The CEO’s seven essential objectives in the Digital Transformation

Juan Luis Polo

2 December 2015

“We don’t manage people, we inspire them”
Alfredo Hoyos, Founder, Frisby

CEOs. Those “corporate animals” that have to tackle a never-ending number of challenges, decisions to make, teams to manage, and plans to put into motion every day.

I can put myself in the shoes of a manager in a medium-sized or large company, with an age corresponding to the experience he or she accumulates, that has managed the company successfully for a few years. Someone that has tried to stay up-to-date by reading and studying the trends he or she finds valuable for managing his or her business, within a cared-for routine and methodology of gathering content and information.

And that from a time to this part looks with suspicion, and why not, with certain jealousy at the stories that come up of everywhere about how some companies are creating interesting innovations, thanks to their use of technology. Mobile devices, social media, advanced analytics, and the intensive use of available cloud models.

And that manager asks himself, but where do these “digital kids” with similar success come from? From companies of the last century in many cases.

Effectively answering the questions that many CEOs of Spanish and foreign companies have in their search for a path, which comes from scrutinizing and analyzing behaviors from the managers that stand out.

And within those behaviors, what we’ll first detect is that the manager that overachieves in the current digital world works on his or her personal brand on social media, as a means of communicating and relating to his or her teams.

What are the seven attributes of the “transforming” CEO?

1. A never-ending curiosity

What do they say about us on social networking sites? What’s happening with my competitors? Curiosity is far from killing the cat; it makes him or her more and more of a tiger. There’s no better place to learn, find out and above all, become part of the business’s intelligence, than paying attention to what’s happening first-hand.

2. Creates his or her point-of-view

Never believe only the report that’s already been filtered through 10 different departments before it gets in his or her hands. He or she prefers to gain his or her point-of-view from looking at raw, unmanipulated data.

3. Action before strategy

It’s time for “doers,” people that do first and correct afterward, people that say sorry before asking for permission. And it’s no different for the CEO that has an intense social life. Rather than staying in the trench guarded by their marketing or communications armies, they’d rather get down and dirty with their team.

4. Shares in a tireless fashion

Help, mentor, give feedback…shares his or her knowledge with his or her teams and with his or her clients. And he or she does so in an energetic way, despite the fact that there’s no immediate benefit, merely because they know that sharing today is winning tomorrow.

5. Connects before promoting

In the face of the idea that social media platforms are just another channel for disseminating information, the involved manager looks to join above all else, instead of self-promoting how great his or her company is. People know firsthand when they want to take us for a ride, and on social media, those doing this just for show get caught red-handed very quickly.

6. He or she is the number one brand ambassador

Honestly, this should go into, no ifs, and’s, or buts, into his or her paycheck. A recent Weber Shandwick study confirms that two-thirds of clients note that the opinion they have of a company’s leader directly impacts the perception they have of the brand. Or put in another way: when the CEO’s job is done well, the company’s brand improves.

7. Leads knowing that he or she doesn’t have all the answers

He or she doesn’t impose answers on their teams, on the contrary, he or she works with them so they can contribute their ideas and create the best. Creating a collective mindset is the answer. Maintaining silos and individualism, no.

The opportunity cost of continuing to lead a company as if we were living in the industrial era is so high that a managing board that’s always on the lookout for investors first can’t keep betting on past prescriptions for increasing future profitability. This statement is especially true if these prescriptions don’t put people first.

We only need to look around with our looking eyes, to realize that our world is becoming more democratized, thanks to the digital transformation we’re living.

And maybe when we’re in this new era’s maturity, where talent is the hard currency, only two types of leaders will remain: social leaders and…retired leaders.

It’s time to choose.