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Finance and leadership: Stepping out of the comfort zone

Lessons from Orchestrating Winning Performance 2019
June 2019

A glorious 37 degrees welcomes OWP this morning, as participants basking under the sun with their croissants and espresso ahead of over 20 sessions taking place before noon.

Here’s a snapshot of 2 sessions on finance and leadership:

Finance Professor says “forget about Wall Street”

Looking at the balance sheets and performances of big Wall Street players like Amazon, Tesla, and Nestle; Finance Professor Salvatore Cantale demystifies some of the myths surrounding Wall Street.

Around the world, CEOs’ decisions are shaped by analysts and investors with short-term views. But should it matter? He asks.

Using recent financial data, the class considers what is behind the market reaction to a selected number of events such as IPO’s, crashes and short-termism.

Short-termism is referred to the ability of markets to be so focused on the next quarter that managers are somehow prevented from investing in the future.

This has a profound implication on the smooth running of corporations because CEOs and companies believe that the only thing they’re doing is just managing for the next quarter.

But Professor Cantale cautions that sales, targets, and performance indicators can sometimes cloud better business judgement. He invites the participants to challenge their thinking, adopted beliefs, and habits. “KPI’s don’t always necessarily drive value for customers. What creates growth is not always the best option. You have to see the bigger picture, beyond just short-term profit.”

Trust, oxytocin and leadership

Another quick cappuccino and its already time and for the next class to dive into what makes us a good leader? In Leading with impact in the face of complexity and change, Professor Shlomo Ben-Hur invites his fully-packed class to envisage a new approach to thinking about the impact that leaders have today.

One can have a leadership role in terms of power or responsibility, but is the needle being shifted in terms of impact?” prompts Professor Ben Hur as participants usher to their seats.

Much of the discussion revolved around the psychological and cultural aspects of leadership and what drives it, namely, trust. The IMD leadership 360-assessment test all the participants took, drew interesting conclusions: The operating systems of high-performing leaders have significantly higher degrees of trust, clarity, and momentum. Interestingly, this proved to be true across cultures and countries.

Even more interestingly, obvious characteristics such as accountability and empowerment had less weight in what makes a good leader in this assessment.

Professor Ben-Hur sets the tone clearly: “Leaders need to think less about how to behave and more about the actual impact their behavior has on their surroundings.

The participants are taken through more results of over 2000 leaders of the same assessment. How important it is to trust as a leader? What are the most important areas that help generate trust amongst colleagues and peers?

Drive, organizations skills, authority one would think. No.

Care, psychological safety, reliability and fairness says the research.

Clearly, emotionality and empathy are the way to go to be good boss and colleague. “It’s not enough for you to care, but if your colleagues feel cared for,” he concludes. How? Show interest, give praise, make them feel heard, offer career management.

And on these positive thoughts, it’s time for lunch and the sun is still out! Still time to queue up at the ice-cream stand for dessert.

Stay tuned for more live insights from OWP 2019

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