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Transcript: Global Leadership Trends

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Karen Greenbaum with Stanton Chase CEO Mickey Matthews. 

KAREN: Welcome to the Leaders on Leaders series from the Global Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants.  I’m Karen Greenbaum, AESC President and CEO.  In Leaders on Leaders, we explore today’s top trends impacting global leadership with leaders from the world’s top executive search and leadership advisory firms.  Today, we’ll be discussing global leadership trends.  I’m joined today by Mickey Matthews, the Global Chair of Stanton Chase.  Mickey, let’s begin with you telling us about Stanton Chase.

MICKEY: First, Karen, thank you very much to you and to the AESC for allowing me to join you today.  Greatly appreciate it on behalf of myself and the entire team at Stanton Chase so thank you.  Stanton Chase is a global retained executive search firm.  We have 72 offices around the world in 45 countries.  We like to say that the sun never sets on Stanton Chase.  Over 25 years old, having been founded in 1990 as the merger of four boutique search firms and we were pleased to have had you join us a couple of years ago, Karen, for our 25 global anniversary celebration.  While a Top 10 ranked firm in size and scale given our global footprint, we are unique in that we have retained our local, entrepreneurial boutique roots focusing on feet on the street, personal hands-on execution by our 350 plus consultants worldwide, and excellence in the client journey and service.

KAREN Thank you, Mickey, that’s a great overview of Stanton Chase and a fine company.  Why don’t we begin our discussion today about global trends that you’re seeing in today’s dynamic and ever-changing world?

MICKEY: Globally, from a trend perspective, we continue to see evidence of geopolitical protectionism and some continued hints of heightened nationalism that is driving some very exclusionary political immigration and trade policies.  In our view, this is not only highly counter-productive to the people and wealth of these nations but it’s a significant dichotomy, fortunately, from trends we see occurring in global business.  As leaders of industry, we’re witnessing positively the opposite of this isolationism and instead are pleased to see borders dropping, a trend towards multiculturalism and while it’s taking a little bit more time to gain full traction, real progress toward diversity, and increased inclusion. 

Karen, we do worry about the ever-present threat of terrorism as we’ve seen recently in Manchester, England, and believe on some levels this has an impact on corporate investment but overall, we’re pleased and thrilled that the global business community is in fact dropping borders and focusing on international mobility, cross-border collaborations and is inviting diversity as a business imperative.

KAREN: Mickey, what does that mean for companies whose goal is to achieve sustainable or even breakthrough success?

MICKEY: To be a global leader, and to achieve sustainability and success, companies must recognize these trends, must look around the corner, anticipating these and other directional headings and proactively deal with ambiguity, change, and the constant threats that are coming from known and unknown sources every day.  The successful companies we see today are those that are innovative in their systems, processes and products, are agile in their actions, investment and decision-making, and are collaborative across countries, divisions, and functions.  Karen, the best performing companies we track tend to be globally strategic but can currently have excellence in execution, being locally focused to deliver what the market needs with precision.

Additionally, business models are changing along with global economics to be more borderless, decentralized, and interconnected across the platform as opposed to top-down.  So the companies that can master this matrix with fluidity while delighting the customer at the local experience level will win.

Finally, given generational demographic changes ongoing, successful companies must possess a purpose that unites and excites as a rallying cry that resonates for people and their employer brand.

KAREN: That’s a terrific overview of a company profile for success.  Tell us a little bit about the leadership profiles and styles and demands that are needed for an executive running this kind of business.

MICKEY: Absolutely, Karen.  As we get closer every day to 2020, the game-changing executives we believe will master the fluidity of business, the dynamism of the market, the values, beliefs and demands of the new generations and the rapidly changing and more localized customer requirements.  Transformation will be the norm instead of status quo thereby requiring leaders at every level of the organization not just the C-suite to be entrepreneurial, flexible, decisive, and inclusive.  Nothing will be simple and everything will have multiple dimensions, impact, and results requiring leaders to have the stamina, passion, a competitive nature and a collaborative spirit to engage and empower as success will be achieved through teams, not as individuals.

Karen, we feel best in class leaders recognize the value from diversity and are able to see right through others’ unconscious bias to ensure inclusion of new and different ideas and perspectives.  They will, through this philosophy and foresight, bring simplicity from complexity and ensure engagement from diverse, top talents worldwide representing customer value and desires.

KAREN: So Mickey, you painted an exciting picture.  What role does our profession play as trusted advisors to these businesses, executives, and leaders worldwide?

MICKEY: Above all, we do have to realize that we are indeed role models and our behaviors will cascade throughout the global business community, across industry, across cultures, and across functions worldwide.  The impact we have and can have is significant.  We must realize that trust and treat it with a dignity and respect it deserves.

Rising above the fray and having the principled values to do the right things since we’re in the people business must be at our core.  We must mirror and act evidencing the ethics, that we believe in as we are very active in the boardroom and at the C-suite of Fortune 50 to Fortune 5000 companies internationally both public and private.

Companies worldwide have recognized that their competitive advantage and differentiator comes through their people.  And Karen, through our consulting, our diversity of solutions, and the services we provide in executive search and the human capital and leadership space, we are positioned at a positive inflection point to guide the course of business worldwide.  We must ourselves continue to embrace diversity, challenge older, existing ways of doing things and operate with speed, transparency and above all, purpose.

KAREN: Now, one last question for you, Mickey.  Companies and their leaders want to stay ahead of the trends.  With that in mind, what are some of the future trends that you think we should be mindful of?

MICKEY: Thank you, Karen.  Workforce values are changing with the influx of millennials, and as they now move into leadership roles, this will only accelerate.  While at the same time, technology is redefining processes in every business globally whether larger or small and whether in manufacturing or services.  These two forces have an impact everywhere around the world while borders continue to drop economically again in contrast to many of the geopolitical trends.  Everyone has a case study but as an example, just this past week at Stanton Chase, we closed a search for a US headquartered Fortune 50 company seeking an executive for a significant joint venture in Japan based in Tokyo and we found that executive in Switzerland who is a UK citizen.

This will happen more and more and companies and leaders must be multi-culturally sensitive and recognized that as Friedman said, “The world is flat at least economically.”  Technology is rapidly transforming business to accelerate these trends making scalability easier also whether it is in 3D or advanced manufacturing, in artificial intelligence or augmented reality, the rapid automation and digital integration of technologies will only continue to escalate.  And savvy companies and leaders will invite this rather than let it disrupt them.

KAREN: Mickey, thank you for taking the time to share your insights today.  Listeners, thank you for joining us for Leaders on Leaders.  For our next Leaders on Leaders discussion, stay tuned to AESC.org.  Thank you and have a great day.