All posts by bowersm1

COVID-ERA CEOs ARE ‘KEEN, TOUGH, OR EDGY’

Not all CEOs are created equal, but everyone can come out of this crisis stronger. Keen CEOs spend sleepless nights thinking about the new opportunities the pandemic has created. They search for acquisition targets, design new products and services, and negotiate with suppliers and other partners to create new win-win arrangements. To them, the key challenges are keeping their team’s creativity up in times of remote working, reproducing as much as possible face-to-face interactions online, and retaining talent. The second category – tough CEOs – downplay the impact of the crisis on themselves. These executives consider themselves coolheaded leaders who are determined to persevere and lead their organisations to a better future. The main challenge for these leaders is to find the time, discipline and will to lead their organisations through the crisis. They consider protecting employees’ well-being and helping them stay productive their top priority. Edgy CEOs reported considerable levels of stress and anxiety, so we call them edgy. Their top concerns are the fate of the business, the health and well-being of their families, and their personal mental and physical health. They struggle with staying energized and motivated. They tend to focus on pressing issues, leaving strategy and institution building for better times. Personality seems to play a role too. The keen leaders whom we interviewed came across as optimistic, energetic and highly resilient. Most tough CEOs were self-confident, strong-willed and somewhat authoritarian. Edgy leaders often doubted themselves and their ability to navigate through the crisis. They expressed negative emotions and showed vulnerability. To lead effectively in what is likely to be a multi-year crisis, CEOs need to adjust how they think about their role and how they go about playing it. They need to motivate and enable their teams to learn and perform to ensure the renewal and sustainable development of their business. To achieve these objectives over the long run, leaders need to become more resilient. Finally, no CEO, however resilient, is immune to the novel coronavirus. Having a designated and trained successor or deputy ready to stand in for the CEO whenever necessary is more important than ever before.  Read More >>

HOW HAVE TOP MARKETERS RESPONDED TO THE PANDEMIC? WITH RAPID INNOVATION.

Leaders in industries from healthcare to casual dining are fast-tracking changes to the customer experience. Despite the different circumstances facing each company, some consistent themes emerged from these conversations: First, rather than putting their foot on the brakes, companies are going all-in with new ways of serving and staying relevant to their customers. Second, some are viewing COVID-19 as an opportunity to gain quick traction on longstanding internal challenges. And third, everyone is actively preparing for a very different future. In some areas, providers have had to find some very creative ways to deliver care. For instance, pediatric ophthalmologists, unable to see children for routine eye care, started emailing PDF eye charts to parents, along with instructions to print and hang the chart, measure the requisite distance, and have them test from home. Decision-making in large companies can be deliberate in the best of times, with leaders weighing the advantages of change against tried-and-true approaches. But the fallout from the pandemic, as difficult as it has been, offers the opportunity to set aside some of the hurdles and take chances.  Read More >>

TALES FROM THE TRENCHES OF RUNNING A START-UP

The externalities that influence creativity, adoption, and scale are often more important than the innovation itself. To be a successful innovator one has to be really in tune with what’s happening in the world on a global scale (or be really lucky, or better yet both). Venture capital has shortened the learning curve for some innovators, but bias has limited access to venture capital for many. Unconscious bias is like an odorless gas—it’s imperceptible to most, but pervasive and deadly.  Working among people with competing priorities takes more effort. It means encouraging communication so they’re aware of each other’s needs as they generate new ideas. You have to find a way to invite these ideas in, make it okay for people to disagree respectfully, and encourage the flow of ideas among the various groups. You need each person to focus on his or her task, but not so much that it creates boundaries and kills any sense of creativity in the group.  People tend to think innovation can be neatly placed into two categories: incremental or disruptive. They also assume that the only category that really matters is the disruptive kind, where you dramatically transform markets or introduce a novel product.  Read More >>

YOU DON’T KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER ANYMORE

When the Great Recession hit the U.S. in 2009, companies across industries came to a harsh realization. Years of researching, maneuvering, marketing, and investing to create the perfect customer products and services suddenly fell flat. The economy dramatically shifted consumer habits, with many focused on reducing spending amid the uncertainty of the economy, and a loss of trust in many institutions. Similar to the recession in 2009, customer needs and preferences are evolving at light speed as customers grapple with the impacts of the current situation. With many states reopening, companies need to quickly identify who their customers have become and how to fit into their new purchasing portfolios. The 2009 recession taught brands some hard lessons about relearning and reengaging their customer bases, and some of the changes and impacts were long-lasting. The pandemic has created an unprecedented situation of its own, but companies that act quickly and proactively to take the necessary steps will increase their chances of hanging onto their loyal customers long-term and avoiding the enduring consequences of failing to do so.  Read More >>

STARTUP LED BY EX-GOLDMAN SACHS HR CHIEF LAUNCHES DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION INDEX

Eskalera, a technology startup led by Goldman Sachs former human resources head Dane Holmes, has launched an index to measure corporate diversity and inclusiveness, the firm said on Thursday.  Eskalera’s software collects information on employee sentiment and company culture and combines it with HR data to generate a score for inclusivity that can be measured against competitors.  The goal is to give companies actionable information on changes needed to increase diversity.  Eskalera is among a group of startups developing software to help corporations hire and retain more diverse staff.  Many U.S. companies have pledged funds and issued statements in support of racial diversity amid protests that erupted since George Floyd, a black man, died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes.  The gestures by corporate America have drawn some criticism from diversity experts, who say companies should also look at improving racial equity within their ranks.  Fewer than 1% of Fortune 500 CEOs are black, according to a 2019 study by the Center for Talent Innovation. Around 13% of Americans identify as black or African American, according to federal data.  Read More >>

ED TECH IS SURGING, AND PARENTS HAVE SOME NOTES

Unlike most sectors, edtech has been booming over the last few months.  But as tired parents juggle work, family and sanity all day, nearly every day, they say edtech is not a remedy for all education gaps right now.  Parents across all income groups are struggling with homeschooling.  Socioeconomically disadvantaged families have it even worse because resources are strapped and parents often have to work multiple jobs to afford food to put on the table.  One major issue for parents is balancing a decrease in live learning with an uptick in “do it at your own pace” learning.  In light of the struggles parents and educators alike are seeing with the current set of online learning tools and their inability to inspire young learners, new edtech startups are thinking about how the future of remote learning might look.  The missing piece to edtech: School isn’t just learning, it’s childcare.  Read More >>  

GROWING RESILIENCE IN UNCERTAIN TIMES


Managing the current crisis is an inside job.  When confronted with a situation weighed with anxiety and ambiguity, like a pandemic, a lock-down and frightening news from the economy, it’s impossible for most of us to imagine any upside. We become paralyzed; overwhelmed by events, we descend into a state of mind I call unproductive uncertainty. But there are some people who manage to see their way through that paralysis and find a positive path forward.  Everything can be taken from a person but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. We are all free to choose, and finding that freedom is key to finding a way forward in uncertain times.  With unprecedented levels of uncertainty about our health, our work and the world, it’s possible to nurture an uncertainty capability and find resilience.  Read More >>

HOW TO APPLY EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE TO YOUR LEADERSHIP

When it comes to building strong, lasting relationships with clients and team members, it’s time to start thinking like CEOs but under a different definition: Chief Emotional Officers. We business leaders are often trained to focus on data, numbers, and “hard skills.” As leaders, we must equally engage our other skill sets, to focus on the skills of emotional sensitivity and empathy. It’s these “soft skills” that are crucial to cultivating psychological safety — the sense of trust and well-being that helps teams thrive. These skills can’t run on autopilot. They require self-awareness and intentional behavior. The following is a model that can help leaders build these skills: the AAA Model for Cultural Agility. It consists of three steps: aware, acquire, and adapt. Aware. Reflect on your own state of mind, biases, and assumptions. Acquire. Ask questions. Explore and engage with others. The information you gather should help you to understand where others are coming from. Adapt. Bridge the difference by adapting new behaviors and mindset. We can all be Chief Emotional Officers. It just takes daily intention and practice. Remember “AAA” — aware, acquire, adapt — and the title can be yours.  Read More >>

HOW TO HANDLE VIDEO NEGOTIATIONS

With so many of us confined at home to stop the spread of COVID-19, it is fortunate that much economic activity, from buying groceries to banking services, can be carried online. As it turns out, many business deals and negotiations also happen online these days. As opposed to email, phone calls or instant messaging, video-conferencing is the tool that resembles regular face-to-face meetings the most. That being said, it can’t convey as much information about the parties’ non-verbal cues. And sometimes, during technological glitches, we might miss a few words and refrain from asking the person to repeat, thus missing out on verbal cues as well. In these challenging times, video-conferencing has the benefit of being a considerably cheaper means to conduct negotiations than face-to-face meetings. Given the fact that many companies are struggling due to contracting economic activities, videoconferencing may be a more sensible way to conduct business going forward, at least until the situation returns to normal, which could take months if not years. Hopefully, business negotiated via video-conferencing will help companies save costs and navigate stormy waters to a calmer and safer harbor in the future.  Read More >>

CAN EMPLOYEES MONITOR EMPLOYEES WHO WORK FROM HOME DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS?

To ensure employees do what they’re supposed to, some employers have begun using surveillance apps and programs to monitor worker productivity.  This has raised some worker privacy concerns and the questions of whether this is legal or proper.  Employers have been monitoring employees since the dawn of the employer-employee relationship. In the Internet age, with the ubiquity of laptops, tablets and smartphones, what the employer can do has gone up a notch.  Employers can keep track of what employees type, record internet activity, take screenshots, and use the company-owned device’s webcam.  As a general rule, when using your employer’s equipment while on your employer’s network, your employer will have the right to monitor what you do. If you’re on your own device and using your own Internet connection, it’s less likely to be legal if your employer monitors you, although it still is often perfectly legal. Employees in some states may have slightly more employee privacy protections.  For example, some states, like Maryland, Illinois and California have “all-consent” or “two-party consent” laws that require everyone involved in an electronic communication or telephone call to consent to the monitoring.  A few states require employers to give notice to employees before monitoring can take place. Connecticut and Delaware are two such states with specific laws on the books, although Connecticut’s law might not apply when the employee is working from home.  The bottom line: most employers can legally monitor what you do while working as long as it’s for legitimate business purposes or they have your consent. If you decide to engage in personal activities during business hours, you will usually do so at your own risk.  Read More >>