For the Board, Leadership is a Risk Factor

Why That Matters Now More Than Ever

By David Reimer, CEO, and Harry Feuerstein, President, Merryck & Co Americas

Leadership is the “how” of strategy. It is not merely an enabler, but a critical component that requires companies to make leadership their business, fit it to their purpose, and produce leaders as part of their strategy to win. Embracing that notion at the board level has emerged as a key responsibility for corporate directors. In an age of accelerated disruption, shifting business models and a shrinking globe, strategy without the right leadership throughout the organization is just a slide deck.

Traditionally, boards approach their relationship to company strategy in multiple ways, but with a shared motivation: minimize risk while increasing shareholder value. No single board-level approach is right or wrong. Yet in recent years, strategic roadmaps have changed. Plans have shortened from five-year outlooks with 10-year aspirations, to 12–18 month views with 36-month horizons. Macro-conditions have shifted, but what have not shifted are board-level conversations about the importance of leadership within strategy.

As a director from one of the five largest US banks told one of our colleagues this summer, “Our last strategic planning session was good. They’re always good. But we talked about the same things, the same competitors, the same risks. We’re driving looking out the rearview mirror. We need to be looking out the windshield.”

Looking out the windshield must include a broader look at leadership, an item that rarely makes the board agenda today. What focus does occur often centers upon CEO or C-Suite succession. The more important conversation is: are we producing enough of the right kinds of leaders to win? Yet almost nobody asks that question, and bypassing it increases shareholder risk and misses an opportunity to create sustainable value.

This is a leadership moment for the board. Continue reading here:

David Reimer is CEO and Harry Feuerstein is President of Merryck & Co Americas, a leading business mentoring firm. They develop executive-level talent for Fortune 250 companies around the world.

Merryck & Co is a global firm comprised of experienced CEOs and top business leaders who help organizations accelerate the impact of leadership.

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