If you’re a CEO, chances are somewhat slim that you know exactly which roles in your organization are absolutely critical to realizing your company’s value agenda, who you have in them, and how well they are doing. Often CEOs believe their job is to set direction and strategy, to orchestrate execution and manage performance. Talent is largely the domain of human resources and the CHRO; value is predominantly the domain of finance and the CFO. Or are they? Rarely do we three C-suite leaders—the CEO, CFO and CHRO—come together to flag the specific roles in our company that drive value. And even if we do, it is even more rare that we monitor the incumbents in those specific roles for their contributions to value, their level of engagement, and their capacity. Yet their contributions are what we are relying on to secure our performance today and make future growth possible.
Do you know what the secret ingredient is in every Mobilization success story?
People are excited about the bold ambition you’ve declared for your company. But is the organization ready and capable of executing your strategic choices?
Ever since my ﬁrst day at work, I’ve been aware of the importance of leadership to making things happen in time. As a Coast Guard line ofﬁcer back in the 1970s, I witnessed the impact of a leader’s decisions in life-and-death scenarios on a daily basis. More than once, I found myself wondering what lives might have been saved if I could have seen the bigger picture sooner and mobilized our team to be a bit sharper, a bit more faster and agile in their responses. For the last three decades, I’ve seen that it’s the same in business.
As CEO, you are the one person who can launch your company’s Mobilization. But moving a great ship of state in a new direction to create and capture value is not a one-person job. Mobilizing an entire company requires more energy than just you alone can provide.
Nowhere are a CEO’s powers of judgment and discernment as important as they are here. Strategic choices are the big bets that will define the future of your company. Carve out a series of choices that the company cannot do in time, given its capabilities and capacity for change, and you set everyone up—including yourself as CEO—to fail.
Data informs decision-making. And now big data is making its way into a domain previously dominated by small data: the search and selection of C-suite talent.
For many employees today, distinguishing the signal from the noise can be hard. This year’s initiatives get piled on top of last year’s, today’s executive priorities on top of yesterday’s. If you want to mobilize people to go and capture value, you as CEO have to help them tune into the signal and tune out the noise. Achieving momentum is impossible without this clarity of purpose. To align the signal with the company’s ambition, you as CEO must design a series of cut-through initiatives that will deliver on your value agenda.
Mobilizing a company to achieve significant, sustainable shifts in performance is hard work. More often than not it involves transforming the organization so that it can move faster than it has before. The odds, however, are often stacked against CEOs. In May 2015, McKinsey & Company reported that only 20% of global executives thought organizational transformation initiatives they were familiar with had been successful in achieving and sustaining performance improvements.*