To be a CEO, a leader must undertake several roles that complete and compliment the overall functions of leadership. These roles are vital to bring about efficacy at work. In the industrial era, leadership was about command and control, but in this information era, leadership is about inspiration, empowerment and strategic direction.
The following are the ten most important roles a CEO must undertake to become a high performing leader.
The number one role is of # The Chief Visionary
Great CEOs are visionaries. They have the ability to peek into the future and take a glimpse at the coming attractions. They foresee before the followers could and they envision future scenarios that are both favorable and unfavorable.
On a professional level, becoming a visionary means to act like a Chief Thinking Officer.The CEOs do most of the thinking with their team to arrive at the right focus areas for their company. Visionary CEOs think about possibilities and not probabilities. While probabilities have a lesser chance of winning, its possibilities that will always find a way out despite of all the hurdles. Visionary CEOs are highly determined individuals who are totally committed to their vision.Their resilience spread through the entire organisation. Their tenacity can be felt everywhere.
Its not only knowing the vision that matters, but it is also about how you are able to communicate the vision to your followers and gain their commitments. Once the team has a shared vision, their collective efforts will take the organization to greater heights.
The second role is of # The Chief Change Agent:
CEOs are the agents of change. One of the primary functions of leaders in any volatile market place is to help their followers get comfortable with change and make smooth transitions and transformations whenever necessary.
Change leaders are responsible for minimizing the cost of change, and yet ensuring effective and smooth implementation. As catalysts of change and improvement, leaders constantly provide the reassurances and support that greatly help people adapt to the direct and indirect effects of change.
The third role is #The Chief Decision Maker
CEOs are better decision makers and the bucks stop with a leader. To take decisions is to take 100% responsibility and 0% excuses. Decisions help an organization to move forward and lack of decisions, delayed decisions or wrong decisions make a company break down and go extinct. To make effective decisions, CEOs must take the support of the data available to them. Informed decision-making can help leaders to make better and accurate decisions. Sometime intuitive decisions trumps data and ethical decisions keep the company rooted in its values.
The fourth role is of # The Chief Strategist
CEOs are the mapmakers. They know the direction and the route map to take an organization from where they are to where they want to be. They lay out an action plan that requires several strategic initiatives to achieve the final outcome.
CEOs are chief strategists. They have the ability to anticipate, prepare, and get positioned for the future. They make the shift when time is ready and they do this several times after considering the future effects and what it holds for their stakeholders. Strategy is about what a company should do and should not do. Strategy helps the team to focus on important things. Strategy eliminates distractions.
As a strategist, leaders focus on the majors and keep a long-term view for sustaining success through their competitive advantages and innovation. To have a strategic outlook they carefully plan strategies and prepare action plans and delegate them strategically to suit to everyone’s competencies. CEOs see their organization both as it is, as well as how they feel it should and could be, and decide upon a course of action to get it there.
The fifth role is of # The Culture Builder
In today’s heavy competitive market place, the only differentiator of a company is the culture they uniquely possess. Organizational culture matters, because ‘it is the way companies do things in a given context’. Organizational culture is like the air around us. A culture is a set of values and norms that are shared or assumed; it is not visible, but is experienced and felt. Great CEOs build great work culture for their company. Once the right culture is set, the flow is maintained in an organisation.
The sixth role is being #The Chief Learning Officer
Leaders are readers, they are the students for life. Growing stops when learning ends and growing doesn’t mean increasing profits, expanding customer bases, or entering new markets. It means growing from within. Acquiring new capabilities will help you stay ahead of the game and continually enhancing skills and updating information can help you take the lead while others are falling behind. Remember that personal and professional development is a prerequisite for any growth.
The seventh role is of #The Chief Motivator
Great CEOs inspire and aspire people to do great things in life. They act as teachers, mentors, philosophers and guide to their followers. In order to translate their vision into reality, CEOs need the support of a collective group of people who are equally inspired by the vision. CEOs motivate their people by suggesting a motive for action. They show them the way to find their why. Purpose driven organizations achieve more collectively. Possessing Massive Transformative Purpose (MTP) or Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) help the team to thrive during challenging times or to push beyond the boundaries. Therefore a leader’s job is to help people find meaning and purpose in what they do. The best motivation comes from within. They are intrenisic. A great leader just has to ignite the belief system and fuel their followers’ ambition to perform better. Great CEOs are igniters, energisers and catalysts.
The eighth role is of #The Chief Innovator
Global survey of 1500 CEO’s conducted by IBM in 2010 found that creativity is considered to be the number one leadership trait for the future CEOs. Innovation and leadership are closely related. They are coalesced and mutual. Great leaders are great innovators. Steve Jobs has said, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
Great CEOs build an atmosphere conducive for creativity and innovation. They build a culture of collaboration an innovation. They value perspective power and they encourage opinions and ideas of their employees. They not only tap into the resources within but also get ideas from the outside, because they know that the smartest people are not always working for them.(Ref. Bill Joy)
The ninth role is that of #The Team Builder
CEOs build great teams. Strength of an organization is an assembly of professionals who are committed to their dream and team led by an able leaders. The success of a CEO is in hiring, training and retaining the best high performing team. To achieve this a CEO must get the wrong people out of the bus and get the right people on the bus. (Ref. Jim Collins)
CEOs know that each team member is like a vector, having both magnitude and direction (Ref. Elon Musk). When people (vectors) are aligned, they move in unison and purpose and their potential is optimised through collaboration. When team members row together to one direction, great results are achieved with ease.
The tenth role is being #The Chief Spokesperson
The CEO represents the collective voice of an organization. They are the chief marketer, the brand ambassador, and the chief communicator to their shareholders, customers and employees. Whether they are political or corporate leaders, they have the voice to represent their follower’s interests and champion their causes. As leaders, they know that their opinion counts; their ideas matters and their decisions can have huge impact to the future of a company. They are the thought leaders. They present their ideas to their people to gain agreement and commitment from them. Steve Jobs was a perfect representation of what Apple stood for, so does Richard Branson, the perfect fun representation for the Virgin group.
If you want to become an effective CEO assume the diverse roles you need to play and put on those hats when the circumstances are demanding from you.