While no leader can know what the future will hold, our analysis suggests that leaders of accelerating organizations think and act differently: they prioritize the growth and performance of their peers to make the top team better, and they learn how to be agile as change erupts all around them.
Top teams and leadership are squarely in the spotlight this week, with the combination of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland and the continued confirmation hearings for the US president-elect's incoming cabinet in Washington, DC. At a glance, the two expressions of leadership might seem entirely different. Yet as I've met with various business leaders and joined in the hallway conversations at this year's World Economic Forum event, I've been struck by the similarities. Indeed, the challenges of top teams appear universal.
While gathering and stdying big data has been a trend for some years now, many organizations have been ignoring an obvious target for analysis: themselves. Businesses use big data to detect how customers (and competitors) are behaving, how economic trends are unfolding, and so on. But they generally don't apply the same sort of analytical horsepower to their own performance and how they manage themselves, their leaders, their teams, or their strategies.
Almost everyone acknowledges that banks and financial-services firms must change their culture if they are to regain the trust they have lost over the past several years. But progress across the industry has been uneven. The majority of banks are talking about culture change, and some have embarked on it tentatively. But only a few are unlocking its full potential; not simply to minimize bad conduct, but also to enable their business to flourish and gain competitive advantage. Here is how they are doing it and what other banks can learn from them.
The ability of an organization to accelerate its performance — in other words, to build and change momentum to get results more quickly than its competitors — is critically dependent on its teams at every level. Most organizations, however, fail to sufficiently consider the performance of teams when seeking performance improvements overall. Indeed, the vast majority of management research on organizations focuses on either the whole organism or the individual leader; the team is forgotten.
In the face of disruption within today's global operating environments, many institutions are failing to keep up with changes. Sometimes they very visibly fail to react to a changing world, and sometimes they just fade away. Based on many years of research, supplemented by a major study for this report, we have found that organizational success requires acceleration. This doesn't mean a relentless push for speed in every part of an organization. What it does mean is a careful analysis that leads to removing certain drag factors while taking other steps that will drive progress in the key areas that accelerate overall performance.