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What kind of CEO are you?

How to improve employee experience and benefit your business

It’s a term that stands for many things – chief executive officer, chief engagement officer and even chief everything officer. But there’s a new meaning behind this acronym and it’s a reflection of the shift in businesses and their leaders: chief enabling officer. What does this involve and why does it matter? This role involves being responsible for the overall organisational structure and working environment of a business to enable its employees to fulfil their potential and ensure the highest levels of customer satisfaction and engagement.

The strategic importance of company culture is, as we all know, enormous. It’s crucial to understanding vision and aims, purpose and values, and helping employees see where they fi t. This is what CEOs should be concentrating on right now – not concerning themselves with the day-to-day running of a business and its operational intricacies but taking responsibility for how the organisation lives and breathes.

Studies have shown there are certain characteristics that make a successful CEO. Whereas boards and shareholders might value confident extroverts, research demonstrates that introverts make better CEOs. The CEO Genome Project revealed four distinctive characteristics: the ability to reach out to stakeholders; the ability to adapt to change; to be reliable and predictable; to make decisions quickly and with conviction, even if they sometimes made mistakes.

To succeed in public, the CEO first needs to win over their people. How? By removing internal barriers to growth and providing the right conditions for a healthy, productive culture. Then go public – CEOs are the flag bearer for their brand and customers expect them to take on a greater role, especially in regards to thought leadership (just look at the number of CEOs doing TED talks). People inside and outside of an organisation also look to CEOs for environmental and social stewardship (particularly when they feel let down by political leaders). According to a survey by Weber Shandwick, twice as many young adults would feel more loyalty to their CEO if he or she took a stand on a contentious public issue (44 per cent compared with 19 per cent feeling less loyalty)*.

To remain fresh, relevant and effective, today’s CEOs must also innovate, often by changing the context and adapting leadership behaviours to foster a culture of innovation which filters down throughout the company. It shouldn’t belong to a small group in a closed-off task force meeting but needs to be driven down through every level of the business. With the appropriate talent in place, well managed to perform optimally and by demonstrating and teaching leadership skills to the wider team, engagement, creativity and experimentation will thrive.

The successful chief enabling officer must also look externally as well as internally to achieve the right balance. Looking outside for ideas that can be implemented on the inside can often be the best route to innovation, enabling all employees and therefore the company as a whole to reach its full potential and resulting in the company vision becoming a reality.


This article was originally featured in The Informer. To read the full magazine, please click here.