Wednesday, February 28, 2007

CEO's role in leading transformation

Last weeks McKinsey Quarterly held an interesting article on the role of the CEO (or Executive Director) in leading an organizational transformation.

The McKinsey Quarterly is the business journal of the global management-consulting firm McKinsey & Company, and while focused on “business” often has a number of relevant articles on governance, leadership, and the like.

In this article, the authors suggest four key functions that collectively define a successful role for the CEO in a transformation. They are:

1. Making the transformation meaningful. People will go to extraordinary lengths for causes they believe in, and a powerful transformation story will create and reinforce their commitment. The ultimate impact of the story depends on the CEO’s willingness to make the transformation personal, to engage others openly, and to spot- light successes as they emerge.
2. Role-modeling desired mind-sets and behavior. Successful CEOs typically embark on their own personal transformation journey. Their actions encourage employees to support and practice the new types of behavior.
3. Building a strong and committed top team. To harness the transformative power of the top team, CEOs must make tough decisions about who has the ability and motivation to make the journey.
4. Relentlessly pursuing impact. There is no substitute for CEOs rolling up their sleeves and getting personally involved when significant financial and symbolic value is at stake.

In our case, that is in arts and culture on Prince Edward Island, your “top team” might be volunteer, and your “employees” may range from zero, to three, to twenty; nevertheless, the functions above do outline what a leader in an organization undergoing great change might do to facilitate that change.

Of course, in arts and culture, it may seem that we are always undergoing great change, reacting the numerous forces external to our organizations – and if so, the above points a great place to start in organizing our activities as the top employees in our organizations.

For our purposes here at the Council, it’s point number one that is most relevant. According to these authors, it falls upon me to create the powerful story that will engage people and inspire them to go to extraordinary lengths for us.

Here goes: “Once upon a time there was a poor little council that had very little resources…

You can find the complete article here:

(you’ll need to create a free account to read it).