Events such as the Covid-19 pandemic have introduced new realities, forcing businesses to pivot and adopt bold new strategies. Aileen Boyle, CEO and Founder of Fortro Ltd, is an expert at helping CEOs and leaders create strategies to build a better, stronger and scalable business. In this article, we cover some of the insights that Aileen shares with us on the priorities that the C-Suite should have in facing new realities and challenges.
What matters most to businesses now
Covid-19 revealed that agility and flexibility are some of the most important qualities that a business could have. During the unprecedented time, many businesses really struggled with the conditions and restrictions introduced by the pandemic. This was evidenced by the fact that many businesses ended up collapsing.
Whilst many businesses were often shut down for reasons beyond their control, in many cases it was an inability to change quickly that led to their demise.
On the other hand, the successes were those who were able to successfully pivot their service offerings and redesign their business model to suit and complement the restrictions and conditions of the pandemic.
It is quite clear that the ability to be agile and flexible as a business is becoming increasingly more valuable in today’s world and this will once again be demonstrated as we enter a recession.
The changing focus of the C-Suite roles
The C-Suite roles are undoubtedly integral in directing and managing the business, and must be able to fully embrace continuous change and uncertainty. Some key areas of the C-Suite roles that have been constantly changing in recent years as a result of new challenges:
- An increasing emphasis on managing supply chain disruptions and concerns
- A larger focus on the short-term plans and operations of the business (plans now generally cover the next 6 months rather than 12, 18, or 24 months)
- A stronger appetite for contingencies and flexible service offerings
- Increased incentive to embed environmental and sustainability goals into the business operations
- A clear focus on investment In the workforce to combat the ongoing skills shortage
Ensuring C-Suite roles can continue providing maximum value
To match the evolving challenges of reality, boards are now being forced to change and must be able to look at their own independent skill sets. It is no longer enough for individual board members to simply be technically proficient in their own areas, but rather, must also be ‘people proficient’ and have a real sense of self-awareness.
It is vital that the C-Suite recognise the changing trends. Nowadays, tactics cannot simply revolve around money – business leaders need to understand this and adapt their strategies to have a more conscious and customer approach. As traditional elements of leadership can sometimes block progression in this, it may be worth doing a broad gap analysis to ensure a comprehensive business strategy is developed and maintained.
The C-Suite also has an important duty to continue investing in technology and staff. Studies have shown that up to 83% of staff are disengaged at work – this could easily cost a company an extra £5,500 a year per staff member to simply cover absences and unproductivity! Continually engaging with the members of the team can really help keep everyone motivated and rowing in the same direction. Failing to do this could result in having a much lower staff retention rate, or even members weighing the business down and hindering growth.
Lastly, to further ensure the maximum effectiveness of the C-Suite, they must learn how to effectively use their team to complement their skill sets – especially if they have a dominant personality. Aileen explains that sometimes, one of the best things the C-Suite can do is to turn to their colleagues and ask “What can I do for you?” instead of “What can you do for me?”. By doing so, it allows the flow of ideas from an entire team, rather than having a single person carry and decide it all themselves.
The main 3 things a C-Suite business leader should do:
- Identify and study the risks that will impact your operations. It is crucial that the C-Suite fully understand all relevant business risks. By investing time and resources to this, they can help ensure that appropriate measures are taken to minimise and mitigate such risks. An external perspective can be useful in analysing and prioritising what is important
- Make sure the business is set up with a flexible structure. Actively developing a more flexible and dynamic business structure will allow the business to pivot and change its focus very quickly whenever required (similar to being able to reassemble Lego blocks). This means that the business will be better prepared for any new challenges or roadblocks
- Match the business strategy to a flexible business budget. Having flexibility in the budget will ultimately enable the C-Suite to flex the business as they will not be constrained by their attitude to spending. This will help keep the economy and operations running as they should
With thanks to Aileen Boyle, CEO and Founder– Fortro Ltd
Increasing Value with Growth Intelligence & Bold Ideas | Delivering Commercially Astute Results | Fractional Director | Fortro Ltd