Dilemma of an Overwhelmed CXO

Dilemma of an Overwhelmed CXO

The CXOs are not just challenged by the effort required to keep things going, they also have to draft a plan for future. They lead the organizations into an uncertain future amidst the increasing complexity of doing business. They must watch forwards and at the same time look out for changes happening in the adjacent business areas. They must lead transformations, motivate people, take others along and so on.

In short, they are overwhelmed! They have to face multiple dilemmas.

Present or Future?

How much time should a CXO spend on making sure the work goes on, versus what needs to be done to stay ahead of the course? You are responsible for both, isn’t it?

Employees or Customers?

Who comes first? They say that the customer is the king, and we must listen to them. However, you need to take care of your employees; so that they will take care of your customers. If the customers are not happy, do you assume the employees may not be too?

Technology or People?

The budget is limited, you can invest in technology that makes people more productive or you can invest in making your people more engaged and happier at work. You need both, don’t you?

Remote Work or Work from Office?

Remote work obviously leads to lower costs. But is it sustainable? Are there any alternatives that you need to think of? What about Hybrid model? But how much remote in Hybrid? Who really needs to come to office?

Communicate More or Less?

Do you connect more often with the whole organization? Be more transparent? Given the uncertainties, will it not make people more fearful?

Vulnerable or Strong?

We need leaders who could be vulnerable at times to establish a human connection. It is said that this fosters mutual trust. But is being vulnerable being weak too? People also need you to be strong, they need to see that you are in charge. So, what is it really?

Right time was Yesterday!

Well, yes and you could have done it before. Had you known about it! Why do you need to know about the problems after it becomes critical? Why indeed you have to jump from one crisis to another? You are expected to smile while you are at it; this makes others feel that you are in control. Well, someone must be in control to tackle it, then how would things work otherwise?

So, what exactly is right? What should leaders do?

Be a Human before being a Superhuman

If you could be a superhuman, you can lift the entire office on your shoulders. While you are responsible, you need not be the one who has all the answers. You must first acknowledge that you are after all, a human! You could still do your job splendidly well if you become a human leader.

Leverage the Whole Organization

The only way you would overcome the overwhelming situation is, deal with complexity and discover the way forward to leverage the whole organization. You have a lot of brilliance in the diverse and talented pool of people in your organization. You need to step into the leadership, groom each person as a leader on their own. You must help people unleash their potential. Above all, you must care for your people.

Be Responsible but Delegate

Find the people who can deal with making things run smoothly. Empower them, enable them with technology and trust them. Engage them, Align them.

Find people who are visionary, encourage them to try new things. Let them know that failing is not bad, as long as they learn from their failure.

Vision and Purpose: Own it

Your job is to make sure that your people understand the vision. Make sure that they have a sense of purpose and business conduct with shared values. The vision must not be restrictive or prescriptive. It is the overarching goal; it is a sense of direction. It is the “True North”. You must rally your people around “True North”.

Transform the Organization

They should look up to you but should not depend on you. They should march with you, not behind you. Passion should drive them more than just duty. They should be together, without being physically in one place. They should do the right thing not just because someone is watching them – it is integrity! Set high standards and hold people accountable.

Break Silos

Walk across your function and connect with other leaders at a better level. Forge partnerships, believe in shared successes. Be a part of many eco-systems, be active, contribute.

Listen More, Talk Less

Remember that you lead many minds; each one is unique, brimming with ideas, hopes and possibilities. Listen more, so that you can understand your people to lead them. Not just to succeed, but also to develop them into leaders in their own right.

Stay Connected, keep them Informed

Everyone would not be interested in surprises. At the same time, do not overwhelm your people with too many communications, calls, meetings etc. Put up online notice boards, so that people could subscribe based on their need or can browse through when they have time. Progress must be seen; people must see the needle moving. Build online dashboards and celebrate successes.

Lastly: it is ‘And’ not ‘Or’

Can a football player say that he can either have speed or power or skill? A player has to have all and must work relentlessly to do so. Leaders have to do so many things and the pandemic has just increased the complexity. It is time that you leverage the potential in your people, to achieve your own. It is time for you to step up the game and become a human leader and transform your organization, make it ready for all challenges. Once you transform, you will not be alone and nothing will be impossible.

About the Author

Ms. Manbir Kaur is an Executive and Leadership Coach (Professional Certificated Coach, PCC - ICF). She is also a Conversational Intelligence(C-IQ) Enhanced Skills Practitioner and a key-note speaker.

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