Insights & Research

Insights & Research

Exclusive Insights

Original research and insightful articles on leadership, people and culture, change management and career advancement for busy senior executives.

Report: Succession Planning with Military Precision

This report in Savannah Groups’s People and Performance series features lessons for CEOs from the Armed Forces. The British military is renowned for its world-class leadership. Over centuries, they have honed a highly effective structure for identifying and developing leadership talent. The trio of organisations that make up the British Armed Forces – the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force – are each the size of a FTSE 100 company and have their own leader responsible for managing tens of thousands of people and billions of pounds of budget and assets. They represent the UK on the global geo-political stage, including security, trade, foreign relations and international business partnerships.

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Report: The DNA of the Future CFO

This report looks at the evolution of the CFO as a strategic visionary and business advisor. CFOs have been gradually transitioning to a more influential and business-focused role, presenting them with a different range of challenges and a complex and demanding remit. We look at questions such as ‘what will define successful CFOs in a post-crisis business landscape?’ and ‘if the skills and traits required of a successful CFO are evolving, are the approaches to identifying the best succession candidates, internally and externally, changing too?’

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The Unfinished Business of Boardroom Gender Diversity

The Government backed Davies Review in 2011 followed by the Hampton-Alexander Review in 2016, successfully encouraged a voluntary effort to substantially increase the number of women on the boards of the FTSE 350 listed companies and this effort has cascaded down through AIM listed and the largest privately held companies. In 2012, only 12% of the FTSE 350 non-executive directors were women.  Today, it is close to 40% and still increasing. While this success needs to recognised, it also masks a deeper problem. If companies can’t get on top of gender diversity, will they be able to succeed with other forms of diversity?

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Mastering Leadership Transitions – Both Internally & Externally

A combination of remote working and an accelerated pace of change have made transitions more challenging than ever. Whether moving internally or externally, leaders are faced with building trust, credibility, and their networks, without being able to spend time with their colleagues face to face. To discuss how to set leaders up for success in this environment, Savannah Group was joined by Michael Watkins, bestselling author of The First 90 Days, Master your Next Move, Professor at IMD Business School and co-founder of Genesis, and Danielle Harmer, Chief People Officer at Aviva.

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Report: Sequencing the DNA of Tomorrow’s CEO

CEOs were already operating in a volatile, fast-changing business environment, but the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the challenges they must overcome to succeed. In June 2020, Savannah Group surveyed 90 chairs and CEOs from FTSE and PE-backed companies about their views on how the traits and skills required of a business leader are changing. In the responses to an open question about the fundamental challenges facing CEOs in the “next normal” arising from the crisis, several key themes emerged.

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The DNA of the Future Organisation

How has the DNA of our organisations been altered in recent months? And how will it evolve to support a super-resilient business model that can thrive in times of uncertainty? During our virtual event our panel members discussed practical actions that organisations can take now.

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Agile Leadership for Organisational Performance

For leaders in the current climate, everything is magnified. Rapidly changing business environments require strategically agile leaders, able to quickly adapt to changing situations and with a high degree of cultural sensitivity to make them equally effective across the global span of their business operations. Savannah Group recently hosted an event with panel of experts to get their thoughts and insight into what defines leadership agility and how to identify and develop it within teams and organisations.

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Savannah Market Insights: Leadership for the ‘Next Normal’. Issue 2: August

Following on from our First Market Insights report released in May, we’ve continued our conversations with board members and senior executives across a range of sectors and industries to gather insights and opinion in the current yet ever changing business landscape. This document summarises key themes, concerns and forward plans from those conversations.

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Cybersecurity: Three Questions All Executives Should Now Be Asking Their CISOs

As we speak to executives in businesses that are now restarting, an area of concern that comes up frequently is information security as a result of remote working. With the majority of workers continuing to work from home on laptops and computers there are worries over increased vulnerability to cybersecurity attacks or a significant data breach. So what three questions should you be asking your CISO that you probably aren’t? And what answers should you be expecting to hear back?

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Onboarding a New Leader — Remotely

Imagine that you have a new supply-chain leader starting next week. You hired her to do supply-chain transformation before the crisis took hold. But now she is joining remotely and inheriting a remote team, and her short-term, urgent priorities are very different from what they appeared to be before the pandemic. As her manager, how can you make her onboarding experience a productive one? What can you do to support her so that she’ll hit the ground running?

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Returning Employees from Furlough: Leaders Share Their Plans and Concerns

With 6.3 million furloughed workers in the UK and an imminent tapering of the scheme, I have been speaking to many senior HR leaders about their plans for re-engagement of staff and the challenges that may bring. These conversations have revealed hugely complex organisational design issues to contend with as businesses work to try to understand the many different iterations of what the “next normal” could look like.

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Savannah Market Insights: Leadership for the ‘Next Normal’. Issue 1: May

Over the past six weeks we’ve held hundreds of conversations with board members and senior executives across a range of sectors and industries during phase one and the early part of phase two of the coronavirus crisis. This document summarises key themes, concerns and forward plans from those conversations.

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Corporate Innovation Isn’t Working with Mark Zawacki

Mark Zawacki (Business Strategist and Founder of Silicon Valley based 650 Labs) unpacks the issue by taking us through a variety of reasons as to why innovation and digital transformation isn’t working, why innovation theatre is rampant, and what organisations need to do in order to remain relevant in the decade ahead and to ignite new double-digit growth, particularly in light of the challenges we’re currently experiencing and the impact on the economy globally.

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Four Paths to Becoming a Platform Business

New ecosystems are superseding conventional business models in many industries. The recent global pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in sectors that we couldn’t have foreseen even a few months ago. As this evolution takes shape, the roles of CIO and CDO are at the forefront of digital transformation. But this isn’t digital transformation as we know it. Moving from paths to platforms requires technology to fundamentally reinvent the business as digital-first.  The role of the CIO and CDO is to bring the right tech to the table.

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Is There A Place for Narcissistic Leaders?

Without restraining anchors, narcissists believe they’re invincible, listening less to words of caution and advice. Rather than trying to persuade those who disagree with him/her, they feel justified in ignoring others, creating further isolation – abrasive with employees who doubt them or with subordinates who are tough enough to fight back. As the more independent-minded team members leave or are pushed out, succession becomes a potential problem. Narcissists ultimately don’t want to change – and if they’re successful, they don’t think they have to.

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The Value of Humble Leadership

Humility and vulnerability in leadership seems to be the latest badge of virtue for those in positions of power. Sometimes packaged as servant, supportive or vulnerable leadership, humble leadership has been around as an idea since the 1970s. But is humble leadership practical in reality?

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Digital Transformation Is Not About the Technology

We’re all increasingly told that the new digital world turns everything on its head. That the new digital strategy says that we should look at the latest buzzwords and build business cases around why they are appropriate for deployment. History however is littered with cautionary tales of businesses that ‘bet the business’ on a certain strategy or approach, so how do you get digital transformation right?

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Why Private Equity Is A Step Ahead When It Comes To The Smart Use Of Executive Interims

Today’s forces of disruption are having a marked effect on the way businesses approach change and transformation. Is the greater demand for growth the reason why private equity-backed businesses are getting more from commercial executive interims and leaving the larger public corporates trailing in their wake?

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A Survival Guide For The Modern CEO

The job of CEOs (or Chairman) is unique and becoming even more challenging. This was discussed at our latest Boardroom Lunch for Chairmen, CEOs and Investors across the Leisure & Hospitality sector. It’s clear there are great potential upsides to being a CEO, it was also interesting that a high proportion of CEO’s commented that the role differed to what they had perhaps expected…

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When Is A Good CEO Not A Good CEO?

The latest of Savannah’s series of Boardroom Lunches for Chairmen, CEOs and Investors across the Leisure & Hospitality sector, centred on the recent conversation Tim Clouting had with a senior exec in a successful, sizable global organisation, discussing the five strong years of consistent profit/share price growth of his organisation and the rightful plaudits coming the way of the CEO.

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Everyone Has A Plan Until They Get Punched In The Mouth – How CEOs Are Developing Resilience

The CEO’s role has never been easy, and it doesn’t look like it will be getting easier any time soon. New entrants, digitisation, changing consumer buying patterns, new shareholders and profit warnings, being a CEO in today’s business environment requires high levels of resilience on both a personal level and within the organisation itself. What follows are lessons and insights picked up from some of the most successful players within the leisure and hospitality sectors, explaining how they’re reacting to a fast-changing world, and what their advice would be to other CEOs in a similar position.

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Evolution or Extinction? The Changing Role of the CIO

A decade ago, virtually every CIO role focused on one thing: large scale ERP experience. CIOs marshalled small armies of people and large budgets, whilst being perceived by the business as a back office function whose sole purpose was systems optimisation. Skip forward to today and the vast majority of CIO roles are a hybrid of classic and new; dealing with the challenges of a legacy environment and “digitising” the business.

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It’s Your Employees’ Mindsets That Are Hampering Your Productivity – Not Your Technology

We recently welcomed a number of CIOs, CTOs and CDOs for a breakfast discussion about the latest technology devices and their current and future business applications. Lewis Richards from the Leading Edge Forum led the discussion and brought with him a number of these devices, giving the senior leaders in attendance the chance to have a hands-on experience.

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How Is Digital Impacting The Media, Sport & Entertainment Industry?

Savannah Group recently hosted its inaugural Media, Sports and Entertainment dinner for a selection of prominent senior executives, hosted by Tony Simpson. The focus of the dinner was a discussion around how an ever more digital future will impact businesses of all shapes and sizes within the Media, Sport and Entertainment industry.

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Five Opportunities for Leadership Careers Post Digital-Disruption

Digital disruption is a much-discussed topic, but what does a leader do when the industry they have succeeded in begins to erode beneath their feet? Can their skills, experience and deep industry insight transfer to the new world of challenger businesses, or do the skills that helped make them a success actually work against them?

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“There’s Nothing Worse Than A Grumpy CEO” – How A Leader’s Mentality Affects The Whole Organisation

Against the backdrop of a challenging business environment, where markets are more judgemental and unforgiving, how important is the tone that the CEO sets within an organisation?

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Key Takeaways From Prof. Venkatraman’s Breakfast Briefing On Digital Disruption & Strategy

Savannah Group, in partnership with PA Consulting Group, recently hosted a breakfast briefing on digital disruption and strategy, welcoming CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, HRDs and their senior colleagues to our venue in London, overlooking the Thames. The highlight of the event was a presentation given by Professor Venkat Venkatraman of Boston University Questrom School of Business, one of the world’s leading researchers and commentators on digital transformation.

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Five things you need to know about the GDPR

The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is coming into force in the EU from May 2018. GDPR is about protecting the privacy of an individual’s personal data. It’s been introduced to bring different rules across EU countries into a single set and to make sure companies respect and take care of the personal data that they hold on their customers and prospects. Andy Warren, CISO at Invenias, explains the five key things that senior leaders need to be aware of.

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Using Timing & Luck To Your Advantage: 9 Lessons From CEOs

“Timing is everything” is a phrase we hear all the time. But how do you get the timing right? How do you become better at it, and how do you bring the elusive themes of “timing and luck” more firmly under your control? These questions became the focus of our discussion at a recent Savannah Boardroom lunch for senior executives.

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The Key Competencies of an outstanding CIO/CDO- Building collaborative teams

Almost all our international clients are on a journey to greater globalisation and collaborative working across global, cultural, functional and hierarchical boundaries. Without exception, they are finding that whilst it sounds like good common sense, making it work is hugely complex and along the way are obstacles (usually man-made) which nobody anticipated.

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The Key Competencies of an outstanding CIO/CDO- Leadership

If you have clicked on this leadership icon, I’m guessing that you have probably read a number of books on leadership – let’s face it there are thousands of them to choose from with more being published every day. One of the reasons for the plethora of authors putting pen to paper is that it is such a critical topic, whether considered in a political, economic, business or indeed personal sense.

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The transformational CIO

When meeting boards to discuss their need to hire a CIO/CTO, the first question my colleagues and I always ask is on the need for evolution versus revolution in the technology function and what it delivers. Clients are often reluctant to admit that they are seeking a slower tempo of change since they fear seeming complacent or lacking ambition, but no organisation thrives in constant chaos so the desire for gradual change should not be dismissed as untenable.

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Eight leadership lessons from Chairmen to CEOs

We hosted a boardroom lunch at our London Office for Chairmen, NEDs, CEOs and Investors from the Leisure, Hospitality & Travel sector. The topic of discussion was on the advice that this group of esteemed executives would give to a new CEO today.

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Overcoming The Challenges Facing HR Leadership

Having recently moved to executive search with a focus on senior HR roles within Financial Services, I read with interest Savannah’s report on the Rise of the CHRO, which outlined some of the challenges that the CHRO is currently facing including compensation, strategic partnerships, internal perception and title inflation. Many of these resonated with me and I wanted to provide my perspective on the direction I feel the senior HR function needs to take to overcome these hurdles.

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Are The Days Of The Generalist HR Interim Manager Numbered?

One of the questions I am most frequently asked by Interim Managers is “How are you finding the market?” to which there is not a straightforward answer. Much has changed in the Interim HR space over the past five to ten years that has shaped how it operates today.

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Have You Adapted To The Changing HR Interim Model?

Historically, the interim market has moved at a much faster pace than the executive search market. Over the past five to ten years, the client-side interviewing and overall assessment process in the HR interim market has been changing, so that the difference between the executive search process is not as apparent as it once was.

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Source, Attract, Retain: Building a Data & Analytics Talent Strategy

Research from SINTEF, the largest independent research company in Scandinavia, suggests that more data has been collected over the past two years than in the entire history of the human race. The convergence of several technology trends is accelerating this process, resulting in greater access to data, enhanced data storage, faster data mining and innovative utilisation of data in technologies such as AI. So how are businesses taking advantage of this exponential growth in data, and who do they need to hire to create a successful data and analytics function?

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CFO Succession: Could The Convergence Of Responsibilities Hold The Key?

We are often asked to find candidates to assume responsibility for multiple functions, none more so than in the CFO role. It is curious however to see where convergence starts to occur further down the organisational structure and how the trends change from year to year and sector to sector.

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Our Journey to 90+ CIO,CTO & CDO Mentees

We are passionate about helping the CIO function to evolve and have partnered with CIO Development to set up a mentoring scheme to accelerate the professional development of next generation technology leaders.

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Are You A True Transformational CIO?

When meeting boards to discuss their need to hire a CIO or CTO, the first question my colleagues and I always ask is whether they need evolution or revolution within their technology function. Clients are often reluctant to admit they are seeking a slower tempo of change since they fear seeming complacent or lacking ambition, but no organisation thrives in constant chaos so should not feel uncomfortable aiming for a gradual approach to change.

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Are You The Type Of Strategic HR Leader CEOs Are Looking For?

How can HR get in the Boardroom? HR’s lack of influence at Board-level isn’t anything new; it’s something that has been debated for many years now. So why is the top table so reluctant to give them a seat?

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How Yum! Foods Built Their Brands In Emerging Markets

At a recent Leisure & Hospitality Breakfast series hosted at Claridges Hotel, Niren Chaudhary presented to a senior audience on “How to build brands in emerging economies” – a fascinating presentation based on a hugely successful turnaround and growth story when Niren was President of India for Yum! Foods. The presentation received outstanding feedback from the Chairmen, CEOs, COOs/ MDs, HR Directors and CMOs in the audience, so I wanted to share the essence of that presentation here.

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Design Thinking in HR

The more inspirational HR leaders take time to listen and learn, conducting rigorous analysis and truly understanding the bigger picture. Only then can they decide which of the tools in their armoury to deploy, drive and integrate within the organisation. Design Thinking in HR, is a solution-based approach, focusing on a set of organisational goals in the context of both present and future parameters.

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