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The secrets of a CEO

The secrets of a CEO

Industry ExpertInsightsStrategyTop Stories

Behind every successful company is an efficient CEO. Focused on driving their company’s growth and development, CEOs not only require sharp business skills and management, but they also need individual/personal qualities, such as resilience and empathy, that will help them lead their teams to success. What are the secrets behind a brilliant CEO? Intelligent CXO asked three business leaders for their insights…

As companies struggle with what workplaces should look like going forward, findings from a new LHH and The Adecco Group study reveal global workers’ attitudes about remote versus in-person work, how their companies have handled the pandemic, their career plans moving forward, the state of mental health in the workplace and the truth about the Great Resignation.

The leadership disconnect Study findings point to a large disconnect between employees and their managers and senior leadership. While 80% of leaders say they are satisfied with senior leadership, only 43% of non-managers are satisfied. Satisfaction with leadership is particularly low in the areas of company culture and career advancement opportunities. Among the findings:

  • · Less than half are satisfied with career prospects at their company and only 37% of non-managers say their company is effectively investing in developing their skills
  • · Only 48% of workers say their managers meet or exceed expectations for encouraging a good working culture
  • · Just 50% of workers say their managers meet or exceed expectations for helping support their work-life balance
  • · 67% of non-managers say leaders don’t meet their expectations for checking on their mental wellbeing

To battle the disconnect between business executives and their employees, we spoke to three experts about the qualities a CEO needs to engage their workers and lead a business…

Alok Kulkarni, CEO, Cyara

The role of a CEO is multi-faceted as it requires an individual to not only oversee operational and financial aspects of the organisation but also to nurture relationships and manage expectations. Having empathy is key in this role. Listening to shareholders and stakeholders, such as employees and partners, and showing understanding will ultimately help to unite the team. It provides a sense of belonging in the organisation and can greatly contribute to the success of the company.

The responsibility also lies with this person to set the tone for how a company behaves. More often than not, the brand of the CEO directly reflects and impacts the reputation of the company. Qualities including humility, compassion and trust are hugely important. When the CEO has a team that he or she can lean on and entrust day-to-day decision making as it allows time to focus on the bigger picture. However, this trust must go both ways for a company to truly thrive.

The pandemic has thrown a few curveballs at many organisations. CEOs that have been able to navigate this successfully have remained resilient, adaptable and dynamic. This includes quickly making changes where needed, regularly consulting with stakeholders and being willing to give and take where required.

Through the catalyst of COVID-19, customer experience (CX) has become the lifeblood of any business. Organisations can succeed or fail based on their CX and it’s clear to me how critical the employee experience (EX) has become in delivering a great service to customers. As such, I’ve found it so important to build a strong and inclusive company culture. This has been one of the pillars of our success, stretching across everything we do both internally and externally. CEOs that prioritise and invest in delivering positive experiences will be the ones to reap the rewards.

Advancements in technology and the need to keep staff safe will see hybrid work continue as the model of choice for many organisations. Its productivity and efficiency have been proven and is something that many employees benefit from in their personal lives. I’m a big believer in empowering the team to strike a good balance between work, rest and play and the hybrid work model is suited to do just that.

Supporting employees and ensuring they have a work environment that keeps them engaged leads to a cohesive and happy team that gives it their all.

Sat Sanghera, CEO, IPI

I believe that holding strong principles and values, both in and out of work, is vital to success. At IPI, I follow five key guiding principles: people, clients, propositions, fiscal and operational brilliance. Every decision is made with these in mind, a strategy that has enabled us at IPI to broaden the scope of our work and develop our consulting practice.

The ‘people’ principle is especially important to me, as I firmly believe that to deliver the best customer experience to clients, you have to have a team that is purpose-led and willing to work for the same core values as you are. As such, I focus on leading the IPI family with a sense of purpose and I encourage our people to keep four values in mind: we own it, we aim high, we succeed together and we are always evolving.

For me, an organisation’s people are what makes a leader – and their business – successful, and after the challenges of the past few years, business leaders have realised this more than ever before. They have come to recognise the importance of empowering their people and investing in them to ensure their workplace experience – whether remote, in-person or hybrid – is a positive one and is especially important in the face of the much talked about ‘Great Resignation’. Leaders that empower their people and put them at the heart of their company will see higher engagement, performance and trust. It’s also important that I bring a human angle to the workplace and recognise that employees are humans who have their good and bad days, just like me.

Future-proofing should also be a cornerstone of any CEO’s success strategy. Companies are built with longevity in mind and the only way to do that is to constantly evolve and adapt, meeting the demands of today while anticipating the needs of tomorrow. Technology inevitably makes this easier, but it is people that are the key to organisational success and delivering human-to-human interaction will always be the way that leaders can stay ahead in a competitive marketplace. Your people are the foundation from which to drive your company forward, so invest in them, upskill your team, diversify your talent pool and enhance wellbeing.

James Scott, CEO and Founder, Thrive

A great team is key of course to managing all the different aspects of a growing business. As a founder and CEO, I think your role naturally evolves into one of ensuring the team are aligned to the overall mission so they are all pulling in the same direction and ensuring communication continues to flow freely around the business. To do this, a CEO needs to have the right people skills that enables them to put themselves into their employees’ shoes.

Regardless of roles, each and every employee in a business is working together to achieve the same goal.

For CEOs, my advice would be to get to know your team and colleagues as much as you can. Remember that you’re all in the same boat, aspiring towards the same vision. It is vital that managers and the wider team feel inspired and encouraged to share information and ideas and are comfortable in asking for and giving feedback.

Make sure you set and communicate clear expectations on goals and responsibilities regularly to keep everyone on track. Connection is key to a strong team, so ensure that everyone is kept in the loop of all information, progress and updates regarding the wider company goals and milestones.

Recognition for good work goes a long way, so when someone does something well, make sure their efforts are always acknowledged and rewarded as necessary, no matter how small. This is important for employees at any level. However, it is also important not to ignore failures or mistakes. They’re a valuable part of the learning curve and will ultimately help both managers and employees to figure out what works and what doesn’t and to make changes as needed.

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