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CEO: Custodian For Change

A vast array of case studies confirms that change is focused in six major areas or domains. Authenticity with integrity, right team, setting up an example through leading, importance given to culture, high degree of engagement and efficient stakeholder communication

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CEO with a propensity to make strategic moves can drive profound change. A vast array of case studies confirms that change is focused in six major areas or domains. Authenticity with integrity, right team, setting up an example through leading, importance given to culture, high degree of engagement and efficient stakeholder communication.

Lets take the example of Jack Welch former CEO of GE and a business legend in its own right. When he took over the helm of General Electric the market value was merely $12 billion. By the time of retirement it was a colossal $505 billion, the second largest company in the world.

The prescient strategic execution like acquision of companies through accurate market information, termination of mangers who couldn't produce, selling of troubled firm owned by conglomerate helped to expedite the growth rates in perennial double digits. His underlying belief was change is an important market dynamics.Business environment, new product induction, up gradation in technology; consumer buying habits and competition are never static .These parameters play their role in overall change. The senior management and employees through right level of engagement need to reinvent themselves and constantly have clear understanding regarding flux of the factors that impact the bottom line.

Welch initiated the culture of leading by example instead of dictating orders to subordinates and over managing. He implied that successful managers should be succinct and can only understand the entire work process if they integrated their duties to control the multiple aspects of their business. They were told to analyze the macroeconomic indicators which ensure long term prosperity in dynamic market conditions.

GE under his leadership advocated the practice of hiring teams and set of people who could energize, analyze, anticipate, excite, control and contribute to the change management process. He made smart investment decisions by spotting talent and opportunities ahead of the curve, nurturing them to their full potential that could deliver results and great returns for the company on a long run. This contributed to the vision of company in an indispensible manner.

Authenticity and integrity was ingrained in his professional ethics. He embraced change when necessary, was always open to new ideas, and had customer centric businesses. Focus on quality; employee empowerment, encouraging professional practices leading to competitive advantage were Hallmark's of his leadership style.

Another great leader who deserves appreciation is Pierre Beaudoin, CEO and president of Bombardier since 2008 at a time not looked so serendipity .Today the company with a global scale enjoys hegemony in the areas of rail manufacturing ranked number one and third in civil aircraft through spawned infrastructure . The CEO attributes this success to the change in the work culture .It transformed itself from Engineering driven goals to fully customer centric approach .During the downturn globally, the company managed to operate profitably through integrating all departments with focus on customers.

With a customer centric approach it reinvented it business model and came up with the innovative C series transcontinental commercial airliner significantly lower carbon emission and operating costs. At the time of uncertainty the company had bought rail transportation company Adtranz from Daimler Chrysler doubling its size .Simultaneously it also bought recreational products group Evinrude with murmurs of being scruplous.These two acquisitions affected the Bombardier's structure and capability. There were ego issues at the management level with culture of avoiding putting facts on the table and blame game was vernacular.

The CEO eliminated some good people professionally knowledgeable but subversive who were involved in office politics at senior management. They usurped other's credentials, and were against open culture of accepting new ideas and innovative mindset. He brought about a predilection culture of transparency, simplified the management layers and initiated swift coordination of departments across the value chain .This helped to optimize the productivity levels and enhanced the quality of products produced. He constantly communicated with the stakeholders about the changes in the work culture and focus on results with customers in mind.

While his visit to the factory in India he addressed a group of about 900 staff and shared how his goals would translate into the company culture .He discussed the turnaround story of Aerospace transformation and C series transcontinental .Although few assumed it to be polemic at nascent stages but it translated into everyone's day to day work with focus on serving customers with highest quality products.

As a leader one should focus on issues of greater importance oriented towards symptoms rather than systemic issues. It is a generic human tendency to focus problems of lesser risk .At times they think issues and resolutions are beyond control .Modern leaders although peripatetic must use two eyes wisely .Microscope in one eye- efficiently micromanaging the short term goals .Telescope in another -having a view of long term goals . A parallel view of these two, short and long term with overall mission of the company can be challenging with the stakeholder communications in mind. CEO should be focused and consistent in all their actions which personifies him as an individual of high integrity. This can act as a catalyst for competitive advantage. Leaders must acknowledge the facts, synthesize it to corresponding strategy and try to get rid of the negative impact with company's vision in mind. GE in 1986 acquired RCA owned by NBC television based on the market information and potential of perennial profitability in mass media .This move paid huge dividends and generated consistent revenue for GE . It's important for a leader to scrutinize and introspect the existing business model, scope for change and hence improvement.

Leaders must encourage its employees to ask right and most important questions and act as custodian for change. This would provide a space for taking up challenges which is critical in the growth process.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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Divakar Prakash

The author is a Strategy Consultant with experience of consulting CEO level executives and key stakeholders in Real Estate , Government, Not for Profit, FMCG and Chemical sectors. Educated at the School of Management ,University of St-Andrews consistently a top ranked institution in Europe at Master's level in business Strategy, Corporate Finance and General Management

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