Successful Corporate CEOs & Presidents… of the Future, 2016 and Beyond

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UP FRONT

SUCCESS Through Employees

Disaffected Employees & Losses

Productive Employees & Investments

Disabled Employees

SUCCESS Through Yourself

Yourself

Vision, Creativity, Ethics

Knowledge

Communication

Connections

Conclusion                                                             

 

 

UP FRONT

This writing is for those individuals who aspire to become Successful corporate CEOs and Presidents down the road as I stated, in 2016 and beyond.

And if you really do want to achieve these prominent positions of responsibility, you must really want to and you have to be the type of person who can successfully thrive in those positions.

Success is not just about working hard for 70 – 80 hours a week (or more) in perpetuity; it is about working SMART and HARD in productive, efficient and success steps. And doing so means learning to delegate instead of micro-managing everything.

Many of you know that micro-managing does not work well in the long run and it sure does not help your staff and employees grow or your business. Nor is working 70 hours or more hours a week a permanent and sustainable solution, your health will give in whether you are successful or not. And you can bet, in nearly every situation, the family life will be a shambles.

Take care in being successful. There are three areas where you must tread with great and sincere care, you must be a willing:

  1. Champion / Sponsor to multiple ideas, some brilliant, some exotic and some seemingly crazy (not meant in a bad way) but exceptional while other crazy ideas are complete duds – this is the price for innovation and creativity
  2. Collaborator with great people as well as with highly odious people – you must bridge that gap and act professionally, not just for your sake but for the corporation as well
  3. Risk taker, not just an ordinary risk taker but an intelligent and calculated risk taker, one who listens with eyes, ears and brain wide open – then to be truly successful, you must do YOUR OWN due diligence in finding out the facts, truths, positives and negatives behind each risk for today, tomorrow and in the future – you cannot just take the words of others without information (that is what Big Data and Analytics can help with) – you have a fiduciary duty and obligation to all 

And one area, due to today’s digital arenas, where you have got to be explicitly aware of – Information & Cyber security risks to:

  • Your employee’s Personally Identifiable Information (health, financial records)
  • Corporate financials
  • Corporate Intellectual Property (business processes, partnerships, R & D efforts and product secrets)

You need to be cognizant of the massively numerous digital risks as well as having on staff a CIO and CISO who are not only aware of those risks but are up to date as to what has to be done to protect the corporation. This means detecting, defending, deterring, mitigating and performing root cause analysis of what happened, why it happened and how prevent the breach from occurring again).

 

SUCCESS Through Employees

Do not worry, I will come back to other topics but this one prominent thought springs to mind time and time again. And yes, there will be some disagreement on this point. You absolutely have to take care of your employees first and foremost! Why? Because if you do not care for them, these unhappy employees can and will sink your company faster than a Mark VI torpedo striking an adversarial target of opportunity…

You must realize that caring for, nurturing and growing your corporate staff means your company can continue to flourish and thrive in tight economic times.

Employees should come first. Why would this be the case? It is the case because employees are the people who make your company hum. They are the ones who make customers happy and WANT to come back, continuing to do business with your firm. Employees are the face to the world and you most definitely want the best face facing out to the world. You want staff that is happy, satisfied and eager to do more. So care for them.

Disaffected Employees & Losses

This paper is not to dwell on the negative aspects of employees, only to point out several items.

Unhappy, disgruntled, disappointed and unchallenged employees will make your firm drown in morass. This will manifest itself in myriad manners. Sure, you will see these individuals energetically working – while you are present but what about when you or other senior leaders are not visible?

These same unhappy individuals will revert to what they normally do, such as:

  • Sluggish or haphazard anemic work efforts, getting only the most pressing or urgent tasks completed and not at blazing speeds either nor at a sufficient level of competency either
  • Performing inaccurate work that is not as thorough or complete as it should be
  • High rates of absenteeism for any number of reasons but mainly to not show up to work
  • Spending more time searching the web for things that have absolutely nothing to do with work, just to pass the time
  • Low levels of morale
  • High levels of adversarial teamwork, combativeness, insubordination
  • Disgruntled employees could also walk out with your most highly prized Intellectual Property (IP) before you realize it
  • On, and on, and on – the list is long

And for any senior leaders, who do happen to have the time and inclination to read this, tell other readers the truth, “Do you by chance manage to catch employees in these various states of mind and attitude?”

Productive Employees & Investments

For any new CEO and President, it does not take a rocket scientist or a brilliant psychologist to see that there are many things that can make employees ever more satisfied and productive at your firm. And all the while with investments that do not have to be super-significantly expensive. The investments will pay off in spades in the short term and in the long term, making your ROI a number you can trot out time and time again to your investors and customers.

Some of these employee investments can be minor for things such as:

  • Better noise abatement and cubicle designs to give workers some satisfaction of privacy from other nosy AND noisy neighbors
  • Computer Based Training (CBT) and online courses to improve the employee knowledge base or to stretch their skills to go to the next level
  • Communication, “honest,” communication from the top in a more frequent manner – even just managing by walking around to see what the current state of affairs is like throughout the organization – unannounced walkabouts, not to catch staff doing things wrong but to say ‘hello’ and see what can be improved – having open and honest dialogue with junior staff, with middle management and with other senior executives

Then there are employee investments which can be major but worthwhile:

  • Better lighting, brighter and full spectrum lighting – LED – to move away from the harsh or dull old style lighting still used in many organizations – it has been shown time after time that brighter and better lighting, which also mimics natural sunlight, cuts on depression boosting productivity – the better lighting rejuvenates people on an healthier, unconscious level – causing a lasting spring in their steps (and in their work)
  • Better and brighter paint schemes – too many organizations have dull, drab and even worn paint schemes throughout their buildings, who wants to be around that…
  • Windows – add more windows if possible, replace old inefficient and well, crappy looking windows/frames to allow more sunlight in and a view out to the world
  • Plants – bring in plants, “real” plants to bring color AND oxygen as well as absorbing some of the soul killing dead air
  • Skylights
  • Have privacy rooms for those who need to make short private phone calls without their cube mates hearing everything – or else, the employee who needs to make a call will go out to their car, taking off time from work
  • Have power nap rooms for those who need them, with strict policies – these can revitalize those who really want to work but could use a nap
  • Ergonomic chairs – these should not just be relegated to the senior and executive staff, comfortable workers are more productive workers

Lastly, there are significant corporate investments that benefit the corporation for the long term as well as the employees:

A faster network:

  • Yes, this will entail laying new cable, something like Cat 7 (category 7) or fiber optic to break up congestion and latency, specifically for those high peak times (employee work/customer access) – we will continue to see larger datasets moving across the network
  • Faster and more powerful – routers, switches, firewalls and wireless access points
  • Full or Hybrid Cloud infrastructure to complement your current data center (or to replace it) so you can scale up to as many resources as you require when you need them – including faster network bandwidth, faster CPUs for the computing devices and faster storage devices to store / retrieve data (solid state versus hard disk) – it may also cut down on your Capital Expenses
  • Better computers, tablets and servers that can function with a flow allowing employees to keep working, productively

Yes, it will mean replacing many corporate devices but it will ensure your network can handle heavier load over time. It will also mean that you do not hear about or see many, many, many of your employees sitting and watching a spinning hour glass or circle nearly every time they perform a print, retrieve or save task (not every single time but you get the point).

All of these instances across the firm will add up to wasted, unproductive time and significant revenue loss to operating expenses year over year that wind up being opportunity costs lost. By this last statement, I mean that employees could be more productive if they did not have to constantly wait for their computer system or network to respond. 

Disabled Employees

You should also be looking at the ranks of disabled employees; such as the blind who can help your company by listening to products you may produce that have an audio aspect to them. To hear how pleasing or unpleasant the product(s) may sound.

Look at deaf employees; they could help with the visual aspects of products and see things in a different manner to make those products more successful. The deaf could look for things such as color, layout and appeal to help make various products winners.

There are the individuals confined to wheel-chairs who may be mentally brilliant but are overlooked only because they are in a wheel-chair.

 

SUCCESS Through Yourself

Yourself

Now, as one who wants to be a successful leader, there are many tools you should have in your arsenal, ready to pull out and wield. Some of these tools will be tangible, while others are intangible.

You are who you are by the dint of all that you have done over the course of your life. 

Vision, Creativity, Ethics

It is necessary to be a person who is capable of having vision to look forward in time, through the hard times, to bring success to the firm. It is also a necessity in making connections where others do not see it, such as dual use for a product when the product was not originally designed for anything but what it is selling for.

You should strive to be able to see trends coming that you and your company can take advantage of to continue being successful. 

You need to have creativity, even to a small degree, to see, hear and understand what your staff is telling or presenting to you for any viable product that may come to market. This is not say you must be a marketing genius but you should be able to tie your vision to your creative juices to move forward with a product or product line.

It is also mandatory to have the ethics, strong ethics, to not bamboozle anyone – employees, customers, shareholders, no matter how dire the situation has or will become. You must be strong enough to be bold and upfront about everything. Dishonesty and deceit will never, in the long run, win you any awards. This principle of right and wrong, integrity, must be imprinted onto your DNA so that it is, well, just second nature.

Everyone fails at some point; you must be able to show your resolve and your ethics to be bigger than others when the time comes and move forward. 

Knowledge

Yes, you must be knowledgeable about EPS, ROI, Cash Reserves, 10K and 10Q statements, CapEx, OpEx – these are all a given. What is not a specific given is that you need to have other kinds of knowledge as well.

You should be curious, all the time and willing to learn more – when you make the time, which you need to pencil in. You have to be adept in picking up and learning new things and being adaptable, another requirement, to multiple instances you find yourself in and to new kinds of knowledge.

You, yourself, do not have to be the smartest and most intelligent person in the room but you do have to smart enough to know when to have the smartest and most intelligent people around. You should not be shrinking away from these smarter people; you should be embracing them and learning from them. To be successful, you must pick up knowledge in many unlikely places, not just the known and predictable places.

If you continue to try to be the smartest person in the room, it will show and many people will be repelled by it.

You should have gained, and continue to gain, your knowledge in a multitude of places, from school, in the streets (commonsense) to the many places you have been employed. You should also strive to continue learning to be better at whatever you do. 

Your knowledge, especially if it is broad based knowledge (or what can be called cognitive diversity) will continue to pay dividends for you as long as you live. Because of that broad background of knowledge and experience, you will have the tools you need in continuing to be successful.

Take for instance your school based education. Suppose you learned to play in a concert/marching band; that you played in one or more sports; you learned at least several hard sciences (advanced math, physics, areas of medicine, chemistry – male or female); you learned home economics (not to be minimized in the least); geography; languages (one or two); political science; technology based courses (male and female); history and English (if you are in the U.S.).

Then suppose you continued to learn more about these topics at least through college. With this multitude of learnings, you will have a foundation of knowledge that will last you a lifetime. You will be able to discourse on any number of topics in any setting with just about anyone who is willing to honestly hold a conversation with you and you with them. 

Communication

You should be a good to great communicator to get your point across or attempt to. The honesty of trying will win out every time in highlighting your sincerity. If you attempt to put on a choreographed, scripted performance that is not true or heart-felt, everyone will see it and make note that your brand, your reputation is not as sterling as it should be.

Your brand and reputation, after your ethics and integrity, is what defines you as a person. It is what defines you as a leader. You should bend over backwards in proving how solid your brand and reputation are, not only to yourself, but to everyone else. Those who are paying attention and looking beyond their own nose and selfish needs will see the truisms you have and will respond to accordingly. 

You are the kind of communicator that listens intently, respectfully and honestly to those talking to you. You must be acutely, but not painfully, sensitive to the needs of others. You must show some level of empathy to the people you deal with, no matter if it is on an occasional or irregular basis.

No matter the situation, in being successful, you must be an active listener. Sometimes, that is all some people really need or want, even if it does not require any action on your part, other than listening. 

You must be open and honest, as much as possible in whatever situation you are in. You must be affable at times because many people actually do like that, as long as you do not go overboard with it AND you do not make it a gimmick. But you must also be serious at the times when you need to and it should explicitly come across that you are serious and not wishy-washy to use a ‘highly’ technical term… 

One ultimate item of interest is that you have got to be a person who is willing to engage and very capable of collaborating with others, no matter who the other is.

The other could come from any walk of life, they could be a:

  • Woman/Man – just because the other is a woman or man should make no difference whatsoever (I’m not talking about lifting strength here)
  • Different age – this is meaningless because that person could be a better, smarter person than you, you will not know until you give them a chance
  • Race – now this, this is just a no-brainer – the color of the other should not matter in the least, it is what in the character and the heart of that person that should matter to you
  • Religion – well, this is a touchy one for which I will not get into much because there those where religion is not an albatross upsetting any engagement – then there are those where religion is a complete and intractable roadblock where they will not compromise no matter what you compromise on – so be careful in working with this latter group of people, it can be rather difficult.

The bottom line in regards to others is that you be respectful of who they are and what they represent. If you are respectful to them that is a big head start.

Connections

To be successful, you have to be something more than average, you have to be not just a thinker but you also have to be a lateral thinker [1]. You have to be able to think in a multitude of directions, vertical, horizontal and diagonal in order to see things in a different perspective or through different rose colored glasses. You should work at and continue being a multi-spatial thinker. Do not look at just that one single tree (micro) but instead, look at that tree AND the forest (macro) for a holistic picture. This is a far better imagery to have instead of looking at a single tree, after single tree, after….. 

You will need to understand the multiple connections and axes of the organization and industry you are in. You need to understand the interrelationships between marketing and research, between research and operations, between business and technology and between technology and people – only to name a few here.

You must see those connections and see where there are possible pitfalls and negative entanglements. You must be able to strategize where there are possible successes in any number of those connections. This where predictive analytics, prescriptive analytics and even visual analytics comes in handy – all these tools can assist you with doing ‘what-if’ and ‘what-about’ scenarios to fine tune various strategies.

 

Conclusion

Again, employees should come first because if you do treat them better, rather than as a resource to bring profits to the bottom line, they will reciprocate as they should by being better workers and not using as many sick days or excuses for not coming in to work, a place they loathe.

Look for good people, whether they are handicapped or not. Look for people who different than you because many of them could be or will be smarter than you. Surround yourself with smart or smarter people, they can help you and your company be more successful.

Continue being creative and if possible, try to be innovative to make disruptive and revolutionary changes, not just incremental and evolutionary growth. Try to combine the best of all worlds; the best of the best business practices; the best technological tools that can be used for best results and certainly not least; People and what they individually and collectively can offer. 

Ultimately, to be successful, you must continue to learn, strive in growing and engaging with others and at various points, others who have altruistic intents rather than vested selfish interests will help you succeed. You in turn, can help others be / become successful. 

And that is the crux of it all, if you help others succeed, you too will be successful. If you help your company succeed, you will be successful. It is a wickedly nice circle to be in…

 

Definitions

Cognitive Diversity – He (Scott Page) suggests that cognitive diversity has four dimensions: perspectives, interpretations, heuristics, predictive models.

  • Diverse perspectives: people have different ways of representing situations and problems; they who see or envision the set of possibilities confronting them differently.
  • Diverse interpretations: people put things into different categories and classifications. To some people, I might be someone who worked at the World Bank. To others, I might be an leadership storyteller. To others, I might be an author about radical management. All are true. They are different interpretations of the world.
  • Diverse heuristics: People have different ways of generating solutions to problems. Some people like to talk through their thinking about problems; others prefer to write out his solutions first and then talk
  • Diverse predictive models: Some people analyze the situation. Others may look for the story)

(Cognitive Diversity boils down to the broad base of experience/knowledge that an individual has collected throughout their lives and the differences in what others have learned – making the collective whole that much better)

Predictive analytics – Practice of extracting information from existing data sets in order to determine patterns and predict future outcomes and trends. Predictive analytics does not tell you what will happen in the future

Prescriptive analytics – A type of business analytics that focuses on finding the best course of action for a given situation

Visual analytics – A form of analytics in which interactive graphical displays of data are used to generate analytical results and insights – it can attack certain problems whose size, complexity, and need for closely coupled human and machine analysis may make them otherwise intractable

 

Reference

[1] – Dr. Edward DeBono – multiple books on Lateral Thinking

[2] – Scott Page – The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies, (Princeton, 2007)

 

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