May 18, 2018 - No Comments!

Cognitive skills for the high-performing leader

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What is common to the erstwhile CEO of IBM, Lou Gerstner and that of Apple, Steve Jobs? Both leaders were responsible for conceiving massive turnarounds in their respective organizations at a time when the fate of IBM (1993) and Apple (1997) was hanging in the balance. While it is unlikely that most managers would be called upon to engineer such enormous transformations in their lifetimes, it may be worthwhile to learn about some of the critical capabilities that enabled Gerstner and Jobs to facilitate change at scale.

  • First, both CEOs were skilled at sensing market opportunities before they fully materialized.
  • Second, they not only sought out such opportunities but were also adept at seizing them, driving investments and redesigning business models where needed.
  • And third, both CEOs were deliberate in their execution, reconfiguring and facilitating strategic change by minimizing resistance across levels in their organizations.

Ergo, the dynamic capabilities of these leaders (sensing, seizing and reconfiguring) had an impact on the strategic direction of their firms (recognizing market opportunities, strategic investments and business model design, alignment and overcoming resistance to change), which in turn led to superior firm performance.

What specific skills did Gerstner and Jobs utilize that helped them take the right decisions at the right time, eventually leading to the unquestionable market dominance of IBM and Apple for many years to come? The answer may partly lie in the way the leaders acquired and processed information, in other words, their cognitive abilities..

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Published by: Nikita Madhu in Blog

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