In Conversation with Max Blumberg, Founder- Blumberg Partnership on People Analytics & Changing Landscape of Leadership
Dr. Max Blumberg– Founder-Blumberg Partnership, Visiting Professor, Leeds University Business School, Visiting Researcher, Goldsmiths and University of London.
Max Blumberg, Ph.D., bridges the worlds of business performance and analytics to improve strategy execution, design powerful people processes and increase sales force effectiveness.
Dr. Max has deep experience and success with virtually every aspect of business design, performance, diagnosis, and execution. He first worked as a management consultant at Accenture. He next launched and successfully sold a large technology component distribution company.
In the following chapter of his career he was new business director for two technology companies including IBM SPSS, simultaneously earning his Ph.D. in psychology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. While in graduate school he also launched the Blumberg Partnership, a Top 50 analytics consultancy that delivers analytics and machine learning solutions to organizations like Nestle, Lloyds Register, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, GB Group plc, Angle Technology, the BBC, Rentokil Initial, Barclays Corporate, Brit Insurance, the MOD, the CIPD, and Friends Provident.
In addition to his consulting and research, Max is a psychology commentator for various media outlets, contributes to Achievers Extraordinary (a charity empowering people to help themselves), is a personal fitness and Pilates trainer, and a keen musician (with one successful chart song from his youth).
Q- How do you see the changing landscape of leadership in the current environment?
In all models, I think it was very easy for the leaders to bring their perspective or the perspective of a particular group of stakeholders to the table although those models were not diverse, and inclusive whereas in today’s time remarkable transitions in the leadership models have occurred as employees, and the community has more say and a big transformation that can be seen is “doing things my way” to “doing things collaboratively”.
I think we are moving in an environment wherein the importance of inclusive and collaborative leadership would be higher than non-collaborative leadership. I truly think it is important to create a collective and collaborative approach towards decision-making in which all the stake owners of the organization have their voices heard and recognized.
Q- How can people analytics help to identify future leaders in business?
It’s quite a well-understood technique and it is certainly easy, practical, and effective. I can put it in this way wherein the FBI is looking for a serial killer and they give the descriptions i.e. he is unmarried, having issues, etc. similarly we need to create an ideal profile or a set of characteristics that can be convincing to be a collaborative leader.
When we receive a pool of probable candidates we can differentiate between a collaborative leader and a non-collaborative leader based on the traits identified. Further, we should look for the reason for the collaborative behavior in them such as high emotional quotient, awareness about others, sustained approach, and an endeavor to create a synergy of teamwork. This is how with the help of people analytics, future leaders can be identified.
Q- How can people analytics impact developing new leaders?
When we are recruiting somebody, two things that create a behavior must be focussed on, these can be called innate or built-in behavior and the other being developed behavior. I sometimes think many great leaders are born. Other people may fake being a leader but it is very exhausting to fake to be a great leader.
So, we need to focus on the components of a born leader and the components of collaborative leadership that can be learned. Further, the importance of people analytics is very high in identifying the behavioral traits that combine to become competencies for being a collaborative leader.
The components of collaborative leaders must be identified in young recruitees and then those competencies must be developed, nurtured for effective business results.
Q- How can people analytics help in retaining, and engaging top leaders?
I think there is a need for transparency in organizational culture to retain good people. I can recall the conservative approach 10 years ago wherein leadership was unidirectional and concentrated. On the contrary, in today’s times, remote working and global reach have opened the path for many individuals in terms of better prospects.
In such a competitive scenario, people analytics must be utilized to measure the culture of the firm using various measurement tools and software. Culture is very difficult to change so we need to use people analytics to find out the drivers of an open, inclusive culture in organizations. Let me give you some examples: one of the firms I am working with appreciates and rewards the employees for their clear and honest confessions and vulnerability.
Such firms are encouraging open discussions, acceptance of employees the way they are, deep thinking, and innovative leadership. I think one thing that is the future of people analytics is crowdsourcing and collective intelligence.
Organizations earlier pretended to listen to their employees but they had their clear ideas and agenda and they went with it. There was less scope for employees to separate from the organization in search of better opportunities even when they were not satisfied with the firms.
On the contrary nowadays due to remote working culture and global connectivity, if an employee is not convinced with the ideas of their leader, they have opportunities to shift to other firms, and this openness to discuss or move for better offer provides the organizations an opportunity to retain their employee by providing a better counteroffer and this way, transparency and openness can create better communication channel in the firms.
We need to inculcate collective intelligence, transparency, integrated software for discussions and grievances in firms that are operating in various nations so that a cross-border unity and a sense of belongingness can be created in the employees. So, people analytics with technological advancements will create networking platforms that will bring the voice of community, government, employees authentically together to reach desired results.
Q- How to accelerate a data-first mindset?
In order to listen to the data, there must be a willingness to listen to the data. Everybody who has worked in people analytics must have faced this situation wherein data analysis is revealing why people are leaving the organization, maybe because of their managers or any other certain repetitive issue as per the data but organizations tend to avoid the results of data analysis.
It is very difficult to create openness to evidence and remove the blockages that stop leaders from listening to dataIt may also be possible that the leaders have their psychological apprehensions behind avoiding the evidence given by data analysis such as lack of willingness to act upon the results obtained, inabilities to interpret the results, and many others.
I think it is highly important to look into the data, interpret the data and reach decisions. Largely we need to have a more intelligent and educated workforce that is open to data analysis results, similarly as it is done in Ph.D. programs wherein viva is based on data interpretation of candidates and similar intelligence and acceptance towards data must be created in the workforce of organizations to have a data-first mindset.
Q- Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I think it is going to be a big transformation in the young generation leaders who would bring their own set of energy and perform inclusive leadership which will be free from the conservative and restricted boundaries created by previous leaders of older times.
If I say all white leaders must learn to think differently, to understand the priorities of the young generation, and act accordingly. This positive transformation would revolutionize the structure of organizations to bring sustainable and highly ethical organizational frameworks with the help of people analytics as a global tool for managing the workforce.
Thank You, Max!