It is fair to say that the world of business has changed!
No longer is it acceptable for a business to strive purely for profit or simply to provide a healthy dividend for shareholders – I think the past credit crunch / recession /aftermath has highlighted that!
In the modern-day world of business, it is both imperative and advantageous to strive for both commercial and social benefit, but CEO’s and Senior Executives don’t have to worry about turning the boardroom into a KUM-BY-YA session, fully loaded with 3 string guitars, marshmallows and the team from Marketing dancing around with flowers in their hair!
The world of Corporate Social Responsibility, Social Impact, Social Investment or whichever term you wish to use has shifted to now being the BUSINESS of business. By working together, an enhanced level of social innovation and impact can be created i.e. the ‘little guy’ can provide the local knowledge, support, agility and access to the right social contacts and community networks; the ‘big guys’ can provide the knowledge and capacity-building resources, that the little guy needs to deliver – it’s a WIN/WIN!!
Isn’t it all great?
The stone cold reality is, that many CEO’s find it difficult to embrace this change in business culture easily.
The missing ingredient…themselves!
Used to being driven by profit margins, reducing costs, provided healthy shareholder dividends, keeping loyal staff etc, many CEOs must now adjust to achieving all the above and more PLUS, ensuring that they increasing their social impact, engaging with diverse stakeholders from strategic levels right down to the shop floor, face instant ridicule via social media when things go bad, which in turn, has an impact on their brand value and much, much more!
So how does the modern CEO cope with this?
The fact of this matter is that CEO’s need to take a step back and review themselves – leadership is as much about following, as well as leading from the front, but often using gut instinct, raw passion and a strong sense of purpose. The modern-day CEO must feel as comfortable in the local church hall or community workshop, as he / she is in the boardroom or conference venue, in order to truly understand what it means to be a Corporate Social Leader!
So how is this possible? Here are my top 5 Ways that a CEO can become more socially focused:
1) Renew the company vision – every great plan, needs constant revision. But every great vision, needs renewal in order to stay adaptable to changes that occur. This is not about creating a new vision, but about making sure the old one is still relevant.
2) Make fear a companion, not an enemy: fear has a way of reaffirming the challenges and hurdles that lie ahead. But fear is simply a state of mind; an expectation of the negative before it happens. The key is to have a strategy in place to deal with the negative, and this can only be achieved if fear is both embraced and welcomed, alongside a mindset of openness and curiosity.
3) Walk the talk: What you say you are, is something that you must both believe and can demonstrate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. End of.
4) Embrace the nappy of change: like fear, change is something that must be embraced otherwise, one runs the risk of missing out on powerful learning and opportunities. But like a nappy, change can also be a little stinky and nasty – but you still have to change that nappy, to protect the person who is wearing it, don’t you???
5) Commit, don’t admit: If you are serious about making a difference, then commit to making a difference. Better still, BE the difference. Admitting mistakes later down the line is too risky for both the business and your sense of leadership – committing to dealing with future mistakes because you are committed to the end result, is much more honourable!
For most CEO’s there needs to be a starting point, to make a change. We offer a free Social Value Metric Report that enables CEO’s to understand the position of their business, based on their investment into socially focused activities, but also help to bring more innovation to this area.
But more importantly, the key starting point is a genuine passion to do more for others!