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So Many Execs & So Few

By Vipul (“Vips”) Kapadia, Andersen Alumnus and founder ThinqShift

For years I struggled with what I perceived as this paradox. CEO Survey after survey, article after article identify “We don’t have the leadership talent” as a critical issue for CEOs. On the other hand, these same organisations have armies of executives - several thousand in some cases. We then layer on a overly populist understanding of Drucker “management is leadership” and a picture starts of emerge of how over time these have become murky waters.

Then our western colloquialism to refer to our executives as leaders dilutes this further. Many articles take the tack of identifying and analyzing leadership traits. Others describe leadership as a practice that emerges through the interactions of people and processes. I’m going to take a slightly different track, one that describes the mastering of 3 powers.

Adaptable Leaders are ones who Master the 3 Powers

What are the 3 powers?

  1. Content Power. This is the power one has over another because of knowledge on a particular subject or expertise area. Could be technical, accounting, legal, industry expertise, experience etc. In short “You know more about this than I do, therefore you have content power over me”
  2. Positional Power. This is the power that one has over another because of authority or title. The most obvious is example is “I’m your manager therefore you will do….”. However, this could extend to other types of authority - parental, police, politicians etc.
  3. Personal Power This is the power that’s much harder to express because it comes with deep within. It’s the alignment of who you are in all aspects of your life. Your beliefs and values through to your behaviors, actions and its associated consequences. The best way to express this how it’s experienced by others. “I will follow you, because I trust in you and I want to be part of whatever you do”.

So what’s the difference between Exec’s and Leaders?

Using this lens and at the risk of oversimplifying, I’ll suggest that there are lots of Executives who have high levels of Content and Positional Power, but relatively low levels of Personal Power.

What sets a leader apart, their ability to not just create a motivating vision and execute it, but also their high levels of personal power. S

The rub is that personal power is way harder to cultivate than content power or positional power. It takes longer. The ‘right answer’ is very individual-specific and developing it

Personal Power is more important than ever

Maybe there’s nothing new here for many of you. However, here’s the ThinqShift top reasons why it's even more important know than before:

  1. Digital Natives communicate differently causing an erosion on interpersonal abilities and EQ. Put simply it's much easier to go through adolescence, college and young adulthood without having done 10,000 hours (Gladwell Time) of interpersonal practice! This all works fine, until people have to interact with other people or when difficult conversations become necessary.
  2. Expertise based on "Content Power" or becomes obsolete at faster and faster as the speed of information and innovation accelerate. Hence skills that are cutting edge, become obsolete quicker.
  3. "Positional Power" which is based on 'authority' and 'title' is increasingly associated with good management operations and contrary to creative collaborative and innovative cultures that we hope will fuel our economy in years to come.

The Top 3 Shifts to Make on your way

From "Knowing Your Stuff" to "Empowering others that know more than you"

From "Rigid Hierarchy" to "First Among Equals"

From "Having others respect what you do" to "Trusting who are you"

So Why ThinqShift?

It's for the reasons above that we started ThinqShift - To craft leaders that inspire, innovate and have an extraordinary impact on the world. We provide 3 services for Fabulous People on their journeys to be Adaptable Leaders.

  • Leadership Coaching
  • ShiftUp Academy - Learning experiences based on career stages or critical leadership pain points.
  • Transformation

Those of you who have fond memories of St Charles will remember the cultural bonding experiences, richness and programming that we did systematically at different stages of our career path. We want to do that for Personal Power leadership skills where e-learning falls short!

Vipul (“Vips”) Kapadia worked for Andersen between 1998 - 2002 in the London office originally in the Advanced Technology group and then in Strategy.In 2003 he was also part of the founding group for ex-Andersen-ers that started Qedis in London which was ultimately grown and sold to North Highland in 2011. He's now the founder of ThinqShift, a leadership services company that seeks to craft Adaptable Leaders for the Digital Era.