Kevin Cashman is a Senior Partner, CEO & Board Services, Korn/Ferry International. He is recognized as a pioneer in leadership development and executive development, focusing on optimizing executive, team, and organizational performance. He is the founder of LeaderSource, a premier global leadership and talent consulting practice, as well as the Executive to Leader Institute®, an interdisciplinary approach to leadership development and executive coaching, and Chief Executive Institute®, a comprehensive, integrated, globally delivered leadership ad coaching program for CEOs and CEO successors. Kevin’s best-selling book, Leadershp from the Inside Out, is a business classic, and his new book, The Pause Principle: Step Back to Lead Forward, has recently been released.
A frequent keynote speaker at conferences and corporate events, Kevin is a senior fellow of the Caux Roundtable, a global consortium of CEOs dedicated to enhancing principle-based leadership internationally. He is also a board member for the Center for Ethical Business Cultures, which fosters leadership in corporations.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of him. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: When and why did you decide to write The Pause Principle?
Cashman: Our world today suffers from an epidemic of “hurry sickness.” Increasingly, we are going everywhere but being nowhere. We are moving faster and faster, but for often without a clear purpose. We trade speed for significance and performance for purpose, but at what costs? Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Busy? The ants are busy.” The question we need to ask is, “Busy for what purpose?” The inspiration for writing The Pause Principle was to bring more authenticity and purpose to our leadership and our lives in order to balance our hyperactive, non-sustainable, busy-ness culture.
Morris: By what process did you formulate The Pause Principle?
Cashman: Paradoxically, pause powers purposeful performance. From observing, assessing, and coaching thousands of senior leaders around the globe for the last 30 years, one critical differentiating characteristic became apparent. Those leaders who stepped back, who practiced intentional reflection, had better self-awareness, better listening and coaching skills, and tended to make better personal, interpersonal, and business breakthroughs. In my work with senior leaders, I noticed that nearly all breakthroughs were preceded by some type of pause-through. An assessment, some feedback, a new strategy, or a boundary-breaking innovation was all born after some type of pause. Pause is the human mechanism for going deep to synthesize and emerging with insight and clarity.
Morris: Why specifically is “pause to lead forward” the “paradoxical leadership breakthrough”?
Cashman: Too often, we take for granted our simplest, yet most profound and transformative human capabilities. Sleep, for instance, is on the surface very simple. We lie down, sleep, and when we wakeup, we have renewed energy, vitality and perspective. Our superficial analysis of sleep says, “Yeah, no big deal. We rest and wake up. So what?” But take a moment to consider how profound sleep really is. Every night we go to sleep fatigued and possibly stressed from the day. Maybe we even have a little tightness or muscle ache somewhere in our body. When we awaken we feel completely rejuvenated. The muscle ache has gone away and the mental stress along with it. We feel energized physically, mentally and emotionally.
Sleep is a natural, transformative process that cannot be ignored if we hope to operate at peak levels of performance. What sleep is to the mind and body, pause is to leadership and innovation. Pause transforms management into leadership and the status quo into new realities. Pause, the natural capability to step back in order to move forward with greater clarity, momentum and impact, holds the creative power to reframe and refresh how we see ourselves and our relationships, our challenges, our capacities, our organizations and missions within a larger context. While losing touch with our ability to pause may be less obvious than losing our ability to rest, it can be just as devastating. Pause, like sleep, is also a natural transformative process that cannot be ignored if we want to operate at peak levels of performance. In our fast-paced, achieve-more-now culture, the loss of pause potential is epidemic. For many it has been lost, ignored or completely abandoned; for others it is completely unfamiliar, an unknown.
The demanding pace for global leaders has never been more challenging. Digitally connected every moment, we are increasingly tied to a 24-hour global clock. We are expected to perform constantly in the face of a global recession with all its pressures, including downsizing and mergers, and the related stresses and expectations. The list of demands, personal and professional, never ends. This is the “new normal.” Could it be that going faster and driving harder are not the answers? Could there be another way to creatively sustain high performance? Could it be that the source of our real value as leaders might come from different thinking and different choices rather than from perpetuation of the incessant pace we are straining to maintain?
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Kevin cordially invites you to check out the resources at this website:
Jane Edison Stevenson is Vice Chairman, Board & CEO Services at Korn/Ferry International, where she co-leads the firm’s Global CEO Succession Practice. She is located in Korn/Ferry’s New York and Atlanta offices. Previous to Korn/Ferry, she spent a decade as Global Managing Partner with another global leadership advisory firm and prior to that, helped to build several boutique search firms into competitive brands.
Ms Stevenson is known for her strong global relationships in Fortune 500 C-suites, and among boards of directors. She has been recognized by BusinessWeek as one of the “100 Most Influential Search Consultants in the World,” and is frequently consulted by Fortune, Forbes, BusinessWeek, and The Wall Street Journal to discuss trends and issues related to governance and innovation.
With her co-author Bilal Kaafarani, Ms. Stevenson wrote business bestseller Breaking Away: How Great Leaders Create Innovation that Drives Sustainable Growth, and Why Others Fail. Breaking Away was released by McGraw Hill last spring and defines the world’s first innovation framework, linking the importance of innovation, leadership and growth. In addition to the USA, Canada and the UK, the book was just published in Turkey, and will be coming out in China this fall.
Here is an excerpt from my interview of her. To read the complete interview, please click here.
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Morris: Before discussing Breaking Away, a few general questions. First, who has had the greatest influence on your personal growth?
Stevenson: Probably my father, John D. Edison. He is the most selfless person I know, and early on, he taught me two profound lessons: happiness is a decision, and life is a series of trade-offs – always understand what you are trading for what you are getting. He also taught me that to keep growing you have to “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” He is 75 years old now, and is still evolving and growing every year. For example, he just published his first book a few months ago, God: Grace and Deception.
Morris: The greatest impact on your professional development
Stevenson: That is a tough question. I have been blessed to work with many great people, who have both impacted and inspired me.
• My first boss in the executive search profession, Gerry Reynolds not only saw my potential, he also helped me to believe in myself.
• My friend and mentor Gerry Roche, encouraged me to develop high trust relationships that bleed from professional to personal.
• There are a number of top women whose friendship and counsel has had a profound impact on me as we have shared our journeys. In particular I would mention Adrienne Fontanella, Angela Ahrendts, Judith Glaser, Cynthia McCague, and Melanie Kusin, but there are numerous others as well.
• My co-author Bilal Kaafarani has been a key partner in my current journey, challenging my thinking and providing key insights for the future. He convinced me that we needed to write Breaking Away, to share our experience “in the trenches of innovation leadership” with others.
Partnering to develop and share the Breaking Away innovation framework has forever changed my outlook on the future.
Morris: Years ago, was there a turning point (if not an epiphany) that set you on the career course that you continue to follow?
Stevenson: The epiphany that comes to mind happened shortly after my son was born 14 years ago. I can still see the room I was in and how the sun fell on the floor around me at the moment I realized I might never get over my insecurities, and that I was going to have to decide whether I would allow them to define my life, or whether I would decide to “play full out” anyway. I decided to play full out. That decision has empowered me to take on many new challenges, like writing a book on the importance of innovation leadership and sharing a framework that can open up new possibilities for today’s leaders.
Morris: To what extent has your formal education proven to be invaluable to what you have accomplished in your life thus far?
Stevenson: Your question makes me laugh because, in matter of fact, my undergraduate education was in elementary education. Apart from my practicum teaching for six months, I never taught a day in my life, as I was immediately drafted into administration and leadership. That said, perhaps the most valuable gift of formal education is to teach us how to learn and to stay open to new truths and insights. In that case, my formal education has definitely served me well.
Morris: What are some of the most common misconceptions about executive search that in fact is true?
Stevenson: The most common misconception is that we are trying to find jobs for people, when, in fact, we are hired by the corporation to ensure that they make the best leadership selection (from either inside or outside the company) for the role at hand.
Morris: When interviewing candidates for C-level positions, which tend to reveal the most valuable information, the questions they ask or the answers they offer in respond to the questions asked of them? Please explain.
Stevenson: Both. Interviewing C-level executives is as much about learning who they are as people as it is about what they have accomplished. The questions they ask give us important insights into the way they think about things and what their priorities are. Their questions can give us a good sense about their motivators as well. Both in asking questions and in hearing the questions that are asked, our job is to understand whether the fit is one that will have the strongest odds for success. The more we can get behind a candidates questions and answers, to understand his/her value system, motivators, ambition and ability, the better job we will do of assessing whether there is a good fit.
Morris: Percentages vary somewhat but the results of dozens of major research studies suggest that during face-to-face contact, about 80-85% of the impact is determined by body language and tone of voice. What are your thoughts about that?
Stevenson: Communication is achieved through a combination of things: choice of words, affect, body language, tone of voice, choice of dress, and last, but not least, how they shake hands. You can learn a lot about someone based on a handshake. I’m not sure I could put a precise percentage on each factor, but I will say that I am more interested in intuiting “who” the person is than I am about the words alone.
Morris: In your opinion, what is the single greatest challenge that CEOs will face during the next 3-5 years? Any advice?
Stevenson: Actually, I think there are two: the changing “rules of engagement” to capture the hearts and minds of your customers in a digitally-driven world, and the desperate need for innovation and growth. In some ways, I think the two are intertwined. We live in an age of unprecedented access, interaction and connectivity. The question is: How will you use that to your company’s advantage? How will you be the beneficiary of the digital revolution, instead of having it define you? This is a big question for companies in all industry sectors. One of my friends refers to it as learning to “speak social”. The speed at which things are changing is directly influenced by new levels of access and interactivity. This creates a natural tendency for us to speed up, moving faster and faster and faster….Not a good move. The best thing you can do is to stop, look and listen, then assess what will drive the most productive and strategic results and play there.
The ability to step back and understand how to use these new “rules of engagement” to advantage, will require innovation, and will create opportunities for growth. Advice? The secret weapon will always be your people. The CEO’s who understand the power of people, and who are committed to fully utilizing people’s diverse capabilities, will ultimately win the race.
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To read the complete interview, please click here.
Jane cordially invites you to check out the resources at these websites