Low unemployment rates have led to a highly competitive talent market. The Conference Board predicts talent shortages in key sectors over the next 15 years and in a recent survey identified that “…attracting and retaining talent ranks as the foremost concern not only among CEOs but also the rest of the C-Suite, including CHROs and CFOs.”
Organizations are coming to understand that career development is a powerful strategy for retaining top talent. They also recognize that recruiting is easier and more effective when they have a reputation for developing talent. And—for better or worse— given the visibility that social media facilitates, candidates are making choices based upon an organization’s reputation for staff growth and development.
“Career development is a powerful strategy for retaining top talent.” -Julie Winkle Giulioni
I first read Leadership From the Inside Out years ago. It is one of the books that helps build a foundation of knowledge for leaders. That’s why I was excited to see that it is now out in a new version with updated chapters, new case studies and stories, and even more practical exercises to help everyone achieve their leadership potential.
Author Kevin Cashman is the Global Leader of CEO & Executive Development at Korn Ferry. He has advised thousands of senior leaders across almost every industry.
We recently talked about his updated book and his leadership views.
“While spreadsheets are the language of management information, stories are the language of leadership inspiration.” -Kevin Cashman
You’re just out with a new version of Leadership From the Inside Out, a classic must-read in leadership circles. What prompted you to update it, and what’s new?
Well, thank you for endorsing it as a “must-read.” It has been humbling and fulfilling to witness the success of each edition. Twenty years ago, when the first edition came out, it was one of the first books to deeply connect personal growth to leadership effectiveness using timeless, enduring principles of human development. We had been seeing how this “grow the whole person to grow the whole leader” approach resonated in our practice with CEOs, CEO successors and executives, but at that time, there was little or no research on these principles—authenticity, self-awareness, courage, character, purpose—and their impact on results. We did the second edition in 2008 to share new stories and case studies, but also to share some of the mounting research from independent sources that was catching up with what we were seeing in the trenches. For this third edition, we felt compelled to share more abundant recent research, including a study that directly connects top leader self-awareness with organizational financial performance, a study on the results of purpose-driven leadership’s significant impact on financial growth, and more. The book is still framed in areas of mastery, but we’ve added Story Mastery and Coaching Mastery, both taking leaders to deeper levels of awareness to enhance their influence and multiply it. We updated stories and case studies and added and revised exercises and practices to sharpen relevance. This third edition is an even deeper, integrative growth experience.
“The Character-driven leader tends to emphasize service over self.” -Kevin Cashman
I’m a passionate believer in character, and your book was early to focus on this aspect of leadership. Would you comment on the centrality of character?
Leading in Character is foundational, or to use your word, “central” to Personal Mastery, which is the ongoing growth of authenticity, courage, and influence that has enduring value. It is at the heart of transformative impact and servant leadership. Both Character and Coping are present in most leadership situations. However, we need to ask ourselves, “Which one is my master, and which one is my servant?” When we are self-aware and make Character the master of our leadership and Coping the servant, we move toward better relationships with team members, customers, employees, all our stakeholders and the greater marketplace. And, we create more sustainable value. As leaders, it is essential to learn how to build our awareness of when we are being guided by Character and when we are being pushed by Coping. One CEO we worked with in our Chief Executive Institute told us that learning how to pause to make sure that values are on the table and that she and her team were leading with character has really stayed with her and been significant. She developed a systematic process of asking her team for their expert opinions, probing them to explain how they came to that opinion and whatever concerns they had. She explained that when a problem or a crisis comes along “stepping through it is grounding and everyone has the same fact base. It encourages synthesis and congruence with values.” That’s leading with Character and Authenticity.
“Purpose elevates teams to move from short-term success to long-term significance.” -Kevin Cashman
For those not yet familiar with your work, what’s the network imperative?
The network imperative is recognizing that today’s most valuable companies are virtual networks that rely on digital platforms. This leading edge, new business model is emerging in every industry: Amazon and Alibaba in the retail industry, Match.com and Tinder in dating, Facebook and Instagram in Social Media, LinkedIn in professional resumes, Airbnb and Homeaway in room rentals, Uber and Lyft in shared car services, as well as the NYSE and NASDAQ in the financial sector.
What did your research show in terms of the financial results of “network orchestrators” versus the other 3 business models?
These business models – which we call Network Orchestrators – are more about orchestrating resources, be it insights, relationships, cars, homes, and skills rather than owning them. In addition, they scale based on the a flywheel effect , e.g. the more people, services and interactions there are on the network, the more others will join and make available their assets – whether that’s friends, photos, resumes, cars or homes.
Our research indicates that all organizations have dormant, virtual networks of either employees, customers, prospects, suppliers, investors or alumni that, when combined with a digital platform and a clear incentive system to share what they have, what they know and who they know with others, can apply network orchestration to their business model. To help incumbents transition from firm centered (where they focus on what they make, market and sell) to network centric (where they orchestrate what others have and create peer-to-peer connections), we created a 5 step process called PIVOT. The 5 steps are:
Pinpoint your current business model (e.g. which of the 4 business models are you? Asset builder, service provider, technology creator or network orchestrator?)
Inventory all your assets both tangible (e.g. plant, property and equipment as well as money) and intangible (brand, intellectual capital and relationships as well as interactions and big data).
Visualize your future digital platform that connects your network of people or things.
Operate your new digital network and virtual platform alongside your existing business and protect it while it grows, experimenting along the way to find the sweet spot that insures its success.
Track using new big data metrics such as engagement, sentiment or interaction along with traditional financial measures to see how your network is doing and the value it creates.
“Show me your budget and I’ll tell you what you value.” –Joe Biden
Every day, you are performing. You step onto stage whether you are in the lead role or whether you are supporting others. Before the curtain goes up on today’s performance, study these 5 performance fundamentals so that you can perform at your peak.
You talk about growing instead of knowing. What’s the difference? And why is that important?
We live in a culture where knowing — having all the data, getting the right answer, knowing how to do things as a precondition for doing them — reigns supreme. I call this the “Knowing Paradigm,” and it’s commonly accepted as crucial to success in school, at work, and for life in general. And in moderation, there’s nothing wrong with knowing — it’s critically important when you want to cross the street in traffic, calculate a tip, perform brain surgery, etc.
But to the extent that the Knowing Paradigm crowds out everything else we can do — the growing and developing that comes not from knowing an answer or being right, but from the interplay of our creativity, emotions, perceptions, relationships, and environments — we’re missing out.
This wasn’t a problem when we were little kids (a time of enormous growth and transformation), when we were free to experiment, play, pretend, imagine, and perform. That kind of learning — sometimes called “developmental learning” — is how we learned to walk, talk, ride a bike and about a million other things that weren’t based in facts and we never studied for. And we got a ton of support from the adults in our lives to experiment, explore, and grow in this way.
But it doesn’t last. For most of us there comes a point when we go from being praised for trying something new (even when we didn’t get it right) to being told we didn’t get it right (even though we were trying something new). Now it’s time to color inside the lines, stop playing around and get serious.
And by the time we get into the job market, the support we got to learn developmentally as children is long gone. As an adult, it can be embarrassing to not know. There are repercussions if we don’t get it right. We feel stupid, and we make others feel stupid if they don’t “have it together.”
“All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.” –Sean O’Casey
That’s one of the downsides of the Knowing Paradigm, and I think we need to challenge it. Being “smart” in this way is making us not so smart in other ways. We get stuck in our roles and our “scripts.” We narrow our interests and forget how to see and act in new ways.
Fortunately, we can start growing again — by reintroducing play, pretending, performing and improvising into our work and lives. We’re not just limited to what we already know and who we already are. We can be who we are and who we’re not…yet. We can be who we’re becoming. This is called the Becoming Principle, and it underlies everything we do and teach.
“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” –John Wooden
We shun the unknown and the ambiguous, but you say that embracing it is often the best path toward growth. Why is that, and what can help us to embrace it?
Oh, yes. Don’t we all wish we could know how things are going to turn out! Should I take this job? Get married? Come out? Move to another city? Have a kid? If only I knew for sure!
But we can’t know it all, and embracing the unknown and the ambiguous is a way to get in tune with that basic fact of life. As I’ve said, data and information are important, but they’re not all there is. For many of life’s opportunities, instead of “look before you leap,” I think you should “leap before you look.” Perform that new job, that move to a new city, that new relationship — and in the process live life, learn, grow, stretch, and go places and do things that can enrich you. And that goes for things that ultimately fail, as well as succeed.
Improvisation innovator Keith Johnstone said, “Those who say ‘yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have. Those who say ‘no’ are rewarded by the safety they attain.” If you perform in a more adventurous way, you will have more adventures! If we are only who we already are — then we can’t grow. That’s why I write about the Becoming Principle, which is about being who you are and who you’re not…yet, at the same time.
“Those who say yes are rewarded by the adventures they have.” -Keith Johnstone