People & Strategy Summer 2017 Vol. 40 Issue 3 - 15
The challenge facing leaders is two-fold. First, identify
and ring-fence the existing or legacy playbook on leadership
and determine what could hold leaders back in today's world.
Second, deliberately define what leadership, management,
operational, and decision-making characteristics will be
required to win in the emerging parts of the business.
For leaders of organizations making the transition from
legacy successes to "what's next," or for those that need
to expand their legacy business, what's often missing is
a Second Playbook on leadership. In Merryck's work with
companies over the past 20 years, this has emerged globally
from 2014-2017 as one of leadership's greatest challenges.
It is new. It is a blind spot. While optimists might characterize it as an opportunity, it is one that comes with existential
urgency, giving rise to a leadership moment for human
The opportunity for HR is to bring forward the line of
sight they have on leadership gaps that very few operators
truly get to see. Human resources often sees the barriers to
innovation and adaptation created by old ways of leading,
managing, and decision-making, at least outside of the legacy
business, while business unit leaders more often have to be
coaxed out of their focus on execution.
This vantage point gives HR a "first-mover" advantage-if
they will take it. In the fairly near term, applying advanced
technologies like AI will allow organizations to see internal
barriers within their businesses that they never have before.
But this insight does not-and must not-wait for AI to
commence. Today, in organizations that are innovating well
and transforming with velocity, HR is shifting its perspective, thinking broadly about the business and combining its
insights with the strategic thinking of business unit leaders
to create a blueprint for leading, managing, and executing
against a strategy.
It is what most businesses need, yet without HR leading
the charge, most will not get to. To be clear, this gives rise
to a new role for HR. It starts with driving a Second Playbook.
What the Data Says
Chief executives and boards who have staked out a position
on a new strategy often underestimate that leadership is the
how of strategy. With intellectual alignment around a future
way of winning and with cash flows from the legacy business,
the assumption is often to step back and let the operators run
the business-leading and managing as they've proven they
know how to do. Yet, consistently, the data shows that there is
a disconnect between where a company wants to go and how
it will get there.
A recent Merryck study3 of global talent leaders and
CHROs yielded the following results:
* More than 85 percent of companies are wrestling with a
shift in their business model. These shifts include:
» Navigating the cloud
» Integrating a digital strategy
» Incorporating some elements of AI
» Building an enterprise mindset across the matrix
» Increasing the velocity of execution and strategy
* Eighty-two percent of global talent leaders believe that current leadership development is not fully linked to strategy.
* Over 50 percent of CHROs believe that the link between
strategy and leadership is not clear at levels below the
In our interviews, CHROs and global talent leaders made
one issue abundantly clear: The case for change in leading is
rarely fully understood at the most senior levels. Past successes cloud the outlook on the future. So, while most companies
are pivoting their business models, the bigger and equally
important pivot is getting an organization to adopt a new way
of leading to deliver on their future strategy.
("What do we mean when we say...")
Role in innovation
Role in talent
* Leading teams
* Being an effective team
* Setting priorities
* Accountability vs.
* Resource allocation
* Meeting effectiveness
* Time management
* People development
* Leading teams
* Being an effective team
* Capital allocation
* Success metrics for
* Innovation at the core or
on the periphery
* Talent sourcing
* Responses to failures
Wait, We Have a Playbook?
A few iconic companies have built their success on an intentional way of leading and managing. Some-GE, Siemens,
and Honeywell, for example-have overtly crystallized leadership philosophies, ways of managing, and an operational
playbook for being successful within their ecosystems. The latter
caveat is important: a company's playbook for successful
leadership is often highly adapted to its unique culture and
business model, and is rarely highly transportable.
Other companies-we would argue the majority-have
through the years simply adapted to a way of doing things.
Though informal, this becomes the way leaders are judged,
promoted, or removed, projects are funded or staffed, and
innovation does or does not happen. To be clear, this isn't
culture, though it both influences and is influenced by
culture. Very few companies have a formal, consolidated,
written document that covers leadership, management, and
operations. Yet, taken together, they form the elements of a
VOLUME 40 | ISSUE 3 | SUMMER 2017