Chief executives are expected to think strategically, drive change, persuade politically, prepare for the future, and rally the troops. These are all important in their leadership, but more attention must be spent from the chief nurturing the souls of their community. The world demands our leadership.
“Particularly when a company is struggling, directors in the market for a new CEO—as well as the investors, analysts, and business journalists who are watching their every move—will not be satisfied with an executive who is merely talented and experienced. Companies now want leaders.” (The Curse of the Superstar CEO, Harvard Business Review, Rakesh Khurana)
The CEO is the “soul keeper” of an organization. If the organization has an ugly soul, it is her or his responsibility to redeem it.
Many organizations are feeling the sting of leaders who pushed cultures of: win at any cost, look the other way, and it’s just a hug. These may not immediately destroy a company, but it damages the hearts and minds of those serving. The loss of hearts and minds is your long term decline.
As CEO our greatest concern should be the hearts and minds of our staff, and then, all others we serve. We were not given our role for people to serve us, we were given our role to serve everyone. Kings should quickly be dethroned.
How do we become good soul keepers?
Everyone is watching us: stock holders, boards, staff, competitors, regulators, and the media. If we choose to take on this position, we must live well before all others. We must not act in any way that could be misunderstood. We must be exemplary.
Be the Lead Trainer
Find a way to teach your staff. It may only be a couple of times of year and it may have to be a broadcast, but lead a culture of learning. The subjects should vary. Help your staff understand the greater purpose of the company. Teach them how to be lifelong learners. Take on subject matter way outside of the normal spheres, maybe in philosophy, conservation, mathematics, or literature and then show them how it applies to their lives and work.
Be a Mentor
Find driven personalities around you and invest time and energy into helping them grow even if it is outside your company. Your investment in others will help your thinking and stimulate ideas to help you in training others as well as keeping you accountable.
We will remain committed to profitability, growth, greater market share, and continuous technological development, but not at the cost of our organization’s soul. As leaders we must not forget the most important thing in which we are entrusted is the lives of those we serve.