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: Breaking Ground

Diversity is not just a moral obligation or the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint – it’s an economic imperative, powering more profitable, innovative and creative businesses. Through this report, supported by interviews with 24 female E&C CEOs and executive leaders and a range of quantitative data, Savannah Group explores the sheer scale of the challenge and an actionable roadmap to achieving better diversity.

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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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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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The Elephant in the Boardroom

I have been in the privileged position to discuss race and diversity in all its forms with many leading Chief Executives and Chairs. One thing that always struck me was their need for a safe environment. An environment where they could not only challenge me but also their own concepts of race and get a better understanding of privilege in order to make their companies more attractive, better and ultimately more profitable places to work.

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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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Gender Diversity in Technology

Why do clients value diversity and why is it so difficult? Our clients are continually asking us to focus on diversity – and within technology, particularly on gender diversity. Focusing on diversity just to box tick won’t get you very far, but an authentic, full-hearted commitment at the most senior levels of leadership will reap significant benefits for your company. We’ve compiled some practical advice on how organisations can address this ongoing issue.

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The £45 Billion Opportunity

Recently published analysis by Deloitte found that poor mental health costs UK businesses up to £45 billion each year – a rise of 16% since 2016. Rob Stephenson, Founder of InsideOut is a campaigner for creating healthier workplaces. Rob describes mental health as one of the big challenges of our lifetime. So how do we capitalise on this £45 billion opportunity? And what is the role of the board and the executive committee in really pushing the mental health agenda forwards? To explore these questions, InsideOut partnered with Savannah Group for an event hosted at KPMG to bring a room of senior executives together to educate and inspire about the opportunities addressing mental health in the workplace can bring.

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The Business Case for a Neurodiverse Workforce

Analysis of FTSE 100 & 250 appointments through 2018 showed that 62% of FTSE 100 board appointments in the second half of 2018 were women. But simply hitting a diversity target isn’t enough. Diversity requires diverse thought, experiences and opinions. With 10% of the workforce estimated as neurodivergent, and talent scarcity among the skills that some neurodivergent individuals excel at, for the organisations that are brave the potential upside is huge. So how can organisations build a more inclusive environment?

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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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Is It Time To Go Back To The Fundamentals of Leadership?

Leadership development is a $200 billion industry. From coaching existing leaders, to teaching new MBAs, to books and courses, businesses and individuals are spending a huge amount of money in the pursuit of producing or becoming a better leader. But is it working? We invited a dozen Group HRDs to discuss this at a breakfast briefing co-hosted with the Harvard Business Review and chaired by Ron Ashkenas, an Emeritus Partner of US-based Schaffer Consulting.

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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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How AI, Cloud And Blockchain Is Inciting The Next Corporate Technological Revolution

Savannah Group recently hosted an event for a selection of CIOs, CTOs and CDOs and invited Dr Jai Menon, Chief Scientist at Cloudistics to lead a discussion on the major technological changes driving change in organisations at the moment.

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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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Will Employee Experience Be the Death Knell for Executive Interims?

Employee engagement is out, and employee experience has emerged as its successor. Tailored, highly personal, and focused on the individual rather than the collective, a focus on employee experience aims to use a multitude of feedback tools, apps and self-service technologies to improve the employee experience.

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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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12 Emerging HR Technologies & Trends to Keep Your Eye On

The HR tech space is exploding, with over 135 start-ups innovating across the HR value chain. Due to the sheer volume of start-ups and how fragmented the HR Tech space is, it can be difficult for HR leaders to keep abreast of new and emerging technologies and prioritise which technologies are worth exploring. We welcomed a selection of Group HRDs for a presentation and discussion focused on the workplace as a native function, what the trends and emerging technologies are and what the HR function can do to encourage innovation.

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Are we pushing diversity in business fast enough?

Diversity matters. It is important for humanity, for education and, most notably, for business. Diverse leadership teams ignite more creativity and innovation, with a range of backgrounds, experiences and mindsets all contributing to business, customer and product development. This, in turn, encourages and promotes more inclusive attitudes, which attract the top talent that every business needs for fast financial growth.

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Executive Briefing: The Future of the IT Organisation

Savannah Group and Leading Edge Forum recently hosted a breakfast briefing at Savannah’s offices in London to discuss “The Future of the IT Organisation”. Bill Murray of LEF presented key findings from a recent LEF research report, with a subsequent roundtable debate with fifteen CIOs/CTOs and CDOs on whether there will be an IT Organisation in the future.

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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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Does Culture Still Eat Strategy For Breakfast? If So, What’s For Lunch??

Perhaps most famously, the importance of culture was summed up in Peter Drucker’s famous quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”, but to what degree is this still true in today’s disrupted age? In a business world awash with private funding, and an insatiable appetite from shareholders of public companies for increasing returns year on year, is culture still seen as a priority by current business leaders?

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5 Critical Questions Senior Executives Must Ask As Their Organisation Implements AI

It’s hard to ignore the hype surrounding Artificial Intelligence. If it hasn’t been deployed within your organisation already, the deployment of AI within most businesses looks inevitable. Decisions being made right now about AI within your organisation bring significant opportunities such as cost savings, new insights into data patterns and enhanced customer service but it also brings risks and vulnerabilities.

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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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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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How To Bring Diversity To Your Executive Team

In a rush to bring diverse talent to an organisation, few stop to ask themselves why they are actually doing this. What is it about the sex or race of a particular candidate that makes them the best fit? What does the company hope to gain by seeking out a more diverse group of candidates in general? Answering those important questions holds the key to unlocking the potential of a diverse organisation, and that requires redefining what diversity is.

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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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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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The past was yours, but the future’s mine

I attended an incredibly engaging talk by Mark Shayler towards the end of 2016 that concerned the current age of disruption that is occurring globally. In this article I discuss and highlight five of the key power shifts he outlined.

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Diversity in Fintech: A 15 to 35% Boost In Performance?

Recent studies have highlighted how male-dominated FinTech boards are, with some studies finding that as much as 69% of FinTech firms’ boards are entirely male. These findings coupled with a significant amount of research suggesting a lack of racial and gender diversity at Board level in Technology and Finance should create a cause for concern among FinTech companies.

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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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