Change Leadership Watch
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4 Leader Behaviors that drive 89% of Effectiveness. Why Org Health Matters | McKinsey

4 Leader Behaviors that drive 89% of Effectiveness. Why Org Health Matters | McKinsey | Change Leadership Watch |

ip McKinsey's recent research points to a small subset of leadership skills that closely correlates with leadership success, particularly among frontline leaders. McKinsey came up with a comprehensive list of 20 distinct leadership traits, surveyed 189,000 people in 81 diverse organizations around the world to assess how frequently certain kinds of leadership behavior are applied within their organizations. Finally, they divided the sample into organizations whose leadership performance was strong (the top quartile of leadership effectiveness as measured by McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index) and those that were weak (bottom quartile).

What McKinsey found was that leaders in organizations with high-quality leadership teams typically displayed 4 of the 20 possible types of behavior; these 4, indeed, explained 89 percent of the variance between strong and weak organizations in terms of leadership effectiveness (exhibit).


Four kinds of behavior account for 89 percent of leadership effectiveness.


  • Solving problems effectively. The process that precedes decision making is problem solving, when information is gathered, analyzed, and considered. This is deceptively difficult to get right, yet it is a key input into decision making for major issues (such as M&A) as well as daily ones (such as how to handle a team dispute).
  • Operating with a strong results orientation. Leadership is about not only developing and communicating a vision and setting objectives but also following through to achieve results. Leaders with a strong results orientation tend to emphasize the importance of efficiency and productivity and to prioritize the highest-value work.
  • Seeking different perspectives. ...monitors trends affecting organizations, grasps changes in the environment, encourages employees to contribute ideas that could improve performance, accurately differentiate between important and unimportant issues, and gives the appropriate weight to stakeholder concerns. Leaders who do well on this dimension typically base their decisions on sound analysis and avoid the many biases to which decisions are prone.
  • Supporting others. Leaders who are supportive understand and sense how other people feel. By showing authenticity and a sincere interest in those around them, they build trust and inspire and help colleagues to overcome challenges. They intervene in group work to promote organizational efficiency, allaying unwarranted fears about external threats and preventing the energy of employees from dissipating into internal conflict.


From McKinsey’s Organizational Health Index research:  The ...presence, at all ...levels, of talented, high-potential leaders essential to create something from nothing.

While most organizations use career opportunities to motivate employees, companies in this cluster use career opportunities as a leadership-development practice. Role modeling and real experience are more important than passing along sage lessons.

Related leadership posts:



Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

McKinsey offers insights on where to pivot the time you put into leadership development including the 4 behaviors as well as 4 recipes associated with sustained success.  Want to create change and "something from nothing?"  
Then read McKinsey's take (from the Index research) on the four "distinct underlying approach to managing, including core beliefs about value creation and what drives organizational success."  ~  Deb

Deb Nystrom, REVELN's curator insight, February 1, 2016 6:44 PM

Four leadership behaviors that drive 89 percent of the difference between strong and weak organizations is worth a CLOSE look.  ~  Deb

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Women CEOs and the Glass Precipice: New Research on Why

Women CEOs and the Glass Precipice:  New Research on Why | Change Leadership Watch |

Carly Fiorina, forced out. A MERE 5% of the chief executives of the world’s biggest companies are women. And they are more likely to be sacked than their more numerous male colleagues: 38% of the female CEOs who left their jobs over the past ten years were forced to go, compared with 27% of the men. 
In the Strategy& study, the clumsy new name for Booz & Company, 35% of female CEOs are hired from outside the company, compared with just 22% of male ones.

  • Outsiders generally have a higher chance of being kicked out, 
  • Generate lower returns to shareholders
  • Outsiders are less likely to have a support network of friends who can rally around when times get tough. 

Carly Fiorina, dropped as HP’s boss in 2005, made things worse by inviting such publicity. But the same is not true of, say, Ginni Rometty, the lower-profile boss of IBM (promoted from within the company in 2012), who is under fire over the firm’s performance.

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  • Stay in touch with Best of the Best news, taken from Deb's  NINE multi-gold award winning curation streams from @Deb Nystrom, REVELN delivered once a month via email, available for free here,via REVELN Tools.



Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

The change leader implication, as described in the article, is the call to action on 1) developing the leadership pipeline for female future CEOs,  2) helping diminish raiding due to scarce supply, which tends to be counterproductive for women's careers anyway, and 3) increasing success by having more women available to promote from within.  ~ Deb

Also posted to Careers and Self-Aware Strength.

Deb Nystrom, REVELN's curator insight, May 6, 2014 9:11 AM

This is a useful gender perspective on leadership development and, as the article concludes, a call to action on 1) developing the leadership pipeline for female future CEOs,  2) helping to prevent raiding because of scarce supply, (and it's counterproductive anyway, the research suggests) and 3) increasing success by having more women to promote from within.  ~  Deb

Tamkin Amin's curator insight, May 15, 2014 5:03 PM

hmmm... I find this interesting.

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Classic Leader Traits: 5 Lessons from Lincoln

Classic Leader Traits: 5 Lessons from Lincoln | Change Leadership Watch |

"Leaders are rarely the first person to see an opportunity, but they’re the first to seize an opportunity."

Excerpted from 5 leadership lessons from Lincoln.

Lead with action.  While others are talking about the problem, leaders take action.  ...Action, not intention, determines your destination.

Speak with conviction.  ...speaking with conviction inspires others to join your movement.

Set the tone.  Many will try to distract you.  ...In every interaction and every meeting a leader brings focus to the objective.  W

Via Jeremy Walsh &  - xoombi

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Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

It's a helpful post:  simple, clear and well-timed for the July 4th holiday, referencing the critical impact of followership on leadership and Lincoln's great model for us all.  ~  Deb

John Michel's curator insight, July 3, 2013 10:39 PM

Have you ever wondered what makes a leader? We’ve heard that leaders have followers, but is there more? Leaders are going somewhere. What would you think of someone who claimed to be a leader, was surrounded by followers, but was going nowhere? Unfortunately, that’s the situation for many teams, organizations, and nations. So what really makes a leader?

David Hain's comment, July 4, 2013 3:06 AM
Happy 4th July to all my American friends!
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"Empowerment Congress" Leaders Work to Develop their Communities

"Empowerment Congress" Leaders Work to Develop their Communities | Change Leadership Watch |

"City leaders have seen divisions sprout up, [causing separations] by national and ethnic identities. [This program is about] changing attitudes so that a majority of residents feel they have a stake in their community as a whole."

“We are not just building projects but we need to include people in the development of ideas.” ~ Jesse Clark

“Some key elements of this conference struck me in the gut,” said Clark, executive director of the Historic District Development Corporation.  “We are not just building projects but we need to include people in the development of ideas.”

The Empowerment Congress Leadership Institute was established to help communities around the country create effective ways of engaging and including residents in civic activities.

Throughout the week, the participants joined in panel discussions and presentations as well as a grand tour of Los Angeles, to gin up ideas for improving their own communities.

Clark was joined by Dagmar Epsten, Harold Barnette and several others from Atlanta.

“We have learned that having a powerful political advocate is very helpful indeed,” said Barnette. “We also learned that communities need to get out in front of changes and make their neighborhood look like how they want it.”

Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

Leadership development can have quite an impact on communities.  It is encouraging to learn how change leadership appears to be central to this program.  ~  Deb

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Las Vegas Points to Our Crumbling Past and a "Triumph of the Cities" Future

Las Vegas Points to Our Crumbling Past and a "Triumph of the Cities" Future | Change Leadership Watch |

The first American city of the new century is a dazzling metaphor for our collapse & may point the way to a glittering triumph of the cities.


I thought I'd never want to visit Vegas.  EVER.  

Then it turns out I'm on the panel and a facilitator for an Open Space event at a global change practitioner's conference this past April.  With that, and a fabulous 5 days in Vegas in mind, this Atlantic article resonates change.  Perhaps it will for you as well.  ~ Deb



"Vegas was the rest of the country, but with its foot on the gas," ~ Robert Lang, Brookings Mountain West at UNLV."




Recall the classic scene in Michael Lewis' "The Big Short" at a subprime mortgage conference at the Venetian hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. While being served by the very type of cocktail waitresses who had likely been given subprime loans they couldn't afford, Lewis's hero Steve Eisman discovers how insane Wall Street had gone in its love affair with subprime, and with collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps.


WE ARE ALL VEGAS industry critics have taken to calling Wall Street a giant casino.   ...The Las Vegas economy remains a basket case, with an unemployment rate of 12 percent, plus clogged bankruptcy courts and a ravaged real estate market. The American economy isn't doing much better.


And ...champagne of the good times had castor beans in it anyway.



Wall Street and Vegas became locked in a lover's embrace that wasn't always healthy for either. ...MGM Resorts International has $12 billion in debt; Caesars Entertainment a staggering $23 billion.


"Vegas was the rest of the country, but with its foot on the gas," says Robert Lang, director of Brookings Mountain West at UNLV.


This being America though ...Las Vegas might be coming back. There's a recognition among elites that the good old days aren't returning. (And ...champagne of the good times had castor beans in it anyway.)

Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican increasingly distinct from the national party's pre-New Deal orthodoxy, unveiled an economic plan earlier this year that leans heavily on education as a way to diversify the economy into potential growth sectors beyond tourism and gambling, including health care, information technology infrastructure, renewable energy, mining, transportation, aerospace and defense.


The governor's brain trust hopes the Nevada economy will look different in a couple decades, just as Denver and Dallas, the poster children of the excesses of the S&L debacle, have become innovative, prosperous and stable economies.

Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, the big online apparel company now owned by Amazon, struggled to find workers in the Bay Area who understood the customer service mission. So in 2004, the company moved to suburban Las Vegas, where it found cheap real estate and workers, schooled in casino culture, who were familiar with the customer service ethic and the 24 hour workday.

The company has thrived in Las Vegas, and now Hsieh ...a passionate urbanist, [is] given to handing out copies of Harvard economist Edward Glaeser's book, Triumph of the City, to anyone in shouting distance.  



"Downtown Las Vegas is the four minute mile."


Silicon Vegas? 

 GigaOM recently profiled five Vegas tech companies to watch, a development that would have been unheard of even two years ago. Hsieh has rented out 50 units of a downtown condo tower and turned it into a freewheeling tech and culture salon, like a college dorm for a Vegas Ted conference.


...Half of the world's population live in cities, and three-fourths will in our lifetimes, he notes.


"If you can make downtown Las Vegas the most community driven and learning-focused place in America, it's like the four minute mile.

Downtown Las Vegas is the four minute mile."

See the full article in The Atlantic here.

DN:  With the passage of the Detroit Institute of Arts millage by Metro Detroiters this past Tuesday keeping the museum open and accessible, Dan Gilbert's (Quicken Loans)  and others' support of Detroit, a Triumph of the Cities, may be possible in the USA.



Deb's mothership website, REVELN Consulting.

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Change leadership investment pays off in big income boost, case study

Change leadership investment pays off in big income boost, case study | Change Leadership Watch |

"Change success:  Putting leadership development at the heart of a major operations-improvement effort paid off in BIG boost in income for a global industrial company."

Once again, a smart leadership investment pays off during a major change implementation boosting income by about $1.5 billion a year.

Excerpts from the case example:

Too often senior executives overlook the “softer” skills their leaders will need to disseminate changes throughout the organization and make them stick. These skills include:

  • keeping managers and workers inspired when they feel overwhelmed, 
  • promoting collaboration across organizational boundaries, 
  • helping managers embrace change programs through dialogue, not dictation
The senior team had to look beyond technical improvements and focus on helping the company’s leaders...

In this case example, drives for improvement carried a stigma of incompetence, current performance was considered “good enough”, and conflict tended to be passive-aggressive.  There was also a pervasive fear of making mistakes—reinforced by the company’s strong culture of safety and of risk aversion.

The senior team had to look beyond technical improvements and focus on helping the company’s leaders to master the personal behavioral changes needed to support the operational ones.

The company mounted an intense, immersive, and individualized leadership program.  The results are still unfolding, but after three years the company estimates that the improvement program has already boosted annual pretax operating income by about $1.5 billion a year. Furthermore, executives see the new leadership behavior as crucial to that ongoing success.

Read the full story here.

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Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 2015 Edition of What's Next, at University of Michigan #Flow

Slides and Notes from a public evening lecture by Mihaly Csikszentmihaly in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Friday April 17th, 2015

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Bestselling Author of “Flow”
Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Management

at Claremont Graduate University
Quality of Life Research Center

(4448 East Hall, 5:30-6:30 PM Plenary Lecture)

Topic: Curiosity and enjoyment as moderating factors in socio-cultural evolution


He mentioned this quote early in his presentation and cites it often in his presentations in general:


To establish a place of work where engineers can feel the joy of technological innovation, be aware of their mission to society, and work to their heart’s content.” ~ Masaru Ibuka, Sony founder electronics inventor Masaru Ibuka, in explaining the purpose of incorporation of Sony

Quotes I found relevant after hearing his presentation:

“Most enjoyable activities are not natural; they demand an effort that initially one is reluctant to make. But once the interaction starts to provide feedback to the person's skills, it usually begins to be intrinsically rewarding.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

“Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person's capacity to act.”

“the self expands through acts of self forgetfulness.”

“...It is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were.” ― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience

Friday April 17th, 2015
Public Evening Lecture by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Bestselling Author of “Flow” (4448 East Hall, no registration required) 5:00-5:30 PM Welcome, Introductions: Stephanie Preston

Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

His presentation was, in many ways, traditional, academic, with the customary rows of seated listeners.  Yet his later slides reflect the opening up of the big principles core learning of what flow is and how people from all walks of life, with less regard for wealth, achieve it through choice, even with varying degrees of freedom available to themselves.


One person who talked of the presentation said he could have sat there listening for hours.
Web research on Flow also brings flow explorers to topics like human chemistry and human thermodynamics, as well as to the broader field of positive psychology. It is a long way from industrial age, mechanistic thinking of the 20th century.  I cannot help but be inspired by it to learn more and find more ways of applying it in my own life and work.  ~  Deb

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Why GM’s Mary Barra Got the CEO Job

Why GM’s Mary Barra Got the CEO Job | Change Leadership Watch |

Barra will become GM’s fifth CEO in less than five years. She now has the opportunity to prove that a GM-lifer can indeed force radical and lasting changes at the automaker. If she can push departments to revamp and think progressively, she will surely be labeled as a transformational CEO.

She has experience in every facet of the organization including European operations and successful product launches including the Cadillac ATS, CTS, and Chevrolet’s Stingray and Malibu.

Automotive sales are continuing to rebound and hit levels that we haven’t seen since 2007 but competition is stiff. Product is king and Barra’s latest post proves she has the chops to propel GM forward.

Related posts & tools by Deb:

Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

How will it work out for a new leader?   Time will tell, quickly, if JCPenny is any indication.  A gender-less look at revamping a hide-bound traditional organization could be useful.  GM was the learning lab for the legendary late Peter Drucker.  He knew was was and wasn't working in multi-national corporations back in the day.  ~  D

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Taking the Bet: Dan Gilbert’s Investment Gamble on Downtown Detroit

Taking the Bet:  Dan Gilbert’s Investment Gamble on Downtown Detroit | Change Leadership Watch |
Against tall odds, Dan Gilbert, the Quicken Loans chairman, is putting down money to revive a two-square-mile area that was once Detroit’s core.

...His plans, according to academics like Brent D. Ryan, author of “Design After Decline: How America Rebuilds Shrinking Cities,” amount to one of the most ambitious privately financed urban reclamation projects in American history.

Opportunity Detroit, as Mr. Gilbert has branded it, is both a rescue mission and a business venture....   When he started buying in 2011, the city was having what he has described as a “skyscraper sale.”

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Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

I've covered some of Dan's Gilbert's 2011 intentions about downtown Detroit at FutureMidwest, 2011, a photo essay here.   Our cities could be the Amazon rain-forests are to the earth, regulating our air, our weather, our ocean health, as well as our own economic & community future shared with the region and state.  

What I shared on twitter as I listened to Dan Gilbert at FutureMidwest 2011:

  • 25 Things I Learned in 25 Years of Business by Dan Gilbert @quickenloans: #5 Building anything great is messy.  ~  D
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Collaborate to Thrive: Dr. Dre & Luke Wood, Crowdsourced Lessons in FastCompany 2013

Collaborate to Thrive:  Dr. Dre & Luke Wood, Crowdsourced Lessons in FastCompany 2013 | Change Leadership Watch |

"Fast Company is crowdsourcing learning lessons to jump into 2013.  Dr. Dre and Luke Wood speak up about casting the right community of people quickly - [their] biggest challenge and opportunity."

Their question to leaders?   What did you learn in 2012 that you will carry forth with you into 2013?"

From ONE of their leader, crowd-sourced contributions:  


1) "You have to build the village first.  From my first 20 years the music could rely on a diverse portfolio of artists to create the phrenetic and improvisational energy that challenged convention and compelled the company forward.

In the consumer electronics, you have to generate that energy from the people who work at the company every day.

It requires daily focus and attention.  [We] grew from 30 to 170 this year, casting the right community of people quickly became our biggest challenge and opportunity."

2) As Beats continues to grow, we are going to search high and low to find talent that is individually smart and ambitious but collectively awe inspiring. 

Dr. Dre, President And COO, Luke Wood on "It Takes A Village."  More here.

Photo by Aqeel Hassim CC Flickr.

From curator Deb, relevant topics:  

Deb Nystrom, REVELN's insight:

Collaborate or die is true now, more than ever.  Technology smooths the way (YouTube world collaboration music anyone?)  

There's so much more, building on the best of individual strengths to create the extraordinary and to learn through our insides to our outsides  ~  Deb

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“Double Down” Women, Leaders & Careers, Kudos and Ire » You Can't Have it All?

“Double Down” Women, Leaders & Careers, Kudos and Ire » You Can't Have it All? | Change Leadership Watch |

"The executive work/life dilemma for women and men includes Steve Jobs' contributions while seriously ill - a provocative thought piece by the Glass Hammer."

Change leaders are culture leaders.  The American leader work ethic for women and men is featured here, in controversy about growing leaders, both women and men. It's a long term, evolving change & leadership issue with shifting impact for both genders.  ~  Deb


There’s increasing polarization on the subject of how to handle work-life’s ever-escalating challenges for women.




“Work-life balance is not some nice idea that isn’t achievable or important. It is important to all of us for sustainable mental and physical health & well-being. The key word is sustainable.”


The friction is visible in the varied media responses to news that incoming Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will be the first female CEO to take the top spot while pregnant, and to Anne-Marie Slaughter’s controversial cover story for The Atlantic, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.

Part of the dilemma revolves around a concept coined by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO: “leaning in” versus “leaning back.”

Sandberg describes how failing to “lean in” inadvertently leads many women to leave the workforce:

  • “Women almost never make one decision to leave the workforce,” said Sandberg. ...Maybe it’s the last year of med school when they say, I’ll take a slightly less interesting specialty because I’m going to want more balance one day. Maybe it’s the fifth year in a law firm when they say, I’m not even sure I should go for partner, because I know I’m going to want kids eventually. ...And from that moment, they start quietly leaning back. The problem is, often they don’t even realize it.”
  • “During the last years of his life, [Steve Jobs] created the iPhone, the iPad, he was moving into television.  ...He was very the last years of life when he didn’t have time.”


“Work-life balance is not some nice idea that isn’t achievable or important. It is important to all of us for sustainable mental and physical health and well-being. The key word is sustainable, ” says Teri Johnson.  

She suggests the analogy a long distance runner versus a relay racer.

  • “Any of us can push hard in a relay, but the distance runner knows to pace herself, to make rest days as important as training days and to take excellent care of herself to avoid injury. She saves the real push for the race, when it is important.”


Read the full post here.

Photo credit:  JD Hancock

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