With the digital age well and truly upon us, the changes brought about due to the advent of this era have been many and multifaceted. On that note, the role of the CEOs or the Chief Executive Officers is also changing by the day.
Digital transformation can result in a completely different company and for this reason, it is imperative that the CEO becomes the driving force behind it. Team leads and the CIO will be able to make decisions for their departments, but strong guidance from the top is needed to help the process along, get buy-in from all stakeholders, and allocate the correct funding and resources. For the implementation of a successful digital transformation strategy, the CEO will also need to define the roles and responsibilities of those people in leadership positions. If this is not articulated clearly, it could lead to several issues, including execution gaps and infighting, which will weaken the overall program.
The CEO is often the public face of a company. For large corporations with a high public profile, this can mean everything from being the lead speaker at conventions or product announcements to making appearances in the media. When the company issues official statements, it will often do so in the name of the CEO.
The CEO needs to become the company champion for digital transformation. Publicly displaying buy-in will not only encourage people working within the organization to get on board, but it will also show all external stakeholders that the CEO, and therefore the whole company, is truly committed to transforming the company to fit modern times. By giving full support to the journey, CEOs will embed themselves in the knowledge of how the business strategy will change and what tweaks or major modifications need to be made to the company’s business model. They will then be able to communicate clearly to employees and be able to answer questions.
The organizations CEOs oversee today are more complex and unwieldy. While earlier, CEOs could proudly say that they are leading a workforce of, say a Hundred Thousand FTEs or Full Time Employees, the CEOs in the Digital Age can only point to the ever-changing number of part-timers and freelancers who work for their firms. Businesses are operating in an environment of sustained uncertainty and intense competition, and face higher expectations from employees, shareholders, and other stakeholders. All of this has many wondering whether new models or approaches to CEO leadership are in order.
Recognizing the limits of traditional management structures and styles to respond to complex challenges, some CEOs are embracing leadership models that spread responsibility and accountability for the business to a broader group of executives. What is seen emerging is a movement toward “shared leadership” management models, which are defined as organizations that place the CEO at the center of a circle rather than atop a pyramid.