The “Four Pillars” of “Blue Ocean Leadership” | INSEAD

To unleash employees’ untapped talent and energy, leaders need a strong repertoire of actions, not just better awareness and empathy…!!

Most leadership programmes are generally designed to hone the cognitive and behavioural skills of leaders with the implicit assumption that this would ultimately translate into high performance. Leaders are accordingly called on to develop traits like self-awareness, self-regulation, and empathy, for example, all of which require deep self-reflection and introspection to assimilate into a person’s being.

While cultivating such values are important, when we asked people to look back on these programmes, most reported not seeing a marked change in leadership caliber..

As one executive put it, “Without years of dedicated efforts, how can you transform a person’s character or behavioural traits? And can you really measure and assess if leaders are embracing and internalising these personal traits and styles? In theory yes, but in reality it’s hard at best.” In the end, millions of dollars were often spent, excitement was initially generated, but real leadership change did not set in..

Pillar One: Focus on acts and activities.

Blue ocean leadership, in contrast, is action-based, just as strategy is. It focuses on what acts and activities leaders need to do to provide a leap in motivation and business results driven by people, not on who they need to be. It’s the difference between being asked to be motivating versus being asked to provide those you lead with real-time feedback and best practice lessons that internally motivate and guide those you lead to up their game while feeling valued. The summation of these acts and activities is the leadership equivalent of a company’s strategic profile only here the aim is the development of a compelling leadership profile grounded in actions that are easy to observe, measure, and are directly linked to performance. This difference in emphasis has an important consequence for the time and resources needed to bring about a change for high performance. It is markedly easier to change a person’s acts and activities, than their values, qualities, or behaviours.

Of course, changing a leader’s activities is not a complete solution, and having the right values, behaviours, and qualities is important. But changing acts and activities is something that any individual can do, given the right feedback and guidance..

Pillar Two: Connect leadership to market realities by engaging people who confront them.

We observed that the leadership approaches employed by organisations are often generic and detached from what firms stand for in the eyes of customers and the market results employees are expected to achieve. At one insurance company, for example, call center personnel were tasked with fulfilling customer claims rapidly, while their frontline leaders maintained a hands-off approach to getting the claims department to cut checks rapidly.  Call center personnel rightly felt set up to fail, hugely demotivated, and let down by their leaders.

Blue ocean leadership, in contrast, focuses on what makes effective leaders, not in a vacuum but in light of the market realities their organisations confront and their direct reports must deliver on. Blue ocean leadership does not subscribe to a generic approach of common leadership acts and activities much as strategy does not subscribe to the same strategic profile across organisations. Instead people who face market realities are asked for their direct input regarding what acts and activities their leaders do that hold them back and what they need from their leaders but aren’t currently receiving to be their best and effectively serve customers and key stakeholders. When people are asked to help define the leadership acts and activities that will make them thrive and are connected to the market realities against which they need to perform, people get the type of leadership they and their organisation need and are highly motivated to share their energy and perform to the best of their abilities. As one employee put it, “I am under constant pressure to produce market results. I need the decisions and actions of my boss to support me to succeed in achieving market results. Currently there is a disconnect here.”

Pillar Three: Distribute leadership across different management levels.

While the market realities that organisations face today demand that there should be leaders at every level, the majority of leadership programmes we observed still remained largely focused on the top. But the key to a successful organisation is having empowered leaders at every level. It’s an illusion to expect or rely on top management on its own to deliver high performance especially as outstanding service all too often comes down to the motivation and actions of frontline leaders who are often in closest contact with the market. Executives need to push responsibility down in the organisation so that people on the frontline can deliver world-class service. Organisations need to develop effective leaders deep in their organisation by distributing leadership across different management levels, but that was often not the case.

Blue ocean leadership addresses this need by focusing on distributed leadership, not top leadership. By distributed leadership we refer to leadership distributed at the senior, middle, and frontline levels. Blue ocean leadership sees leadership as needed at all three levels to unlock the ocean of unemployed talent and energy that stretches deep into organisations. It also understands that these three levels are different enough from one another. Each requires a different leadership profile to be effective since each has a different positional power, task environment as well as focus on and interaction with the external environment. The factors that define good leadership are derived by the acts and activities leaders need to take at each level to create a leap in value for both employees and customers. In this way, blue ocean leadership, like blue ocean strategy, is about creating a nonzero-sum, win-win outcome. As we’ve heard repeatedly, “Almost everyone leads someone, not just the top. But when it comes to leadership, we focus on the top. The truth is 90% of our people don’t even have contact with them so how is their greatness supposed to transform our organisation? We need effective leaders at every level.”

Pillar Four: Pursue high impact leadership acts and activities at low cost.

Leadership practices are all too often seen and treated as something added on to people’s regular work. But with secretaries and administrative staff in most organisations already cut back to the bare minimum and the market reality intense, most leaders’ plates are already full. Finding the time to do one’s regular job is tough enough, let alone attempting to up one’s game. So a step-change in leadership strength rarely occurs. Time is just not enough.

Blue ocean leadership recognises this. It breaks the trade-off between impact and cost by focusing as much on what acts and activities leaders need to eliminate and reduce in what they do as on what they need to raise and create to unlock the ocean of unemployed talent and energy to drive high performance. In the context of leadership, high impact refers to achieving high motivation and engagement of people to drive business results while low cost refers to a lower investment of time by leaders, which is their most expensive and limited resource.

Our research has found that many of the acts and activities that take up leaders’ time actually work against them being effective and can even be resented by those below them, not appreciated by those above them, and are an energy sapper for the leaders themselves. By expressly eliminating and reducing these acts and activities, leaders’ time is freed to focus on new acts and activities that make a real impact on leading and producing business results driven by people. Without freeing up leaders’ time in this way, it is often no more than wishful thinking that leaders will have the time to up their game..

Conventional Leadership Development Appoaches Blue Ocean Leadership
Focus on the values, qualities and behavioural styles that make for good leadership under the assumption that these ultimately translate into high performance. Focus on what acts and activities leaders need to undertake to boost their teams’ motivation and business results, not on who leaders need to be.
Tend to be quite generic and are often detached from what organizations stand for in the eyes of their customers and the market results their people are expected to achieve. Connect leaders actions closely to market realities by having the people who face market realities define what leadership practices hold them back and what leadership actions would enable them to thrive and best serve customers and other key stakeholders.
Focus mostly on the executive and senior levels of organizations. Distribute leadership across all three management levels because outstanding organizational performance often comes down to the motivation and actions of middle and frontline leaders who are in closer contact with the market.
Invest extra time for leadership practices added on to people’s regular work. Pursue high impact leadership acts and activities at low cost by focusing as much on what leaders need to eliminate and reduce in what they do as on what they need to raise and create.

To put blue ocean leadership in action, we adapt the analytic tools and frameworks of blue ocean strategy to the leadership context. The result is the Leadership Canvas, the Leadership Profile and the Blue Ocean Leadership Grid all of which are grounded in acts and activities, easy to understand and communicate and that engage more people in an organization…The tools and methodology point is very important…

Without that it is very hard for research to do more than inform but practically address the challenges of leadership development for high performance…!!

“11 Leadership Lessons” from “Alexander the Great” | by: Manfred Kets De Vries | INSEAD

Visionary, Team-Builder, Mentor, he shows us some timeless Leadership-Lessons but also some Glaring Failures…!!

Although the “Great Man” Leadership theory belongs to the scrapheap of history, its allure continues to mystify…Underlying this theory is the assumption that if the right man (yes, it is often assumed to be a man) for the job emerges, he will almost magically take control of a situation and lead a group of people into safety or success. While such leaders are rare, there are times when a singular individual steps out from the crowd and serves as a paragon of leadership.

One such individual was Alexander the Great; one of history’s most famous warriors and a legend of almost divine status in his own lifetime. He falls into the elite category of individuals who changed the history of civilisation and shaped the present world as we know it.

From a Leadership perspective, it’s not very difficult to say that Alexander was without peer…He could be magnanimous toward defeated enemies and extremely loyal toward his friends. As a general, he led by example, leading from the front…!

Alexander’s reign illustrates a number of important leadership lessons which remain applicable to business and political chiefs today:

1. Have a compelling vision – Alexander’s actions demonstrate what can be accomplished when a person is totally focused—when he or she has clarity coupled with a ‘magnificent obsession’. Through dramatic gestures and great rhetorical skills, Alexander spoke to the collective imagination of his people and won the commitment of his followers..

2. Be unsurpassed in execution – Alexander not only had a compelling vision, he also knew how to make that vision become reality. By maintaining an excellent information system, he was able to interpret his opponent’s motives and was a master at coordinating all parts of his military machine. No other military leader before him ever used speed and surprise with such dexterity. He knew the true value of the statement “One is either quick or one is dead ” !!

3. Create a well-rounded Executive Team – Alexander also knew how to build a committed team around him and operated in a way that allowed his commanders to build on each other’s’ strengths..

4. Walk the talk – Alexander set the example of excellence with his leadership style; he led his troops quite literally from the front. When his troops went hungry or thirsty, he went hungry and thirsty; when their horses died beneath them and they had to walk, he did the same. This accessibility only changed when he succumbed to the luxury of Persian court life..

5. Encourage “Innovation” – Alexander realised the competitive advantage of strategic innovation. Because of his deft deployment of troops, his support for and reliance on the creativity of his corps of engineers, and his own logistical acumen, his war machine was the most advanced of its time..

6. Foster Group Identification – Alexander created a very astute propaganda machine to keep his people engaged. His oratory skills, based on the simple language of his soldiers, had a hypnotic influence on all who heard him. He made extensive use of powerful cultural symbols which elicited strong emotions. These ‘meaning-management’ actions, combined with his talent for leading by example, fostered strong group identification among his troops, and motivated his men to make exceptional efforts..

7. Encourage and Support Followers – Alexander knew how to encourage his people for their excellence in battle in ways that brought out greater excellence. He routinely singled people out for special attention and recalled acts of bravery performed by former and fallen heroes, making it clear that individual contributions would be recognised. He also had the ability to be a ‘container’ of the emotions of his people through empathetic listening.

8. Invest in Talent Management – Extremely visionary for his time, Alexander spent an extraordinary amount of resources on training and development. He not only trained his present troops but also looked to the future by developing the next generation.

9. Consolidate Gains – Paradoxically, three of Alexander’s most valuable lessons were taught not through his strengths but through his weaknesses. The first of these is the need to consolidate gains. Alexander failed to put the right control systems in place to integrate his empire and thus never really savoured the fruit of his accomplishments. Conquest may be richly rewarding, but a leader who advances without ensuring the stability of his or her gains stands to lose everything..

10. Succession Planning – Another lesson Alexander taught by omission is the need for a viable succession plan. He was so focused on his own role as king and aspiring deity that he could not bring himself to think of the future when he was gone. As a result, political vultures tore his vast empire apart after his death.

11. Create Mechanisms of Organisational Governance – The final lesson that the case of Alexander illustrates (again by omission) is the paramount importance of countervailing powers. Leaders have the responsibility to put proper mechanisms of organisational governance into place, using checks and balances to prevent faulty decision-making and the abuse of power.

Alexander began his reign as an enlightened ruler, encouraging participation by his ‘companions’—Loyal soldiers drawn from the noble families in Macedonia. But like many rulers before him, he became addicted to power. Hubris raised its ugly head. As time passed, Alexander’s behaviour became increasingly domineering and grandiose…

He tolerated nothing but applause from his audience, so his immediate circle kept their reservations to themselves. As a result he lost touch with reality, another factor leading to his failure to consolidate his empire…!!

“Global Luxury Brands” : Why India matters ? | by: Sapna Agarwal | Livemint

A look at the issues related to the potential of the ” Indian Luxury Market “, estimated to be worth $14 billion a year..!! 

A large and growing middle class in India is not only buying luxury goods and services but, inevitably in an Emerging Market the size of India, is also redefining the luxury market..

There’s an image of India—one that has persisted despite being a cliche—that is contoured by contrasts: Maharajas on the one hand, in full regalia and motorcades of Rolls Royce limousines, and poverty and hunger on the other. As India of the 21st century aspires to rank among global manufacturers and service providers, the luxury that once defined the Maharajas is a matter of widening aspiration, too..

The national airline—whose mascot was the Maharaja—no longer carries just the privileged few to the Swiss Alps and other luxury holiday destinations. A large and growing middle class in India is not only buying luxury goods and services but, inevitably in an emerging market the size of India, is also redefining the luxury market. But while India tops the list of tomorrow’s markets, it is yet to make it to the top in the priority markets list of luxury marketers..

What will it take for luxury marketers to tap into India? And what will it take for India to realize its luxury potential to the maximum? Experts and marketers gathered at a two-day Mint Luxury Conference in Mumbai on 31 October and 1 November to discuss some of these issues and challenges. Firstly, the definition of the Indian luxury consumer needs to change—start with banishing that cliched image of the Maharaja. “Luxury cannot be limited to just the very top or 0.01% of the population,” says Abheek Singhi, senior partner and director, Asia-Pacific leader-consumer and retail practice at consulting firm The Boston Consulting Group.

He estimates the Indian luxury market to be worth $14 billion. But for a country with a population of 1.2 billion, there are just 117,000 people who are classed as ultra-rich—people who have family wealth of over Rs.25 crore or earn Rs.3-4 crore a year, says a July report by Kotak Wealth Management. This segment of consumers prefers to do their luxury shopping abroad. In the local context, luxury denotes brands that globally are a notch lower than the finest, appealing to a wider audience of the top 1%, 5% or even 15% who have the aspirations and the money to buy them, said Singhi..

To grow the luxury market, “marketers selling in India need to be innovative and reach out to new consumers”, says Sanjay Kapoor, managing director of Genesis Colors Pvt. Ltd, parent of Genesis Luxury Fashion Pvt. Ltd whose portfolio includes brands such as Bottega Veneta, Burberry and Canali. According to Kapoor, luxury marketers need to continually “upgrade” consumers used to buying premium to luxury goods and services. “It’s a continuous process of educating people about brands to grow the existing business,” says Kapoor. Adding new brands and opening new stores is the business part of the same process..

There are FIVE Luxury Consumer Segments emerging in India, says Singhi : Classpirationals, who want to blend in with the classes; Fashionistas, or Trendsetters; Experiencers who love travelling, wine tasting, etc.; Absolute Luxurers for whom luxury is about exclusivity and customization; and Megacitiers—part of the global elite..

As such, the Indian luxury consumer is spread across the metros, tier-I and tier-II cities. “Close to 40% of the Indian luxury consumers are living outside of metros and shop on their travel overseas or in the metros,” says Singhi..

Firms seeking to expand in India speak of infrastructure challenges. For instance, India got it’s first luxury mall—DLF Emporio—in south Delhi in 2007. Now, there are just two more luxury malls in the country. “The biggest impediment to the development of the luxury market is the lack of infrastructure and an environment,” says Rahul Prasad, managing director (Asia-Pacific and Middle East), Pike Preston Partners Ltd, a boutique advisory firm on mergers and acquisitions in the fashion and luxury segments..

Meanwhile, with the new National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in India, businesses are hopeful regulatory hurdles will be resolved. “The new government’s approach has energized a number of companies, including multi-brand retailers and international retailers..,” says Pierre Mallevays, founder and managing partner of Savigny Partners LLP, a corporate finance advisory firm focusing on the retail and luxury goods industry..

At the Mint Luxury summit, Nirmala Sitharaman, commerce and industry minister, agreed to look into the requirement of 30% sourcing from domestic companies for single-brand foreign retailers who are allowed to invest 100%..

The challenges remain daunting. According to Armando Branchini, vice-chairman of the Altagamma foundation, a conglomerate of several high-end Italian companies, there are 17 Italian luxury brands in India at the moment, a number that has remained unchanged since 2005..

British luxury brands are focusing their efforts in other markets such as China, says Charlotte Keesing, director at Walpole British Luxury, a consortium of British luxury retailers like Jimmy Choo, Harrods and Burberry. Eight years ago, India and China both were on the long-term radar of luxury product marketers..

Today, China has become one of the biggest growth drivers of such products, and India is yet to take off…“ There are only 18 of 90 British luxury retailers present in India today and less than a dozen are looking at entering the market in the next two years,” said Keesing…

“Mall Management” – The “New Success Mantra” for Malls In India | Realty Plus

The Indian #RetailMarket, has gone through a prolonged (and sometimes painful) process of transformation…With rapid development across the country, India has witnessed the emergence of a well-entrenched mall culture over the past decade….However, there are several malls in the country which are faring less than well…

Failing Malls – A Growing Problem :

The not insignificant number of under-performing malls in the country definitely gives rise to concern…There is no dearth of instances where #MallDevelopers, have scrapped the entire blueprint and business model and converted their malls into office spaces. The reasons for the lack of success of these malls vary..

Some of the challenges that the developers of these malls have not been able to address are providing for adequate parking and scientific people movement within the malls, coming up with a dynamic plan for upgrading facilities, attracting a suitable tenant mix and proper positioning..

Success Ingredients : 

There is now a distinct need for mall developers to introspect on the factors that contribute to either the success or failure of a mall. For instance, there is an increasing awareness among mall developers that leasing mall spaces as opposed to selling them is the way to go. Malls in which spaces are individually sold (or ‘strata sold’) tend to suffer from the absence of proper mall management – which is now the acknowledged fulcrum for success, regardless of how large or well-conceived the mall is.

There are basic parameters that mall developers must keep in mind at the very conception and design stage of their malls. Location is, of course, a vital ingredient for the success of any mall. Approach and accessibility, especially in terms of proximity to the key centres and ingress and egress of the mall, are equally important..

The mall must have adequate facilities and provide retailers with good accessibility to their stores, space for storage and staff utilities. Very importantly, it must get the parking equation right…

Untangling the Parking Knot :

A mall that does not provide sufficient and properly planned parking in India is headed for disaster. In India, the issue of parking is a challenge to both mall owners and customers. Creating parking facilities when the cost of land is high is a very capital-intensive decision for a mall developer. This is especially true if such measures are attempted to be enhanced in retrospect. As a general guideline, developer must provide parking while keeping the size of the mall in mind. The decision on how much is needed and how much is sufficient is a critical one.

Rotation of parking slots is another important function, as malls experience more footfalls on weekends, during which customers spend more time in malls. Parking must not become an issue in high traffic periods. If a mall cannot provide enough conventional parking, it must have innovative parking facilities such as multi-level and/or automated parking systems.

Since convenience is of prime importance in a mall, the access and exits to car parking is yet another factor besides the parking area itself. The more successful malls even provide valet service to attract more patrons by providing them with more ease of access.

While the future may bring malls that have public transport connectivity, we are not quite there yet. Metros and buses connecting directly to malls can bring down the usage of personal cars, and play a major role in be dealing with challenges such as parking and increased traffic. Until then, mall developers are constrained upon to make the most of existing infrastructure.

The Mall Management Solution :

The baseline philosophy behind the creation of any mall is that it must be a place that continually attracts people into its premises, keeping them engaged and tempting them to stay for longer periods. This cannot be done just by providing a massive number of shops. Today, Indian mall visitors expect various entertainment options and engagement mechanisms, as well. Malls cannot be just shopping complexes – they must be one-stop family destinations. If they fail at this, they invariably fail completely..

With these and other reasons why malls can potentially become under-productive and sub-optimal, mall developers are now discovering that professional mall management can be a catch-all solution. In fact, one of the most common causes for the failure of malls is that they were are not professionally managed and promoted. High-grade mall management is the single-most reason why some malls have managed to perform well even during the worst periods of economic distress..

Professional mall management is about a lot more than just keeping up the facilities in a #ShoppingCentre…It is about strategizing and implementing success formulae that have been specifically tailored to the mall. Often, a professional mall management firm can undo a significant amount of ‘done damage’ by reinventing the mall’s positioning, facilities and operations almost from the ground up..

Significantly, a mall management agency can result in operating costs reducing by between 5-7% in an up-and-running mall, and by up to 10% if it is engaged at the very inception stage. However, the cost-saving element is just one side of the story. With the implementation of professional mall management, even a languishing mall can be realigned into a destination that provides the needed success ingredients – and an overall ‘experience’ for customer..

A #MallManagement Agency can Re-engineer the shopping complex’ parking arrangements, tenant mix and internal customer traffic, and also assume the responsibility of promotional activities. Simultaneously, such an agency will ensure optimal staffing solutions and keep all facilities within the mall running flawlessly..

Not surprisingly, more and more Indian mall developers are now adopting the mall management mantra as a one-stop solution to ensure that their investments reap the best possible returns for them…!!