The Chief Executive Officer’s work is not a walk in the park. He is expected to run the organization effectively and efficiently such that it is profitable, viable, virile and a dominant player in the industry where it plays. The state of the company when the CEO took over the mantle of leadership is unimportant, by agreeing to take up the job, he is expected to do all he can to achieve the target set for him by the board.
But the CEO can’t do much on his own; he has to work through people to get the desired result. Therefore, as important as the specific tasks of growing the business and making it viable is, the most important task of the CEO is managing the workforce so adroitly that it operates optimally to make the realization of corporate objectives a possible mission.
The CEO puts the workforce in the optimal mode by doing the following.
The CEO must be able to simplify issues by solving problems for his team. He must be a go-to person who can bring clarity and perspective to seemingly difficult issues. The CEO is a leader, so he must be able to lead the workforce out of confusion and perplexity. He must be a coach, a teacher, a guide and a consultant to his team members. He must be so adept at breaking down complex issues into workable bits that the team members confidently run to him when they come across crossroads. The CEO must develop his instincts enough to decipher what can work and what cannot from a mile away. He must also be able to recognize pattern and be able to shepherd his team appropriately. The CEO must be a creative thinker who can help his team members manoeuvre through operational labyrinth to get desired results.
Being able to do all of these requires the CEO to be committed to life-long learning. He must consistently and continuously update his knowledge base to effectively discharge these critical functions. A CEO must turn every situation into a learning opportunity so that he can continue to be relevant. He must read books and other materials that have to do with his core area as well as those that are merely tangential. He must consume books that will boost his creative thinking and enhance his problem-solving capacity. Most corporate leaders are ardent readers. Bill Gates reads 50 books in a year. Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO, is a fervent reader. So are Warren Buffet, Mack Zuckerberg, Tony Elumelu, Toyin Sanni and a host of other corporate leaders. This helps them to simplify the issues brought to them by their subordinates and bring clarity to their operations. If a leader looks baffled or confused over a matter, a wrong signal is emitted to the team and they may be forced to seek help elsewhere.
A CEO may not lose his position by failing to learn and being unable to simplify issues for his team members but he is sure to lose his leadership edge. A CEO’s influence heads south once his team members no longer approach him with their work-related challenges. Leadership is lost when subordinates no longer believe in the superior’s capacity to show them the way.
Sometimes subordinates hit the brick wall while trying to close important deals and need the intervention of the CEO to open some doors. The CEO is an enabler of opportunities so he must avail his subordinates of his network and influence to get results. When CEOs intervene on behalf of their subordinates, the result is often better than what the subordinates could have accomplished working alone because of the status of the CEO.
CEOs must open doors for others because leadership is about giving. Great leaders are given to giving. Leaders exist primarily to give of themselves to others. The more a leader gives, the more successful he becomes. Leaders give their time, intellect and other resources with a view to helping others to get better. Leaders move into significance the moment they come to the realization that the essence of their leadership is giving to others.
But leaders do not lose by giving. When they support others and help them birth their dreams, they win the trust and confidence of those people. At the same time, the Law of Reciprocity goes to work. Those who have been helped by leaders often wait in the wings to reciprocate the gesture.
Energise the workforce
For a workforce to be productive, it has to be energized. But most workers are not naturally energized; the energy in most people is latent, it takes an outstanding leader to get them energized. The CEO energizes the employees by unlocking their energy and ideas to deliver unique value. The CEO also energizes his workforce by making it clear to the employees that their contributions count.
Many employees are unable to give their best to their organizations because of the mismatch between their passion and where they are posted. Rather than getting excited whenever they are going to work, they feel heavy, they feel burdened. The work neither challenges nor motivates them. They just do enough to escape the hammer. They merely go through the motion while waiting for an opportunity to leave the organization. But when such people are managed by great leaders, the story is different because great leaders are good talent managers. By relating with the workforce, they are able to determine which aspect of the organisation’s activities can bring out the best in an employee.
So, energizing an employee starts with the right placement. When employees are properly placed, their passion comes to the fore; they become highly productive and contribute optimally to the realization of corporate objective.
After getting the people energized, there is the need to get the energy boosted. This is achieved by praising the people. Leaders can have their employees eating out of their hands by praising their worthy efforts. When employees are made to understand that their contributions count, they are motivated to do more. Everyone appreciates being appreciated. According to Abraham Maslow, the most important human need is being appreciated.
Employees stay energized when they are convinced that the system is fair to all. The energy level remains high when they know that everyone in the system gets what is due to him or her. If they know that when there is an opening the best man in the place gets it, they remain energized. If they know that whoever contravenes the regulations of the organization gets sanctioned, they remain energized and are committed to giving their best. But when they perceive rightly or wrongly that the system is not fair to all, their energy level goes down.
Have their back
Employees can go out on a limb for their organization once they are convinced that their CEOs have their back. Employees are encouraged to take risks for their organizations if they know that they will be protected should things turn awry. What leadership demands from the followers most of the time is total commitment. But commitment does not happen in a vacuum. When employees know that the CEO cares for them, it inspires commitment in them. When leaders make it abundantly clear that they will protect their subordinates’ interest even beyond the call of duty, what they earn in return is the total commitment of such subordinates. One thing about commitment is that it cannot be legislated; it is a response to the leader’s attitude to others. A leader that values his people and cares about them will inspire commitment from them with ease. On the other hand, when a leader does not show much concern about his team mates, it will be difficult to inspire commitment. The best the leader can hope to get from them is compliance. The difference is that while the committed are willing to go the extra mile, the compliant are not willing to go beyond the call of duty. While the committed own the task, the compliant do not. They do not see the task as their own but the leader’s. So, they are not bothered whether it succeeds or fails.
Hold them accountable
According to Louis V. Gerstner, “People don’t do what you expect but what you inspect.” Murphy’s Law also says “things will go wrong in any given situation, if you give them a chance.” The import of these two sayings is that in the best situations, the best result cannot be guaranteed unless the right thing is done. The right thing with employee management is to hold everyone accountable. There must be a system of measuring performance which must be known to the CEO and the employees as well as the reward and consequences of meeting the target or failing to meet the target. According to Ken Blanchard, author of the One Minute Manager, assessing employees becomes easy when at the onset both parties are on the same page concerning what constitutes acceptable performance. There must not also be any doubt that the CEO will give vent to either the reward for performance or the consequences for non-performance.
SOurce: Nigerian Tribune Newspaper