River Currents

5 Steps to Boost Your Leadership Bench

Posted by Gavin Fenn-Smith on Apr 27, 2016 1:48:57 PM

As temporary stewards of the organization, senior executives have a duty to investors, staff, and other stakeholders.

They are obliged to safeguard the long-term health of the organization by ensuring it is stocked with future generations of leaders.

How do you do that if you are a senior executive? One of the best ways is by actively and personally committing time, energy, and focus to developing those future stewards.

Following these 5 steps can help each senior leader develop his or her leadership pipeline:

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Topics: Growing Leaders

Modern Leadership Skills in India’s Family Owned Businesses

Posted by Gavin Fenn-Smith on Apr 12, 2016 11:29:57 AM

We conducted a study to capture current leadership development and succession trends involved in passing the baton from the current generation of India's Family Owned Business (FOB) leaders to the next. 

Here is what the research revealed.

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Topics: Growing Leaders

Remembering Andy Grove: A Perspective on Leadership, Innovation & Culture

Posted by Oliver Sommer on Mar 29, 2016 12:53:56 PM

Andy Grove’s passing last week has already elicited many tributes and rightfully so he lived a remarkable life—the early part was characterized by survival. In his words: “By the time I was twenty, I had lived through a Hungarian Fascist dictatorship, German military occupation…a variety of repressive Communist regimes, and a popular uprising that was put down at gunpoint… Some two hundred thousand Hungarians escaped to the West. I was one of them.” He went on to become Intel employee number three and eventually rose to become CEO and Chairman. His tenure as CEO was marked by unparalleled success for Intel characterized by a compound annual growth rate of almost 30% but also featured several near failures that Intel was able to overcome.

In the vernacular of The River Group, Andy Grove was someone “who got it.” He had the ability to blend his views on leadership, strategic planning and execution with a talent framework that enabled Intel to thrive during his tenure. Three particular aspects of his legacy—his personal leadership, focus on innovation, and Intel’s adaptive culture—provide a unique perspective on how he built one of the most successful companies in the world during his tenure.

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Topics: Advising CEOs, Growing Leaders

A Sports Coach and His Trusted Advisor

Posted by Gavin Fenn-Smith on Mar 17, 2016 12:04:56 PM

Pep Guardiola talks about his own trusted advisor, Manel Estiarte.

Extracted from "Pep Confidential," by Marti Perarnau, published in 2014 by Arena Sport. The book recounts Guardiola’s first season as head coach at Bayern Munich, after a wildly successful few years as coach of Barcelona.

Pep told me how important Estiarte is to him: Coaching a football team is a lonely job and that’s why I value loyalty above all else. When you hit the inevitable rough patch, you need to know who you can trust. 

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Topics: Advising CEOs

It's All About Talent: Insights from Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For

Posted by Oliver Sommer on Mar 10, 2016 5:17:07 PM
Fortune’s most popular issue every year is the “The Best 100 Companies to Work For.” It’s no surprise, as Fortune’s Editor Alan Murray says, “Companies fight to get on this list each year because they know it will help them attract the very best talent.” However, Fortune provided some additional insight that makes this list intriguing especially when it comes to firms that have repeatedly made the list. This year, in conjunction with release of the 2016 list, Fortune held an event in New York that featured the CEOs of three of the top ten companies:
  • Danny Wegman, CEO, Wegmans
  • James Goodnight, Co-founder and CEO, SAS
  • James Weddell, Managing Partner, Edward Jones

There were some compelling common threads to the companies featured at the event despite their obvious differences in industry focus, business mix and geography.

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Topics: Transforming Organizations

The Secret to Unlocking Organizational Agility

Posted by Peter Thies on Mar 1, 2016 11:52:08 AM

Does this scene from the Executive Team's Strategy Retreat sound familiar?

CEO: “We have a great company, but we need to adapt in order to drive growth. We are too slow to respond to the market.”

COO: “I agree. We need to be nimble, but we’re stuck in our silos. There’s too much turf warfare among product management, marketing and the sales force.”

EVP Marketing: “The real problem is that we have great products, but we struggle to innovate. Frankly we are too product-centric.”

EVP Sales: “We just lost another big deal to our arch rival. The other company developed a more tailored solution, co-created by their Solutions Team and the customer’s buying group.”

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Topics: Transforming Organizations

Leadership Lessons from West Point

Posted by Oliver Sommer on Feb 17, 2016 10:11:35 AM

The River Group convened a group of CEOs at the United States Military Academy at West Point to discuss the findings of Exchanges16. Each of the CEOs had participated in the study which focused on the experience of being the CEO including from different vantage points (first time, new, established and retiring or exiting). While the discussion was rich and helped River better shape the output of our study, one of the great benefits was the location of the forum and the inherent connection to our discussion topic— especially as it related to the journey of becoming a CEO.

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Topics: Growing Leaders

Catching up on Algebra: How Young CEOs Accelerate Their Learning

Posted by Gavin Fenn-Smith on Feb 4, 2016 5:30:00 AM

"I just feel like I have missed a bunch of stuff. It is as if I am coming to the end of high school, but have missed 8th and 9th grade pre-algebra. I am supposed to know what algebra is, but there are holes in my understanding. I am CEO, but there is so much I don’t know about being the CEO."

So we were told by a 33-year-old CEO of a DC-based nonprofit. From just three people at the start some years ago, to nearly 100 staff now, surely he was doing something right? Yet, he felt ill prepared. He just didn't know what he didn't know about how to be a CEO. 

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Topics: Advising CEOs

Changing Your Performance Management? – Tips for the CHRO

Posted by Bani Mahindroo Kumar on Jan 19, 2016 11:19:13 AM

If you are not already doing it, you may be thinking about changing the performance management process in your organization.

We have been involved in large-scale transformation projects for organizations ranging from 800 to 100,000 employees. Some have involved changing the performance management process in order to reinforce the new culture. We have seen it done well—and not so well.  


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Topics: Transforming Organizations

The Single Most Powerful Word in a Leader’s Vocabulary

Posted by Ana Maria Sencovici on Jan 5, 2016 9:18:38 AM

Much has been written about communication, especially leadership communication. There are tips on how to listen more, there are best practices around having difficult conversations…there is no shortage of suggestions on how to use verbal and body language to be more effective.

Yet I’ve found that one word has more power, more leverage, than any other. One word can help leaders not only become more effective but also shift their mindset towards one of inclusivity and innovation. That word is AND. It’s one of the most used, simple three letter words out there—yet, in the right context, it’s magical.

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Topics: Growing Leaders