“Being a leader in a global company requires agility to adapt, embrace changes, and shift accordingly. It’s like cross-training, where you are constantly training with a mindset to anticipate change so that you can perform at your best—before, during, and after the game.” —Jennifer Underwood, PVH word chosen by a number of our panelists—Procaccino, Crantz, and Underwood included. In addition to being trustworthy, leaders today need to be able to “rapidly adapt to a new set of circumstances,” said Crantz. They need to be not only “willing to jump,” but also “willing to put in the effort to adapt and be rapidly successful.” Jo Chiti agreed: “Leadership is really fluid and is far less defined than in the past.” While noting that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what good leadership looks like, she said, “The one thing I can say with consistency is that learning agility is super important.” Procaccino reported that it is important to be able to handle a world that is “VUCA: volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Things change daily. Our focus is building leaders that not only have the depth of knowledge, but have agility and breadth so that they can stretch when faced with new experiences or challenges. The more agile the leader— the more successful.” Underwood compared agility and corporate endurance to fitness: “Being a leader in a global company requires agility to adapt, embrace changes, and shift accordingly. It’s like cross-training, where you are constantly training with a mindset to anticipate change so that you can perform at your best—before, during, and after the game.” In a global corporation, something unexpected will come across your desk every day, and performing in this environment requires constant agility. Agility and endurance, noted Underwood, bring into balance the short-term and the long-term. Agility is the “quick spurt” that allows you to navigate changes now, and endurance prepares you for all the unanticipated changes ahead.
GOING WITH A VISION AND HUMILITY Beyond adapting to new situations, leaders should see— and drive toward—a better future. The word “visionary” resonated strongly with Ryan McGowan, manager of global talent development at Terumo BCT. “Great leaders pull
people towards something to inspire performance.” Brewer painted a picture of how a successful leader once described a “big ego” and a “small ego”: “Leaders have to be constructively discontent and aggressive enough to change things, but humble enough to reverse their position when confronted with new information.” Humility was underscored by many as another critical trait in the leadership matrix. “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’ve got a problem,” said Beard, reflecting on a saying she strongly supported. “Either you haven’t hired smart enough people to surround you, or you think you’re the smartest and then you’ve got an ego problem.” Defining leadership in one word is not easy—even, or especially, for leadership development professionals. The definitions evolve as companies evolve, and various executives or organizations may build their leadership matrices differently. But the key is to define what leadership looks like. Define the traits that make up your leadership matrix—agility, trust, humility, and vision. Build hiring, training, and advancement processes around these defined leadership traits to see your company’s culture—and the leaders within it—flourish. AQ Andi Baldwin is an associate director at Profitable Ideas Exchange. In this role, she manages peer networks of heads of innovation, heads of corporate real estate, and heads of tax. Baldwin facilitates by-phone and in-person interactions on behalf of a variety of clients, including KPMG, Slalom Consulting, JLL, and AMA. Jacob Parks is chief operating officer and partner for Profitable Ideas Exchange, and he is responsible for day-to-day operations including service delivery, workforce management, and business development. He has led groups of chief operating officers, chief marketing officers, chief financial officers, chief information officers, and others on behalf of a variety of clients including Accenture, CSC, Protiviti, SAP, Thomson Reuters, McKinsey, Deloitte, Pfizer, CapGemini, and 3M. Parks is also responsible for overseeing PIE’s research and thought leadership division, which contributes to premier publications throughout the globe.
AMA QUARTERLY I SPRING 2016 I 25
Journal of The American Management Association