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Chief Engagement Officer: the differential role of the good CEO

David Reyero

The role of a Chief Executive Officer is by nature multifaceted: strategic, institutional, financial, commercial, leadership, communicative and representative before a company’s multiple stakeholders.

Out of all these roles, today one of them is basic for the success of any senior executive and more crucial than ever in this COVID context we are living through: to take on a proactive and visionary role as a builder and catalyst of the engagement of his or her teams.

Laying the foundations for a healthy and inspiring work environment is a non-delegable task of any good CEO today, with the support of a good Steering Committee and a solid Human Resources Department. John Smythe’s book The CEO: Chief Engagement Officer gives a thorough account of its benefits and challenges.

Laying the foundations for a healthy and inspiring work environment is a non-delegable task of any good CEO today

We could say that the best CEOs today have become CEEOs: Chief Engagement & Executive Officers. Because if one thing is clear, it is that to get excellent results you need an engaged staff.

A bunch of lone stars are not going to achieve a good performance, or a sustainable one. Talent without determination and cohesion is of little use. By way of example, a recent study by Korn Ferry indicates that the most engaged companies grow in revenue 4.5 times more than the least engaged.

Achieving a highly engaged environment has well-known attributes, such as an attractive purpose that succeeds in aligning the organisation, good leaders, teamwork, stimulating jobs, and a participative and innovative organisational culture. These elements are linked to satisfying essential needs that are not only basic (job security and competitive pay) but also more elevated (possibility of self-fulfilment, contributing with an impact and leaving a legacy).

Work engagement ratios have been falling worldwide in recent decades

It is important to bear in mind that work engagement ratios have been falling worldwide in recent decades. A sign that something isn’t being done well enough. And an aspect that makes the role of CEOs as boosters of their teams’ pride in belonging all the more strategic.

An environment of engaged people is also stimulating for new employees who engage with the organisation. Just as talent attracts talent, another virtuous circle is generated for business excellence.

Highly engaged companies make a difference if they are capable of combining historical legacy, seniority and periodic renewal attracting fresh blood and new ideas.

Achieving this positive environment is seldom quick or easy and sometimes means making tough decisions such as letting go employees at any level who do not foster the desired collective engagement and are not sufficiently aligned with corporate values. The CEO must take such actions boldly and with a clear vision of the importance of organisational culture in the smooth running of any company.

An environment of engaged people is also stimulating for new employees who engage with the organisation

Big buildings need solid foundations to survive any adversity. In the same way, leaders of companies that want to be big (big in spirit and reputation, beyond their mere size in sales or number of employees) focus on creating a context of engagement.

An environment that will facilitate good results, especially at times of crisis. Today culture and engagement take up a large part of the energy of good Chief Engagement & Executive Officers.

In this way they build solid foundations in order to fly high and successfully in their businesses in these turbulent times.

All written content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.