Over the last 16 years or so I have worked with various CEO’s in various industries. Some of them were at the helm of large corporates and others were pioneers of disruptive technology. I have helped them understand the leadership imperative far beyond execution. Our Newtonian world tells us that stuff is more important than being.
But we forget, we are human beings, not human doings.
What is a CEO Really?
The CEO (I use this term generically to indicate the most senior decision maker(s) in an organisation) are not responsible for results primarily. It is a popular misnomer that CEO’s should be the ones that get results. Think about it… Can one person really be held responsible for the results generated by teams of experts, employees and other leaders that make up a diversified workforce? I think not.
As professor Johann Coetzee has indicated in his research, the personality of the organisation takes on the personality of the CEO. Our idea of leadership is dire need of transformation. There are some places in the world where wise leaders are starting to see that one person at the helm trying to take on the Herculean task of being the only person that can think and make decisions is in face fairly narcissistic.
CEO should not stand for chief executive officer. It should rather stand for chief enabling officer. The CEO is someone who enables others to be their best.
Ultimately the CEO should only be busy with three things: model, teach and coach. These three group of activities are pivotal to creating culture. Culture is the thing that sets the organisation apart and creates sustained results. Model the most highly regarded values of the organisation in all interactions. Teach these behaviours to the his/her direct reports. Coach individuals on the behaviour (this includes performance rating and reward systems).
It might seem like an over simplification, but that is what the problem is – we try and rationalise and get very smart about something that should be kept very simple. Model, teach and coach are the only things a CEO should be concerned with. It will have a direct effect on all the CEO activities and increase the team performance.
Who is the CEO Really?
If the CEO should model, teach and coach, he/she should have gone through the same process. Modeling, teaching and coaching ultimately comes down to transformational leadership coaching. This is a process where the leader shows how he/she undergoes transformation where the deepest part of the person is being elevated. It is about all the most important intelligences of the individual and the deepest part of the person.
The four highest intelligences are spiritual intelligence, rational intelligence, physical intelligence and emotional intelligence. It is not about how smart the CEO is. It is about how much the CEO can make you feel like. Many times we forget what people have said to us, but don’t forget how they made us feel.
Leaders create leaders.
“Leadership is affirming people’s worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.”
– Stephen Covey