The concept of assisting our client organizations develop and establish a broader “Leadership Forum” (effectively the top-3 tiers in the organisation) is based on what we have recognised as the increasing business and organisational imperative to ensure deeper and more cross functional engagement in the strategic and operational agenda. There are two reasons to establish a Leadership Forum in your business: to improve communication (information exchange and the understanding/interpretation thereof), and to improve learning (building leadership, technical and functional capabilities that are linked to real time experience and future orientated innovation).
Typically, communication within organizations tends to be a reactive, top-down, functionally driven and one-way process. Much of the information flows that fill line manager’s email in-boxes tend to be in response to operational tasks that are both planned and un-planned. The messages that get passed around rely on individuals’ insights and abilities to manage work flows, prioritise tasks and manage their own time and resources. With our networked organisations (access to shared folders and intranet sites), the over reliance on electronic communication tools, and the busyness of operational meetings, we have neglected to tap into the richness of people actually talking to each other in a more reflective manner.
We see little evidence of time being allocated for leaders to ‘mind their own business’.
Where there is time to think about one’s thinking, to consider the impact of one’s practices, to share ideas about areas of improvement (which you cannot coerce, as innovation often emerges from the conversation itself), and to talk about information and concepts that relate to the ‘future-as-yet-to-be-created’ business (products, processes, infrastructures, systems, etc) and organisation (capabilities, resources, structures, etc). When there are opportunities for engagement in longer term thinking (i.e., the strategic planning process that you have developed/adopted), executive leaders often do not have the appropriate forums to engage next level managers. What complicates the strategic conversation even more, is that such mid level line managers have not been part of the initial thinking/planning, do not understand the contextual factors that have informed the high level ‘strategic plan’, and most worrying, have been too busy doing to the extent that they have not nurtured the skills of reflective thinking.
The on going busyness in response to daily operational challenges and constant change, tends to undermine the learning that can result from such experience. Individuals, teams and functions forfeit the wisdom that they can derive from stepping back from the action, reflecting on their thinking and responses to recurring (and unique or novel) problems, and sharing their ideas & practices to improve work task and organisational effectiveness processes.
Our experience has shown us that there is substantial value to be gained from a more intentional and facilitated engagement with a broader leadership community within the client organisations in terms of their operational and strategic priorities. It helps the leadership team to have a forum to articulate their thinking and planning, and to engage next tier in a dialogue on the contextual issues that have implications on current operational issues as well as strategic intent.
We also see such leadership forums as providing an opportunity to improve cross functional and outside-in perspectives. Often, organisations do not invest the necessary time and attention to consider the broader context, the socio-economic and political landscape in terms of the role of the business in society, and the implications of global issues on the business’s products, processes and people.
Finally, such a forum provides an excellent development arena or ‘practice field’ in support of succession planning and talent development requirements. Here, ‘next generation leaders’ can engage each other and the established leadership in a conversation about the business and the context of the business – as they learn and as they deal with operational challenges and opportunities. The forum provides an environment where your Talent feel that they can demonstrate their potential and offer their contribution to ensuring that the thinking in the business is aligned with successful implementation of operational and strategic initiatives.
What we Offer
Designing and co-facilitating a Quarterly Leadership Forum that consists of the Leadership Team and next tier leaders (at times including invited guests and talent pool candidates to sit in) that would take place on-site and that would typically focus on the following areas (these are generic, and of course would be defined in more specific terms for your business)
..Ensuring on-going within and across functional alignment/review of operational priorities for the year under consideration (requires functional heads to work more collaboratively) to ‘join-up’ the bigger team; encouraging cross boundary collaboration on big impact projects;
..Providing a forum/opportunity for innovation and engagement with ‘next generation thinking’ – i.e., new thinking, new ideas to meet the changing and expected changed business and organisational realities. This includes reviewing or tabling often ‘as-yet-untested-assumptions’ that the business planning and operational work processes are based upon. Often, we see how business leaders are blinded by their success formula, and neglect to re-evaluate past truisms in light of changed business realities;
..Ensuring improved communication (dialogue and access to information/interpretation thereof) to minimise/manage the impact of uncertainty/ambiguity in changing organisational structures (especially where there is a move towards more matrix structures) and business practices
The Relevance of this offering
The Value to your Leaders:
- Broadening, opening and deepening the perspective that leaders have of the strategic and operational context that defines and impacts on the future growth of the organisation
- Improving the quality of thinking and dialogue at the executive level
- Encouraging divisional/functional leaders to ‘mind their own business’.
- Facilitating the mastery of executive Leadership practices
- Developing internal capability to own, manage and deliver the Leadership Forum
The Value to your Organisation:
- An opportunity to keep the strategy alive and ensure an on-going iteration of the ambition and the implications thereof against operational realities
- Capturing and sustaining the ethos or ‘spirit’ of how leaders live the core values
- Building and growing the capability of leaders to relate to each other within the upper echelons
- Bridging the corroding reality of silos within matrix, diversified and/or rapidly growing organisation
- Creating a ‘community of practice’ where know-how, best practice and new emerging practice is captured, shared and utilised to support growth, effectiveness and efficiency within and across the organisation