Is your current leadership benchmark right?

Last year in October during a valuation executive programme with prof. Kevin Kaiser from INSEAD we had the chance to discuss about leadership teams behaviors and long term value creation, my “obsession” for many years.

Kevin suggested me Fred Kiel’s book, “Return on Character” and while reading it I found many similarities both in our missions (K.M.Trust’s and KRW’s) and in the challenges we had faced in our markets in terms of convincing shareholders and/or company executives by the importance of putting moral values in leadership on top of the list, ahead of competences and of course, without minimizing the high importance of the latter.

While reading as well the HBR article about KRW’s findings and their methodology, I saw a lot of complementarities to our methodology.

I therefore decided immediately to write to Fred and see whether we could join forces somehow into enhancing our missions at a larger scale and not just locally.

He kindly replied in few hours and since then we are exploring together with the other wonderful people from KRW (Kelly Garramone – Managing Partner (who happened to live in Romania for a short time at the end of the ‘90s), Brent Walsh – Partner based in Paris, etc.) a partnership to get us closer to our missions – in short – contributing to a better world where leaders of certain profile* are focused on long term value creation.

Over the years, in K.M.Trust & Partners we have developed a certain leadership benchmark while digging into
– Neuroscience (Dr. Sirini Pillay, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, etc),
– Emotional Intelligence (Daniel Goleman, Chade Meng Tan, John Kabat Zinn, Shirzad Chamine, and many more),
– Micro-expressions’ assessment (Paul Ekman),
– Body language and
– Speech structure,
etc.. that led us to create a pretty good structure around it and a pretty good methodology to assess it.

The thousands of interviews and executive meetings we’ve had, the opportunity to have exposure to the very best – Harvard Business School, INSEAD, Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching, to our clients, etc. were each a huge learning and refinement process.

Combining what we learned from the information exchange with KRW together with our know-how, it reinforced THE benchmark leadership profile* we believe to be complete enough to be used by companies as mandatory filter when recruiting/promoting their executives.

*THE benchmark leadership profile:

  • Moral values are paramount (integrity, ethics, respect, trust, forgiveness, responsibility, compassion,)
  • Professional competence (not to be read competences)
  • Curiosity, continuous learning
  • Determination/ambition
  • Energy and drive
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Collaborative spirit
  • Puts others first/never self-centred
  • Coachability
  • Digital Transformation Capabilities (adaptability, willingness to experiment, etc.)
  • Greater good focus (we include here a high focus on a positive social and environmental impact)

You may say that this profile is hard to find. I may say we may not look hard and well enough. There are not so many people like that indeed but I could bet they are quite a few around plus some that could be developed towards that.

We only need to change our reflexes and look harder, assess better what we hire/promote and elevate in businesses and in business schools.


Radu Manolescu

Co-founder & Managing Partner

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