C-suite executives need a combination of leadership skills – namely the 6 c’s – in order to cultivate professional empowerment and help steer organisations to success, according to a management expert.
Bendelta co-founder and chairman, Anthony Mitchell, outlined the ‘6 c’s’ as he discussed leadership skills and the power of psychological, biological and behavioural patterns and their links to organisational success.
The company recently launched a virtual institute, named Potentiology, which aims to accelerate the capabilities of executives and organisations to what Mitchell said are “world-class performances.”
As part of its research, Bendelta has analysed the mental and behavioural routines of famed prodigies from current World Chess Champion, Magnus Carlsen; Chinese American cellist and child prodigy, Yo-Yo Ma; and Olympic gold medal swimmer Sarah Sjostrom, to eminent Australians such as six-time Ironman Trevor Hendy and imprisoned journalist Peter Greste.
Discussing business ramifications and effects on CIOs, Mitchell said c-suite executives, in particular, should consider adopting some of the ‘6 c’s.’
The first three include: capacity (the resilience to deal with demands of being a leader in a contemporary business environment); change agility (the ability to “turn on a dime” and reorient the organisation as needed); and collaboration (breaking down silos and bringing together multiple perspectives). The next three include: connection (empathy to help people understand their team and customers); choice (high quality decision-making); and creativity (operating in an imaginative way and doing lateral thinking).
“Those are six skills that are really important to any c-suite executives,” Mitchell said. “Those six are the ones we’ve identified as having the broadest applicability. Most organisations are going to find that two or three of those are especially important.”
While Mitchell said CIOs will benefit from cultivating the majority of the 6 c’s, the choice of which ones to choose will depend on the overall strategy of the organisation.
“It’s a starting point and what you’re trying to achieve with technology,” he said.
“In an organisation that really needs to reorient where it’s heading on technology, change agility might be really important both in how the CIOs demonstrate it in themselves, but how they produce more of it in other people around them as well.
“If it’s an organisation that is trying to lead on customer experience, for example, the CIOs may need to be particularly strong on connectedness, the empathy part of it. If they are trying to lead on innovation, then it might be creativity that particularly matters. “
Power of the people
Mitchell said there are significant drivers of organisational performance, namely exponential technologies and the increasing role of human potential.
“A huge amount of competitive advantage is coming down to the ability for organisations to invent, inculcate or leverage exponential technologies – the kind that can actually assist them to make leaps in business model.”
With the age of artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine communications, and deep learning upon us, Mitchell said the days of “proceduralised work” is eroding for people.
“Increasingly, the role of what people contribute has very little to do with procedural work and a huge amount to do with how they contribute those more ‘human discretionary capacities’ – their collaboration, empathy, creativity, resilience and agility.”
He explained there’s a “dynamic interplay” between exponential technologies and human potential.
“The organisations that are decimating the established corporations are the ones that are extremely good at doing both of these things: They are great at either inventing, or inculcating or leveraging exponential technologies, and are terrific at realising the full potential of their people.”
And while the ‘cliched way’ of thinking about exponential technologies and human potential is that the CIOs need to lead on the exponential technologies side, Mitchell said “it is equally important” the CIO leads on both fronts – and to remember that they have a very important role to play.
“The CIO matters just as much, if not more, than any member of the c-suite in terms of making sure that the human potential is being fully realised.”
Mitchell, who highlighted trends happening in the US, said it’s a pivotal time for CIOs given there’s a massive shakeup in business.
“If I look at the non-Silicon Valley corporations, the Fortune Top 100, these guys are being decimated by the upstart. If I think about a CIO, in the context of someone working inside what I call a more traditional corporation, they are facing really tough times.
“They are stuck with so many hangovers of the industrial age. So they are having to remake themselves in really radical fashion at quite a pace and that’s quite a demand, and requires something pretty special from the CIO to assist with it.”
Asked what CIOs shouldn’t do, Mitchell said one obvious thing that springs to mind is trying to be all things to all people and mastering all six of the suggested capabilities.
“Look at your strategic imperative. What do you truly need to do? Don’t look at a broader brush. And don’t despair. I think a lot of people look at this and say, ‘that’s not me, I’m not that kind of person. I’m not sure I can measure up to that.’ But if there’s one thing our research has really demonstrated it’s that leaders are made, not born.
“Even a CIO that might say, ‘I come from a typical background. I’m not going to be the most inspiring leader.’ Quite the opposite is true: We have had numerous examples of people being able to step up, obviously with the right support, going through the right learning pathways, but they have been able to develop the right capabilities. They can excel at being highly creative, highly empathetic, or whatever it might be that’s important.
Cultivating mindfulness is another important factor in finding success, he said, explaining it’s the extra piece that creates a boost in resilience.
“Mindfulness sounds like a hip and trendy term, and it scares some people off a little bit, but our studies of people who are world-class virtuosos of resilience, we found that without exception, they all practiced mindfulness. They may not have called it that, but they all had some way of making sure that they were directing their attention where their awareness was.”
Steps to success
Mitchell also advised organisations take a number of steps, which requires a thorough self-examination.
“I would suggest that organisations look at the architecture that they’ve got in place. If it looks something designed for the industrial age, then you need to be prepared to make material changes. Throw out anything that looks like command and control. Make sure that the strategy is giving you the most direct line through to your ability to leapfrog on exponential technology and liberate the potential of your people.
“Make sure that your organisational architecture is enabling people to act with autonomy, but in ways that really force collaboration – that people are working at full stretch rather than being underutilised, or working hard, but not in ways that are undermining capabilities.”
About the Author:
Anthony Mitchell is the co-founder and Chief Potential Officer of Bendelta. He is an internationally recognised thought leader in strategic leadership. He has been advising companies internationally for the last 25 years, working across more than 30 countries on five continents advising clients ranging from leading multi-nationals and listed companies to major government agencies and not-for-profits.