Future Friday: Helping CEOs change

by Michael Haberman on August 7, 2015 · 0 comments


Help your CEO become a leader for the year 2020.

Help your CEO become a leader for the year 2020.

The changing job of the CEO is being discussed a lot these days. Companies and boards have come to realize that the CEO is a key player in attracting and retaining the talent needed to take the company into the forefront of their industry. But CEOs need to change in order to do that and HR is in the best position to help them do so.

The coming change in the CEO

Consultant and writer Laura Garnett wrote an article in Forbes based on an interview with Maynard Webb, who serves or has served on the boards of Yahoo and Salesforce and has written the book Rebooting Work. The article states that the old way of leading, command and control, no longer works. Webb states that “having an inspiring and engaged workforce is key to success.” In a post that I wrote about the CHRO helping the CEO I talked about a survey done that showed the successful CEO in 2020 will have to have more of a “coaching style” of management. In both these situations it is clear that CEOs need to change. In my opinion there is no one in the organization better suited to help the CEO change than the Chief Human Resources Officer. (CHRO)

People first

Webb says that the successful CEO of the future will need to have a “people first” approach. Garnett quotes him as saying “The biggest priority should be helping each employee fulfill his or her destiny. Create a workplace that’s focused on helping employees get as far along on their journeys as they can, and you will never lose anybody. Focus on employee success en route to delivering company success.” Who is better positioned in the organization, or at least should be, to help the CEO achieve this people first approach than the CHRO? The CHRO should have the data on what is being done. The CHRO should have the resources to enable the organization to change. But first the CHRO has to have the ear of the CEO.

The CHRO needs to…

As I said in my previous post, published at Blogging4Jobs:

One of the most important ways HR can help the CEO to prepare for these new challenges, is to work with and learn how to apply big data analytics to the selection of talent, and the development of teams that are capable of producing innovative services and products.

The CHRO must also help the CEO understand the new workforce and help create a plan for the best use of this talent base. Developing innovative ways to use technology to select, assemble, evaluate, lead and alter teams as needed will be critical for the CHRO.

There is a lot for the CHRO to do in this endeavor. As I said, “If you, as a CHRO, are not experimenting with new forms of technology, new forms of management, new forms of compensation, and new forms of building teams, you will not be prepared by the time 2020 gets here.”

Webb sites Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce, as an example of a CEO who can inspire and engage employees, and for that matter customers and suppliers alike. I have attended Dreamforce, the Salesforce annual conference, twice and the place exudes inspiration. Two years ago in a post called How You REALLY Create Jobs I estimated that Benioff’s efforts were responsible for at least 900,000 jobs. I am sure that today that number has risen substantially. I will be going again this year.

At Salesforce HR is called “Employee Success”. This certainly sends the signal about “employee first.” According to Webb “Salesforce has been named the most innovative company for the last four years, and we achieved that through a fired-up workforce and energy. It’s more like a rock concert than a computer show. The energy and capability of an organization expands exponentially when you have engaged and passionate people working for you.” I personally can attest to the rock concert vibe of the conference.

Can it pay dividends for you?

If you can get your CEO to realize the importance of changing and work with them to help them coach and inspire and engage then I guarantee your job will also be more interesting and rewarding. Challenge yourself to create ways to change your HR department to an “employee success” organization. Everyone will be glad you did!


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