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Why it is important to redefine the CEO`s role in a disruptive world

Time is up for the heroic leader. What has been visible since years, is a must today: No single leader can cope with the complex challenges in our VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous). Direction and decision-making at the top requires the richness of all perspectives for a joint solution, based on a strong collaborative approach. Only an aligned top team role-modeling effective collaboration is the key driver for organisational performance.

To fully capture the Collaboration Premium – that comes from leveraging the collective intelligence of all senior executives in the team – a set of concrete practices is needed. Managers in the top team have to develop these practices themselves: by collectively reflecting the challenges and dynamics within the team. When consciously and regularly questioning their well-proven routines of thought and behaviour top managers learn to act as a disciplined and reflective team.

As the CEO has a paramount role in this, it is high time to change the meaning of the acronym CEO from Chief Executive Officer into Chief Enabling Officer.

To put it precisely: The CEO should make critical reflection of unproductive routines and dysfunctional behaviour a top priority on the agenda of his leadership team – alongside the regular dialogues on strategy and business performance. He has to enable and to enforce a culture that is based on five critical building blocks of disciplined collaboration within a team: 1. Focus on team results, 2. Mutual accountability, 3. Joint commitment, 4. Productive conflict, and 5. Mutual trust. For the CEO, a primary task is to uncover and tear down communicative and behavioural routines that block the way to enhanced collective performance.

Boost the Conscious Leader inside you: In a fast changing world, the role of the CEO changes rapidly. An effective teamwork at the top is decisive to master the challenges ahead. If you want to read more about the challenges of collaboration within a top team and the CEO`s task of enabling a reflective dialogue, click here to connect to our Insights: “Top Team Paradox: How to get beyond the alpha syndrome at the top”.

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Dr. Kai W. Dierke + Dr. Anke Houben

Top Management Coaches, Authors and Adjunct Professors of Leadership

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