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Top CEO Issues - November 2019

The CEO Institute

Brought to you by The CEO Institute, below are the Top Issues discussed by CEOs and business leaders in the last month:

Executive management

  • CEO | Leadership as a CEO | Performance pressure - safety of being able to discuss with other CEOs | Having an Executive Assistant and how to find suitable candidates | Relationship with the Chair (overriding CEO) | Positioning messages to a Board | Inducting and dealing with new Board members who prove difficult in asserting their role
  • Partners and equity | Managing business partner relationships | Dealing with painful and intransigent partners who block growth and progress, especially post merger | Managing relationships with multiple partners when not all active in the business - how to reward and reflect effort | Selling shares to employees | Different types of equity structures available to ‘golden hand cuff’ key staff

Leadership skills

  • Leadership | Leadership is contextual | The characteristics of a leader - the power of strong interaction; micro-manager is not well accepted by staff | Mindful leadership allows us to respond differently to our environment and be open to different possibilities and creative solutions
  • Personal skills | Building good habits | Personal brand / reputational capital | Managing distractions - events, people, emails | Creating ‘me’ time ▪ Knowing your weaknesses

Planning for growth

  • Planning | Difficulties in implementing strategic plans unless strategy, culture and leadership are aligned | Scenario planning - macro level; part of strategic planning
  • Technology and digital change | Technology can provide a competitive advantage | The importance of not over-relying on technology | Embracing digital change - develop innovative culture; empower interested staff to get involved; experiment and don’t worry about failure; employ people with compatible skill sets
  • Mergers and Acquisitions | Costs and benefits of growth by acquisition | Elements of M&A - types; structures; motives; strategies; merger success; corporate restructuring; regulation; deal process and considerations; maximizing value; insolvency; distressed acquisitions; taxation and duties; structuring the transaction; case studies | Answer the ‘why’ at the beginning and check at each milestone against the original plan

Managing the business

  • Day to day issues | Staying on purpose when faced with multiple challenges | Creating a filter for ‘Go’ / ‘No go’ decisions | Moving from ‘I don’t want’ to ‘What do you want?’ | Best practice project management | Difference between KPIs and OKRs which are more aggressive and ambitious, but shouldn’t be unreachable | Revenue diversification strategies | Government grants - various types and opportunities available | Managing organisational change when a founder leaves | Celebrating small wins | Moving to time management | Revisiting distribution network especially as business moves to centralised warehouse facility | When to cut your losses and drop a lawsuit - extended delaying tactics; mounting legal fees; likelihood of recovery even if successful
  • A changing environment | Changing face of ethics and trust in business | Drop off in business ethics and loyalty - driven by monetary results, lack of education, generational change | Brexit outcome to provide a lot of business churn and opportunities | China’s place and influence in the world | Advantages of operating under Not-for-Profit business rules and requirements
  • Beyond Head Office | Management communications - getting consensus when spread over multi-location and time zones; video conferencing with focused agendas; action plans; face-to-face is still critical | Managing staff based on client sites providing internal services - can become distant and disconnected; leverage Yammer as communication platform; regular site visits; consider rotations; group meetings and weekly catch-ups; call back to head office for staff events and acknowledgement | Using Apps to help manage and control resources across the company
  • People management | Using contacts to recruit staff | Staff engagement surveys | Being an employer of choice - sustainability and a focus on corporate social responsibility becoming more important, especially for millennials | The risk of high growth businesses employing people just to get the job done rather than optimal long term fit | Organisation culture and the concept of belonging | Review systems to ensure you are paying staff appropriately | Providing a wellness day (for mental health) in addition to sick leave and annual leave | Issues with carer / bereavement / religious leave

Marketing and margins

  • Customer focus | Research based consumer leadership | Dividing clients into quadrants - maintain / drive / exit / grow | Understanding how people make decisions to buy | Key account management - structured versus leaving individuals to ‘wing it’; common approach important for brand and reputation | What are the barriers to customers making a decision? - how to encourage, support clients to make a decision; asking the right questions | Setting a marketing budget by consensus with staff | Success factors and implementation strategies for digital marketing | Networking as a source of referrals and building the brand | The sales process and the role of strategic alliances and channel partners | New product roll outs
  • Pricing and margins | Calculating cost to serve clients | Variability of product pricing and ability to generate positive returns - understanding direct and indirect costs | Business models to improve margins | Margin below the GP line

Managing risk

  • Risk | Protecting your business by minimising risk | Dangers of ‘it will never happen to me’ attitude - range of possible scenarios puts all organisations at risk; being unprepared is simply poor management | Critical steps in crisis management planning | Risks in licence agreements from sub-licensees when they get into financial difficulty | New whistle-blower legislation
  • Cybersecurity | Where are we at today, current trends and where to focus attention - a training and culture issue; ensure staff understand risks; preventative measures the priority; keep applications up to date; back-up measures (cloud-based services don’t eliminate need); maintain access to your data | Cyber insurance cover - understand what T&C's really mean

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