What it takes to be effective through an evolving business landscape.
In today’s business environment, CEOs have had to make dramatic shifts in how they operate to foster continued success. The pandemic has caused employees to reflect on their purpose, and even reconsider their fields of work. On the flipside, consumers are deciding whether they should stay loyal to companies in the midst of severe disruption. As the entire global economy reconfigures how it operates, it has created new opportunities for leaders focused on their people and customers to pivot without losing momentum.
Through the evolving business landscape, five key attributes have emerged for impactful leadership:
- Rally around your purpose
All employees and companies need to relate to a purpose, but only if it’s authentic. Leaders can’t say their company’s purpose is to make the world cleaner while simultaneously pouring sludge into the river. That type of inauthenticity misses the mark both for the future vision for the business and with current employees. When leaders create an authentic purpose to rally behind and have a plan of action in place to back it up, they gain alignment within the larger organization. As a result, business strategy seamlessly fits in with mission, vision, purpose, values and operating principles.
- Create a welcoming culture to attract the right talent
With a changing workplace landscape, more employees are quitting for a variety of reasons. No business is immune to it, but leaders can safeguard against some of the blowback by prioritizing company culture. Successful leaders are constantly attracting new talent pipelines. Creating a welcoming, diverse and inclusive culture where employees feel like they can show up as their authentic selves is important to both talent acquisition and retention. When employees know they will be accepted and celebrated for who they are and what their unique, individual experiences bring to the company, they’ll want to come on board.
- Focus on employee experience to retain your people
Great leaders consider their people to be their most valuable asset. In 2022, many leaders will continue to promote from within whenever possible to show appreciation and commitment to the people who pour their time and energy into their businesses. To take it a step further, leaders are encouraging employees to learn and develop new skills. The pandemic has made employees more self-managed, which allows for more flexibility; and good employees are now more empowered than ever. Today leaders understand the old command-and-control leadership no longer works. Instead, leaders are focused on inspiring, galvanizing and motivating. They are making it a priority to build a business where coworkers want to stay.
- Foster a spirit of transparency with customers
When it comes to customers, transparency is key. All companies are going through varying degrees of difficulty right now – whether it’s supply chain backups, being short-staffed or facing a staggering increase in costs. Instead of pointing fingers or creating a false narrative, leaders who own their problems and acknowledge they must do better, build trust with customers as a result. When leaders tell customers what’s going on and lay out a solution, customers appreciate and respect the honesty. Many companies strengthened their relationships with their customers during the pandemic, often having to rely on their loyalty and support to stay in business. Nimble leaders constantly ask what they are helping customers fix, accomplish or avoid. Listening to customers and providing innovative solutions increases loyalty.
- Collaborate with peers
In this environment with so many new and different challenges, effective CEOs continue to seek out diverse perspectives from business leaders who are tackling the same issues. They actively work to combat insular thinking and confirmation bias — situations where they’ve made up their minds and seek the easy places to get answers that validate their points of view. Leaders who surround themselves with peers who offer differing points of view gain the real-time perspectives critical to making complex decisions in a changing landscape.
The rate of change is only going to continue to increase. Leaders have the opportunity to shape their businesses in a way that both employees and customers can appreciate. By tapping in and listening to employees, customers, and diverse perspectives from trusted peers, leaders are more purposeful, more respectful – and their businesses are ultimately more successful. The new impactful leader is one who takes every challenge and views it as an opportunity to improve.
Sam Reese is the CEO of Vistage.