Orchestrating Winning Performance - November 2020

OWP liVe REPORT Orchestrating Winning Performance November 2020

Our Purpose Challenging what is and inspiring what could be, we develop leaders who transform organizations and contribute to society. Our Mission Founded by business executives for business executives, we are an independent academic institution with Swiss roots and global reach. We strive to be the trusted learning partner of choice for ambitious individuals and organizations worldwide.


This second edition of OWP liVe was a truly global gathering involving 419 participants (including 109 IMD alumni) joining from 34 countries. The program offered 77 sessions featuring a range of opportunities to interact with faculty, guest speakers and one another. We are impressed and grateful so many of you took the decision to join us for these three days. In a very challenging world, you made the time to come together at OWP liVe to explore fresh ideas and seek inspiration to help you and your organizations thrive. We hope you did find some inspiration and guidance for your efforts. Following the program you had an opportunity for a few days to attend or attend again sessions you may have missed during the liVe program. But from now on, the onus is on you to ensure that you keep neurons firing often enough for them to wire together and help you keep

your insights and intentions very much alive. We hope that this OWP booklet, which contains summaries of several great sessions, will help you to do so. As we were preparing it, we were also remembering some of the key insights from our keynote speakers. Manchester First, there can be no success without incredibly hard work! Second, the secret of great coaches and leaders is that they are great simplifiers: They get to the heart of the challenges at hand and propose a simple-yet-powerful approach to overcoming them. Third, if you want to stay on top you have to keep learning and improving! Lifelong learning is just as essential in sports as in any other pursuit. Dr. Mostafa Terrab, Executive Chairman and CEO of Morocco’s OCP Group, explained how OCP transformed United legend, Peter Schmeichel, highlighted three key messages:

from a loss-making organization to a vibrant group doing well financially and contributing to a more productive and sustainable agricultural ecosystem. OCP moved upstream to higher value- adding activities through successive S-curves; it liberated the energies of its workforce by launching an extraordinary movement of empowerment, and it developed a truly multi-stakeholder perspective. Last and proverbially not least, neuroscientist Tania Singer shared with us exciting research results showing quite convincingly that human beings can develop their cognitive and emotional capabilities through relatively simple “brain training”. Twenty minutes a day over a few weeks produces changes that can be measured in our brains! Tania’s research very much echoes IMD’s perspective that it is possible to marry

compassionate and high-performance leadership – we call it “care to dare”. We hope that you will make some time to read the summaries that follow, and that they will help you to continue to challenge what is and inspire what could be in yourself and in your organization(s). Thank you for your participation in OWP liVe. We hope that our paths will cross again soon and, in the meantime, we wish you continued success.

Professor Jean-François Manzoni IMD President and Nestlé Chaired Professor

Professor Tawfik Jelassi Professor of Strategy and Technology Management













L E A D E R S H I P Choose your goal wisely and work harder than everyone else, says Peter Schmeichel

The former Manchester United goalkeeper, writing a book about getting and staying on top, says, 'You are never a finished product.’ Posed in front of a giant picture of himself clutching a winning trophy, Peter Schmeichel could hardly have picked a better location to kick off IMD’s OWP liVe. The much-decorated former Manchester United and Denmark goalkeeper’s action- packed past offered a valuable mix of advice and anecdote to inspire the virtual program’s more than 400 participants. Drive, ambition and what he called ‘self- efficacy’ were his primary themes in a message underlining the importance of having clear goals that are ambitious, but not completely unrealistic. Recalling a realization at the age of just nine that he wanted to be a footballer, he advised: “Find out what you want to do. Once you’ve decided, you have to decide what you want to achieve with that. Then, most important of all, you have to ask:

What are you prepared to invest in getting there?”

Keep it simple as a leader

If searing drive and ambition were primary ingredients, inspired guidance came next. Even the brightest and best need counselling, whether from a coach, trainer or corporate mentor. Schmeichel identified eight during his sporting life, culminating in Sir Alex Ferguson, the hard-driving Manchester Utd boss. “I have always had a Sir Alex Ferguson. Someone older, more experienced, nearly expert at the level I was at, who could push me to the next level.” No matter how talented the individual, such outside vision is essential, he observed.

While talent was the key enabler, self- discipline and hard work were crucial corollaries. “I believe you have to take control of yourself and your setting. You cannot expect anyone to do anything for you.” No matter how gifted a person is in sport or in business, no one can reach the top, and stay there, without immense effort.

PETER SCHMEICHEL Former Manchester United goalkeeper

“I never missed training. I always worked excruciatingly hard,” he recalled.

Moderating the session, IMD President Jean-François Manzoni agreed.

“I never missed training. I always worked excruciatingly hard.”

“It’s not fashionable,” he said. “It’s so much easier for managers to think, ‘Hey, I’m really smart and I fell in the magic potion when I was a kid.’ But in reality, being a leader, just like being a great goalkeeper or a great coach, requires lifelong learning, lifelong work and lifelong reflectiveness.”

Keeping things simple was Schmeichel’s third recommendation. Great leaders are great simplifiers: They get to the heart


of the issues and can articulate things simply. They can also create an integrated approach. Their ideas are integrated into practices, so we practice the key techniques and ideas again and again, allowing them to emerge “naturally” during the game. For any leader, an integrated approach meant walking the talk, aligning the structure, the processes and the rewards, Whether a trainer of a team, a captain with colleagues, or a chief executive with a team of fellow leaders, success depends on trust. At the highest levels of sport, or corporate life, weakness, uncertainty or excessive self-doubt would be ruthlessly exposed – and potentially fatal given the danger of losing focus. As a goalkeeper, one was viciously exposed. Successfully defending penalties required intense self-belief. “I would think I was invincible, the best in the world. The person kicking the ball was just wasting his time.” But ego, of course, could also prove destructive if not channelled and put to a common effort with shared goals. “The best teams I played in, they had captains everywhere. On the pitch, all need to step up.” This ‘owner mentality’, in the words of moderator Manzoni, is also a key attribute in business. and making sure all the signals sent reinforced the simple-yet-powerful underlying message.

“There’s eleven of us and, of course, a coach but each of us is somehow in charge and shows up,” Manzoni said.

No progress without mistakes and learning

Despite the self-confidence required on the field, Schmeichel recognised the importance of learning. Dwelling on problems during an intense 90-minute soccer game was definitely inadvisable, he said. After the game, however, he emphasised the need to reflect on what one had done well and less well. Regarding aspects done less well, one must then identify other possible ways to do them and practice hard to improve. “If you’ve made a mistake, you need to move on immediately. If you start to dwell on it and feel sorry for yourself, the next mistake will happen.” The trick is to endeavour to rectify matters after the heat of battle, whether by practice or other means. “I don’t think you can progress at all without making mistakes. I don’t see adversity as a negative, but as an opportunity to develop, as a positive”, he said. Those words are a lesson for life. “If you want to stay on top, you have to keep up. Lifelong learning is just as relevant in sport as in any other pursuit. It is a must,” Schmeichel concluded.


Agility is the must-have skill for leaders in times of disruption


Leaders who augment their traditional skills with new world competencies will be key assets for both their teams and their organizations in a fast-changing market. As the terrain in which businesses operate continues to shift, leadership is constantly challenged. An increased pace of change brought about by a combination of digital innovation, unpredictable disruptors and indeed, unexpected pandemics blowing existing plans out of the water, has meant that the role of leadership has never been more demanding. These are all challenges of the digital age, according to Jennifer Jordan, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior. "In the digital age, leaders are having to look to others, or to the network for expertise while traditionally they would have been the expert voice in the room. We’re finding that ‘in the new world’, it’s about empowering others rather than holding power, and being adept with data rather than using gut instinct to make decisions,” said Jordan.

But Jordan’s research found that leaders should not throw away the traditional competencies in favor of the new world competencies; leaders must retain their pre-digital leadership skills while balancing new world competencies with them. Agility is the ability to move between modalities on a wheel of skills according to circumstances: A defining feature of successful leadership in the digital age.

How has leadership changed?

The world is moving fast; disruptors can come from anywhere; product life cycles are shortening; customer bases are changing. If organizations don’t adjust quickly, they won’t survive. In this environment we’re finding that leaders have to look to others, or to the network for expertise on digital, for example. They have to be competent in data and analytics and they have to be open to being mentored and coached by their younger colleagues.

> The Listener > The Analyst > The Accelerator

JENNIFER JORDAN IMD Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior

> The Adaptor > The Visionary > The Power Sharer > The Humble Learner > The Teller > The Intuitionist > The Perfectionist > The Constant > The Tactician > The Power Holder > The Expert

What are the ‘new world’, digital competencies the leaders must skill up with?


There are seven new world competencies that leaders must take on. They need to be humble learners and good listeners, able to defer to those who hold expertise in particular fields, such as digital. Increasingly they must share power in ecosystem leadership models and be adept analysts. They must be visionary


in the way they approach strategy and adaptive to a changing environment. As COVID has shown us, leaders must also be accelerators in the midst of disruption.

Self-awareness is the first step, but really constructing behavioral tools, self tips on developing new skills is key. Power sharing can be challenging. How can one empower colleagues while ensuring accountability? Power sharing has to be accompanied by three things. The first thing is a culture of feedback where you coach your team on how they can improve in future attempts. Second, is psychological safety. If the people you are empowering don’t have psychological safety, they’re not going to feel comfortable coming back to you when they try something, hit a roadblock and need your input. Finally, is a clear frame. Power sharing is essentially freedom within a frame. You as a leader have to establish what that looks like. What is the span of influence they have? What are the constraints? So you’ll be very clear when you empower on what that frame looks like, on the questions that can be raised in times of uncertainty and the feedback that you will give on performance.

Does this mean the days of ‘command and control’ leadership are over?


Not really. Moving between traditional and new world modalities with ease has become a key skill. Our research found that leaders that were really successful were able to be agile, or ambidextrous, between new world, digital competencies and what we call the traditional world. These leaders were sometimes able to be the adapter, sometimes the constant; sometimes they were the power sharer, and sometimes were the power holder. So when we talk about agility at IMD, what we’re talking about is this agility between the traditional leadership world and the new digital leadership world.

What is the most effective way of practicing this ambidextrous leadership style?

We need to ask where we are on each of these seven tensions [see previous page]. Differentiate those factors in which you are strong and those where you struggle and tend to shy away from. Applying a mindful awareness of each of those seven tensions in the future brings new skills to the fore.



Learn to play the ‘Digital Business Transformation Piano’, one chord at a time


Follow the example of Asian pharmaceutical distributor Zuellig Pharma to re-tune your organization and build greater resilience to face potential new crises, say IMD Professor of Leadership Katharina Lange and IMD Professor of Strategy and Technology Management Tawfik Jelassi. If your organization suffered during 2020, you are not alone. Many organizations across the world have faced an onslaught of both internal and external challenges – from philharmonics to pharmaceutical companies. Asian pharmaceutical distributor Zuellig Pharma, however, made it through the pandemic on a high note thanks to its earlier strategic transformation. In their OWP liVe session, the experts shared a new, three-part case study on Zuellig Pharma’s evolution into a data-driven pharmaceutical distribution company, and were joined by John Davison, the organization’s former CEO.

From 2014-2019, Zuellig Pharma tackled its many operational, strategic and cultural challenges head-on under Davison. These dissonances included all four categories of the “Digital Transformation Piano”, among them fragmented management, a troubled ERP-software implementation and, as a result, major operational issues and mounting client dissatisfaction, on top of economic pressure from the outside environment. “Two things require particular attention – responding to competitive threats and anticipating emerging digital disruption,” said Professor Jelassi. The DBT Piano illustrates the company’s transformation in four sections: Go-to Market, Engagement, Operations and Organization. Each section is then made up of individual “keys”, which, when played together in various combinations, provide the “chords” – resulting in the rich tonality Zuellig Pharma needed to succeed.

Go-to Market

Made up of channels and offerings, this includes the route to market (retail, wholesale or e-commerce) and product or service transformation. New data analytics at Zuellig Pharma developed insights and valuable services based on the data generated from its core distribution business. The new data-driven offerings were highly valued by pharmaceutical clients, hospitals and pharmacies. As Davison put it, “We switched the lights on in a very dark space where there is little to no accurate supply chain data”. The value of these solutions has created a much greater degree of “stickiness” with Zuellig Pharma`s client ecosystem. This section includes workforce, customers and partners. With Zuellig’s expertise in high-end business-to- business logistics, operating in a finely balanced supply chain ecosystem, engaging with a larger part of the ecosystem, such as insurance companies, Engagement

KATHARINA LANGE IMD Professor of Leadership

TAWFIK JELASSI IMD Professor of Strategy and Technology Management


and more deeply, through the data-based solutions, cemented the market position of Zuellig Pharma. The company did also take on a new B-to-C focus: “We created a new division called CareConnect, which combines third party administration services for insurance companies and self-insured corporates, alongside patient care services for their millions of members. This is a relatively new departure for the company, which has historically been focused exclusively on B-to-B,” said Davison. Operational excellence and seamless business processes are the name of the game in the pharmaceutical logistics business and IT capability as support was absolutely critical for the transformation agenda. “The margins in the pharmaceutical distribution business are razor thin. You need more than operational excellence to stay ahead of the curve,” said Professor Lange. Digitization was a major step for Zuellig Pharma, which enabled relationships with clients and customers to be taken to a whole new strategic level. The high-performing ERP platform SAP HANA became the backbone of the digital transformation. “We had to change many things to get this right,” said Davison. “But fixing the IT platform was life or death for Zuellig Pharma.” Operations

As a result, Zuellig Pharma was an example of resilience that navigated the ups and downs of 2020 and remained true to its mission of making healthcare more accessible despite the toughest of challenges. “Davison understood all the key steps of Zuellig Pharma’s digital and cultural business transformation,” said Professor Jelassi. “By keeping the end goal in mind,

you too can determine which type of changes will help your organization get to where it wants to be.”


Organizational structure, incentives and culture are perhaps the most vital part of ensuring a complete organizational transformation. “We had big gaps in our functional line-up,” observed Davison. “Our top 50 managers had very different perspectives on what was going wrong with the company and how we could fix it.” Davison also identified systematically the key tasks that managers were gifted at addressing. Carefully, he shifted their roles and responsibilities and reset their careers in Zuellig Pharma. “If you want to develop your people, empower and encourage them to use the freedom within their frame, and ensure they have the capabilities to perform,” said Professor Lange. “Win people’s hearts to penetrate their minds,” said Davison. “For us, this was the goal of making healthcare more accessible for everyone and bringing top drugs to countries in Southeast Asia that were in need. This mission spoke to head and heart.” By following the DBT Piano framework with its fingers on nearly all the keys, Zuellig Pharma was in excellent shape by 2019: It boasted 15% compounded annual profit growth from 2014-2019. When the pandemic hit earlier this year, it proved resilient and well-prepared.



Business is political: Here’s what it means for you


CEOs have to be ready to weigh in on divisive political, social and economic issues in a way that is consistent with their own values while meeting the expectations of key stakeholders. CEO activism is on the rise. Whether it’s climate change, Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights or gender equality, we’re seeing a growing trend of CEOs speaking out on political and social issues. Today, CEOs are expected to be politicians and diplomats. The emergence of the “Political CEO” raises all sorts of questions. What is the role of business in solving social problems? Should CEOs use their influence to drive societal change? Are CEOs hijacking political issues merely "The expectations of employees and customers are changing, particularly among millennials who expect organizations to take societal stances."

for business goals? Which issues should CEOs speak out on? Is this momentary or part of a broader trend? Political economy expert Professor David Bach sheds light on these questions. CEO political activism is a business leader’s personal and deliberately public expression of a stance on some matter of current social or political debate, directed at the public at large. CEO activism is not about core business or operational performance, such as the CEO of an oil company taking a position on climate change, and is different from corporate social responsibility or nonmarket strategy. What is CEO political activism?

Externally, we are facing major societal challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and race relations. Yet, growing political polarization and gridlock have rendered governments ineffective in many areas, focusing attention on the role business can play instead. And, of course, the instantaneity of social media makes it particularly easy for people to apply pressure on business and for CEOs to respond. At a business level, we’ve seen a shift in the last few years to values-based branding that raises expectations for CEOs to speak out, as well as growing stakeholder orientation from just shareholders to communities at large. “The expectations of employees and customers are changing, particularly among millennials who expect organizations to take societal stances,” said Professor Bach. “This is leading CEOs to weigh in on disputed issues to affirm company values and influence debate on critical

DAVID BACH IMD Professor of Strategy and Political Economy

Why is CEO activism on the rise?

Both changes in the external environment and within business are behind the rise of CEO activism.


current issues that matter to their stakeholders.”

commitment for a cause. “Activism is more of a signalling tool. It helps shore up loyalty among employees and customers, might persuade a few people on the margins, and possibly alienate others. Companies need to be mindful of the risks such as backlash, boycotts and cynicism,” said Bach. “The best protection from risk is to be authentic and spontaneous. Mean what you say and be quick to respond to emerging issues,” added Bach. Paradoxically, spontaneity when it comes to political activism requires careful preparation, alignment, and capacity building. Bach provided participants with a checklist to guide their efforts. > Accept that business is political. > Deeply understand your employees’ expectations. > Know what matters to your customers. > Let company values be your guide. > Be clear about your values, both internally and externally. > Begin the conversation internally, first with your leadership team, then across the organization. > Make sure the board supports you. > Make a plan to be ready when the spotlight is on you. What does this mean for you?

Which issues should CEOs express an opinion on?


CEO political activism is a divisive issue in itself. Many companies spend time discussing whether their CEO should speak out on hotly debated current issues. And if so, which ones? Surveys in the US suggest employment-related issues - such as equal pay in the workplace and sexual harassment - are safest, while social issues - such as abortion and gun control - are seen as more controversial. As an emerging trend, not much research exists assessing the impact of CEO activism. The limited research so far shows CEOs can influence public opinion but no more so than other prominent leaders. Studies do show there is a positive effect on intent to purchase, but it is strongest among those who previously shared the same belief. On the flipside, CEO activism risks alienating consumers who disagree with the CEO’s public stance and is frequently seen as a cynical way for CEOs to get attention in the media rather than real Is CEO activism good for business?



Lessons to be learned from top teams’ reactions to the COVID-19 crisis


Participants aligned with research by IMD’s Professor of Global Leadership

traditional considerations, such as operations or budgeting, remain

The need to communicate clearly and honestly – including recognition of ignorance in the face of an unpredictable virus – has become all the more important as many countries have faced a second wave of the pandemic in recent months, Anand observed. Defining crises as having three phases – emergency, regression and recovery – he noted the current regression phase had been unexpectedly prolonged, putting further pressure on corporate leaders to empathise. Such observations were closely echoed by the day-to-day experiences of participants. Two instant polls of viewers mirrored closely IMD’s own research on the pandemic and its impact. In a first survey about how distant participants thought the recovery phase was, nearly 80 per cent estimated it would be at least six to nine months (six months What people really think

crucial, understanding and dealing with employees’ fears and uncertainties – alongside health and safety – has rocketed up the agenda. “The emotional and psychological task of containment has become a top priority,” he said. A psychological term used to encompass a range of concepts involving motivation and morale during periods of acute uncertainty, containment includes the need to reassure employees and provide guidance. That is often accompanied by expressions of humility and empathy, as managers try to show a shared understanding of the difficulties facing many staff and admit that they do not have all the answers. “Leaders have been trying to connect with the suffering of their people,” he said. Communication is key

C OVID-19 has forced top managers to become much more visible and show far greater empathy and humility as big companies struggle to tackle a still largely undefined new foe. Recent breakthroughs in vaccines suggest the crisis may be approaching an end. But the prevailing mood among top management and staff remains one of anxiety, based on extensive research conducted by IMD’s Anand Narasimhan, Shell Professor of Global Leadership and Dean of Faculty and Research. Anand’s findings were underlined by participants from around the world at an interactive session of OWP liVe. Viewers confirmed the shift in top level priorities and gave telling examples of COVID- induced changes at their own companies. The biggest adjustment has the been the rise of what Anand described as “containment” for executives. While

ANAND NARASIMHAN IMD Professor of Global Leadership and Dean of Faculty and Research


43 per cent; nine months 34 per cent) before remission.

while corporate life had probably changed unrecognisably, the developments triggered by COVID -19 were by no means necessarily all negative. “We have learned newways to work and communicate, and some have been shown to bemore effective than what we had before”, noted a French participant. The trick after the crisis, he argued, would be to ‘mix and match’, harnessing the best of the pre and post COVID -19 forms of working life. “People need to start preparing for the return to normal working life. But they need also to recognise that tomorrow will be different from yesterday”, added another. Concluding discussions, Anand noted that the pandemic and the strains caused had revealed differences between stronger and weaker corporate leadership teams, often sharpening contrasts. For example, weaknesses in working together had tended to become more exposed and acute during the crisis. By the same token, the ability of strong management teams to think collaboratively and in an integrated way had demonstrated their worth. Likewise agility and the ability to adapt quickly, as well as show skill in anticipating as far as possible adverse developments. A key element for top teams, thought Anand, was self-awareness and fundamental honesty, including recognising one’s own fears.


“Greater personal anxiety is typical of the regression phase. The problem here is that the regression phase has been lasting too long,” noted Anand. A second poll about what challenged participants most revealed that 35 per cent identified the decline of social activity, followed by personal health and safety (16 per cent) and loss of morale and motivation (14 per cent). “The emotional and psychological task of containment has become a top priority”. The session included a breakout session, allowing random groups of participants to discuss and compare their own experiences and their companies’ policies. After breaking the ice, those involved - mainly complete strangers – compared openly their feelings and whether their employers had reacted appropriately. Personal issues, such as the challenges of working from home and the urgency of clear communications from top teams, dominated discussions. Many expressed feeling fatigued. But there were also upbeat notes. Participants observed that

How distant is the recovery phase?

Six months 43%

Six to nine months 80%

Nine months 34%


What challenged participants?

Decline of social activity 35%

Personal health and safety 16%

Loss of morale and motivation 14%


How to fight bias and improve your performance with a “whole brain” top team


Understanding how different parts of the brain shape our personalities is the first step towards diverse thinking and building more effective teams, says Professor of Leadership and Organization Ric Roi. A lack of diverse personalities stifles growth and transformation, but leaders can break the cycle by recognising and compensating for dominant traits, according to Professor Roi. Exploring research related to “brain dominance”, Roi explained that understanding how neuropsychology shapes our personal thinking patterns allows executives to address gaps in their own leadership styles and become more effective. “It takes the whole brain to make the world go around – and the whole brain to run a company,” Roi said. According to research based on the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, there is an even spread across four broad types of personality around the world, with

most of us relying more heavily on two parts of our brain.

Crucially, however, Roi observed that many top teams do not reflect this global balance. Why does this matter? Let’s say a leadership team is dominated by analytical thinkers and efficient organizers but only has one or two individuals who are gifted innovators. This might mean that a company performs well in certain environments or for a limited amount of time but, in the long run, it is likely to struggle to remain competitive because it lacks the diversity of perspectives that drives growth and transformation. "It takes the whole brain to make the world go around – and the whole brain to run a company."





RICHARD ROI IMD Professor of Leadership and Organization

Logical/analytical thinkers (upper left brain dominance)


Procedural/organizational thinkers (lower left brain dominance)


Emotional/creative thinkers (lower right brain dominance)


At the same time, a top team full of “blue sky” thinkers will struggle without the help of people who can develop the right kind of organizational processes.

Conceptual/holistic thinkers (upper right brain dominance)



Roi’s session on “Integrative Thinking” offered four key insights to help address the pitfalls of individual brain dominance and homogenous teams and to embrace the benefits of “whole brain” diversity.

1. Know your own personality

3. Work on your weaknesses

Most of us leverage certain parts of the brain for thinking while ignoring others, depending on our personal cognitive profile. This could mean, for example, we are comfortable analyzing a problem or organizing a multi- team project but find it difficult to come up with new ideas. Roi explained that taking the time to reflect and define our dominant thinking style was the first step towards understanding how to create balance and integration for ourselves and our organizations.

Teaching your brain to use its lesser-used parts can, with time and practice, enable you to open up “dormant” personality traits. This doesn’t mean transforming into a “whole brain” leader overnight but understanding what would be most beneficial to try to change, Roi said. “There are things that you are good at, there are things you need to be good enough at and there are things you may never be good at,” he said. “It’s a question of deciding which one is important to develop and to apply your practice and discipline to in order to grow that new aspect of your thinking skillset.”

2. Be aware of your bias

4. Actively compensate for what is missing

While we cannot completely change who we are, understanding our dominant traits provides important information for leaders and teams. It allows us to see what unconscious biases we might have and why there might be gaps or problems in our performance. “For example, we tend to hire people in our image, people that think like we do. It’s simply more comfortable,” Roi said. “Unless we are aware of our biases, we tend to hire people with similar profiles and miss out on the benefits of bringing in fresh and diverse ways of thinking.”

The final step is to use this information to address any imbalances. If you are highly creative and conceptual, for example, this could mean hiring the appropriate talent that can support the day-to-day organization of your operations. It also means taking a look at the composition of your top management team and taking action to add what is missing or reduce what is dominant. “The research on top teams has demonstrated this kind of thinking diversity in the team leads to higher performance and agility,” Roi said.


‘We are never going back to the way the world of work was’


Professor of Organizational Behaviour Robert Hooijberg and Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change Michael Watkins explore the potential future balance between work in the physical and online domains. At the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak workplaces were forced into the virtual realm overnight. Executives have been pushed to adapt quickly to the virtual world of work, but as hopes for a coronavirus vaccine grow, attention is now turning to the future of work and leadership development in a post-COVID world. In their OWP liVe session, Hooijberg and Watkins explored what aspects of work are effective in the virtual environment, and what elements of work are less productive online. The findings of their research were confirmed by the results of a survey of participants’ experience. Unsurprisingly, the poll showed that more than three quarters of respondents are working more than 60% of the time virtually today.

going to look like. Hooijberg and Watkins explored what work can be done well virtually and what tasks do not work so well online. They hypothesized, and the survey results reinforced, that the more routine tasks – reporting, administration and making simple decisions — as well as one- on-one meetings, knowledge sharing, document drafting and financial analysis - were relatively well suited to the virtual modality. These likely will continue to be done virtually post-COVID. But participants also confirmed that important tasks cannot be done very productively while working virtually, especially complex tasks involving collaboration, innovation, dedication and acculturation. For example, efforts to achieve breakthrough innovation, solve complex problems, build cultures, foster deep connections and manage conflict still are much better done in- person, given the current state of virtual technologies.

Works virtually + 60%

ROBERT HOOIJBERG IMD Professor of Organizational Behaviour

However, looking ahead, participants expect to split their hours between being online and being in the office roughly evenly, 50/50. Watkins said: However, looking ahead, participants expect to split their hours between being online and being in the office roughly evenly, 50/50. Watkins said: “We are never going back to the way the world was. COVID has, like many things, drastically accelerated trends and transformations that were already under way.”

MICHAEL WATKINS IMD Professor of Leadership and Organizational Change

But there is still a great deal of uncertainty over what the post-COVID world of work is


As Hooijberg said: “If the current limitations continue, there is the potential that cultures in companies will break down because we don’t have true joint experiences. Think about the individual joining an organization having never met their team in person. How do you build a common culture like that?” The key to achieving impact in the F2F in-person work environment is to spark purposeful focus, interpersonal bonding, deep learning, unencumbered experimentation and structured serendipity. “A lot of great conversations happen over informal chats at the coffee machine. A lot of great ideas are generated out of the formal business setting,” said Hooijberg. collaboration and acculturation. The key to acculturation would be to conduct a cultural assessment exploring the values and leadership principles and practices. Companies can use the assessments to create a shared culture, while the teams can explore approaches that take the best of both cultures and mitigate the weakest parts. To spark collaboration, leaders would need to select a location, facility and resources that promote focus and Say, for example, you are trying to integrate an acquisition into your company, which requires both

reflection, then take teams through experiences that encourage connection and build trust, and that promote the understanding of each other’s views and businesses. "If the current limitations continue, there is the potential that cultures in companies will break down because we don’t have true joint experiences. Think about the individual joining an organization having never met their team in person. How do you build a common culture like that?" said Hooijberg. Creating mixed groups of people from both organizations would help to explore new ways of working and organizing, as well as building relationships. This would generate ideas that no one could have predicted, thereby spurring structured serendipity.

Executives can use this example as a framework for leveraging the power of online work environments. In summary, in order to optimally use F2F in-person engagements:


Decide on what business issue you want to address.


Select the dimensions of impact that matter most for that business line, whether innovation, collaboration, acculturation and dedication.


Create the immersion design drivers, or a plan for sparking purposeful focus, interpersonal bonding, deep learning, unencumbered experimentation and structured serendipity.


The intervention is then ready to be implemented.


The arts of influence and persuasion and why they matter


Steering your team to give their best relies on your informal authority.

While formal authority is granted on the basis of a person’s position in the organizational hierarchy, informal authority is earned the hard way, by leaders with proven skills and tried-and- tested leadership qualities. Unless you model it, you cannot hold it. While crucial to the arts of influence and persuasion, trust and respect alone will not achieve successful negotiations. For that, you need to create a persuasion journey. With a clearly defined agenda, a mapped network and a coherent strategy that incrementally build towards your goal, leaders can successfully exert positive persuasion. However, the outcome must be clear and authentic to be credible. “This is not about a Machiavellian manipulation process. Influence and persuasion are earned through sharing values, gaining trust and winning respect, and high-performance teams cannot function without those values,” said Francisco Szekely, Adjunct Professor Global Leadership and Sustainability, IMD.

Influence & Persuasion

In times of uncertainty and disruption, high performance teams need to believe in their leaders. A leader that is able to exert positive influence and persuasion can motivate a team through manifold external challenges. However, their ability to influence and persuade relies less on the position they hold and more on the way they carry it.

Sharing values

FRANCISCO SZEKELY IMD Adjunct Professor Global Leadership and Sustainability


Gaining trust


Winning respect


How to create your persuasion strategy

Decide on timing

Determine purpose

Timing is everything, so ask when your strategic intentions will be most effectively heard. Use process control to create the rules of engagement around the topic, and sequencing skills to decide the order in which you will convince your network. Taking an incremental approach to persuasion breaks it down into a manageable series of tasks. Finally, action-forcing events play an important role in persuasion. Deadlines and windows of opportunity need to be leveraged.

What is the purpose of your influence or persuasion strategy? Once you have a defined purpose you can create rational arguments around it. Be clear about your own motives in the strategy and be authentic.

Design a network

Who needs to be influenced and persuaded and who is a key decision maker? Create a map of the network of influencers you have – your allies, supporters, adversaries and opponents – and spend time considering the best approach to take with each. Ask how you can find common ground with the four categories. Perhaps there is an overlap in their interests that you can leverage in favor of your goal. The important factor here is to spend the most time with your allies and supporters, as they will do much of the convincing for you using their own relationships and networks of influence. Use framing techniques to present your point of view in language that appeals to your organization and teams. By offering it as an objective opinion or as something of particular benefit to the audience, you are likely to gain more responsiveness. Use speech that appeals to both hearts and minds and your social influence to effectively drive your campaign. “You need to present the facts and also something that will touch people’s feelings to inspire the belief that this is really good for the organization. The most important aspect is to be yourself, be clear about your intended outcomes and your own motives,” said Szekely. Create a persuasion strategy

Choose tactics

Make appropriate choices around the tactics you will deploy to create consensus around your goal. It is human nature to reciprocate liking, care and respect, for example. Therefore, use your soft skills to appeal to your colleagues’ emotional trust and your hard skills – expertise, commitment and consistency – to create rational trust in your point of view. Finally, be aware that social proof is a useful tactic to deploy with the undecided fence-sitter, and also that scarcity is a great motivator for many of us. Therefore, framing the benefit of a decision as being time- bound can help to further your strategy.


Words matter - beware of bias in language


What leaders say and how they say it shapes people's understanding and influences outcomes. Yet many leaders are unaware of how language biases outcomes and need to be more attentive to the words they choose. The language we use influences the way we think. Words shape behavior, cultural norms, ways of thinking and acting but leaders’ inattention to the way words can influence, can lead to framing bias of which they might not even be aware. In an interactive and engaging session, Adjunct Professor Heather Cairns-Lee helped leaders think through how they can recognize and shift language bias. Bias is implicit associations or attitudes, shortcuts that can have profound implications. Bias can be conscious, whereby people are aware of their likes and dislikes. But much of the time, bias is unconscious, meaning people are unaware of their internal associations and What is bias?

judgements and the danger is that these associations influence decision-making.

in-group bias (favoring people in your group) combine to create a comfort zone bias which is dangerous for leadership. However, the bias that creates the biggest challenge to decision-making is framing. Participants did not expect framing to be a such major challenge to leadership and were keen to know more about it. Framing influences the way information is presented and it happens through language. Words create meaning and shape the way we think. Language illustrates what is valued and what is not. Research shows that changing the way people talk changes the way they think. Therefore, leaders need to be aware of how they frame issues in ways that are clear and unbiased.

Cairns-Lee introduced the acronym BIAS to help participants remember how bias operates: Blind-spots, Interpretations, Associations and Shortcuts. In a rapidly changing world, where we are continuously bombarded with new information, we seek patterns and associations to make sense of the world around us. Our biases act as a shortcut to help us make quick decisions.


Where does bias come from?

Bias is both innate and learned. Research shows bias starts as early as preschool and by the age of eight, children have already developed strong implicit biases. Nurture therefore plays a critical role in how we see the world.

What can leaders do about bias?

The first step is noticing bias, which is key to recognizing and shifting it.

What biases present the biggest challenge to leadership?

As bias operates largely out of conscious awareness attention to noticing the words we use provides a specific action that

The confirmation bias (looking for ways to justify your existing beliefs) and the


Attention to our words helps us recognise our frames and biases. What kind of language should leaders be attentive to?

leaders can take to address bias. “Unless leaders notice their thoughts and words, there is little they can do to shift their bias,” Cairns-Lee said. She offered the ‘Be WARE’ model to equip participants with a useful mnemonic to help them recognise and minimize language bias.

Leading questions


Are you asking a question of genuine inquiry and curiosity or are you seeking confirmation of your existing beliefs? Beware if it is the latter, this reinforces the confirmation bias.

Be WARE of your words and how they frame

B reathe: Slow down to notice bias


Categorical language

W ords: What words are used?

Are you inadvertently stereotyping people and groups through using categories? Beware if so as this can, unintentionally, maintain bias.

A ssociations: What associations do the words have?

R eframe: What alternatives are there?

E valuation: What difference does this make?



As powerful framing devices, metaphors stimulate implicit associations. Beware of the associations inherent in your choice of metaphors and the bias for action these can trigger. Cairns-Lee is an expert on how leaders make meaning through metaphor. “People who are in power get to impose their metaphors,” she said.

While participants thought it would be easier to apply this tool in writing than in speech, they noted that slowing down and being attentive to words made a big difference in how they are understood.



Four steps to catalyze the change you want, but haven’t made


The reason we don’t make the shifts that we genuinely crave as individuals, is because they conflict with another goal, says John Weeks, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD As human beings, we crave change – whether a change of career, clothing or food — otherwise we become bored. But we prefer change when we have some control over it. And we often resist change because we feel it’s bad for us individually. Or, even if it is beneficial, we resist change because we lack the resources or confidence in ourselves to pull it off. More often, though, the reason we don’t make the changes that we commit ourselves to making – shifts that we genuinely crave as individuals – is because they conflict with another goal. “We have to find these hidden commitments that are dictating our behavior and preventing us from making that change. We have to surface them, challenge them and remove their power. This is how we tackle immunity to

change,” says John Weeks, Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior at IMD. A readiness for change and self-efficacy, as well as behavioral strategies and less self-blame and wishful thinking can help us stay the course and achieve the change we want to make, but haven’t. In this OWP session, Weeks outlined a four-step management framework for doing that.

what they are currently doing instead of empowering people – a common goal among attendees. Many of the executives were not delegating mission-critical tasks to staff. Even when they do, they were micro-managing the employee.

“But these behaviors are working against your goal to make a change,” says Weeks.

Outline competing commitments

JOHN WEEKS IMD Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior

Next, the professor told participants to consider, why they are so resistant to change. What is the worst thing that could happen if they did make the shift? “The barrier to change is often a commitment to prevent a fear from coming true, or a loss,” he says. In the example of employee empowerment, participants said there tends to be a fear of being judged by the employee’s poor results, or a fear of not being in control. Or that the worker will do the tasks better than the leader could, potentially making the manager redundant.

Unearth your commitment to change

The first step is to identify what you as a leader are committed to changing. One webinar participant said they wanted to empower their employees, for example. After all, delegation would free up the leader’s time to focus on higher value strategic tasks.

Identify what you are doing instead

Then, Weeks asked participants to identify

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