Today, a CEO needs to be much more than that. In many dimensions. At the end of the day, executive leadership is about engagement. Engagement creates motivation, movement and momentum. And that is critical for your company to succeed.
There are at least four places where it is your job to create engagement.
Engage your communities
Engaging your community in the greater good your company does for society is key to ensure your company’s license to operate. But it goes beyond that. If you can create true engagement in what your company is trying to achieve, you will find that so many things start falling your way. Press will be good, investors will more likely be happy, prospective great employees will be applying. The sun will shine on you and your company – if you engage and create excitement about the mission you are pursuing.
Engage your customers
Don’t settle with being a vendor to your customers. If you are a vendor – you are boring. Non-strategic to the customer. No, be a partner. Be a little sexy. Be relational. To get to this, you obviously need to have the right products, services, performance, etc. Rudimentary stuff. But you also need to add excitement to it. You need to engage your customers in that joint mission you are pursuing – a mission that requires you and them – together. Creating this excitement is also a CEO job.
Engage your supply chain
Today, companies do not win the fierce competition. Supply chains do. End-to-end supply chains that enforce the strengths of the individual companies within them.
Consequently, your role as Chief Engagement Officer is to help and build the strong supply chain that your company should be part of. This is no simple task. And it involves far more than processes, structures, KPIs and negotiations.
To build supply chains across companies that all want their fair share of the value generated in these eco-systems requires trust, a joint vision and belief and engagement from all parties. There is a massive role for the CEO to play here. You cannot just focus on the well-being of your own company but need to take a broader view. You need to inspire other companies and their leaders. Need to compromise. And you need to develop and maintain that inspiring, joint vision that all parties believe in and will run like crazy to deliver on.
Engage you employees
Last – but foremost! This is the big one! This is where you should invest your energy. In your employees. And it is a chicken and egg thing really. If you get this one right – much of the above will also be more likely to happen.
Engagement is so much more than employee satisfaction. It is about happiness, belonging, a sense of being part of something bigger that the sum of the parts. Engagement will ensure higher tenure, stronger performance, more loyalty, more advocacy. Books are written about this topic. There are many ways to achieve engaged employees. But first, you need to understand that this is THE most important thing for you to focus on.
The responsibilities of the Chief Executive Officer are still there – of course. But your view of the role should acknowledge that it is also very much about engaging all of the company’s stakeholders. Engaging people – regardless of their affiliation to your company – will help you succeed. And as CEO, you are (also) the Chief Engagement Officer.