Leadership, jobs, responsibility

Appearing in In The Black magazine, September 2021

Unlock: Leveraging the Hidden Intelligence in Your Leadership Team
By Rob Pyne
Publish Central, $30, 243 pages

Many books have been written on leadership, and many on teams. But very few on leadership teams. Pyne, a psychologist who works in the field of C-level training, seeks to fill this gap, drawing on new behavioural research and his own experiences. He believes that most senior teams are under-utilised, missing some of the available talents and focusing on management rather than strategic thinking.

Making a team more than the sum of its parts requires three development steps: emotional intelligence, creative-analytical intelligence, and practical intelligence. The weight given to each can vary, depending on whether the team is new or established, but all three are needed to some degree. Pyne unpacks each of them, providing assessment tools and diagrams. He advises regular ‘pit-stops’ to review the performance of the team, noting that the role of the CEO is to ensure that the process stays on track. The team must remain focused on the goals, and there should be some space away from the daily issues to think deeply about problems, with the opportunity to learn from mistakes and achievements. None of this is easy, but an effective leadership team means the difference between a good company and a great one.

Get the Job You Really Want
By Erin Devlin
Major Street, $30, 227 pages

Devlin is a recruitment specialist with a string of qualifications and awards so she is well-placed to give guidance on finding and getting the right job. This book covers a great deal of ground, offering advice for graduates seeking their first job through to experienced managers looking to move up or on. Devlin notes that career changes are quite common – she began as a ballet dancer – so a key asset is being able to demonstrate transferable skills as well as a willingness to learn.

The essential first step is to understand what sort of job you want, and Devlin provides self-diagnostic tests to establish values and goals. She has tips for writing a CV and cover letters, and the company of which she is MD, people2people Recruitment Victoria, has a series of templates that are available through the book. She also looks at interview skills and the particular problems with virtual interviews, and addresses the necessity of building a professional online profile. Her emphasis is on practical advice, and she includes some interesting anecdotes to illustrate her points.

It adds up to a useful, well-organised package. There is also an appendix of relevant websites, sources, and references for further reading.

Corporate Responsibility in the Digital Age
By Ivri Verbin
Taylor & Francis, $85, 270 pages

Everyone agrees that responsible, ethical and sustainable behaviour from corporates is highly desirable, but for many company leaders getting there is a much harder proposition. Verbin, CEO of consulting firm Good Vision, part of the Grant Thornton group, provides a useful roadmap. He works from extensive experience and links his points to the UN Sustainable Development Goals framework as well as accounting and environmental standards. He believes that responsibility is essential in an era of digital-driven transparency and stakeholder activism, trends that are likely to increase in the post-pandemic world.

His advice ranges from creating policies on resource use to reducing carbon emissions. Engaging employees is crucial, not just with relevant, ongoing training but with good examples from the top. Collaboration with external stakeholders is also valuable, especially when addressing larger social causes such as alleviating poverty.

Verbin has worked at senior political levels – he counts former Israeli PM Shimon Peres as a mentor – and he is keenly aware of the need to balance values with pragmatism. He includes case studies drawn from Good Vision’s client list to indicate how much is possible, so long as company leaders are willing to move outside their comfort zone and embrace positive change.

Downloadable Resources

Teaming up

Survey data in the Salary Guide FY21/22 released by recruitment firm Hays shows that teamwork is the skill that employers value most in employees at present, with 96 per cent of employers rating it to be as important or more important than a candidate’s technical abilities. Significantly, many employees have expressed a desire to work more collaboratively with other people, including colleagues working remotely.

Candidates for jobs should be able to point to instances where they were part of effective teams, explaining their specific contribution, how the time was used, the communication tools, and how the goal was reached.

Read the article at:
https://www.hays.com.au/blog/insights/workplace-teamwork
The Hays Salary Guide can be downloaded from:
Salary Guide Australia | Salary Benchmarking Report 2021 | Hays

Board performance

Dambisa Moyo is an economist who sits on the boards of several large corporations. As the author of a new book, How Boards Work: And How They Can Work Better in a Chaotic World, she is interviewed by Astrid Sandoval, an executive editor with consulting giant McKinsey, for the Author Talks series. She believes that many boards can markedly improve their performance, especially in oversight, by recruiting from outside the C-suite. She also argues that a board has to be willing to use all the available levers to drive change, and to align the company’s strategy with societal values.

Watch at:
How corporate boards work | McKinsey

Anticipating growth

A survey by accounting firm EY, The CEO Imperative, has found that business leaders in Australia and New Zealand are looking forward to a period of solid growth, building on two quarters of good figures. In fact, revenue growth for many Australian and New Zealand firms is higher than the average tracked by EY’s global report. However, the future will not be a return to ‘business as usual’. Digital transformation is the key trend impacting business, although companies are increasingly focusing on purpose, culture, and people management, as well as on closing the gaps between good intentions and effective execution.

Download the report from, and watch a video at:
https://www.ey.com/en_au/ceo-imperative-study/has-adversity-become-the-springboard-to-growth-for-australian-and-new-zealand-ceos

Building trust

Marcos Aguiar is a Brazilian business consultant, and in this insightful TED Talk he lays out a model to guide companies in establishing a reputation of trust with their customers, particularly when casual or contract workers are involved (such as with Uber). The essential points are: standards of behaviour required for employees; a clear contract relationship; incentives to encourage co-operation; a measure of control over employees, which customers can see; transparency, including a system for customer reviews; a process to mitigate errors and, if there is a problem, to address it quickly. Important stuff, presented with a voice of authority.

Watch at:
https://www.ted.com/talks/marcos_aguiar_7_tools_for_building_a_business_people_trust

Why winners win

The Value Creator Rankings is a 23-year series released by the respected Boston Consulting Group, which bases its analysis mainly on total shareholder returns. Despite COVID-19, capital market performance has remained strong, which helped sector leaders move even further away from the pack. The strong performers had invested in digitisation and other technology-based enhancements before the pandemic, and they reaped productivity rewards in 2020 and 2021.

The sectors that performed best were technology, medtech, financial infrastructure, sustainable energy, and mining. The study also showed that investors are seeking companies that look to the long term in strategy and resource allocation.

Download a summary or the full report, with an interactive capacity, from:
https://www.bcg.com/publications/2021/interactive-tsr-value-creator-rankings-2021

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