Roche Rise, Week 4 … Leadership Recoded

November 30, 2022 at Online with IE Business School

“Roche Rise” is a series of sessions by Peter Fisk for the future leaders of Roche, the Swiss pharma business – making sense of today’s changing world, understanding how business is responding, embracing an inclusive leadership approach:

  • Roche Rise, Week 1: Future Recoded … How will you embrace the megatrends to shape a better future?
    • Market disruption, future uncertainty, and accelerated change
    • Global megatrends, new possibilities, and emerging agendas
    • Future shapers, from 23andMe and Philip Morris, to Epic and Jio, Tesla and Twelve
  • Roche Rise, Week 2: Business Recoded … What are the new business models to drive success?
    • New business models, innovating every aspect of business
    • Power shifts, network dynamics, consumer influences and business partners
    • Business innovators, from Danone to PingAn, Haier to Fujifilm, Schneider and Shein
  • Roche Rise, Week 3: Work Recoded … How are we changing how we work as individuals and organisations?
    • New ways of working, beyond the hybrid, the power of teams and ecosystems
    • Organic organisations, distributed and empowered, fluid and dynamic
    • Work innovators, from Alphabet and Netflix, Haier and Haufe, Microsoft and Unilever
  • Roche Rise, Week 4: Leadership Recoded … Where do you start, in creating a future-fit business?
    • Getting started, from the future back, and the from the outside in
    • Future and growth mindsets, diverse and inclusive cultures, flat organisations and no rules
    • Inspired by Anne Wojcicki and Satya Nadella, Mary Barra and Eric Yuan, and you.

This week we focus on Leadership Recoded, and how you can shape the future to your advantage:

What kind of future do you want to create, shape and lead?

The future business will only emerge with your leadership. Leaders need the courage to step up, to envision and implement this future.

The new Leadership DNA

Having spent many hours with leaders, one to one, and with their teams – teaching, coaching and advising them on strategies and change – and explored the many leadership theories, and insights from today’s most inspiring leaders – it became clear that there are some common attributes.

In my new book Business Recoded: Have the courage to create a better future for you and your business, I define a new Leadership DNA.

The Leadership DNA is built on 12 attributes. These attributes form a pyramid, somewhat analogous to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At the foundation are the essentials required to operate, and deliver performance. Above these are the attributes required for progress, to make sense of change, to find new growth, and drive innovation. At the top are the attributes required of leaders who want to transform their organisations, guided by purpose beyond profit, to create a better business, and a better world.

These 12 attributes collectively make up the “new DNA of leadership”, with 3 levels from the top to the bottom:

“Creating the future” attributes:

  • Inspiring… being guided by a purpose and passion
  • Courageous… daring to do what hasn’t been done before
  • Farsighted … looking ahead with vision, foresight and intuition
  • Progressive… pioneering, embracing challenge, seizing opportunities

“Making change happen” attributes:

  • Curious… making sense of new, complex and uncertain environments
  • Imaginative… envisioning a better future worth working towards
  • Adaptive… having emotional agility to survive and drive relentless change
  • Entrepreneurial… the creative spirit to explore new ideas and think differently

“Delivering everyday performance” attributes

  • Empathetic … engaging people, tapping into their human qualities
  • Collaborative … working together, embracing diversity, to achieve more
  • Resilient… sticking to the task, enduring turbulence, motivated and optimistic
  • Impactful… making a positive difference to business, stakeholders and the world

Leaders shape the future

In today’s world, organisations need leaders, more than ever, to look forwards.

Leaders don’t have to be strategists in the traditional sense of spending many hours analysing markets, developing rigorous plans supported by lots of commentary and financial projections. The strategic contribution of a leaders needs to be context setting – defining a clear purpose, envisioning what the future will look like, stretching mindsets of what is possible, articulating the ambitions, the big choices, and horizons to aim for.

Business performance is the measure of how well leaders do this. Warren Buffett will of course remind us that a CEO of a public company is legally responsible to deliver a return to shareholders, but he would also agree that this is more an outcome. Value creation is the framework to engage all stakeholders in progress. The challenge for leaders is not to become obsessed by financials, but to define purpose and be the moral compass of the organisation, to achieve more, in a better way.

Leaders earn their power from how they inspire people with ideas, influence people about what’s right, and the impact they have through their actions. This is quite different from the old power of leaders, which came through position, experience and expertise. Instead of leadership based on command and control, I see a leaders as a

  • Catalyst: the leader stimulates and stretches the organisation, asking the important questions, adding energy and urgency, focusing on insights and goals.
  • Communicator: the leader articulates purpose, vision and direction, listening and engaging with people, building empathy and trust, creating a better future together.
  • Connectors: the leader connects ideas, people, activities and partners; encouraging learning and collaboration; facilitating new capacity for innovation.
  • Coaches: the leader supports rather than commands; to think, act and deliver better; and encouraging them have the confidence to rise up.

The Performer Transformer leader

The “ambidextrous” challenge of a business leader has become increasingly important in a world of relentless change.

Leaders need to be able to deliver high performance today, and simultaneously transform the business for tomorrow. Not just occasionally, but continuously. Not just as a balance, implying a bit of each, but to do both effectively.

25 years ago I wrote an article called “leading in double time”. The same idea. Now it matters more than ever, because leaders are at the heart of economic value creation.

Economic value which is driven partly by performance today, but equally by what you do today to create the profit streams of the future. In the past, the future was not so different from the past, now it most likely is. That’s why transformation is essential, and relentless.

And that’s why leaders need to simultaneously be performers and transformers: