Learnings for a CEO from 2021
CEOs today recognise the importance of having an understanding of technological change drivers so as to bring digital value to their ecosystems. Companies work towards developing an insatiable appetite for learning within their organisations, increasing the overall technological acumen to facilitate goal fulfilment, both individual and organisational. To navigate 2022, CEOs and senior executives should take away lessons from the past year to help them.
The benefit of an unprecedented environment such as the one we find ourselves in now, is that it emphasises the need for all CEOs to embrace a learning mindset as there is no formal guidance for prosperity in the new normal, or even survive a pandemic.
Now, more than 30 years later, it seems appropriate to redefine the importance of learning in organisations for their survival and sustainability.
As the world becomes more interconnected and business becomes more complex and dynamic, work should become more informative and transparent. The secret to building an amazing team and ensuring the continuous development of your people is to maintain clear communication within the organisation. This also encourages employees to learn about various aspects of the business and avoid stagnation and job dissatisfaction. As people learn more about business, they begin to show more interest in solving problems and challenging themselves.
2021 required great leaders to lead their teams across the rough seas. No matter who you are individually or what you do, when you are in a leadership position, there is always someone who looks up to you and you have the responsibility to take the lead.
The COVID-19 experience has made it clearer than ever before that CEOs need to be very conscious about how they use their time.
As part of this, leaders need to have a transformation thesis that works in their business context. For leaders to leverage this in the future and accelerate the resolution of common problems, they will need to continue to pursue these opportunities, both formal and informal, with humility, a cognitive mind-set, and an unbiased commitment to continuous development.
The most essential lessons that the past year has taught us are:
Importance of clear communications
As almost all companies now are working remotely or adopting hybrid models, maintaining clear and open communication within the organisation is very important. As a leader, it is one’s responsibility to make sure there is good, healthy and open communication at all levels.
Be a live-wire towards market needs
In terms of business, always be aware of and open to pivot as per market needs and requirements, especially with the impact of the pandemic. While from 2020 to 2021 a lot of things have changed in terms of how people do business, it is important that companies remain agile, learn from their surroundings and if need-be pivot from the original goal towards better opportunities.
Focus on sustainability
When in a crisis situation, it's advisable to work on short-term goals rather than long-term goals. While long-term goals and missions are essential, during times of uncertainty, the focus should be on survival and sustainability of the business, rather than aiming for long-term challenges.
Hear employees out, and encourage good mental health
Last but also a very important learning, one that I have understood and learnt personally, is the importance of mental health. Not just for leaders given the amount of responsibility and front-ending the business but also of all the employees and colleagues. A happy workforce is an efficient workforce. CEOs must encourage their employees to maintain a work-life balance, and focus and promote positive mental health at an individual level as well as among peers.
As the business community progresses, it's important to take a moment to reflect on the ups and downs and what we've learned this year as we carry forward those lessons to 2022. Focusing on transparency, agility, digital innovation, and empathy are learnings that CEOs should take away from 2021, and implement changes to accelerate the same through the next year and beyond.