Lead the future

Lead the future

In a time where the world is facing challenging times, we can’t rely on governments to take responsibility for driving the shifts needed. Business leaders need to take more responsibility for turning threats into opportunities.

World Economic Forum states that data, tech, and people-centered skills are among the most needed future skills. Whilst data and tech are top priorities for most organizations, people skills are often confused for common sense and have, for most companies, not made it to a critical part of the business strategy.

Last week, People Heart Business hosted Lead the Future. An evening to unite CEOs, leaders, and rising stars at the forefront of connecting top performance and well-being as a foundation for solving the complex challenges ahead. We discussed the leadership needed in the fourth industrial revolution and got to share perspectives, reflect and fuel up to take an active role in shaping the future.

Some insights:
  • 72% of employees say the purpose is more important than profit, and 70% say that their sense of purpose is defined by their work. (McKinsey) Many business leaders believe that their organization’s purpose is central to business success, but 68% of business leaders state it’s not being used as a guidepost in management decisions. (PwC)
  • The desired leadership to handle the future is not necessarily reinforced today. Our participants noted that pressure both on contribution to society and short-term financial success has increased and that the latter is hindering the transition to the leadership needed in Industry 4.0.
  • Psychology can help CEOs understand their context and themselves more – supporting them to make the bold decisions needed for tomorrow in line with their own values and long-term value creation.
  • Purpose-driven organizations is not the opposite of having to make tough decisions. Even these decisions can be made people-centric.
  • Well-being and performance are not contradictory.

The business world needs research-based and data-driven ways to secure top-performing and healthy people and organizations ready to meet the fourth industrial revolution.

Looking forward to sharing more insights and reflections!

The temperature is rising - who do you become?

The temperature is rising - who do you become?

The pressure on our society has risen tremendously. The awakening about climate change, the pandemic, de-democratizing movements, the outburst of war, and the recession have reshaped our context to something no one has ever experienced.

A few years ago, I read and shared an article about how business leaders need to take more responsibility for the development of our society and that the opportunities and threats coming from digitalization, climate change, and globalization were faster than governments could keep up with. Now I think it’s evident to most of us.

Consequently, business leaders out there are under much more pressure. They are still supposed to please their stakeholders, but the stakeholders have become many. No longer can leaders care only about shareholder value – but are supposed to take responsibility for the development of society, the wellbeing of employees, business ethics and co-creation with partners, the increased demands from customers, the higher focus on their own work-life balance, and shareholder value.

The pressure is rising on CEOs, and the question is: who do you become? Over the past months, I have been genuinely inspired by how CEOs tackle the situation and, to be honest, also sad and terrified. There is no doubt that CEOs now need to show that they can deliver. They need to raise the bar. In many organizations, this means cost-cutting and raising the expectations of employees. If we put this together with the perspective that organizations in the fourth industrial revolution have become less hierarchical and that more people are searching for a clear purpose and being emotionally connected to their work, CEOs have an exciting equation to solve.

Of course, as a CEO, you need to show that you can deliver during these circumstances – that’s what your role is about. The question is: does the person you become under pressure get more or fewer followers? And will people become more or less loyal to you and the company? Not only this quarter but in the inevitable game.

Do you really get people to perform at their best? Because that’s what you need.

I recently spoke with a CEO who was gathering the top 150 managers of the organization to focus on well-being. This CEO knew that the well-being of their organization would be key to success in this critical situation now and in the future. I heard about another CEO letting a strong leader and key performer during the past years leave due to low performance in the last quarterly report. On top of this, the CEO didn’t even take the conversation with him directly, choosing instead to let HR handle it.

This puts light on the increased importance of people skills that the World Economic Forum stresses for future leaders. If you as a CEO have let this topic to HR, I hope you have attended a lot of the training HR have held. I believe leaders who have led in a… let’s call it “traditional way” will experience a different career in the coming year(s). It will show if you have only been hiding behind “people are the most important asset of this company” or if you have genuinely led by it.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that CEOs will need to make difficult decisions going forward. Even in these situations, I have seen skilled CEOs increase loyalty. The strongest example was a CEO and her leaders who needed to inform 300 people that they would lose their jobs, not immediately but in five years. Would you want to be in their shoes? Maybe I told you that they managed to do this with increased people engagement, increased productivity, and successfully helping all employees who wanted to continue working to new jobs.

There is so much basic knowledge about human functioning that will be key to your success. How do you really bring out the best in people? Do you know?

You are also a human yourself. Are you capable of understanding what this pressure does to you? Have you built a team and an organization around you that brings out the best in you? Who remembers and reinforces the direction and the values of the company, supports you when you live it, and dares to be brutally honest when you take shortcuts or act in destructive ways when you are amygdala hi-jacked?

I keep asking myself, “Why have doctors and psychologists had so little impact in shaping the business world? Why are we often used to handling the consequences and symptoms of low performance and distress rather than building a solid foundation for top performance and wellbeing?” I recently read that well-being economics is the most popular course at the Stockholm School of Economics. I hope this will bring experts in these fields to the top of the business world. We need diversity of thought and competence to handle the complex challenges we face. When the temperature rises, we need to bring out the best of ourselves and the people around us to succeed.