A good CEO is expected to know all the answers. A great CEO knows how to ask the right questions. And the big question right now is: how do I prepare my business for the future?
It sounds daunting. Many are tempted to ignore the long game and focus on day-to-day dilemmas. But CEOs who future-proof themselves, their people and their processes will set their organisations apart from the competition. So where to start?
From my current role as CEO of Stellar Labs, and many years of senior experience, here are my thoughts from the hot seat.
Focus on your people
They are the future of your business and investing in them is a sure-fire way to prepare your business for the future. Share your company’s “why” with them, and make it inspiring. Why are we doing this? What value do we bring to people, companies, society? How are we making life better? Make sure your purpose is clear and appealing. And make sure it’s in line with present global needs. For example, if your products or processes are damaging to the environment, rethink them carefully and adjust.
You also need to work on creating a company culture where people love to work; where they can grow and learn, feel safe and valued. That way, your organisation will become a talent magnet.
Focus on your customers
How much time have you spent listening to your customers? Do you know where their biggest challenges lie? What they really think of your services and products? What they actually expect from you? And where new opportunities are waiting? I strongly recommend you invest more time and effort in this aspect – serving your customers should be your raison d’être.
Focus on technology
Everything that can be automated, will be automated – that’s a given. But if you think you’ve got plenty of time and it won’t happen on your watch, you’d better wake up or start preparing for the worst.
Focusing on technology is a great way to prepare your business for the future, but it’s rarely the solution in itself. Think of it more as a powerful enabler. But before you leap in, conduct a thorough investigation of the tech you’re thinking of adopting and build a clear business case.
Change is inherent and constant, so your organisation needs to be flexible and resilient. Employees must feel comfortable with change – even thrive in it. Therefore they must be able to gain knowledge and skills quickly, and as easily as possible. How do you make this happen? By installing a ‘learning culture’. CEOs have the power to improve ROI and employee engagement by encouraging:
- a ‘lifelong learning’ mindset
- a collaborative learning culture
- room for innovation
- forward thinking
- knowledge sharing
Effective learning organisations share these five common traits. They foster lifelong learning and ongoing collaboration, which fuels the success of the entire group. Everyone has the chance to make mistakes and learn from them, which leads to new ground-breaking ideas and profit-building opportunities. Leaders challenge assumptions, encourage self-reflection, and set an example for their team members. And they establish a strong knowledge-sharing infrastructure.
Choose learning interventions with measurable ROI
Learning must be engaging to be effective. From my experience as CEO of Stellar Labs, I have seen how successful our brain-friendly training programmes can be in this respect. Our evidence-based methods focus on how the brain reacts when learning. The result is learning interventions that help to motivate, build long-term memory and create habits.
And getting the right mix is key. Our hybrid learning format is modular and combines digital training with interactive workshops. We’ve also added collaboration with mentors and fellow learners, workplace-based assignments, and spaced repetition activities to improve recall. That’s everything you need to successfully embed learning and bring about real change that enhances business results and prepares employees for the future of work.
Not just a job title
Being a CEO is more than just a job title. You are the driver and keeper of the mission, the translator of the vision and the personalisation of the values of the company. Your most important responsibility is to prepare your business for the future and steer it into a successful future.
To do that, you must develop a learning strategy to anticipate and deal with change. Because change is a constant in life and therefore in business. The CEO that provides their workforce with training programmes designed for long-term impact will ensure their organisation survives and thrives for years to come.