Innovative Techniques in Executive Development
Companies have traditionally been willing
to invest large sums in executive development without
requiring much evidence of tangible business results.
In most organizations there has been little demand for
justification as far as executive development is concerned.
There has been an intuitive belief that such development
is a necessary, if low-priority, adjunct to the real
challenges of running a business.
This attitude is changing. Companies are
not generating the same profits in the same predictable
way, and cannot afford any degree of largesse - even
at the executive level. They need to look at the return
on investment for every business activity, including
executive development. Since conventional in-house and
university executive programs are usually the most expensive
of possible solutions to a problem situation, it is
important to determine whether or not the benefits warrant
The fact is that such programs may help
mask the real issues. Despite claims of "devolution"
and "empowerment," many executives perceived
as "good performers" tend to be short-term,
fire-fighting, crisis managers. Others, having grown
accustomed to the slow pace of decision-making within
most large corporations, find it difficult to change
their style and move to faster paced, computer-driven
decision-making techniques. Such executives have been
the survivors. Those who have not had to make many quick
decisions and take too many risks have been rewarded
by their organizations for not making mistakes
One reason that many organizations have
not looked closely at these issues is that most top
teams are not really teams! The individuals may actually
get together as the senior management group, but they
are all vying for the CEO's job, and will not raise
the kinds of issues that most of them are unwilling
to address. Therefore, for executive education groups,
it may be simpler, and perhaps more politically expedient,
to suggest that their clients attend the latest offerings
from Harvard or INSEAD rather than face up to concerns
over trust and communication.
This situation has to change. Business
has been profoundly affected in recent years by sweeping
changes in the global economic and political climate,
by new and more aggressive competition in domestic and
foreign markets, and by revolutionary new management
Market and business environment trends
are becoming increasingly dynamic, and enterprises must
become increasingly "agile" if they are to
survive. Traditional views of organizational flexibility
(or the lack thereof) are proving inadequate for today's
needs. Business leaders must respond to these unfamiliar
challenges, and they must do so swiftly, effectively,
and with conviction.
It is apparent to many companies that
they do not have all the knowledge and skills they need
to compete in the global marketplace. Many organizations
featured in this presentation have been international
companies for a long time. To be a global company, however,
implies exchanging information and resources on a world-wide
scale. It is a learning imperative that organizations
share knowledge internally on how to survive in the
Globalization has been one of the strongest
drivers for executive learning. As the competitive intensity
of the global business environment continues to escalate,
so does the need for highly competent business leaders.
This turbulent climate demands that leaders possess
exceptional skills in order to make the strategic decisions
that will position their corporation advantageously
amid complexity and rapid change.
Effective strategic decision makers differentiate
themselves by their understanding of the indirect cause
and effect linkages that underlie the apparent causal
chains. The best decision makers understand how to analyze
such indirect effects in order to fix a range of problems,
rather than solving individual problems, one at a time.
They recognize that leadership is required not only
of those in positions of formal authority, but of every
manager, even every employee. Today, corporate success
depends upon "a company of leaders" - people
at all levels of responsibility who embody the skills
needed to lead the corporation to success. The job of
the executive is to build a shared vision and develop
the skills of those natural leaders, wherever they may
Successful executives view management
as simply one of the functions of leadership. Management
is the ability to put stability into complex systems.
Leadership is the ability to create change. The challenge
is to maintain the balance between stability and change.
This can be difficult for some to handle. In many cases,
senior executives may have thirty years or more invested
in the business. When you have that much experience
in doing things one way, it is hard to change, to let
go of control. What if change leads to failure?
Even if people are willing to change,
maintaining ongoing commitment to personal development
is a problem, especially when every day is filled with
conflicting claims on an executive's time. If a company
is really in trouble, executives will focus on the top
two or three priorities; typically, their own development
is not one of them.
Some companies do see executive development
as the essential element that will give them competitive
advantage, whereas others see it only as a necessary
evil. This presentation focuses on those companies that
believe their executive resources are, by and large,
a vital source of improved corporate performance. Properly
developed and utilized, these resources can give a company
a decided advantage over its competitors.
This seminar will provide informative
answers to the following questions:
- What are the key
present and future competencies for successful executives?
- How should you determine executive
- What role (if any) should various
approaches (eg: 360-degree evaluations, assessment
centers, coaching, job rotations, etc.) play in your
executive development strategy?
- What are some of the most innovative
approaches that organizations have taken to enhance
- How should you measure the effectiveness
of your executive development initiatives?
- What are the critical success
factors in designing and implementing an executive