One of the few certainties in business today is that we live in a world of fierce competition and rapid change. – Julie-ann Odell takes a candid look at the CEO’s hot seat.
Disruption in some form is taking place in every organization and many times CEOs are forced to adopt the role of firefighters–watchful for crises and ready to leap into action when they arise. It’s up to the CEO to be swift and agile enough in their decision-making skills to ensure that an effective course of action is implemented before things spiral out of control. Not only that, but they must assume their position with little concrete knowledge of what their company is going to look like ten years down the road, how the workforce will be and where the technology that supports modern day world will have evolved.
Almost every current business is being partially driven by some form of technology. As modern businesses become increasingly reliant on up-to-the-minute technology to enhance their competitive edge, CEOs must be able to have a working knowledge of the current technology on which their companies so heavily rely. They also need to develop a clear and strong comprehension of how advancements in technology can benefit their business and understand the technological tools that will be behind the businesses they run.
The external pressures under which CEOs now operate to adapt and evolve, may lead many to wonder how CEOs can sit tight in their hot seat and achieve the main objectives of ensuring company growth and revenue, inspiring the workforce and concentrating on the time necessary to drive the company forward?
Resilience and positivity definitely score high on the list, along with the ability to look at disruption optimistically, envision a set of future scenarios and be ready to adapt accordingly. The following questions will help to highlight areas that may require team development:
• Where will industry power and profits lie in the future?
• Does your mission statement allow for room to grow?
• Do you offer enough differentiation form your competitors?
• Who are your best customers and what will they want?
• Do new technologies have buy-in from your entire team?
• What capabilities and strategies are needed to make it all work?
Apart from the key questions above, it is paramount that company leaders ask themselves how to build a company culture that truly inspires and engages the multigenerational workforce. Not just appealing to millennials, but also how to tap into and integrate the skills of the new digital natives to rejuvenate the entire workforce and engage everyone in the long run.
It’s important to not only be a strong leader in a fast-moving industry, but to also have a strong team. By creating a diverse team of players who offer unique perspectives, it is possible to tackle multiple projects and to glean smart insight from employees. Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Technologies once said, “If you’re the smartest person in the room, find another room!” One of the most important traits of a good leader is the ability to recognize valuable skills and qualities in others, and place these key individuals in roles where they will have a chance to shine, even if it means ending up surrounded by phenomenal people whose capabilities may possibly outshine you. In other words, surround yourself with people who push you to think differently, who bring a new point of view to the table and who elevate your leadership.
Any individual who has risen to the C-suite is bound to already possess a wide range of business skills and company know-how. Yet, even for those who hold the prestigious title at the top, there is always room for improvement as the variety of competencies required for the role have noticeably shifted over the last decade and will continue to evolve. It’s become increasingly crucial that modern CEOs be able to accurately evaluate the potential in others and assemble a team that will help the company succeed.
According to Jerry W. Thomas, president and CEO of Decision Analyst, USA, “Senior executives tend to think that they know more than they actually know.” He explains that the actual challenge is the search for truth within the unknown. Thomas continues, “The ultimate prize is understanding cause and effect so that executives know which buttons to push, and which levers to pull to change the trajectories of their companies and brands.”
The CEOs who have a “fixed” versus “growth” mentality, or think they have arrived at a plateau of knowledge, are not consciously evolving and end up becoming very flat and toxic to their organizations. Lee Iacocca, President and CEO of Chrysler, was one of the great business leaders of the 20th century. That was in part due to the fact that he understood the importance of leading by example and being ahead of the game, and his famous quote, “The speed of the boss is the speed of the team” really highlights the need for agility and change.
Whether you’re leading a massive corporation or a small, local business, being a true modern-day CEO comes with more than its fair share of challenges. In order to rise above, CEOs must not only be prepared to learn and develop a wide range of skills, but also adapt and adjust to changing times.
When you’ve done your strategic thinking and mapped out potential futures, be prepared to embark on a program of change and rigorous growth mentality. Besides being prepared for what’s ahead, anticipate the changes in your industry by conducting research and reading the latest analyst and industry reports. Subscribe to important industry newsletters, collect quarterly reports, attend business groups and listen to what others are saying to make sure you have your finger on the pulse.
Network with all generations, as CEOs are becoming a much younger breed, and each “age” has something to learn from the other. Leave the ivory tower and spend time with the rest of the organization, making sure to hear the voice of the human system to keep your finger on the pulse. The more you keep your ear to the ground and predict the future, the better equipped you’ll be to have the groundwork for a new plan in place, and with an eagle eye view on how things are changing, you can make sure that your business stays ahead of the times.
CEOs are the public face of the company, and often directly represent the “personality” of the organization. They bring the company’s values to life with their actions and breathe the company’s mission on a daily basis. Apart from a huge dose of integrity, resiliency, authenticity and empathy, a good CEO must be able to inspire not only his or her team but the public at large, offering a compelling vision of hope and success for the company, even during times of crisis. The trick is to understand that the DNA of a company, just like the DNA of a biological organism, needs and wants to evolve, and every CEO needs to have the humility to realize that they need to constantly evolve as well.
Evolve magazine welcomes articles from CEOs that have something to say on the subject of leading from the top. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org