April 20, 2011

The New CEO Acronym: Collaborative, Engaging & Open

Organizations are changing. Some may be doing so due to various pressures caused by factors such as customer downsizing, market stagnation, competition and new economic realities.

Others may be fine economically and growth-wise, but their transformation is caused by internal employees self-organizing for the purpose of becoming more collaborative, more engaged and certainly more open.

Either way, it’s my opinion that the CEO of any organization (for profit or not-for-profit) truly needs to become a leader that isn’t just a Chief Executive Officer, rather, he/she needs to be much more collaborative, engaging and open.

In a McKinsey & Company piece by Carolyn Aiken and Scott Keller entitled “The CEO’s role in leading transformation”, the authors suggest that a CEO will be successful in any transformation if he/she is “communicating its significance, modeling the desired changes, building a strong top team, and getting personally involved.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The leader of any organization must also be one who is demonstrably collaborative; someone that ultimately models the behaviour of collaborating in all actions that they take, be it with senior leaders or with all employees. (think blogging, micro-blogging, video-blogging, etc.)

The CEO should be someone who first engages with the organization, with partners and with customers rather than simply making decisions from the corner office in isolation. When he/she engages first before executing an order or decision, they set the precedent that it’s not ok to make decisions without first reaching out to others.

And finally, the CEO has to demonstrate and model an attitude that is truly open. Being open may be denoted as someone who is humble, vulnerable and transparent. Imagine a CEO who publicly publishes his/her calendar to the organization? That’s being open.

In summary, CEO’s have the ultimate responsibility when it comes to any form of transformation inside the organization. If the CEO were to rethink the acronym, and he/she could become more collaborative, engaging and open, it’s my opinion that a majority number of employees would in turn feel free to act in the exact same way.

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