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Blueprints for Ensemble Leadership: Choosing the Right Operating Model

September 8, 2013 • Corporate Governance, Global Business, LEADERSHIP, STRATEGY & MANAGEMENT

By Robert J. Thomas, Joshua Bellin, Claudy Jules & Nandani Lynton

Decisions at the top of global companies are increasingly made through leadership ensembles. Below, Robert J. Thomas, Joshua Bellin, Claudy Jules and Nandani Lynton argue that to lead effectively, ensembles have to understand how they fit into—and shape—a company’s operating model.

How do decisions get made at the top of global companies? Increasingly, the answer is through leadership ensembles, groups of leaders that flexibly configure themselves according to the type of decision that is needed. Just as a cellist takes on different roles depending on whether he or she is playing with a quartet, a chamber orchestra, or a full orchestra, so too with today’s leaders.

For example, a group of leaders may need to debate a controversial change in company direction, or draw on close relationships to quickly ratify a decision, or discuss a range of possible solutions to a problem. Each activity requires a different ensemble configuration.

An important guide to effective ensemble leadership is a company’s broadly defined operating model—the vehicle through which a company executes its business model and growth strategy. To lead effectively, ensembles have to understand how they fit into—and shape—an operating model.

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