In previous generations, it was often enough for the C-Suite to succeed by charting a course by themselves, then expecting employees to follow suit. Those days are over.
Ask executives about the state of the economy and the business environment most would agree that they are operating in a world that is becoming more complex and more difficult to do business. The majority agree that the uncertainty of the moment has eroded the trust between business leaders and other stakeholders. Until recently, it was widely accepted that a company’s primary responsibility was to create financial value for its shareholders.
On April 19, 2019, the Business Roundtable released a stunning statement:
[The] Business Roundtable…announced the release of a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporations signed by 181 CEOs who commit to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.
The role of business in society has changed which means that the C-Suite’s role in society has changed. C-Suite Executives are intergral players in the broader ecosystem and as such have a voice, and even a responsibility, to act.
Executive responsibility and accountably calls for a human-centered approach internally and externally. Research specialists Lisa Drier, David Nabarro and Jane Nelson refer to these new leaders as Systems Leaders.
“System leaders apply an unusual combination of skills and attributes to mobilize large-scale action for systems change. Like many leaders, they tend to be smart, ambitious visionaries with strong skills in management and execution. Unlike traditional leaders, they are often humble, good listeners, and skilled facilitators who can successfully engage stakeholders with highly divergent priorities and perspectives. Systems leaders see their role as catalysing, enabling and supporting widespread action – rather than occupying the spotlight themselves.”
The distributed workforce will test the C-Suites’ ability to adapt to the new role of the Systems Leader. Social Media will expose the C-Suite Executives who cannot make the pivot from Corporate Leaders to Systems Leaders who run their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders.
As technological innovations become ever more rapid, the C-Suite has adopted an agile mindset. Agile frameworks have enabled Executives to combine speed with stability while successfully navigating a period of technology acceleration. Quickly adopting and implementing technologies for business efficiencies and expanded capabilities has led to unintended consequences that have shaken stakeholder confidence in the C-Suite’s Systems Leadership.
Examples are readily found in the news and in the courts of unintended consequences of corporations using technology to gain a competive advantage. Data gathering and use has several companies under scrutiny for invasion of privacy and turning personal data into a product. While it is undeniable that data can be a benefit to multiple stakeholders, C-Suite Leaders need to approach data and technology with an Enterprise Design Thinking Process.
IBM states that, “Design Thinking begins with a set of principles that frame a way to see problems and solutions from a new point of view.” While agile will continue to be a powerful C-Suite tool using it within an Enterprise Design Thinking process will create better Systems Leaders. The Design Thinking Process is about asking the right questions, including how this technology will affect all stakeholders. Agile will be the framework of how the answers to these questions get implemented.
Industry 4.0 is winding down as Industry 5.0 is starting to grow. Industry 5.0 is being referred to as the age of intelligent automation. You will see humans collaberating with robots and other technology to deliver a customized and presonalized experience for customers and clients.
Gartner emerging trends research shows more C-Suite job descriptions include the following top 5 technical and soft skills.
A leader has the responsibility to embrace the change and guide their team through this change, achieving the ultimate goal – improved productivity through technology and increased value-add to the enterprise through data-driven decisions. – Judy Romano
CompTIA’s analysis of federal employment data showed that U.S. companies had approximately 918,000 unfilled IT jobs for a three month period last year.