All CEOs face significant challenges regardless of their tenure in the post. As the market evolves, so too does our objectives along w/our methodology.
Here are some tips to remember if you’re a CEO or someone responsible for a product or book of business.
1. AUTONOMY AND ACCOUNTABILITY GO HAND IN HAND; MICHAEL J VIGEANT, CEO OF GREATBLUE RESEARCH
We already know that our success is predicated on the success of our team. But, how do you give staff just the right amount of responsibility?
Michael J Vigeant, CEO of GreatBlue Research, has this practical advice…
I ask my staff this question, “When do I get in your way and how can I get out of your way?”
These simple questions put both autonomy and accountability squarely on the shoulders of your team.
By asking, “When do I get in your way?”, you are removing any outcome-based excuses. And by asking, “How can I get out of your way?”, you are creating a solutions-oriented conversation that requires any performance-based issues or blind spots to be addressed.
This will create a clear set of steps towards transferring work from you to them.
2. ADD VALUE TO YOUR CLIENTS; MIKE MISEL, SVP-AMERICAS OF CINT
If you are playing the long game, add value. It is as simple as that. Founded in 1998, Cint was the first player in the sample market place. Mike Misel, SVP of Americas says,
“It is our job to make our customers’ lives easier. We think about ourselves as in the supply chain management space. We are adding value by taking their antiquated processes and bringing them into a modern place.”
By viewing your product or service through the eyes of your customer you will do 2 things:
- Understand their real pain points
- See how your solution helps them
This framework gives you a clear basis for doing business and changes the conversation from one of sales to helping. And, we all like helping a heck of a lot more than salesing.
3. TRANSPARENCY WINS; MENDY ORIMLAND, SVP REVENUE AT PRODEGE
As pricing pressures drive down overall sample costs, we have to understand that this impacts how much a sample company can spend on their people and service. This principle holds true for any industry.
Given the enormous pricing pressures among publicly traded companies, sample (people that take surveys) has taken the brunt of the pressure resulting in an increase of concern around data quality.
Meanwhile, under Mendy’s leadership, Prodege continues to have a thriving sample business. Why?
“The market appreciates our high level of transparency.”
There are many different brands of cars. Some are cheap and some are expensive. Why the variance? They each attract and contribute to a different set of needs. The motivation around buying a BMW is different than a Teslsa…which is different than a Civic.
By understanding the market and your customer, you know where you win and where you don’t. In the same way you wouldn’t try and sell a Civic buyer a BMW; you need to know your target customer and focus your solutions to their needs.
I call this the “Right Shoe for the Right Foot” principle.
4. CONNECT WITH YOUR PASSION; ANNE BROWN, CEO GAZELLE GLOBAL RESEARCH SERVICES
Anne’s husband was one of the Freedom Riders (a civil rights activist who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States in 1961 and subsequent years to challenge the non-enforcement of the United States Supreme Court decisions Morgan v. Virginia (1946) and Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which ruled that segregated public buses were unconstitutional).
Anne is vocal about issues around diversity,
“How is diversity going to play into the lives of our future leaders?”
CEOs have a huge opportunity to support underrepresented and suppressed groups. One of my favorite examples of this is AT&T’s multi-year commitment to The Trevor Project and $1 million donation.
Know who you are and stand by that. If you try and maintain relevancy to everyone, you’ll wind up being relevant to no one.
PS I love her website.
5. CULTIVATE SELF-AWARENESS; TIM HOSKINS, PRESIDENT QUESTER
As a leader, we will all experience breakthrough revenue quarters along with periods of retraction. Don’t be fooled by periods of prolonged prosperity. Merrill has a saying, “Profits hide problems.” Be constantly humble.
“What type of a leader do I need to become. Take a good hard look at the resources available. Pull from many different inspirations so you have a solid foundation to build upon. For me, Founder’s Mentality is one of those inspirations.”
If you are humble, then you’ll look outside yourself which creates inspiration and maintains relevancy. As Tim explained in his talk, when he applied this self-reflection he became the leader Quester needed. As a result, 2019 will be the best growth year they have ever seen (that is my prediction based off some data and my gut).
6. TECHNOLOGY ISN’T 100% THE SOLUTION; ANDERS BENGTSSON, CEO AT PROTOBRAND
In the early days of Decipher, I tried to sell my first accounts access to our DIY survey tool. This was met with, “I’d rather someone else program my surveys.” So, we pivoted to offer services. Over time the market evolved to adopt our DIY platform, but services always played a linchpin role in all our enterprise level deals.
Anders nailed this point in our interview,
“End clients in North America are more interested in software enabled services…but services are still part of it.”
All too often, technology is seen as the Unique Selling Proposition. But, it isn’t. What doeswin is your connection with your customers at a human to human level. That is why I’m bullish on Microsoft’s recent announcement of moving from AI to Human Augmented Intelligence.
Wrap services around your customers and you’ll expedite corporate adoption and shorten sales times.
7. HAVE PATIENCE & URGENCY; CAMILLE NICITA, PRESIDENT & CEO GONGOS
We’ve likely all been guilty of making an announcement in an All Hands meeting about some new policy or strategic direction and expected everyone to jump right in line. Of course we know what happens…as soon as you are done speaking, people forgot and get back to doing things the same way.
My rule of thumb is that every change you introduce will take 3 months before your team can get on board. And, if you layer in an additional change before the full adoption of your first change then you are undoing any work done to date and likely will loose credibility with your team.
Camille has experienced consistent growth at Gongos. One of the reasons she gave for their success was their application of “urgent patience“,
“The Art of Urgent Patience. As the CEO, I know where we want to go. I can see it. But you’ve got to meet people where they are.”
I have never heard of the concept before…but she just nailed it. Patience isn’t passive. It is active and creates focus. Successful CEOs know change is necessary so you better get to the grind so you can move to the next big thing.
8. CULTIVATE PEER RELATIONSHIPS; ROB VOLPE, CEO IGNITE 360
The adage, “It’s lonely at the top” is 100% true and the bigger your organization, the higher the mountain…thinner air…colder…more isolation…scarier.
I loved my conversation with Rob Volpe, CEO of Ignite 360,
“It’s very difficult being the CEO of a company and you don’t have easy or frequent access to other CEOs. This conference is great for meeting other CEOs and hearing their struggles, wins and tactics.”
Rob is exactly right. I’ll end this bit on another old adage, “You are the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most.” Actively seek to level up your peer group.
I am lucky to have had the privilege to do these onsite interviews at this year’s CEO Summit. Thank you Insights Association along with the fellow industry leaders that so warmly joined me on the Happy Market Research Podcast.
You can hear the full interviews here on www.happymr.com. As always, I hope you found this content useful and wish you only the best.