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Organizational success takes connected leadership

3-minute read

I lead the Accenture Research team that delves into the realm of talent and organizational strategies for our clients. Recently, I embarked on a journey that brought forth a surprising revelation—one that reshaped my understanding of effective leadership and its impact on organizational success. It started with the research conducted for the CHRO as a Growth Executive report, where I discovered the remarkable power of connections and mutually influential relationships at the C-level. What was revealed was the significance of collaborative leadership in the face of an ever-changing business landscape.

First, let's take a moment to explore the insights presented in the report. With this research, we aimed to highlight the vital role of the Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) who operate as growth executives, partnering across the C-suite to drive agility and results for the business and for people. Moving beyond just optimizing operations and managing costs, these leading CHROs operate at the heart of their company’s reinvention, viewing data, tech and people as the ‘growth combination’ that brings previously unseen opportunities into focus. Through our analysis, we found that this growth combination essentially has a multiplier effect.

Companies stand to gain four percent top-line productivity by harnessing data and tech; they stand to gain five percent by harnessing talent. So, the combined effect of both should have been nine percent, but it's actually 11 percent—indicating a value boost associated with connecting the two. And these results are reinforced when organizational executives break free from traditional siloes and foster connected leadership.

Our more recent research on Reinventing enterprise operations amplified these findings, with 82 percent of CEOs believing that an increasingly emerging role of the CHRO is to drive new collaborations across the C-suite. This resonated strongly with me since leading CHROs are 4x more likely to have strong relationships of mutual influence across the entire C-suite, further enabling collaboration and innovation to build competitive advantage. Time and time again through interviews with CHROs from large multinational organizations, I heard how real change and innovation happen in the connections.

Companies stand to gain four percent top-line productivity by harnessing data and tech; they stand to gain five percent by harnessing talent.

Witnessing real collaboration in action

During my involvement in this research, I had the privilege of partnering closely with Accenture’s Chief Marketing & Communications Officer, our Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer, and the Group Chief Executive for Accenture Operations. What struck me the most were the strength of their relationships, the continuous engagement and how effectively they collaborated throughout the research and writing phases.

At Accenture, and—indeed within Accenture Research—our culture and processes are deeply rooted in the importance of diversity, collaboration and executive sponsorship to drive innovation. Still, the passion for our goals and the interconnectedness of these leaders were especially pronounced during this project. I watched as they challenged one another's perspectives, nurtured an environment of open dialogue, and together, propelled the research forward.

Their shared vision and aligned goals truly elevated the quality and impact of the report. Working alongside these influential leaders showcased the transformative power of connected leadership. In my 23 years as a researcher and thought leadership professional here at Accenture, I had never experienced something so…magical.

Setting the stage for cooperation

Organizations that prioritize connected and collaborative leadership are better equipped to navigate uncertainty, reinvent their business, respond swiftly to market shifts, and create a culture of continuous innovation. By tearing down siloes and fostering strong connections—internally and externally—companies can unlock the full potential of their workforce, achieve sustainable growth, and drive meaningful change both for the business and society.

To cultivate connected leadership, organizations should…

  • Foster a culture of collaboration: Encourage open communication, cross-functional collaboration, and knowledge sharing. Create platforms and opportunities for leaders to connect and exchange ideas, fostering a sense of shared purpose.
  • Break down siloes: Move away from isolated departmental structures and promote cross-functional teams. Encourage leaders to work collaboratively across functions, enabling a holistic view of the organization and promoting integration.
  • Facilitate relationship building: Provide opportunities for C-level executives to interact and build relationships. This can be through regular meetings, collaborative projects, or even social events. Nurture an environment that values networking and relationship-building at all levels and across organizations and industries. This will power broader change beyond their companies and enable innovation to build competitive advantage.
  • Lead by example: C-level executives should embody the principles of connected leadership. By demonstrating collaboration, active listening, and open-mindedness, they set the tone for the entire organization and inspire others to follow suit.
  • Embrace technology and tools: Leverage digital platforms and tools that facilitate collaboration, knowledge sharing and virtual connectivity. Embracing technology can bridge geographical distances and enable seamless communication, further strengthening the bonds of connected leadership.

The findings presented in the report, coupled with my personal experience, underscore the imperative for organizations to foster connected leadership at the C-suite level. To succeed in today's dynamic and ever-changing landscape, businesses must transcend traditional siloes and embrace collaborative strategies.


Laurie A. Henneborn

Managing Director – Accenture Research