How We Simplify Leadership

Is leadership rocket science? You might think so after you Google “leadership” and get 374 million results in a nanosecond. It’s no wonder executives don’t focus attention on their own leadership development. But if you ask them if it makes a difference, they all can point to the superstars in their organization who are doing amazing things to exceed plan, to create new markets and to bring in top talent. So, leadership matters. Only no one can tell you what it is!

Here’s a news flash from ExecutiveScience – leadership is not rocket science; it’s real science that anyone can immediately grasp. We’ve found a way to simplify what leadership IS and what it is NOT. We want there to be no misunderstanding, no misconceptions, and no excuses for anything less than outstanding leadership.

Leadership is a function of four factors:

  1. Being able to get results,(Results Orientation)
  2. Inspiring and engaging others to make that happen,(People Orientation)
  3. Using collective intelligence to make great short and long-term decisions,(Strategic Orientation) and
  4. Having the character and integrity that reinforces the first 3 characteristics. (Character)

So, here’s the straightforward formula for leadership.

Results Orientation + People Orientation + Strategic Orientation + Character = Leadership

Not rocket science. Yeah but…

Leadership is often significantly diminished by three irresistible ego needs that executives may be unaware of and that override positive leadership:

  1. When success is all that matters, micromanagement is inevitable.
  2. The need to be accepted and liked gets in the way of holding people accountable for performance issues.
  3. If you believe youhave to be the smartest person in the room, no one else’s ideas will measure up.

(BTW – these leadership limiting factors are the tempting dark side of results, people and strategy.)

That said, outstanding executive leadership creates sustainable, breakthrough results. Leadership done poorly undermines organizational outcomes slowly, almost imperceptibly but inevitably, leading to less- than-ideal outcomes.

Once executives understand that leadership is simple, they can readily improve executive performance by focusing on positive leadership behaviors and/or abandoning their ego-driven limiting factors. This is done by quantifying leadership and building a scorecard to measure executive performance. Up next … quantify.

What Does Trump’s Victory Mean For Leadership?

Wednesday’s newspaper headlines from around the world showed a fairly consistent reaction to Trump’s stunning election victory:

  • Australia – “Shock Trump win sets up new world order”
  • Belgium – “AMERICAN PSYCHO”
  • Canada – “A referendum on the soul of a divided nation” and “Oh My God”
  • Chile – “Game of Trump”
  • China – “Outsider Counter Attack”
  • France – “TRUMPOCALYPSE”
  • Germany – “How could this happen?” and “Brexit 2.0”
  • London – “GOD SAVE AMERICA” and “Divided America bitter to the end”
  • New Zealand – “Dear America … No You Can’t”
  • Spain “God Forgive America” and” “United States of Populism”
  • Sweden – “Shock: Trump shook the world this morning”
  • USA “Stunning Trump Win” and “Thousands March on Trump Tower”
  • United Arab Emirates – “Political earthquake, Trump is the president of the USA”

Political Leadership

Our world is becoming infinitely more complex and political leaders everywhere face tougher challenges that seem almost unsolvable. Citizens all over the world rebel when leaders don’t deal with these issues and live up to their expectations. The Arab revolution, the UK Brexit vote, and Trump’s US election victory point to a level of underlying disenfranchisement, disengagement and deep distrust of large political institutions. A recent global survey found that only 42% of those surveyed have a “great deal” or “fair amount” of trust in political leaders, down significantly from 63% in 2004.

Business Leadership

This same phenomenon exists in business – trust is declining in executives while employee disengagement is increasing. The Edelman survey on CEO’s found that top executives focus far too much on short term results (68%) and lobbying (60%) and not enough on having a positive long term impact (59%) and on job creation (47%).

Clearly the bar for senior leadership is raising – people expect more of their leaders today than ever before. More results from the Edelman survey in 2016 stated that 8 in 10 expect CEO’s to be personally visible in discussing income inequality, public policy discussions, and personal views on societal issues. These expectations represent just some of the new expectations that can often be uncommunicated. They want and need leaders to stay ahead of ever increasing volatility, uncertainty and complexity. When leaders fail to deliver, they vote first with their heart and then with their feet.

The Need to Increase Capability and Capacity

This creates the imperative that senior leaders and executives stay ahead of the game and increase their capability and capacity to deal with an ever changing and more complex world. Many executives we have worked with feel they are not developed as well as they should be to handle the rapidly changing business, political and social environments.

The Solution

Part of the solution to this challenge is found in a new book called Mastering Leadership by Bob Anderson and Bill Adams:

“Senior leaders today face such rapidly escalating complexity, uncertainty, and market volatility that to stay competitive they must accelerate their own development. The pace of leadership development, individually and collectively, must match or exceed the pace of change in business conditions.”

This is a tall order in and of itself, and yet it is an imperative for sustainable business success. Leadership, whether good or bad, makes an incredible difference to the outcomes of an organization. We fully subscribe to the following assertion made by Anderson and Adams:

“Developing leaders who can navigate complexity is now a strategic priority—and, if done well, a competitive advantage. Beyond developing competency and capability, we need to develop leaders with courage and compassion, consciousness and character.”

We know from experience that those who cannot navigate complexity will eventually be replaced, and in some cases, the new generation of leadership may not be an upgrade to current leadership. Creating this type of leadership does not happen by chance – it happens through both individual and executive development targeted at dealing with the perplexities and complexities of the 21st century.

Organizations must develop both their current executives and those who will follow to provide strong leadership through ever-increasing volatility, uncertainty and complexity.

New Company Brings Science to Executive Development

UTAH/ALBERTA – September 29, 2016 – Murray Low and Brian Storey have teamed up to launch ExecutiveScience™, a company that takes executive development to the next level. Murray and Brian have combined sixty years of experience in analytics and leadership development to implement a breakthrough executive development process by:

  • Clearly articulating the leadership framework and the measurable differences between good and great leaders,
  • Establishing a dynamic scorecard for leadership that measures team performance before, during and after an engagement, and
  • Providing both individual and team coaching that integrates the measurable leadership framework with real-time business challenges.

“I’ve been passionate about leadership for over 40 years and am deeply grateful for executives who have invested in leadership development because it was the right thing to do. We’re opening new frontiers and no longer have to do leadership development for the sake of leadership development. Now we can clearly show the impact that leadership in the C-suite has on the bottom line,” says Murray, CEO and co-founder.

“A company can only be as good as its leaders and we can now differentiate between good and great leaders.” says Brian, ExecutiveScience President and co-founder. “This now allows us to measure the difference in company performance before, during and after executives take the initiative to move to the next level of results by strengthening the leadership team.”

ExecutiveScience is looking to partner with companies that want to take a rigorous, analytic and practical approach to executive development – an approach that also focuses on real-time business challenges.

About ExecutiveScience

Murray Low and Brian Storey founded ExecutiveScience to bring science and analytics to executive development. ExecutiveScience is a professional services firm that leverages and extends world-class leadership development platforms to executives globally with the intent to simplify, quantify and integrate leadership to produce breakthrough results. Brian and Murray help organizations build leadership capacity and capability through long-term relationships with senior teams and by using best practices in assessment, coaching and team development. They help companies leverage executive development by creating stronger leadership and then verifying how leadership improvement creates breakthrough results.


For more information, please Contact Us

The team with the best players wins

“The team with the best players wins” ~ Jack Welch…

Early in my career I interviewed with the President of a $750 million company who wanted me to help him turn things around. He began the interview by asking me, “So what’s your IQ Murray?” After telling him I didn’t know but thought it was adequate based on my academic performance, he responded, “Well mine’s 171.” This brilliant exec hired me and asked me to do an assessment of what it would take to help the company stop losing $25 million per month. To my horror, the overriding issue I uncovered was every person telling me that the President was trying to do each of the 2,800 employees’ job better than they could. His tireless work ethic and brilliance equipped him to “micromanage the business into the ground,” as told by employees.

When asked to report back my findings, I recommended that we work on clarifying our strategy and focus on empowering people better to do their jobs. When he asked for clarification on what empowerment meant, I suggested that we improve engagement by working on leadership. The President’s response cut my legs right out from under me: “I tried that leadership crap a couple of years ago and it didn’t work.”

This executive’s reaction typifies the sentiments of many in the C-suite: Why should investments in leadership be made when it doesn’t work, it’s unclear what is supposed to be done and when it cannot be connected to business results?

My partner Brian and I have always been passionate about great leadership and the difference it creates. We studied leadership in university and have consulted, coached, trained and implemented countless initiatives to improve leadership. But in all the work we’ve done, we’ve never been able to clearly show how development impacted leadership effectiveness, business outcomes or shareholder value. Executives worked on developing leadership because it was the right thing to do, assuming it would make a difference to results.

We’ve launched a new company called ExecutiveScience that approaches executive development from the opposite end of the spectrum – as a science as opposed to an art. Both research and quantitative analysis have evolved and come together to open new frontiers. We can now measure leadership development and its impact on the business. Rather than just believing that this is a good thing to do, we can actually verify how it makes the business more successful.

Research clearly shows that great leadership impacts results.A Deloitte study, The Leadership Premium, ranked “Senior Leadership Team Effectiveness” second (behind financial results) as the most important of nine criteria that analysts used to judge a company’s success. Effective leadership had a 16% premium on share price while ineffective leadership had a 20% discount. Zenger Folkman’s empirical research found that the above-mentioned financial results can likewise be attributed to leadership – “poorleaders lose money; good leaders make profit; extraordinary leaders more than double profits in comparison to the other 90%!”

Great leadership can now be developed through a robust, systematic process. We leverage and extend leadership platforms to executives globally with the intent to simplify, quantify and integrate leadership capacity and capability by:

  • Clearly articulating the leadership framework and the measurable differences between good and great leaders,
  • Establishing a dynamic scorecard for executive leadership that measures team performance before, during and after the engagement, and
  • Providing both individual and team coaching that integrates the measurable leadership framework with real-time business challenges.

We invite you to work on executive development as a science, create the team with the best players and see your results improve dramatically!

Murray R. Low, Brian A. Storey, September 2016