Resilience, agility, flexibility… we hear these words a lot these days. Challenged by the uncertainty of today’s economic and political realities, leaders, teams and organizations struggle to keep up. But what does it really mean to be resilient and flexible? Think about it for a second: what is the most agile, flexible, responsive thing you can think of? When I ask that question of a group, they most often reply, "Spandex."
Spandex is a knit. Knits are made of loops linked together in many directions. If one of those thousands of loops were to break, the entire thing would unravel. When the loops are connected and working as they should, the fabric maintains its integrity—stretching and responding to whatever is asked of it.
What do you do when your car’s “check engine” light goes on?
I have started asking that question of leaders and teams I coach. The responses are telling:
“I ignore it and keep driving, hoping it will go away”
“I turn into the first gas station I can find”
“I call my mechanic and ask them what I should do”
“I swap cars with my husband.”
We all know these are interesting and uncertain times to be leading businesses and organizations. According to Korn/Ferry research, Dealing with Ambiguity is one of the competencies that is lowest in supply and yet most needed to navigate the complexity created by relentless market, resourcing, political, and environmental challenges.
The 100 companies listed in the KFMC100 changes a bit each year, determined by the market capitalization of each companies. And each year, Each year, demographic trends tick up and down. But what we hope to gain by looking at this pool of high-value public companies is the big picture of what practices create sustainable growth for shareholders.
As the government shutdown continues, and the jobs and productivity of thousands of federal employees and contractors is put on hold, it is important that every federal employee knows that his or her dedication and service to our nation is deeply appreciated and respected.
Federal workers are not simply clients or budget items—they are our partners, colleagues, family, and friends. More importantly, they are passionate about and committed to leadership excellence within the government. The longer shutdown lasts, however, the more our family and friends in the federal workforce must cope with emotions of resentment, anger, despair, and stress. Without control over the situation, it is natural to react by thinking that there is nothing you can do, to disengage, and to just wonder when things will go back to normal.
It is always a privilege to work in the field of talent and leadership development. Each interaction with a client is an opportunity for Korn/Ferry to transform their lives as well as the world around us. Many times, we at Korn/Ferry are transformed by the unique abilities and insights of our clientele. Now we inaugurate a new program that is one of the best I’ve ever been associated with.
The government shutdown will end, eventually. Once it does, however, we must not forget the immense budgetary and personnel challenges that government leaders will face for the foreseeable future. Government service and leadership can no longer be painted as the stable and unalterable landscape it once was. John Samuelsohn, a senior political policy journalist, asserts that recent budget cuts and furloughs are the easy ones—mere sparks that will be followed by nine more years of budget austerity in what he calls the sequester’s “long, slow burn.” Moreover, Barry Anderson, former senior White House Office of Management and Budget official, predicts today’s furloughs will be replaced with tomorrow’s hiring freezes, forced early retirements, and recruitment of less-experienced personnel.
The leadership studies and articles we read—and the behaviors of “great leaders” we observe—all indicate how crucial confidence is to executive leadership. And yet everything about the business environment today—the volatility of financial markets in recent years, the unknowns attached to globalization, the unpredictable turns that technology can take—undermines a sense of security. It’s hard for anyone who is paying close attention to feel that they’ve got it all under control.
Even the casual observer has gotten the point by now: Corporate boards everywhere are seeking directors with digital expertise. Don’t despair if you haven’t signed one yet. Some of the most in-demand digital directors get 10 or more offers a year to serve on boards and, with challenging day jobs, can only pick one or two. That doesn’t mean you can’t recruit a highly desirable digital director; you just have to know how to go about it.
Attracting and recruiting a new generation of directors requires more than compensation and the flattery of being asked to serve on a board. “Prove to me,” these directors say, “why is it in my interest to serve on your board?”
Think in terms of three phases of recruitment to attract and retain digital executives who will contribute effectively to your board:
The setting was the historic Sewall-Belmont House in Washington, D.C., headquarters of the National Woman’s Party and its pioneering suffragists of the 1900s. In attendance were some of Washington’s (and Korn/Ferry’s!) most influential women, brought together by their collective interest in Learning Agility and the opportunity to network with other women leaders. Together we came to an important realization: as women leaders, we now have secured many of the rights our forebears fought for, and now we have the responsibility to focus on using those rights.