Growth, Innovation and High Performance. Part: 3 “Balance”

executive leadership balance

Balance: What it Buys You

Balance in sense of urgency and the components of valor results in higher performance, and in many cases, non-job behaviors. These non-job behaviors are acts of heroism at work and are the things that result in major innovations, changes in technology, loyalty among workers, employees encouraging each other, and as a result, long-term competitive advantage. The value proposition for Valour is long-term growth and competitive position in the market because employees who go “above and beyond” help create companies that go “above” for their customers, their shareholders, their retirees, and others. 

 

Balance is Harder than you Think

Managing urgency is not top of mind in many organizations, and as such, it’s easy to lose. Success is one of the factors that, in many cases, can start to decrease urgency and instead drive complacency. Organizations that want to maintain growth need to understand urgency, and one way to do that is to track employee energy because optimal energy leads to the right levels of sense of urgency.

Valour in the Leadership Pulse Sample

As discussed earlier, the valour pulse consists of 15 questions, and these were asked in the most recent Leadership Pulse. Figure 2, below, shows the 4 quadrants, along with the recommended path to move an individual into the fully engaged quadrant.

Figure 2: Valour Table Legend

Using the categorization scheme from Figure 2, in Figure 3 we plot the valour quadrants for the entire leadership sample. The majority, 53%, of leaders are fully engaged. These individuals feel a high sense of urgency as well as a feeling their contributions are valued and they are recognized and rewarded for them. The high opportunity and disengaged quadrants are less than half that, each with 21% of the leaders. high opportunity Individuals have a high sense of urgency, but do not feel valued or recognized for their contributions. This group is often poached by other companies as they are often high performers looking for a better opportunity. 

The disengaged individuals do not feel valued or recognized, but do not feel a high sense of urgency either. By creating an environment that promotes a high sense of urgency, these individuals either move into the high opportunity quadrant, or move out of the company. Lastly, the entitled quadrant is very low with only 5% of the leaders. These individuals feel a high sense of value, ownership, and rewards, but little urgency. They are comfortable in their jobs and are often resistant to change. It is very difficult to increase sense of urgency with these individuals

Figure 3: Valour Quadrants for All Leadership Participants

We can further break the leadership sample down by looking at job level. Table 1 shows the percentage of individuals in each quadrant based on Job Level. The highest percentage of individuals in each quadrant is highlighted. CEOs and presidents are the most fully engaged group with 82% in that quadrant. This is not a surprise as the job level innately has a high sense of value and ownership, is well rewarded, and requires a sense of urgency. 

However, the Other C-core individuals feel the same sense of urgency, but with 38% in the high opportunity quadrant, fewer feel the same sense of value, ownership, and rewards as the CEO group does. In this case, it is the questions around rewards in particular that average nearly 1 point less than questions around value and ownership for the other C-Core group. Senior managers are the most disengaged group, have 45% of individuals in that quadrant as opposed to 41% in the fully engaged quadrant. And while vice presidents have 11% of their individuals in the entitled quadrant, this is still a relatively low number.

Table 1: Valour Quadrants by Job Level

Yellow = Highest score per column

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Energy

In our earlier research we learned that value, ownership and rewards are factors that do not fluctuate much. However, that is not the case with sense of urgency. We found that this construct fluctuates dramatically and frequently, and also we discovered that most organizations do not know how to proactively manage sense of urgency. Thus, in order to help organizations grow and successfully maneuver change, the research moved to focus on urgency — how to measure it at the cultural and individual levels and also how to manage it to optimize performance. Sense of urgency at the organizational level translated to energy at the individual level. We learned how to measure and manage energy, which then helped organizations create and maintain a high sense of urgency culture that was in balance with value-ownership and rewards.

Regular energy reads can help organizations manage growth. Energy is a leading indicator while other metrics are lagging indicators. This can make energy data powerful in not just understanding readiness for growth but for sustaining growth. Energy makes the differences between long-term sustained growth and sporadic growth. 

In a new report, soon to be released, we show that energy is the only metric that predicts long-term survival and growth for a large sample of firms going public in 1996. This is the biggest IPO year ever, and using survey data collected from senior executives in 1997 (right after their IPOs), we show that energy is the only factor that statistically significantly predicts 10-year growth. This is why energy, as a leading indicator, is important to understand and measure.We found that the process of measuring energy, asking employees what’s affecting their energy and then seeking suggestions for changes that will optimize energy led to high levels of innovation. Also, the predictive validation studies done with over 1 million data points on energy demonstrated that energy is a valid predictor of individual and company performance. Basically managing energy = optimizing productivity and performance to drive sustained growth. 

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Author: Dr. Theresa M. Welbourne

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