March 18, 2019

The Make or Break CEO: Precepts for Success

Bill Link

Bill Link
Global V.P. - People Support & Development and Communications/2THEDGE

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Emerging Technologies are reshaping industry marketplaces at an accelerating rate. Sophisticated, tech-savvy users are accustomed to, and expect, regular “new releases” of products and services that will “out-do” the competition with every iteration. 

In 2005, Alan Deutschman wrote “Change or Die.” Though the context was more about people’s resistance to change even in dire circumstances, the need to overcome resistance is critical for organizational “health” and survival, too. This ability is a critical CEO success factor.

In fact, it is the “make or break” determinant of tenure in the CEO role -- that is, is to address dynamic market conditions fueled by competition, emerging technologies, and a plethora of “thought leadership” from research organizations, bloggers, and others. This is especially true where the organization is taking a bold, and often necessary step, to enter a new industry or cannibalize all or part of the business to grow revenue or prevent business failure. 

How does the CEO do this?

Agility. At its core, agility requires persistent reconnaissance of the marketplace and emerging technologies, as well as the willingness to take ideation from concept to experimentation in determining the best solution.

Collaboration. A top-down collaborative work culture is fundamental, which may include competency training, innovation summits, workspace design, accountability for ideation in performance assessments, and rethinking rewards for the desired results. In practice, agility is not a “cookie-cutter” behavior. Leaders must understand where the industry is headed (and this is where external resources can be valuable).

Mission, Vision, Values. More than empty platitudes, a shared mission, vision, and values directly impacts the work behaviors, and thus the direction of the organization. While “traditional” CEOs have the latitude to develop the mission, vision and values, and a strategic operating plan for the organization from the ground up, “regional” CEOs tend to execute on a specific vision that is in place. Whether the CEO’s “fingerprints” are evident in the mission, vision, and values or not, the charter to move the organization in a strategic direction is the same.

Leaders must follow good change management practices to keep employees focused and motivated. A clear, shared vision, a plan to overcome resistance to change and a timeline for implementation are innate motivators.

Organizational Model. A sound organizational model includes the right talent and optimizes agility, collaboration, and transformation. An objective assessment of the current structure and a partnership with the HR function are key.

While these concepts always have been a part of the CEO playbook, emerging technologies and aggressive competition for market share have made them more important and consequential than ever.

Comments? You can contact me directly via my AdvisoryCloud profile.

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