Some of them get it right – these select chief executive officers manage to exude a hopeful, caring and determined leadership that inspires the staff contingent to aspire to greatness (quality, speed, professionalism, superb customer service, reduction of waste, innovation, good results, etc.). Others “fail” dismally – these CEO’s somehow use authority and positional power to get things done. They may also achieve quality, speed, reduction of waste and financial results, but leave possibility – staff creativity, innovation, morale, etc. – at the door. An authoritarian style of leadership here has impacted the organisational environment negatively. In this context, people perform tasks motivated by fear, managers manipulate situations and employees to keep the CEO happy and internal politics rule relationships. The culture becomes toxic.
The leadership style of the chief executive officer has a huge influence on the organisation. Managers and employees alike look to the CEO for the following leadership qualities:
- Vision – clarity of direction. All in the company should have a clear picture of where the CEO is taking them, what needs to be achieved to get there and the part they need to play as individuals and teams to realise the vision.
- Modelled values – the leader’s behaviour should be aligned to the values of the company and the values should be evident in the way employees, suppliers and customers are treated.
- Fairness – expectations (performance and behaviour) need to be clear and everyone should be treated firmly, but fairly, in relation to key result indicators.
- Presence – distant leadership is not inspirational. CEO’s should make the time to be present (physically and emotionally) as frequently as possible. Presence demonstrates and takes genuine care down to the “shop floor”.
- Insight – communicating market and industry trends, other pertinent pieces of information regarding machinery, product/sales and customer needs to everyone to broaden the “big picture”.
- Wisdom – handling relational issues with emotional intelligence and constructing an environment of trust and collaboration where all teams are important.
- Decisiveness – not necessarily making decisions, but rather facilitating decisions and backing the leaders that made them.
- Respect – treating everyone with dignity and compassion.
- Evenness – calmness, keeping control of one’s emotions and not allowing them to fluctuate inappropriately.
- Consistency – the leader that I am today is the leader that you can expect tomorrow. I am not going to cause doubt in your mind by behaving differently to certain groups of people – I will be the same to everyone.
A chief executive officer has huge influence on the organisation. The impact of his or her leadership style is pervasive – positively or negatively. Everyone watches, listens and looks for all the body language messages – over time, these are often mimicked by others in leadership, the same of which defines the organisational culture (the way we do things around here). It would seem that the CEO has an important influence responsibility.