Five Ways to Elevate the Leaders Around You

Kevin Cashman is Korn Ferry's Global Leader of CEO & Executive Development.

One of the toughest development challenges is to elevate a critical mass of talent from executive management to true enterprise leadership. To move key talent from controlling systems, processes and financial performance to courageously create value creating significance, sustainability and purpose across an enterprise is no easy task. To move senior people from thinking and behaving downwards into a function, a geography, a division or a single team, to thinking, and collaborating and inspiring across all functions, across all geographies, across all divisions, across all teams and across all customer groups is a very complex and critical shift. Accelerating the development of executive managers into enterprise leaders may be the single most important factor in achieving your strategy and creating a more valuable and sustainable future.

As you consider elevating leadership more authentically to the enterprise level, I suggest reflecting on five resolutions to help you to do so:

Enterprise Leadership Resolution One: Move from Self to Service.

Enterprise leadership begins with self-awareness but culminates in self-transcendence. Transmuting one’s ego and ambition from self-success to the sustained success of all others in the enterprise, is a huge breakthrough. Too often in enterprise leader development this critical, core level of helping leaders to go beyond themselves and see the significance of serving all stakeholders will make or break all other aspects of enterprise leader development. Resolve to move from self to service.

Enterprise Leadership Resolution Two:  Think Across the Enterprise and Across the Marketplace.

Executive managers clarify the dots within the enterprise; enterprise leaders connect the dots inside and outside the organization. Enterprise Leaders advance from “the now” of execution and impact to “the next” of enduring excellence and inspiration. As a Fortune 100 CEO shared with me recently, “I used to think my value was speed, execution and impact, now I understand my real contribution is collective significance, excellence and inspiration.” Resolve to create the “Next” by going beyond previously held boundaries of thinking and strategy.

Enterprise Leadership Resolution Three:  Practice the Big Three Meta-Competencies of Courage, Collaboration and Creating the Future Together.

Courage may be the foundational meta-competency of Enterprise Leadership. Before vision, before strategy, before authenticity, before impact, courage is the pre-requisite to transcend limitations within ourselves, with others, and on behalf of the enterprise. In our research across five industry sectors, we examined if there were any competencies common to these very different business contexts. Were there many? Were there any? There was one and only one: Courage. Courage is the core, the heart of enterprise leadership. Courageously stretching ourselves, and others, to create the new and the different is the enduring act of Enterprise Leadership.

While courage is core, courageous collaboration is the innovation multiplier of Enterprise leadership. The innovation historian, Steven Johnson, author of “How We Got to Now” makes a brilliant research case:  all innovation is multi-generational collaborative synthesis. Doing a deep historical analysis of the major, world-changing innovators like light, cold, glass, etc., he demonstrates that all innovation breakthroughs are not heroic, individualist contemporary endeavors but actually grand collaborations, built over years of countless contributions.

As articulated in Resolution Two, thinking across the enterprise and the marketplace to connect the dots into strategic visionary futures is foundational to Enterprise Leadership. Imagine an organization and top talent with the Courage and Collaboration skills to originate “new dots” and then synthesize them into a new whole. Resolve to courageously collaborate to create the future.

Enterprise Leadership Resolution Four: Share and Develop Resources Across the Organization.

Few things are as damaging to enterprise success than leaders who hoard talent and financial resources in opposition to their peers. Leaders who do so, are sometimes hard to spot as their success in their function or division can obscure their lack of enterprise collaboration. Notice and reward leaders who are character-driven and therefore sacrifice their own short-term impact for the bigger collective gain.  Resolve to be generous and generative with talent and resources.

Enterprise Leadership Resolution Five: Ask and Answer Four Big Enterprise Questions:

-  Purpose: The Big Why Question: Why Is It So Important That We Exist?

-  Vision: The Big What Question: If We Lived Our Purpose, What Can We Become?

-  Strategy: The Big How Question: How Can We Get There?

-  Talent: The Big Who Question: Who Will Get Us There?

Resolve to go beyond the limits of self, team and organization to serve the significance of Enterprise Leadership.

A version of this article appears on Forbes.com

Authors

  • Kevin Cashman

    Global Leader, CEO & Executive Development

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