Peter L. O’Brien, Managing Director and Head of Asia Pacific
There is probably nothing more arduous for a company than going through a successful leadership transition. By the very nature of the role, a new leader’s actions or inactions directly account for a business’ future course—for better or for the worse.
However, regardless of whether an internal or external candidate is selected to become the successor, leadership search, advisory, and assessment are only the starting line of such a massive transition program. What deserves equal attention, alongside, is what happens after the next leader is identified, i.e. their impact on organizational performance, culture, and diversity. Companies today feel one in five executives should not have been hired due to poor cultural fit, failure to meet basic requirements, or lack of evidence-based tools to make the right decision. This is where a proven ‘data-driven leadership advisory’ approach to executive succession can make all the difference to help an organization succeed and achieve enhanced performance. As challenging as the task sounds, the global leadership advisory and search firm, Russell Reynolds Associates, makes such leadership transitions a seamless affair.
De-Risking Leadership Appointments Since 1969
Russell Reynolds Associates was founded by an investment banker, Russell Reynolds, who left JPMorgan to disrupt the people search industry. He made it his mission to redefine the people search industry, professionalize the occupation, and attract ambitious, high-performing leaders who would bring fresh ideas to the industry. Today, however, the business has expanded well beyond just an executive search company. It has become a leading management consulting firm, offering leadership advisory services to help organizations across industries reduce leadership risk and ensure its long-term success.
To achieve this, Russell Reynolds Associates implements Leadership Span, a proprietary framework developed in partnership with Hogan Assessment to provide an in-depth evaluation of each leader and enhance the leader pool’s overall quality. “This unique approach allows us to advance the science of executive assessment, increase the predictability of performance in leadership roles, and reduce risks associated with the appointment of a leader,” indicates Peter L. O’Brien, the Head of Russell Reynolds Associates in the Asia Pacific region (APAC).
Taking this even one notch higher, Russell Reynolds Associates also recently collaborated with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) to better understand the DNA of a sustainable leadership team. Based on the research, Russell Reynolds Associates has compiled a playbook for organizations to integrate sustainable leadership, including diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), at the core of their work culture. “DE&I is important to us and our clients, which is why we were so proud to be accredited for the FTSE 350 category, which acknowledges firms with a strong track record in the promotion of gender diversity” highlights O’Brien.
Increasing the Predictability of Business Success
If the recent state of affairs has led organizations worldwide to reinforce a notion, the world is changing rapidly, dramatically, and constantly. And such uncertainties always make it difficult for companies to maintain their course efficaciously. “Market volatilities are gaining precedence across APAC, where unpredictability has become the new norm, so Leaders that are comfortable with uncertainty and constant change are more important now, than ever before,” says O’Brien. Thus, to ensure that the stewards of APAC businesses lead in the right direction, Russell Reynolds Associates helps them build a future-proof leadership strategy that aligns with current business priorities and prepares them to deal with any unexpected changes readily.
At the center of this forward-thinking planning is Russell Reynolds Associates’ data-driven approach combined with deep human assessment expertise. The company’s ability to access and assess big data through the lens of industry, market or events, facilitates them to consistently offer clients unique, actionable, and more relevant advice. “In today’s highly unpredictable and uncertain times, we are finding that we are extremely well-placed to help improve the way the world is led. This underpins our purpose as an advisory firm, and to achieve this we do so through the effective use of our suite of leadership assessment tools and the deep proven global expertise of our consultants,” states O’Brien.
Breeding Success through Meaningful and Collaborative Partnerships
Russell Reynolds Associates always strives to be a collaborative and valued trusted partner to its clients by continually sharing industry insights and ensuring they get the most current and relevant global and local expertise. Most notably, this dedication to establishing and maintaining a collaborative culture with its clients is the reason behind Russell Reynolds Associates’ successful approach to long-term client relationships. And such a “people-centric” mindset can also be seen within Russell Reynolds Associates’ own internal company culture, reflective in its global network of leadership experts, always thinking creatively to solve their clients’ most challenging leadership problems.
A testament to this is a recent Russell Reynolds Associates’ client success story. An Asian technology company recently underwent a strategic transformation and engaged Russell Reynolds Associates to assess the global executive leadership team’s capabilities and potential. More than 20 Russell Reynolds Associates’ experts were engaged in a multi-market advisory project, incorporating the United States, Europe, and Asia, to understand and account for local cultural nuances in undertaking executive assessments. All executive leaders also had to take psychometric tests to measure their leadership and behavioral attributes. These results were then benchmarked against the broader market using Russell Reynolds Associates’ proprietary psychometric database. Backed by this data, Russell Reynolds Associates’ consultants conducted dual competency-based interviews and 360 referencing for each leader. The assessment revealed common themes and gaps in the client’s organizational structure, geographies, and global leadership team. Besides guiding the company on how to bridge the identified gaps, Russell Reynolds Associates also helped the client identify high potential leaders and make informed succession plans to develop the team individually and collectively.
Moving forward, Russell Reynolds Associates intends to continue assisting similar clients to reinvent their organization’s culture and leadership frameworks. In that quest, the company is quickly expanding its capabilities to assist clients both technologically and geographically. And in all its efforts, Russell Reynolds Associates intends to prove that a ‘data-driven approach,’ especially in leveraging AI and advanced data analytics, helps to effectively ensure meaningful leadership transitions and build more inclusive organizations for the future.