Monthly Archives: January 2017
Boom or bust? The Hero CEO

The new CEO has been appointed, brought in to turn around the ailing company. The Board are keen for results. Key Performance Indicators are set and the lure of a bonus thrown out.

Share prices have been in decline. The primary task is to arrest that trend, balance the budget and begin to make in-roads on the deficit. The stage is set for the Hero CEO. His ego is primed.

With an economic landscape changing before our very eyes, more and more Boards will be seeking the quick fix. Out with the old and in with the new. New strategy, new leader. The hero appointment is attractive. It has paid dividends (at least in the short-term), but at what expense?

When an organisation’s performance is poor, many leaders default to what they believe will yield quick, turn around results. They become punitive, seeking to control people through manipulation or coercion.
The Hero CEO approach rarely, if ever results in lasting positive change. Lasting change and more profound positive impact is achieved through the establishment and embedding of trust.

Compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, and 40% less burnout (Zak, P).

The road to long-term success is often the narrow, more windy road, that takes time to navigate, but the rewards far out way the patience needed to get there.

There is a stark difference between the Hero CEO and the Servant Leader CEO. Once a person realises that trust is far more valuable than any bonus, the road is chosen and the transformation begins. But it is never an immediate transformation. It takes time, vulnerability and a willingness to let go of long held beliefs as the leader chooses to forego himself.

Take the first step. Hand back back the offer of a bonus. Never forsake what is right by putting your own selfish ambition above the needs of those you seek to serve. A quick turnaround will never pay long term dividends.

I’m the busiest!

Here is my medal to prove it! I am officially the busiest person in the organisation, and therefore the most important! Notice me as I wear my medal proudly around my neck.

Don’t you love watching people? It is always fascinating at conferences. At every break there is invariably the rush to the door, mobile phone to the ear, just checking in. “Are you sure you’re doing ok without me; you can’t be, surely?”

What do truly great leaders actually occupy themselves with? What takes their time, what do they prioritise, what should be important and why?

I heard a good phrase this week, “I’m not busy, I’m distracted”. I hear that the average Australian now spends 10 hours a week on social media. How on task are you really and how truly productive are you?

Contrary to the popular myth, leaders don’t have to the the busiest people in the organisation, the most stressed, do the most hours, do the work for others, be the hero against whose everyone else’s measures their worth. It isn’t a competition–the actual prize isn’t worth it. Instead they should be good role models for a healthy work-life balance.

Leaders should never be too busy that they become inaccessible: the person that no one wants to disturb because their issues would seem too trivial or insignificant in comparison.

I like to set goals for the things I would like to achieve in a day. But I have to constantly remind myself that sometimes the distraction may be far important than the goal, particularly if it is to do with the people you serve.

The staff member who comes into your office wanting the vent, or who is just in need of a sympathetic ear. It is in fostering these relationships, the giving of your time, that a leader is doing their most important work. It is then that they are building trust, and ultimately trust is far more important to an organisation because it unlocks the huge potential of the ‘we’.

The moment you set yourself goals that can only be achieved behind your desk you are moving from leading to managing (unless it is to prepare an inspirational speech that articulates a compelling vision for the future). Of course these things have to be done, but not in the name of leadership, rather in the name of necessity to ensure the smooth functioning of the organisation.

There is nothing wrong with being extremely busy, but what you are saying when you place that medal around your neck is that you don’t have time for others, you don’t have the time to cultivate what is the most important task of a leader. As a leader one of your key jobs is building the capacity of others and empowering them to do their roles so you can achieve the organisation’s vision together.

Take the medal off. Pop it in the draw. Remember, you should never be too busy for the people you serve.