Three Takeaways From CEO Forum On Leading In Today’s Climate

We have been advising our chief executive officer clients individually as well as bringing them together in intimate, transparent forums to share experiences and updates on how they are leading through this phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Black Lives Matter movement and social inequity, and ongoing business instability and unpredictability. Here are some themes that have emerged:

1. Planning is unpredictable, so plan for the worst and hope for the best, but be bold about how you want to come out of this crisis. 

All our CEOs are engaged in ongoing business-scenario planning with an increased set of variables. From consumer confidence dipping to a highly variable regulatory environment to workforces that are being physically and mentally stretched thin, CEOs are wearing multiple hats. One commented, “I’m more a therapist and health executive than a CEO these days.”

With consumer confidence dropping, these executives are planning for the worst but also strategically investing in rapidly emerging trends (e.g., brand awareness, e-commerce, sustainability, and work from home as a permanent option). Several questioned how bold they could be so that they can emerge from these crises stronger than when they went in.

Ultimately, they are tightly managing costs and maintaining as much flexibility as they can given the unpredictability of the next six to 24 months.

2. Black Lives Matter and social inequity issues are taking precedence and shaping culture. 

Rapidly engaging with employees through roundtable discussions has greatly impacted many CEOs as they take a deep dive into the topic of racism, the felt experience of Black employees, and the cultural implications for their organizations.

CEOs are shifting their time to spend more of it on culture—some as much as 40% given the intensity of the issues around racism and how much dialogue, understanding, and action are needed to find and solve root causes and to shift the dynamic in their organizations and community.

In addition to their own soul-searching, CEOs are acknowledging and owning their lack of progress and making public commitments around diversity metrics to their boards, investors, and employees. More than in the past, CEOs are raising their own accountability bar—for themselves and their organizations.

3. Although not sure they signed up for it, they are rapidly learning and adapting to the new realities. 

It’s hard to ignore how CEOs are going through their own personal journeys as they reflect on their business challenges and opportunities. A theme emerged around how much they are having to shift their leadership to be more transparent, open, and purpose driven about their personal views of not just business but also society and politics at large. Every statement and every move feel scrutinized from these lenses; whereas for many of them, they learned their craft when only one stakeholder reigned supreme: the investor. Learning this new skillset is both exhausting and exhilarating for them; in the end, they are taking on these new challenges as opportunities to grow themselves and their organizations.

Bottom line: creating space for these transparent, honest discussions is key to displaying resilience in the face of change. CEOs today are stepping up to the plate and asking the right questions to tackle the unprecedented issues they are facing head-on.


MORE LIKE THIS

  • Get the CEO Briefing

    Sign up today to get weekly access to the latest issues affecting CEOs in every industry
  • upcoming events

    Roundtable

    Strategic Planning Workshop

    1:00 - 5:00 pm

    Over 70% of Executives Surveyed Agree: Many Strategic Planning Efforts Lack Systematic Approach Tips for Enhancing Your Strategic Planning Process

    Executives expressed frustration with their current strategic planning process. Issues include:

    1. Lack of systematic approach (70%)
    2. Laundry lists without prioritization (68%)
    3. Decisions based on personalities rather than facts and information (65%)

     

    Steve Rutan and Denise Harrison have put together an afternoon workshop that will provide the tools you need to address these concerns.  They have worked with hundreds of executives to develop a systematic approach that will enable your team to make better decisions during strategic planning.  Steve and Denise will walk you through exercises for prioritizing your lists and steps that will reset and reinvigorate your process.  This will be a hands-on workshop that will enable you to think about your business as you use the tools that are being presented.  If you are ready for a Strategic Planning tune-up, select this workshop in your registration form.  The additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $695 will be added to your total.

    New York, NY: ​​​Chief Executive's Corporate Citizenship Awards 2017

    Women in Leadership Seminar and Peer Discussion

    2:00 - 5:00 pm

    Female leaders face the same issues all leaders do, but they often face additional challenges too. In this peer session, we will facilitate a discussion of best practices and how to overcome common barriers to help women leaders be more effective within and outside their organizations. 

    Limited space available.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $495 will be added to your total.

    Golf Outing

    10:30 - 5:00 pm
    General’s Retreat at Hermitage Golf Course
    Sponsored by UBS

    General’s Retreat, built in 1986 with architect Gary Roger Baird, has been voted the “Best Golf Course in Nashville” and is a “must play” when visiting the Nashville, Tennessee area. With the beautiful setting along the Cumberland River, golfers of all capabilities will thoroughly enjoy the golf, scenery and hospitality.

    The golf outing fee includes transportation to and from the hotel, greens/cart fees, use of practice facilities, and boxed lunch. The bus will leave the hotel at 10:30 am for a noon shotgun start and return to the hotel after the cocktail reception following the completion of the round.

    To sign up, select this option in your registration form. Additional fee of $295 will be added to your total.