Effective Leadership Requires Change of Mindset

According to a recent McKinsey research (02/23), up to 50 percent of CEO confront failure early in their tenure and “those who succeed realize the importance of rewriting their work habits and mindsets”.

CEOs in their new role had to rewrite their mindsets?  How?  Why?

Leadership is not business as usual from one organization to the other especially if you are operating at the C-suite level and above.  What exactly throws new CEOs off that badly that up to 50% confront failure and a good chunk fail completely and leave the job or are removed by the board?

Often organizations pull a leader who has been deemed successful from one organization to another to help revive their dying organization or infuse life in losing organizations.  Shareholders and investors always want to hear the new leader’s blue print for success and there are specific things they want to hear such as where costs will be cut, strategy and for new growth opportunities.

This is not surprising then that these leaders “confront” failures because their focus at the beginning tends to be on the “wrong” and transient pillars of growth and profitability.  

Bill George, one of the founding fathers of authentic leadership told this story about Marilyn Nelson, a one-time Chair and CEO of the Carlson Companies.  When she became the CEO several years ago, she inherited a hard-nosed organization that was driven for growth but not known for concern for its employees.  According to Bill George, shortly after joining the company Marilyn Nelson experienced an “epiphany” (translate mindset change) while meeting with a group of MBA students that had been studying the company’s culture.

She asked the students for feedback on their findings and there was a big silence and no one wanted to say to the CEO, we have bad news until one braced up and said “”We hear from employees that  Carlson is a sweatshop that doesn’t care”.  The silence was deafening. 

This episode would send Ms. Nelson into creating a motivational program and when she was told that the company was not ready for such a program, she went on a woman crusade to become the company’s “role model for caring and empathy“.  Talk of confronting imminent failure early on a CEO job and rewriting the mindset to succeed. 

The story has it that she immediately set out to change the environment and her positive energy transformed the company’s culture, built its customers relationships, accelerated its growth, and strengthened its bottom line. 

You can rightly say, that failure stared this CEO in the face.  She did not only rewrite her mindset; she was a on a crusade to change the organizational mindset.  

What is this mindset change and why it is a catalyst for success for CEOs?  Marylin had the courage to lead from within.  It was not popular but it was from a core of excellence.  Mindsets can only be rewritten based on internalized values.  

To understand how your organizational leaders can build the leadership core of excellence and engage the mind of the employees to deliver outstanding results, connect with me below.