What Leaders Can Learn from Conan and Leno

Watching the way that NBC has been handling the Conan vs Leno debacle has me thinking … why do experienced leaders continue to make poor decisions when it comes to succession? Many organizations now have systems in place that help identify emerging leaders – the rock stars of our businesses – and opportunities and challenges are funnelled in their direction. With this comes responsibility, accountability – and hopefully mentoring and support. But all this is a two way street. If we expect accountability from our rising stars, we must also expect it of ourselves. When we are thinking through succession plans – we need to consider not just who’s coming in, but what’s going out. That’s right – when a leader leaves, it marks the end of an era. She will take with her, her whole way of doing business – and the impact of this will be felt right through your business. Perhaps NBC weren’t ready to deal with this type of wholesale change – communicating the way in which this transition would be handled should have been clearer, unambiguous and ongoing. Communications around succession needs to be handled over several months, and in some cases, one to two years. After all, we all crave security. Part of this stability comes from “doing what you say”. In NBC’s case, making an offer and then rescinding it has created confusion and uncertainty. Not only will this impact the financial performance of both shows (think of the advertisers and sponsors – or in your business, your various stakeholders), it also sends a morale breaking message to all your other up-and-coming...

Understanding the Two Percenters

Last year’s Shriver Report (which I discussed here), noted the transformations that have taken place regarding women’s participation in the workforce. This is reinforced in a recent article in The Economist, which suggests that the “rich world’s quiet revolution” is written in the words, voices and actions of economically empowered women. Just a generation ago, women were largely confined to repetitive, menial jobs. They were routinely subjected to casual sexism and were expected to abandon their careers when they married and had children. Today they are running some of the organisations that once treated them as second-class citizens. However, the number of women who are actually running or leading these organizations are few and far between. Despite a resounding correlation between business performance and the number of women holding management and leadership positions, women remain substantially under-represented in such roles – with only 2% of the top jobs in the US and 5% in the UK being filled by women. Orit Gadiesh and Julie Coffman wonder if there is something more systemic to this situation and are running a survey to investigate. You can participate in this survey here – with the results being presented at this year’s World Economic Forum at the end of January 2010. Nina Nets It Out: In a time where expertise and experience is prized – where talent is scarce and will continue to be so, organizations with a pool of talented women will likely outperform their competitors. It’s time that we understand and begin to grow this vital two...