Research Refining the Vision of the Future of HR

CEO Perspectives Screen ShotA couple of weeks ago, I published a blog here discussing the revolutionary opportunities Human Resource professionals now have in reshaping their role in the organization.  As a follow up to that blog, I’d like to share a study that was recently published  by The Economist Intelligence Unit entitled, “CEO Perspectives ~ How HR Can Take On A Bigger Role In Driving Growth”.  The study, co-sponsored by Oracle and IBM, surveyed 235 “C” level executives, of which 57% were CEOs.

The study points out two driving trends that are intersecting to fundamentally change the opportunities HR professionals have to elevate their strategic input in organizational success.  First is the rise of knowledge workers, something I’ve been discussing since 2008 when I began writing my book, “The Transformational Entrepreneur”.  This reflects the fundamental shift regarding the inputs of value creation in companies.  Human beings, and their creativity, are now the raw material for the creation of commercially viable intellectual property and processes.  This changes everything.

The second relates to the outsourcing of the transactional, historical, administrative functions of HR.  Areas such as payroll, pensions and compliance have been and can be outsourced to third parties and two thirds of companies now outsource some portion of these administrative functions.  This frees up HR to truly reinvent itself to focus on driving the strategic value of talent and ascend to a new level of critical functionality within the organization.

To quote directly from the study, “Unburdened by some of their former responsibilities, HR specialists have a chance to transform their role, exploiting their image as experts in people to place themselves at the heart of the debate on a company’s strategic direction.”  This also has implications that cut both ways.  If HR doesn’t take the necessary steps to impact both the strategic and financial trajectory of the organization they may find themselves marginalized to the point of irrelevance.

CEOs are pulling for HR executives to step up and contribute at a higher level.  The study revealed 55% of CEOs report that HR is a key player in the strategic planning of the organization, yet 70% expressed their desire to see HR take a stronger leadership role in this process.  The door is open.

The study goes on to identify two factors that are holding HR back in capturing this opportunity.  The study states, “Perhaps heads of HR are not being included in strategic planning because doubts linger about whether they have the requisite breadth of business knowledge to participate productively”.  Of the CEOs surveyed, 41% believe their HR executives are “too focused on process and rules” and 37% say they don’t “understand the business well enough”.  This is a perception that I addressed in my previous blog regarding the opportunities to develop one’s own business acumen.

The second constraining factor relates to performance outside the traditional confines of the HR function.  While two thirds of CEOs believe HR performs well in their traditional role, approximately half or fewer think HR is making the grade in talent development, succession planning, or creating a high performance culture.  Another recent survey identified the fact that Board of Directors believe talent management is totally failing to make a positive impact on company performance.  Why is this?  There’s a misalignment in what many HR executives perceive to be the CEOs’ areas of primary concern.  I’ve seen this firsthand in discussion groups of senior HR executives at various conferences…they don’t always understand and appreciate what’s keeping the CEO awake at night.  They would be well served to understand this primary customer’s areas of concern.

What are these concerns?  According to the study, CEOs are worried about (in order of significance):

  1. Insufficient talent within the organization as a whole (56%).
  2. Insufficient leadership talent (43%).
  3. Lack of alignment of individual and business objectives (41%).
  4. Low employee satisfaction (38%).

CEOs have also expressed a need to capture a 20% increase in productivity from existing resources in order to meet current financial and performance obligations (Corporate Executive Board, 2013).  In fact, McKinsey & Co.® recently released a major study that indicates companies will need to achieve a 30% improvement in current productivity in order to maintain the same levels of growth and the standard of living we all enjoyed in the 1960s.

The study makes some suggestions as to how HR leaders can ascend to a more strategic role within the organization.  It comes down to cultivating stronger relationships with the CEO and functional heads by demonstrating insight and competency, ensuring cohesion amongst the leadership team, and taking the initiative and being accountable in this new level of authority and impact on the organization.  These recommendations are less specific than the recommendations I offered in my previous blog, but are very much in alignment.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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Performance Transformation, LLC™ Launches Business Acumen Coaching For HR Professionals

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Talent Management has fast become the strategic differentiator in today’s global business environment. Human creativity and collaboration are now the primary drivers of value creation placing HR at the epicenter of cultivating competitive advantage.

VENICE, Fla. — Peformance Transformation, LLC™ announced today the launch of their latest professional development service, Business Acumen Coaching for HR Professionals. The educationally-based approach is designed to cultivate and enhance Human Resources professionals’ competencies to align with the demands and opportunities of the New Economy.

“Companies can no longer afford to view HR as a cost center,” commented Terry Murray, founder and Managing Partner of Performance Transformation. “The fact is, no other function within the business organization has changed so dramatically, and in such a short period of time, as the Human Resources department. Competencies must expand accordingly and in ways that are non-traditional from the historical role HR has played in business.”

The evolutionary development program focuses on instilling and enhancing skill sets that support strategic thinking and processes, talent management, and change management as well as incorporating the use of Big Data and predictive analytics to optimize and align talent development with business strategy. The approach also imparts Emotional Intelligence competencies that contribute to positive relationship management, leadership and communication skills. While highly innovative, the approach is not theoretical; it is grounded in tangible business objectives that fall within the perview of the HR professional. Doing so delivers a clear return on investment for the program.

“The source of value creation has shifted,” added Mr. Murray. “All companies have access to similar natural resources, economies of scale, information technology and quality processes. What they don’t all have access to is talent. How that talent is secured and managed will be the strategic differentiator going forward. HR is now at the epicenter of this challenge.  The transactional and risk management activities the HR function has been charged with over the past thirty years have provided little opportunity for these professionals to prepare for this new frontier. Our approach addresses this gap.”

Recent studies indicate chief executives and corporate officers are looking for more from the HR function. A major study published in the June edition of the Harvard Business Review® revealed corporate boards believe their companies are scoring an “F” in talent management.  Another study published in July, by the magazine The Economist®, revealed similar concerns of CEOs. Their findings revealed only a bare majority of chief executives believe their head of HR is a key player in strategic planning, yet 70% of them wanted to see their HR executives taking a more active role. Unfortunately, a credibility perception still lingers throughout many leadership teams.

“There’s a trust gap around the strategic planning table,” said Terry. “The research indicates that while a majority of chief executives are satisfied with their HR leader’s management of the HR function, most don’t believe they’re achieving a similar level of performance in the more strategic areas of succession planning or developing key talent. Significant concerns also arise surrounding perceptions of the alignment of talent management with business strategy.”

“Part of the problem is being exacerbated by talent management software companies. They all claim to have the magic bullet solution, but automating fragmented processes is not the answer. A shift in perspective must first take place followed on with deeper insights into the mechanisms of value creation. Without these two steps preceding automation, a lot of money and worse, a lot of time, time that can’t be recouped, will be wasted.”

Performance Transformation is unique in that the company is perhaps the only leadership and strategic development firm that integrates discoveries from the neurosciences with a predictive analytics platform. The combination creates a pipeline for a continuously improving flow of business intelligence to emerge, leveraging Big Data for the optimization of human capital and talent management.

“We’re very excited to help usher in this new era for HR.” added Terry. “Actually using advanced analytics and Big Data as part of the delivery process in the coaching immediately acclimates the professional with the tools they’ll need to master going forward.”

For more information, please visit Performance Transformation’s website or call (941) 485-7428.

© 2013, Performance Transformation, LLC™.  All Rights Reserved.

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Experts Discuss the Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Business and Education on The Gail Shane Show

I recently had the privilege of co-hosting The Gail Shane Show on WSRQ – Sarasota with, of course, Gail Shane.  The subject of the program explored the critical role Emotional Intelligence competencies (Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Social Awareness, Relationship Management skills and Empathy) have on creating and sustaining competitive advantage in business, education, and in our own personal lives.  We were fortunate to have on our panel neurosurgeon Dr. Ravi Rao, the author of “Emotional Business: Inspiring Human Connectedness To Grow Earnings And The Economy, Becky Canesse, CEO of Just For Girls, and Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom, the Principal of the Just For Girls Academy.

I’ve edited the podcast replay into three segments, which you can listen to by clicking the audio players below:

Segment One ~ Dr. Ravi Rao and Terry Murray discuss the neurology of human emotions, leveraging neuroscience to develop engaging and inspirational leaders, and how organizational  mastery of our emotional landscape contributes to competitive advantage, engagement, productivity and business performance (13 minutes).


Segment Two ~ Becky Cannesse and Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom discuss how they’re educating the whole child by cultivating empathy, compassion, resiliency, and Emotional Intelligence skills in young girls and how Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning, conducted by Performance Transformation, LLC™, has contributed to the girls’ development (8 minutes).


Segment Three ~ Ravi, Terry, Gail, Becky and Jennifer discuss methods for teaching emotional awareness skills, how Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning accelerates and supports the emergence of Emotional Intelligence competencies, and strategies for cultivating a positive, emotional landscape in organizations, businesses, and families (13 minutes).


Thanks again to Gail Shane, WSRQ – Sarasota, Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy (SMART), our collaborator and host for Equine programs, and Neal Communities, the sponsor, for having us on the air!

© 2013, Terry Murray, The Gail Shane Show.

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Why The Mainstream Leadership Development Industry Has Failed and Will Continue to Fail

A colleague of mine referenced me to an article on the Harvard Business Review® Blog Network over the weekend that she knew I would find of interest.  The blog explored a recent study on the level of dissatisfaction corporate boards were expressing on the failure of Talent Management in the corporations they oversee.  According to the study, and to no surprise, Talent Management is failing miserably in most organizations.  I say to no surprise because Talent Management is the latest offshoot of the mainstream leadership development industry, which has perhaps the most dismal performance record of any professional service industry on the planet.  Over the past twenty years alone, corporations and institutions have invested upwards of $1 trillion (yes, trillion) on leadership development.  Yet, only 1% of executives score excellent in eight key competencies of leadership, 90% score below average (McKinsey & Co®), and employee disengagement has been mired at 70% for over a decade (Gallup®).

As I was reading the blog, and here’s the correlation to today’s subject, I came across another entry on the HBR Blog Network entitled, “Why So Many Leadership Programs Ultimately Fail” by a gentleman named Peter Bregman.  In the blog, Mr. Bregman states, “Ever since I started teaching leadership on mountaineering expeditions in the  late 80s, the question of how to develop leaders has absorbed me.  I’ve designed and taught everything from one-day team buildings to 20-day wilderness trips, from business school classes to corporate trainings, from simulations to executive leadership courses.”  At the risk of sounding facetious, which is not my intention, I can’t help but wonder if this question that has absorbed him for 25 years might have been answered if he had ever actually been a leader rather than a career teacher of leadership?

It’s strange to me…no other professional discipline has followed such a misguided path.  Medical surgeons, with decades of experience practicing medicine, are called upon to develop and educate the next generation of surgeons.  Senior scientists educate up and coming scientists.  Pilots are trained by experienced pilots.   Yet, next generation business leaders have not, and are not, being educated and developed by experienced business leaders.  They are being trained by career consultants and organizational psychologists.

The irony that runs through Mr. Bregman’s blog would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.  An author of several best-selling books on leadership, he comments, “What makes leadership hard isn’t the theoretical, it’s the practical” and follows on by emphasizing the importance of not getting sidetracked, distracted or losing focus by stating, “And you can’t learn them from reading a book…”

Mr. Bregman’s main point in his blog is to share an apparent epiphany he’s recently had regarding emotional courage.  This, he believes, is the key to successful leadership.  It’s a fair point, and one that was eloquently written about eleven years ago by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky in their seminal book, “Leadership On The Line – Staying Alive Through The Dangers Of Leading“.  Another irony is that this book was published by the Harvard Business School press.  It’s also a lesson I learned personally in my first business managerial role leading a national sales team nearly 25 years ago.

Another supposition in which Mr. Bregman appears misguided is, “The goal of any leadership development program is to change behavior.”  Isn’t that the goal of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?  Behaviors in the workplace are manifestations of perceptions, orientations and conditioned, neurological responses to emotional stimuli.  This focus on behaviors is just what one would expect by psychologists.  It’s what they know, so it’s what they do.  Shouldn’t the goal of leadership development be to improve business performance by imparting leaders with the tools and adaptive thinking skills necessary to communicate, engage and inspire others to perform at their best?  Isn’t the goal to develop nascent leaders’ ability to lead in any circumstance?

The final kicker in Mr. Bregman’s blog is his mea culpa, “By that measure, most of what I’ve done – and what I’ve seen others do – has failed.”  He goes on to add, “Here’s why: We’re teaching the wrong things in the wrong ways.”  Wow, that’s an amazing statement to read on an HBR blog.  I cannot help but wonder how Mr. Bregman’s past clients feel about the fact that he’s admitting his work, of which I’m sure he’s charged handsomely for, has been a decades long experiment trying to figure out for himself how to develop leaders?  And this grand experiment in leadership development has proven one thing…both Mr. Bregman and the mainstream leadership development industry still has a lot to learn about leadership.

I didn’t write this to personally take Mr. Bregman to task.  This is, however, highly indicative of what’s wrong with the leadership development industry.  Leadership, as Mr. Bregman says himself, cannot be learned from a book.  It must be experienced, first hand, and evolve over time under the tutelage of a seasoned leader.  Unfortunately, there are very few seasoned leaders in the leadership development industry.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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The Revolutionary Future of Human Resources

When many of us first embarked upon our professional careers, few if any disciplines had the opportunity to truly reinvent their organizational roles on the fly.  Things were fairly steady, moving forward at a relegated pace, keeping stride with what, at the time, was the revolutionary influx of information technology.  While the support tools were evolving, sales was still sales, finance was still finance, and HR was still HR.  Turning our contemporary lens back onto those bucolic days of the 80s and 90s now has the feel of looking back into the archeological record of some ancient civilization.

Things have change.  Really changed.  Not just on the surface, but deep into the very essence of what business now does in its never ending pursuit of value creation.

During the Industrial Age, value was created through the exploitation of cheap and abundant raw materials, the organization of specialized labor (think assembly lines), and the application of capital.  Industrialists like Henry Ford and Alfred Sloan helped usher in the golden age of the corporation.  Economies of scale, vertical integration, corporate finance and sophisticated marketing methodologies took root and flourished.  Great sales people ascended to dizzying heights.  These were the tools and drivers of their time.

The Information Age, the precursor of today, breathed new life into tiring, threadbare methodologies of management and organizational development.  Information technology enabled the aging structures to shed overhead and secure gains in productivity, while the very essence of their fundamentals were quietly slipping away beneath their feet.  Resource constraints, environmental concerns, the first waves of globalization, and labor strife were all taking their toll during the 1970s, right at the threshold of the coming IT revolution.  Those of you old enough will remember the gas lines, stagflation and the emergence of the Rust Belt that marked the close of the decade.

While the internet, cloud computing, and Big Data all offer productivity promise, the very source of value creation has shifted dramatically over the past thirty years.  In today’s economy, value is created through the efficient commercialization of intellectual property (IP).  The assembly lines of the past have been supplanted by teams of knowledge workers.  Multi-cultural, multi-generational workers that are often dispersed around the globe.  The new raw material of our age is human creativity and the human beings that bring their creativity to life.

The implications are far reaching, but the opportunities are even greater, especially for the professionals in Human Resources and Talent Management.  The fact of the matter is, what was once perceived by senior leadership as overhead, a department that was saddled with risk management and often derided as a necessary evil that slowed things down, is now center stage in the value creation equation.

With this unprecedented opportunity for unleashing remarkable productivity gains (Gallup® once again, for the 12th year running, reported employee disengagement levels hovering at 70%) comes equally remarkable challenges for HR.  While the source of value creation has shifted, the political capital HR requires in their new role has lagged behind.  Chances are, this political capital wont be philanthropically handed over by the Sales and Marketing folks; it simply isn’t in their nature.  But the fierce competitors must inevitably give sway to the fierce collaborators if companies are to maintain their competitive advantage in rapidly changing markets.

So HR professionals are left to blaze a new trail, to build their voice at the strategic table of senior management.  The challenge is, where are the forbearers?  Where are the pioneers to whom we can look for guidance and methods to set this new standard?  You’ll find them in the mirror.  It’s you, and it’s your time to step up and lead.

Having been on the forefront of this revolution for the past five years, I’d like to share a few thoughts as you embark on the first steps of this new journey:

  1. Cultivate your business acumen.  Tap into the thought leaders beyond the traditional practice of HR (i.e. The McKinsey Quarterly®, the Harvard Business Review®, and people like Dan Ariely, Daniel Goleman and Rich Davidson).  Tap into the many entrepreneurial voices heard through blogs and the unadulterated business press of the internet.  Find a senior mentor from outside HR and learn as much as you can, as quickly as you can about both the new and evergreen fundamentals of business.
  2. Invest in your leadership competencies.  Not the old command-and-control philosophies, but methods based upon transformational and service leadership.  It is values-driven leadership that resonates with today’s multi-cultural and multi-generational workforce.  And it is intrinsic values that resonate (i.e. authentic relationships, purposefulness, being of service and a part of something bigger than one’s self) in today’s world.  Leveraging extrinsic values alone (i.e. money, power, prestige) is an artifact of the past (and a contributing factor to endemic employee disengagement).
  3. Look for integrative solutions that drive insights.  Today’s business world is faced with accelerating complexity.  One-off, simple solutions are no longer capable of bridging the growing performance gap.  The solutions to today’s adaptive challenges lie in the convergence of seemingly disparate disciplines (i.e. the convergence of neuroscience, applied behavioral economics, emotional intelligence, leadership development, creativity science, and advanced analytics).
  4. Build metrics into every HR initiative.  This is crucial in gaining a respected voice at the leadership table.  Sales is transactional and easily measured.  Human creativity, collaboration, leadership development, and innovation precursors require a bit more thought to construct meaningful metrics.  But these metrics are there if you look, and be sure to ask every HR vendor for their metrics as well.  If they shy away from measuring their own impact on the business, find vendors willing to step up and be accountable.
  5. Be prepared to take some risks.  This is the threshold, the point at which you will either embark on what famed author and scholar Joseph Campbell called The Hero’s Journey or fall back into the staid definitions of the past.  Here’s the thing, if you follow the first four steps of advice, the risks will be measured, rational, and justifiable.  Those are risks worth taking and those are risks one survives.

We’re truly working and living in unprecedented times.  The HR profession has arrived at a nexus.  The opportunities for those bold enough to redefine themselves and their role within the organization will enjoy equally unprecedented success.

© 2013, Terry Murray.

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Performance Transformation, LLC™ Launches Services For Private Equity And Angel Investor Markets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Professional and strategic development firm integrates machine learning technology and neuroscience research to quantify and address leadership risk, employee engagement, productivity, innovation and accelerate earnings performance.

VENICE, Fla. — Performance Transformation, LLC™ (Venice, FL) announced today the launch of their newest service offering specifically tailored for Private Equity firms and Angel Investors. The Performance Equity portfolio offers an array of custom services and technologies designed to fully address the greatest risk factor in equity financing; the human element of leadership teams.

The evolutionary approach integrates insights, assessments and development tools garnered from recent discoveries from the neurosciences with a machine learning platform that employs advanced algorithms to generate predictive analytics.

“This is truly innovative, bringing a level of analytical sophistication to private markets that was previously only available to major firms operating in public markets,” said Terry Murray, founder and Managing Partner of Performance Transformation. “Being able to quantify and mitigate human risk factors within leadership teams is a powerful first step, but it’s just the beginning. Going forward, our clients will be positioned to leverage Big Data into business intelligence of unprecedented value.”

Founded in 2008, Performance Transformation, LLC is a leading innovator in driving organizational performance. The firm takes a comprehensive approach of optimizing and aligning leadership, strategy and organizational culture to drive breakthrough productivity, engagement, and innovation. Mr. Murray is also the author of “The Transformational Entrepreneur”, which was cited by the academic Journal of Economic Literature for its thought leadership in March, 2012.

“For Angel Investors, the human elements and dynamics of the leadership team have always represented the greatest risk factor in their investment portfolio,” added Mr. Murray, who has been working within the investor-driven startup community since 2001. “Until now, there has not been a way to standardize, quantify, and proactively address these factors scientifically. This is a game changer. Angels are continuously collecting reams of due diligence information that, once the investment decision is made, turns fallow. Our approach will enable them to leverage that information into remarkably valuable business intelligence to optimize the IRR on their portfolios.”

Performance Transformation has identified an antecedent, causal correlation between assessable, neurological styles and the top leadership competencies shared by today’s high performers. Their proprietary Accretive Coaching Process℠ employs an educationally-based approach to cultivate new neural pathways in the prefrontal cortex and frontal lobe, breaking constrained thinking patterns that take root in the Basal Ganglia. The resulting neural networks enable adaptive thinking to emerge, the type of thinking entrepreneurs and executives require in today’s volatile, rapidly changing environment. The developmental approach is grounded in tangible, stretch business objectives to drive immediate performance improvements. The firm has partnered with Root 5 Systemics™ (Toronto, ON) and Talent Sprocket™ (St. Petersburg, FL) to enable the integration of advanced, team dynamic assessments and the predictive analtyics engine.

“For several years, we were way ahead of the curve,” commented Terry. “Being the lone voice in the wilderness takes intestinal fortitude, but that’s where innovators reside. It’s all paid off, as our approach and vision is being validated nearly every day now. The U.S. Army just published a study that aligns with and validates our insights and one of the largest corporations in the United States has adopted the core premise of our methodologies.” Mr. Murray’s work was also formally commended by General David Petraeus in 2010.

Addressing the value this represents for the Private Equity sector, Terry points to the annual State of American Business report from Gallup®.

“For the twelth year running, Gallup reports employee engagement levels are endemically stuck at 3 out of 10 employees. Seventy percent of employees are asleep at the switch or even worse, working at cross-purpose with their employers. This represents a talent arbitrage opportunity within many, many firms. We’re talking about the raw material of value creation in the 21st Century; human talent. For many firms, approximately 50% of their payroll is delivering little or no return on investment. If Henry Ford had a scrap rate of 50% on his raw materials, I doubt it would have become an endemic productivity and earnings drain for more than a decade. He would have done something about it!”

Mr. Murray adds, “Our integrative approach can scientifically identify these opportunities and, more importantly, fuel rapid turnarounds in employee engagement, productivity and the resulting innovation that will flow from intelligent, organizational and leadership rehabilitation. We can cut development costs while achieving breakthrough improvements in productivity and earnings. This approach will revolutionize management practices going forward.”

© 2013, Performance Transformation, LLC™.  All Rights Reserved.

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July 9, 2013 · 10:26 am

U.S. Army Research Validates Neuroscience-Based Approach for Adaptive Leadership Development

Over the past two years, I’ve written extensively about the shortcomings of traditional approaches to leadership development.  The relatively passive approaches of traditional coaching and mainstream focus on behaviorism has left us with endemic, employee disengagement, remarkably poor ROI on developmental investments, and stoic organizational thinking struggling to adapt to the rising complexity and rate of change that defines our economic era.  We saw the disconnect more than five years ago, and set out to develop a highly innovative approach for developing the types of leaders today’s, and tomorrow’s, world demands.

A research study, conducted by the U.S. Army and Wake Forest University and recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology®, aligns seamlessly with our precepts and resulting approach.  The study, entitled, “The Psychological and Neurological Bases of Leader Self-Complexity and Effects on Adaptive Decision-Making”, set out to explore and demonstrate the neurological complexity of highly adaptive leaders immersed in novel, chaotic, rapidly changing situations.  A quick comment on the use of the term complexity here…While most people shun complexity (i.e., KISS…keep it simple, stupid), what the researchers are referring to is a complexity of neural networks that exist in the frontal lobe and pre-frontal cortex of leaders.  In this regard, complexity is a good thing.  A richer, more connected neural network enables novel adaptability to emerge.  Of note, this is a fundamental objective of our approach to leadership development; to spur the neurogenesis of new neural pathways through the introduction of novel, stretch, scientific concepts delivered with a focus on real-world, stretch, experiential learning within the context of a specific, business objective.

The study’s authors define leader adaptability as “the capacity of leaders to adjust their thoughts and behaviors to enact appropriate responses to novel, ill-defined, changing, and evolving decision-making situations”.  They go on to state, “Greater levels of complexity promote the leaders’ ability to both differentiate the various sources of inputs and stimuli in the environment and to integrate those inputs with existing cognitive and affective structures to enable adaptive responses.”  (Thus the name of our approach…Affective Leadership Development…it’s not a typo on Effective).

The study established a baseline measurement related to neurological markers for leader neural complexity.  As a practical step (we don’t run a fMRI to view brain activity) we employ research conducted (and published in 2013) by the Corporate Executive Board identifying the top ten shared competencies of today’s high performers.  These are business professionals that are performing at distinct levels above their peers in today’s volatile, ambiguous, rapidly changing environment.  Through our own R&D, we also discovered an antecedent, causal relationship between the Six Dimensions of Emotional Style, based upon the research of Affective Neuroscientist Richard Davidson, Ph.D., and these top ten competencies shared by today’s best and brightest.  These Dimensions of Emotional Style are assessable, and just as importantly, fluid; meaning we can, thanks to the plasticity of the brain, alter where an individual resides along this continuum.  Our proprietary, developmental approach is designed to do just that by cultivating neural complexity.  The study supports this approach, stating, “We propose greater levels of complexity enhance a leader’s ability to comprehend and react adaptively to dynamic decision-making situations.”

Our initial approach to leadership development, Transformational Leadership Development, which we first released in 2010, was highly focused on cultivating competencies in Emotional Intelligence (Self-Awareness, Social Awareness, Self-Regualtion and Relationship Management skills).  As we evolved and learned more through our practice, we adapted to incorporate the rapidly emerging research from Affective Neuroscience.  Authentic awareness is still a core fundamental of the approach.  In fact, the study goes on to reveal, “From this heightened state of awareness, leaders then employ existing knowledge to choose new actions and strategies that will reestablish fit and effectiveness in the changed context.”

As I stated earlier, we’re obviously not employing brain scans to measure our effectiveness.  What we are doing, however, is incorporating a machine learning platform (Talent Sprocket™) and advanced algorithms  capable of identifying subtle correlations between seemingly disparate data sets of identifiable leadership competencies, business performance objectives, and affective neuroscience-based assessments.  This multi-dimensional approach enables predictive analytics to calculate over time, resulting in a revolutionary set of tools to emerge that we refer to as Human Analytics™ (Google and Apple are moving down a similar path to reinvent HR in the 21st Century).  This approach also enables concise ROI to be calculated on every leadership development investment in clear terms of business performance impact.

The conclusions of the research study are clear.  The authors close with, “Overall, our research represents a multidisciplinary and multi-method approach to the conceptualization and assessment of Leadership Self-Complexity, thus entailing a fusion of the leadership and neuroscience fields.  We envision the possibility of such neuroscience research to revolutionize approaches to the assessment and development of the complexity of leaders as key factors in realizing their adaptive performance.”

This is what we’ve created, a multi-dimensional approach to developing Next Gen leaders employing the fundamentals of neuroscience research in a novel delivery system.  Did we take a huge risk, stepping out on the forefront before the final research was in, correlating these insights from the neurosciences and leadership development?  We sure did, but innovators take risks.  Now that the research is in, our risks have been validated.  In a very real way, we have demonstrated the creative thinking, adaptability and innovation companies are seeking and have developed an accelerated approach to bring leadership competencies into alignment with the 21st Century.

© 2012, Terry Murray.  All Rights Reserved.

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