The world is changing faster than the ability of leaders to reinvent themselves. There is a gap in many companies between the leaders they have and the leaders they need
Q. What do you think are the hallmarks of a healthy company?
A. Every company has four strategic agendas: The finance agenda, which is about making money; the market place agenda, which is about customers and reputation; the operations agenda, which is about how they make their products and make their people/organizations lean, smart and efficient and the human agenda, which is about the values, leadership and culture of the business.
Healthy companies do all the four agendas really well, but the human agenda – the people, the values and the culture – are the leading indicators of driving the value chain and the finance agenda is just a support part. How do leaders build a healthy company? The first thing they do is tap into a higher purpose by awakening people’s passion and forge a shared direction by creating the world map in people’s commitments; they build great relationships and unleash the hearts and minds and human energy of the business; and then they tap into the company’s growth and drive high performance. The best companies and best leaders understand the value of human agenda. They prioritize it and make investments on it. They have a whole different philosophy on how to create value inside their business.
Q. Given the fact that focus on talent has become quite fierce, how do you think talent management practices will change?
A. Global studies show that career well-being is the number one priority, especially for younger workers. There are four primary activities that will get more attention in 2014: One is the whole issue of the development of high potentials, recognizing who they are and giving them more attention. Secondly, it is the area of talent mobility as companies are realizing that moving people around to different jobs or functions is a great formal action and also innovating by bringing in new minds and thinking to deal with business challenges. The third area is succession planning where companies will not only have a pipeline, but need to think very carefully about how we are planning for the next generation of leaders. Lastly, the area of leadership development, where I think we will see a whole new approach.
Q. Do you think there will an adverse effect on the rest of the workforce if companies focus intensely on the high potentials?
A. I think there’s going to be a focus on education and learning across the organizations, but more so on high potentials. Companies are going to get better in identifying them and giving them special opportunities in terms of more meaningful work. People want to work for companies that have a higher purpose, that allow them to make contributions while learning on the job. So we have to figure out how to create the conditions that nurture the high potential people.
Q. Your mission has been to help CEOs across the world to build healthy companies. So, in the face of continued uncertainty and inflation, what can leaders do to keep themselves motivated?
A. The world is changing faster than the ability of leaders to reinvent themselves. There is a gap in many companies between the leaders they have and the leaders they need and one of the problems is that the leaders are caught in the winds of change and it doesn’t matter whether they are in India or in other parts of the world.
There are six main changes: One is the pace of work, making balanced life work difficult. The other is the impermanence and uncertainty of the business that is constantly changing. The third thing is how to focus and prioritize what your direction is as business becomes more complex. The fourth one is the pressure to stay transparent with integrity in a 24x7 world. The fifth one is fierce global competition and the last one is global responsibility. Companies cannot be islands of self-interest. So when these winds of change blow, they affect all leaders. Now, the leader can either be complacent about it, or be overwhelmed by it or anticipate and leverage those winds of change.
Q. The turnaround time for CEOs has reduced because companies are not too tolerant of a CEO who has not been able to keep it in the black. Your comments on this.
A. The leadership model that we have is broken and is obsessed with short-term profits at the expense of the long-term values of the company. Helping human beings sometimes gets in the way of short-term profits. I find that the best leaders grapple with the short term and also look at the long term. They recognize that they can’t create short-term outcomes without having a healthy and engaged workforce. It’s a balance, but I think that there is a growing recognition that the softer part is the harder part and it is really critical for a successful business.
Q. If the CEO is focused on the short-term matrix, what would happen to building a talent pipeline?
A. When CEOs look through an organization, they realize that there is a gap between the leaders they have and the leaders they want and it raises questions on the leadership model. One of the problems in the leadership model is the notion that what you do defines who you are. In my book Grounded, we flip the model to say that who we are drives the potential of what you do. So the problem is that companies are obsessed with leaders’ external appearances, status, self-preferences, agendas and short term-results, but in the long term that affects who they are as human beings. We have to focus much more on who the leaders are: Their values, character, emotions, thoughts and purpose. CEOs, who are the most self-aware, conscious and evolved human beings, are rooted in six roots of leadership:
Physical health: Leaders are very aware of their mind and body and they manage their energy and peak performance lifestyles
Emotional health: Leaders are deeply self-aware and are positive and resilient in the face of adversit
Intellectual health: Leaders who are deeply curious and have an adaptive mindset
Social health: It is about being real, trustworthy and authentic, developing mutually rewarding relationships; nourishing teams and leaders
Vocational health: Leaders who are learning at all times and have the drive for success
Spiritual health: Serve a higher purpose and have the spirit of gratitude and generosity
The best leaders are those who are grounded in these six areas of leadership and are prepared for change.
Q. Do you think healthy companies need healthy leaders or healthy practices?
A. I think it all starts with healthy leaders. The singular trait of healthy leaders in great companies is self-awareness and self-development – a leader who understands his strengths and vulnerabilities and importance of values. Healthy leaders have healthier perceptions. They understand themselves and the people around them very well. Secondly, they think openly rather than having a close, rigid and biased mind. Their thoughts are growth-oriented and curious. Thirdly, they feel positive and rely on their positivity – they act productively and responsibly. The CEOs need to focus on who they are as human beings and become more self-aware and make a commitment to become healthy leaders. If they can create healthy teams, it will have a huge impact on the success of their business.
Robert Rosen, better known as Bob Rosen, is a trusted CEO advisor, organizational psychologist and bestselling author. He founded Healthy Companies International over 20 years ago with the singular goal of helping top executives achieve their leadership potential. He has personally interviewed more than 350 CEOs and is the author of GROUNDED: How Healthy Leaders Stay Rooted and Aspire to New Heights. His firm, Healthy Companies International, has worked with Johnson & Johnson, Northrop Grumman, Intel, Boeing, ING, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and other major organizations. He has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and many other publications.