It is clear that the paradigm for how we evaluate CEO performance is changing. It is no longer solely about shareholder performance and profits, and CEOs now must put human values and human lives central to their company strategy if they are to survive and thrive in the long term.
I have been fortunate enough to meet and work with top CEOs from around the world, and while none of them have had a golden bullet, here is what I have learned from them about leading in the future of work.
Create a strategy for human flourishing.
The Great Resignation and post-Covid working world are teaching us that companies will need to strategically focus on improving skills and capabilities, as well as people’s livelihoods. CEOs and their companies now must create a strategy that maximizes the potential, performance and overall happiness and meaning of their workforce.
CEOs spend much of their time managing their board, their executives, their business performance and the overall strategic direction of the company. While this is important and necessary, the future of work is demanding that CEOs show more of their humanity.
It’s important for CEOs to acknowledge that human flourishing is not just a strategic head exercise. Human flourishing is a lived experience that requires creativity and emotion. A CEO must be willing to hold up a mirror and live out their own strategy for human flourishing, and not just set it as a direction for the organization.
Eliminate executive hubris and transform the personality and character of your organization.
Organizations have historically been governed to achieve short-term performance and results. This has meant that at a C-suite and board level, there has been a strong focus on self-interested behaviors. While self-interest can equate to good results, it doesn’t always equate to sustainable results, especially when behaviors of self-interest become pathological.
These pathological and toxic behaviors are all too common in the C-suite and often destroy attempts at building a healthy and thriving company. The common traits here are a lack of empathy and egocentrism. They undermine a culture because there is a pathological disregard for the well-being of others.
It is unfortunate these behaviors exist and hurt an organization, but it is useful to recognize them as a key reality to be addressed if a company is to survive in the future of work. That is why it is critical for CEOs to recognize these patterns of behaviors not just in others, but in themselves.
Recognizing these behaviors in oneself is difficult, but in the future of work, there is only so much lip service a CEO can give before their true character is seen and noticed by stakeholders. Demonstrating qualities of care and empathy is critical for a CEO, and it is up to those closest to them to keep them accountable.
Train your leaders for right-brain skills.
The age of the knowledge worker is diminishing. Knowledge workers are those who have been educated and are paid to apply their skilled education, specifically in left-brain capabilities such as logic and analysis to their work. We are seeing how quickly and how often these skills are being outsourced in companies and replaced by AI.
While these skills are important, they are no longer sufficient in an age where organizations are required to be far more holistic and conceptual. Companies must now move away from placing value only on left-brain logic, sequencing and analysis and focus more on right-brain creativity, connecting, emotional expression and big-picture thinking.
Many CEOs are already recognizing the importance of right-brain capabilities. A 60-country survey of 1,500 CEOs by IBM and public leaders asked which were the most important leadership qualities. Creativity was ranked first — 60% indicated that it was the most important leadership quality; integrity was second (52%).
It is up to CEOs to ensure they create a learning organization that enables employees to grow and harness these right-brain skills and to also develop them in themselves.
Don’t build a company, build an ecosystem.
Many companies have lost their true spirit and are trapped in rigid internal procedures, processes and outdated systems. They are becoming increasingly complex and are often thought of as controlled machines.
An organic and more human ecosystem is a powerful metaphor that is increasingly gaining traction for the world and how we need to do business. How CEOs make the shift from outdated systems and move their company into more interconnected structures in which the business is dynamic, free-flowing, adaptive and alive will be essential for the future of work.
It all begins with mindset and how a CEO thinks about the organization. CEOs need to learn and apply new skills in design, systems and biological thinking as well as learn skills such as meaning, compassion and empathy.
How a CEO builds their organization for the future of work is critical to long-term success. Adopting a more holistic, interconnected and human approach is key.
This article was originally published on Forbes.
Ana Reed is the CEO and Founder of Newmanity, a global executive coaching and leadership consultancy. Ana is an award winning entrepreneur, thought leader, Forbes Council Member and ICF, PCC Accredited Coach. Using a transformative human-centered methodology, her company Newmanity enables leaders and organizations to realize their full ambition and maximize their human capital. To receive insider access to Newmanity’s exclusive content, email [email protected].