Increasingly, strategy execution requires more than implementation of a plan: it demands ‘enterprise leadership’ to rise to the challenges of a complex, ambiguous and changing operating environment.
Enterprise leadership is about working across and on behalf of the enterprise – not just the business unit – and is an emerging theme in many of the conversations we have with clients about the demands on their leaders.
Some recent research into effective strategy execution highlights why enterprise leadership, as a driver of cross functional and cross business unit collaboration, is critical:
Most leaders focus on delivery of outcomes for their business unit. However; chief executive officers, shareholders and stakeholders expect the value of the whole to deliver more than the sum of its parts. I’ve compiled some recent insights on enterprise leadership that inform our thinking and conversations.
Enterprise Leaders are differentiated from individual leaders because they:
Enterprise leaders create more innovative, engaged and adaptive teams, generate higher client satisfaction and improve revenue and profit growth.
However, these enterprise leaders are rare – only around 12% of leaders* – so how can we grow more of them?
For individual leaders, the growth into enterprise leadership can require something akin to a leap of faith: they may be apprehensive about a perceived loosening of control; anxious about having only incomplete information; and concerned that constructive enterprise leadership may not be noticed or rewarded.
These concerns are rational and need to be addressed to grow more enterprise leaders by:
The last of these insights is particularly significant for leadership development, as the same research indicates that leaders have the skills but not the mindset for enterprise leadership. Chiefly at issue is the idea that autonomy and control are crucial to success as a leader. Organisations that change their leaders’ mindsets for the current leadership environment can impact the practise of enterprise leadership by as much as 12%.*
How do you shift a mindset? It’s not about building skills so much as challenging leaders’ assumptions about their role in driving organisational performance. How do you challenge assumptions and change mindsets?
These characteristics evoke ‘vertical’ (as opposed to ‘horizontal’) development – a paper on its own - and a constructive challenge to traditional leadership development that has often focused on instruction rather than immersion; learning rather than growing.
This is one of the challenges we relish the opportunity to address in partnership with our clients.