The Higher Ambition Leader
Magazine article, 2011
In 2009, as financial institutions faced plummeting profits and public scorn, the star of Standard Chartered Bank was on the rise. The bank posted its seventh straight year of income growth (with no help from government funding) and increased its Lending by 13%. Why was it thriving in such a difficult time? Because a different approach to leadership had taken hold there, say the authors, a team from the TruePoint consultancy. Mervyn Davies, who took Standard Chartered's reins in 2001, and his successor, Peter Sands, represent a new breed of CEO. Not content with achieving only strong economic returns, these CEOs drive their companies toward high performance on three fronts at once: creating tong-term value, producing benefits for the wider community, and building strong social capital within the organization. Many CEOs do well in one of these areas, but what sets these "higher-ambition leaders" apart is their ability to excel in all three. In pursuing their aggressive agendas, higher-ambition leaders do three things: They draw on a much broader view of their companies' organizational and cultural assets to forge more-powerful strategic visions. They build widespread commitment to achieve those visions by turning their companies into communities of shared purpose. And they demonstrate the grit to commit to their visions over the long term. As each of these activities reinforces the others, the full human and business potential of the organization is unlocked, allowing these CEOs to lead their companies to remarkable success, even in the face of daunting challenges.