2013 BCG report, CEOs had 4-7 KPIs to achieve each year. Today the same CEO will have 25-40 KPIs. Employee engagement scores in the 1990s, according to sources such as Gallup, were in the 60th percentile. Today they measure in the 40th percentile and in many countries, are dropping. This creates the challenge of harnessing the energy of an increasingly disengaged workforce.

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Look, Listen & Learn

PALDER is a proven framework to support executives making transitions. “P” refers to Pre-Arrival, specifically the actions and thinking required in the preparation phase of the transition. “A” is for Arrival and the thinking and actions needed to ensure the best possible start. Essential elements for these phases are establishing a clear mandate and deep awareness of your strengths and development needs. This is explored in our article on Starting Well.


In our coaching work, the reflections and actions we encourage our clients to work on in these steps help answer the first of two critical questions: “What do you need to focus your time and attention on?” Once this critical “what” question is answered, you can then start to consider the equally critical question of “How should I go about achieving what is required of me?”

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The Leadership Circle Conference on Leadership and Business Performance

Padraig O’Sullivan confirmed for keynote at the Fifth Annual Conference on Leadership and Business Performance

Padraig O’Sullivan will be a keynote speaker at the Fifth Annual Conference on Leadership and Business Performance.

Hosted by The Leadership Circle in Sydney, on the 21 May 2015.

How do we know when we are bumping up against edges of complexity?

… Normally, when our old and trusted ways of doing things no longer work as well, or not at all.

Most leaders admit that there is an uncomfortable, growing gap between the rate at which change and complexity is expanding and the organisation’s capacity to creatively adapt. The current economic, cultural, environmental, and political challenges prompt a deeper enquiry into a better way forward.

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Four reasons why leaders fail in executing their strategy

Over the last month I have listened to seven different leadership teams discuss their strategic plans and what has happened along their execution path.

The “best” team had actual measurements in place so at least they knew where the blockages to execution were. Not that they had done much about relieving those blockages.

Another team openly admitted the beautiful slide decks that were created a year earlier and cascaded down the organisation in well-orchestrated town hall type meetings had not been opened since.

Three teams were forced to admit that no one on their team, including the Managing Directors of each organisation had done anything regarding their strategy since the last annual strategic offsite.

Lastly, one team conceded that they didn’t actually have a strategy and therefore had little to audit in terms of why it had failed!

Unfortunately nothing is new in these insights. Leadership teams regularly do not get to execute their strategic plans. One study suggested that over 65% of large companies failed in the execution of strategy. Yet we keep producing MBA graduates from esteemed business schools all over the world who study Porter, Prahalad, Hamel and other great writers on how to create strategy. So what is going wrong?

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Five steps to improve your stakeholder relationships

Five steps to improve your stakeholder relationships

Why your stakeholder’s opinion matters and how to understand it

When a leader transitions into a new role they learn pretty quickly to understand what their boss needs them to do.

The boss may be an external board, CEO or other C level leader. Actually, the level of leadership doesn’t matter. What is important is, in the first week of the transition, getting to grips with the immediate leader’s needs. Quite often this is explored during the hiring process or before the actual start date.

The reality is that business is multi-faceted and complex. The pace and depth of change is increasing, there is significant competition and the expectations of shareholders, customers and employees are continuing to evolve and add pressure. The new leader often wants to get started asap and make a mark to justify their hiring in the first place.

What is surprising is how many leaders fail to adequately understand the broader range of stakeholders they have, and to invest time in seeking their opinions and understanding their needs.

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Four ways to make sure you keep learning

“I am so busy, I don’t have time to read or do an MBA right now”.

“There is too much on this year, so doing some study is off the table…”

“ I came up through the school of real life and never got time to do university type study…I can feel it now when I am presenting to the Board that I am missing some things….”

Three classic statements I often come across when working with leaders. I don’t mean new, ‘wet behind the ears, junior type leaders’. These are often senior executives reporting to Global Boards. They have managed to get very far through their natural skills, good delivery, and possibly good timing with a dash of luck thrown in to boot. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.

But a voice is growing inside their head that they are not smart enough, or have not studied the right things, and they now feel like they are slipping. Doing post-graduate studies is one way to learn. As an Honorary Fellow at Sydney Business School I can wholeheartedly recommend tertiary qualifications. Unfortunately, not everyone can put that time aside.

However, every leader needs to prioritize to read in order to learn, keep up to date, and challenge their own thinking.

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