Ageing CEOs: liability or inevitability?

The average age of a US CEO has risen 4% in the past decade, and because death is unpredictable, succession planning is increasingly important

Southfield, Michigan — The same-day deaths of two ageing CEOs — industry icons in railroading and banking — show why some investors and governance experts want companies to disclose more about succession plans and the health of their executives.

CSX Corporation’s Hunter Harrison, 73, died on Saturday, one day after news of his medical leave pushed the railroad’s shares down the most in six years. M&T Bank said Robert Wilmers died “suddenly and unexpectedly” at age 83 — just months after the death of his own heir apparent.

These deaths underscore the privacy, governance and legal issues entangled in one fact of shifting demographics: as the US population ages, so too do the chieftains of Corporate America. The average age of a CEO has risen 4% in the past decade and there has been at least one health-related change atop S&P’s 500 index companies in each of the past three years, according to executive recruiter Spencer Stuart.

“What we’re facing is the new paradigm of work,” said Davia Temin, head of the New York-based crisis-management firm Temin & Company. “When people are in the zone of what they love to do, most of them are not going to voluntarily give that up. This means that people will work later, and maybe with a little bit more of an illusion that death won’t apply to them.”

Companies may be forced to act as that illusion fades. Even with the deaths of Wilmer and Harrison, data compiled by Bloomberg shows there are still 50 CEOs in the S&P 500 who are 65 or older; 19 of those exceed age 70, and three, including Warren Buffett, are older than 80.

Spencer Stuart reports average ages of 57.4 years for S&P 500 bosses and 63.1 for the directors who hire and fire them — in both cases, gaining two years over the past decade.

A CEO has to overcome squeamishness about discussing their replacement well before they are ready to leave … They have to see clearly and make plans for every eventuality, even death
Disclosures vary
The issue has touched companies from Apple and Berkshire Hathaway to United Continental Holdings and Goldman Sachs Group, which had varied levels of disclosure that triggered different degrees of investor acceptance. A lack of clear regulatory rules left each company free to deal with the matter at its board’s discretion.

Because death is unpredictable, succession is increasingly important, Temin said. First, a company has to have a clear communication plan for all contingencies, including illness and death, and have a plan for the next CEO in place that is at the very least “almost ready now”, she said. A CEO has to overcome squeamishness about discussing their replacement well before they are ready to leave, Temin said. “They have to see clearly and make plans for every eventuality, even death.”

Wilmers and Harrison
In the case of M&T, Wilmers — renowned for his acquisitions prowess in building his banking empire — outlived not one but two likely successors who died in the past three years. In its December 16 statement, M&T outlined how Wilmers’s board and operational roles will be split among four officials. A spokesman for M&T declined to comment further for this story.

CSX already faces questions about whether acting CEO Jim Foote, who joined in October, will be able to continue Harrison’s work or whether the railroad will need to hire an outside executive. Harrison, a railroad-turnaround legend, added almost $17bn in market value in less than a year.

The railroad is confident its “disclosures are adequate and appropriate”, spokesperson Bryan Tucker said by e-mail on Sunday.

Like former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who battled pancreatic cancer before his death in 2011, Harrison had health problems and a reputation that buoyed shares in his company. He had bypass heart surgery in 1998 and missed work in 2015 because of pneumonia and the implant of stents in his legs. Before CSX hired him, he declined the company’s request for an independent doctor to review his medical records.

United Airlines also received criticism in October 2015 over initial disclosures about the health of CEO Oscar Munoz, who eventually had to have a heart transplant. Munoz, who was a top executive at CSX before United, ultimately recovered and still runs the airline. In contrast, in 2012, Berkshire Hathaway’s Buffett and, in 2016, Goldman’s Lloyd Blankfein quickly disclosed full details when they were diagnosed with cancer.

Key executives, such as the CEO, top officer and directors, should sign waivers when they are hired by public companies that would allow disclosure of health issues at the board’s discretion
CEO privacy
One difficult area with CEO health disclosures is that CEOs don’t always share all the information they have with their companies, said former Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) chair Harvey Pitt, who is also the founder of Kalorama Partners.

Key executives, such as the CEO, top officer and directors, should sign waivers when they are hired by public companies that would allow disclosure of health issues at the board’s discretion, said Allan Horwich, a partner at Schiff Hardin and Northwestern University law professor. He’s also proposed modifying SEC rules to specifically require disclosure of any health implications that might affect an executive’s ability to run the company in the ensuing two years.

There’s been no formal move to change SEC rules, and any “pressure for rules has to come from the marketplace”, said Tom Lin, a Temple University law professor who researched CEO privacy and disclosure issues. Frankly, he said, one reason there’s no clear guidance is that some CEOs are less important to their company or industry than others. Not every CEO is Warren Buffett or Steve Jobs.”


Artificial Intelligence Is Creating New And Unconventional Career Paths

Would you consider a job as an “automation ethicist”? How about that of an “interactive chatbot designer”? Such funky-sounding job titles definitely will pique a listener’s curiosity at your next cocktail party. And such titles may soon be coming to an organization near you. The constellation of cognitive computing technologies emerging — artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing — requires a workforce of skills that can’t quite be imagined these days. Importantly, it may be opening a raft of new career opportunities.

At the recent Salesforce confab in New York, AI was top of mind, especially in regards to the continuing enhancement of the company’s Einstein analytics capability. However, with this bunch, the preferred term for AI was augmented intelligence — versus artificial intelligence.

This distinction makes a lot of sense, because, contrary to the fears that AI and its related technologies will be taking over the work of the world, it likely means something very different is unfolding. That is, AI is expanding and amplifying human capabilities.

What does this mean for jobs in the months and years ahead? Likely, two things. Business professionals will see new avenues of innovation opening up, while technology professionals will see new fields of endeavor as demand for AI-related skills grows.

A recent analysis of job demand by LinkedIn finds machine learning engineer leading the list of skills in demand. It’s fair to say that other jobs on this list — including data scientist (#2), sales development manager (#3), and customer success managers (#4) are also occupations that will flourish as a result of access to AI platforms and insights. (My colleague Louis Columbus provides more details on the LinkedIn jobs report.)

Gartner sees a great deal of opportunity in AI, predicting that within the next two to three years, AI “will create more jobs than it eliminates.” The consultancy even pegs some actual numbers to its prediction: 2.3 million jobs created by 2020, versus 1.8 million lost. The industries that will see the most gains are healthcare, the public sector and education, while manufacturing will see some job losses due to AI.

The job gains will be in new positions of the “highly skilled, management and even the entry-level and low-skilled variety,” Sicular predicts. She is also an advocate for human and machine interaction, which will be the core of this potential job growth. Gartner predicts such augmentation will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity. “Focus on augmenting people with AI,” Sicular advises. “Enrich people’s jobs, reimagine old tasks and create new industries. Transform your culture to make it rapidly adaptable to AI-related opportunities or threats.”

In addition, the benefits of AI will increasingly be seen as it moves up from repeatable, rote tasks to less-routine work, Gartner predicts. Within the next four to five years, one in five “workers engaged in mostly nonroutine tasks will rely on AI to do a job.” AI applied to nonroutine work “is more likely to assist humans than replace them as combinations of humans and machines will perform more effectively than either human experts or AI-driven machines working alone will.”

We will see many jobs, then, elevated and enhanced with AI (or more broadly, cognitive) capabilities providing greater insights, automation and predictive powers.

There will also be new kinds of job titles arising. In a study from earlier this year published in MIT Sloan Management Review, H. James Wilson, Paul R. Daugherty, and Nicola Morini-Bianzino, all with Accenture, predicts the rise of three emerging categories of job roles associated with AI development: “trainers,” “explainers,” and “sustainers.” Just to be clear, a trainer in an AI-driven organization will be focused on training AI systems — not humans — to the ways and whims of business processes. They provide examples of jobs for each category:

Customer-language tone and meaning trainer: This professional “teaches AI systems to look beyond the literal meaning of a communication by, for example, detecting sarcasm,” Wilson and his co-authors state.
Context designer: “Designs smart decisions based on business context, process task, and individual, professional, and cultural factors.”
Automation ethicist: “Evaluates the noneconomic impact of smart machines, both the upside and downside.”

Automation economist: “Evaluates the cost of poor machine performance.”
Along with the Accenture team’s potential job descriptions, a perusal of the LinkedIn job board for AI reveals a range of non-traditional job titles that now actually exist. Imagine seeing titles as these just a few years ago:

Voice of the Customer (VoC) analyst: “Responsible for identifying, synthesizing and communicating insights from an ever-growing set of passive and active listening mechanisms. Conduct deep-dive analyses to address topical business questions as they arise.”

Imagery analyst: “Develop training data for the next generation of artificial intelligence systems. Analyze images and label objects according to pre-defined descriptions.”

Interactive chatbot designer: “Responsible for writing interactive scripts for a chatbot specific to a high-level-consumer product launch. Create an engaging and user-centric interactive narrative experience that leverages the AI system’s logical architecture, as well as being a part of the team that is responsible for the development of the chatbot’s personality and voice/tone.”

Such jobs are only the tip of the iceberg, and focus on ensuring that cognitive systems are, as Wilson and his co-authors describe, “fair, transparent, and auditable.” Many existing jobs with more traditional titles, such as sales managers and physicians, will also be greatly enhanced by the ability to look at trends and patterns, and apply past learnings, to move forward.


Move close to your goal – HR message of tiger, the big cat

Should we assume tiger to be a greater hunter or poor hunter? Tiger is indeed a very strong predator and expert in ambush hunting. But the success rate of the tiger in hunting down the pray is quite small. The success of tiger’s hunt depends on how close the tiger could go to its prey so that it can pounce upon and hunt. Tiger is so big in size, it cannot hold its stamina for long. Tiger cannot engage in long run and chase of its prey.

The management message is quite clear. Tiger is indeed a very strong cat, brilliant and powerful hunter, highly adapted to ambush hunting etc., but still, it fails miserably on most occasions. Only when the tiger is too close to its prey it could hunt successfully.

One needs to be close to his or her goal to be successful. It is not the academic prudence, brilliance, power or position or capability help one to achieve the goal. All the above-coveted qualities or traits can terribly go wrong if one fails to position himself or herself closer to the goal.

Most people often take pride in their knowledge, experience, and expertise and would inadvertently discredit and belittle the challenges involved in the task. They often feel the task can be easily accomplished therefore they need to think about it only close to annual appraisal time.

The hunting success of tiger is quite clear. Only when the tiger is close to its prey, it can hunt. Many people with invincible capabilities and exemplary knowledge fail to make success whereas some with least exposure, experience, academic prudence, and knowledge may easily climb the ladder of success mostly because the latter group of people always remains close to their goal or task.

Only when one develops the winner instinct can ensure moving close to the goal. More often than not, it is not just intelligence but smart strategy only makes one successful. The intelligence should help one to evolve a smart strategy for winning. Otherwise, such intelligence does not have any application value and feeling proud of such intelligence is totally meaningless.

Most people in corporate wake up late and start running to overpower time. The common reason for such callousness is that most people fail to understand the importance of evolving smart working steps for achieving the goal. As a result, they move away from the target with time. Later when they rush to complete the task, their late time and distance equation fail to support them and as a result even with high intelligence and required competency, they would fail.

Dr S Ranganathan


If You Want To Be ‘CEO Material,’ Develop These 15 Traits

For many high-achieving professionals, the ultimate career goal is to become a chief executive officer.

While anyone who climbs the corporate ladder or starts their own company can hold this title, it takes an outstanding type of leader to truly embody what it means to be a CEO. This coveted position is more than simply “calling the shots” – it means earning respect and inspiring your entire organization to do their best work for the good of the company.

We asked 15 members of Forbes Coaches Council to share one key trait or skill they believe makes a person “CEO material,” and how one can best develop it.

1. Passion

The best CEOs are passionate about their work. Passion derives from a strong connection to your mission, your vision, and your goals. Without that passion and connection, it can be impossible to understand a company, and how and why it’s run the way it is. If you’re not passionate, go back to understanding why you started your company and re-connect with your story. – Valerie Martinelli, Valerie Martinelli Consulting, LLC

2. Vision

To be a CEO, a person needs a vision. Think of Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. They also need to be able to compellingly communicate that vision to inspire, motivate and lead others to contribute to its success. To improve or develop a vision, surround yourself with others who have big visions! – Christine Hueber,

3. Grit And Courage

A great CEO can take ownership of the strategic direction of a company and should be able to model the vision for the company with actions, not just words. A CEO needs to possess grit, the ability to be nimble, and courage. These qualities are developed by practicing leadership, executive coaching and feedback from employees, board members and shareholders when applicable. – Tamiko Cuellar, Pursue Your Purpose LLC

4. Decisiveness

Effective CEOs are clearly visionary, strong communicators and culture builders. However, one thing that sets great CEOs apart is that they are decisive. They don’t make decisions in a vacuum or believe that their way is always the best way. Rather, they engage in open dialogues, gather information, and listen to many points of view. Then, they make tough decisions for the organization. – Edith Onderick-Harvey, NextBridge Consulting, LLC

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?
5. Self-Confidence Tempered By Vulnerability

The higher you rise in the ranks, the more impact your every decision can have. CEOs must have the intelligence and the self-confidence to assemble the best people by their side – people who are leaders in their own right – so they can gather enough information to make informed decisions. – Sheri Nasim, Center for Executive Excellence

6. A Track Record Of High Performance And Potential

A potential CEO, like other standout employees within a company’s leadership pipeline, is characterized not only by their excellent performance track records, but their desire to take the reigns on more challenging leadership positions. Someone who has not exhibited high performance or high potential can simply decide to change their trajectory, mindset and behavior to excel. – Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq., WordSmithRapport

7. Backbone And Heart

Potential CEOs need to work on their ability to stand their ground and speak their minds. Let’s call that backbone the willingness to say what may be considered unpopular. But you need to also add heart: the ability to stay connected even when the relationship is mired in conflict. You need to master both. – Dean Miles, Bridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group

8. A Connection With The Culture

Vision, tenacity, passion and grit are all critical components that make great a CEO. However, one aspect commonly overlooked is the importance of connecting with the culture, i.e., the people in the organization. Most CEOs are distant and removed from the people who make the business happen. The most impactful CEOs make a point of personally connecting with the culture to cultivate trust. – Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC

9. No Ego

Great CEOs have an “everyone wins” mentality, and their leadership style is about developing everyone to do their best. They cannot be all ego. They must have a vision and strategic direction ability, but the ones I have seen that do the best, engender the best in everyone around them. – Janet Zaretsky, The Zenith Business

10. Curiosity

The best current and aspiring CEOs I’ve come across are those who demonstrate curiosity and will ask masterful questions to evaluate the macro and micro situation and possibilities for success. They don’t pretend to have all the answers because they know there are so many options – which is why curious questioning is critical for success. -Caroline Stokes, FORWARD Human Capital Solutions

11. The Ability To Anticipate And Navigate Challenges

The chief of an organization dares to be different by being prepared for the challenges of today and anticipating the unknown challenges and possibilities that lay around the corner. They have the emotional stamina to go against the grain — taking risks, not just talking about them. – Melinda Fouts, Ph.D., Success Starts With You

12. Emotional Intelligence (EI)

The CEO is the nucleus of a company’s culture. Their strengths, values and personal struggles are reflected through the organization as a whole. Emotionally intelligent leaders are necessary for emotionally intelligent companies. This is why we coach CEOs in our leadership development process. As they build EI in themselves, it’s reflected in their leadership culture. – David Butlein, Ph.D., BLUECASE Strategic Partners

13. Finely Tuned Intuition

Great CEOs follow their intuition and commit to what they believe in. They’re largely responsible for steering the company, so being able to listen to their inner voice and trust that they know what’s best for the future of the organization – and ask for help when they’re at an impasse – is essential. – Erika Ashley Couto, It’s Erika Ashley, Inc.

14. Relationship-Building Skills

The ability to form deep, trusting relationships is the most “make it or break it” attribute of a successful CEO. Develop connections by investing heavily in your own emotional and social intelligence. Solicit feedback about how others experience you, learn from your shortcomings, and engage by being present in the time you give to people. – Maria Pastore, Maria Pastore Coaching

15. The Mindset To Embrace Obstacles

A true CEO understands that obstacles are a part of the path. Those who are not CEO material think obstacles are the problem, and believe they’re the reason why things can’t get completed or are too hard. CEOs see the obstacles as blessings and stepping stones on the path that allow the opportunity to learn new skills, leverage situations and reflection time for new ideas. – Dawn Ali, Happy Rich Great Body


Your Career Q&A: Your Career Is Your Business. Run It Like One

This column receives many questions throughout the year about specific issues related to career management, but careers don’t happen in a vacuum. You have to put these issues in the larger context of an overall career management strategy and the tactics that will turn your dreams into achievable goals. Last week we discussed practical career resolutions. This week, we examine how treating your career like a business can give you more control over outcomes.

We all want success, and we all make resolutions to pursue it. But many of those resolutions are only wishes, because they are not harnessed to actionable plans for their achievement.

To get started, clear out these ingrained but outmoded beliefs: Get an education, choose a career, work hard, be loyal and make sacrifices to one employer, and in return you will be rewarded with job security, steady professional growth and increasing income. This traditional “company man” approach no longer works—it bears no relation to the realities of today’s working world.

Take Control of Your Destiny

When a company fires an employee, or lays one off, the former workers often are told, “It’s nothing personal. It’s just business.” From the corporate perspective, this is true; the employer is doing what it must to survive and maximize profitability—the very reasons for a company’s existence, and yours too. Thus, a more business-like approach toward managing your future is called for.

Like a corporation, you too are a financial entity that must survive and prosper over the long term. Start thinking of yourself as a business that makes objective decisions supported by plans, actions and timelines to deliver your desired outcomes.

When you start thinking of yourself as a business, your career stops being something that largely happens to you. Instead, you become the CEO of Me Inc., someone who determines the long-term goals and strategy and the short-term actions that will result in your success and financial stability.
As CEO of Me Inc., your duty is to focus on what is best for the company—you. When you take the responsibility to determine your company’s future with considered plans and actions, you begin to gain greater control over your professional destiny.

Your life is what you make of it, and right now it’s time to replace blind loyalty to your employer with a focus on what’s best for Me Inc., and put your success, stability and fulfillment at the center of all you do.

How to Get Started

Me Inc.’s mission is to generate a steadily evolving and diversified revenue stream. Learn to plan and execute your career decisions with the same forethought, objectivity and organizational foundation as any CEO would. Me Inc. needs the same departmental structure of any successful company:

Research and Development (R&D) initiatives. You will stay current with the development of in-demand skills that support your stability, earnings and promotability, while increasing the options available to you on the job market.

Strategic Planning. Monitor the health of your employer, industry and profession. With the insight gained from R&D you will:

Develop practical strategies for professional growth.
Learn to execute strategic career moves on your timetable.
Be able to integrate these factors into a comprehensive plan that maps the pathways leading to Me Inc.’s ultimate goals.
Strategic Planning, working with R&D, may also identify opportunities for the pursuit of completely new entrepreneurial revenue streams.

Marketing and Public Relations (PR). Marketing and PR initiatives increase your credibility and visibility, starting within your department and expanding through the company, local professional community and beyond, as your goals dictate.

Finance and Accounting. Live up to your dreams rather than being a deeply indebted consumer living up to your income. Spend responsibly and invest in your future by staying current with in-demand skills, education and professional certifications.

Sales. When you pursue promotions or new opportunities, you become a commodity. You need cutting-edge job search skills and effective tools to execute the smoothest possible transition. These include an effective resume, social media presence, network-integrated job search tactics and knowing how to turn interviews into offers, just to name the basics.

Next Steps to Success

Following outdated career management rules—loyalty to a single employer and hard work being rewarded with long-term job security—gives employers a stranglehold on your life, because you are focused on keeping a paycheck, often to the exclusion of a life outside of work.

The more business-like approach offered by the Me Inc. approach will deliver the knowledge to anticipate, avoid and, when necessary, navigate the rough waters we all travel over a long career.

Me Inc. is the framework for greater success, stability, fulfillment—a life lived on your terms.

Stressed Singaporean employees are least likely to ditch their jobs: survey

Moreover, they put in longer working hours due to motivation.

Three in five or 64% of Singapore employees are satisfied with their jobs, according to the latest employee pulse study by experience management platform Qualtrics.

It said in a report that employees clocking in more hours at work were least likely to leave their jobs, despite experiencing significant amounts of stress.

“As opposed to popular beliefs, long working hours do not necessarily contribute to high employee turnover rates,” Qualtrics said.

For instance, 69% of employees in the travel and leisure industry indicated that despite working more than 45 hours a week, only 8% percent of them are at risk of leaving their jobs. In addition, only 13% of employees in the utilities sector are at risk of leaving their jobs despite the long working hours.

Most Singapore employees remain highly positive despite the stressful work environment, Qualtrics said.

About 38% of employees in the healthcare, 38% in the public sector, and 31% in retail feel stressed and overwhelmed by work “most” or “all” of the time. Yet, they remain one of the most motivated workforce – healthcare at 44%, public sector at 44%, and retail at 50%.

In fact, 61% of Singapore employees look forward to going to work “nearly always” or “most of the time.”

On a macro perspective, 20% of employees in Singapore have been found to be less satisfied with their work-life balance as compared with their regional counterparts in Hong Kong, with 18%, and Malaysia, with 16%.

“This raised an alarming issue for Singapore companies to address especially when employee engagement has been falling consistently from 2014 to 2016, according to Mercer’s Singapore Employee Engagement Index report,” Qualtrics said.


11 Lessons About Leadership Transition We Can Learn From Retirement

In mid-October, American Express announced the retirement of its CEO, Kenneth Chenault, who has served in his role for the last 16 of his nearly 37 years at the company. Although the financial services giant has been grooming its incoming CEO, vice chairman Stephen Squeri, for the last two years, this will undoubtedly be a time of great change for all American Express employees.

In the wake of high-profile leadership transitions like this, many senior executives are reminded that they, too, must eventually step aside for their successor – and it’s always better to be prepared well before the torch needs to be passed. Whether you’re a C-suite member approaching retirement or the next in line for an executive position, it’s important to be thinking about what the transition will look like, and how best to handle it for the good of the company and its people.

Forbes Coaches Council members pulled some of the most important lessons Chenault’s departure can teach leaders about leadership and transition, and what you can do now to ensure a plan is in place.

1. Treat Every Employee With Respect As They Exit

The way a leader (or any employee) is treated as they leave the company says much about the company. “Esteemed” leaders should be treated with respect, as should those who “didn’t work out.” They were there for a reason. People deal with change differently. Those who remain will have a range of emotions, fears and hopes. Good leaders coach others through this to keep the ship moving forward. – Tim Ressmeyer, Ressmeyer Partners

2. Take All Change In Stride

Kenneth Chenault and many of his contemporaries will each leave behind incredible legacies given their unique and powerful contributions to their respective companies. It can be easy to become comfortable with the people and policies that make up culture, especially when those people and policies have been positive. But change is a constant variable and must be taken in stride. – Karima Mariama-Arthur, Esq., WordSmithRapport

3. New ‘Big Ideas’ Are Imagined During Times Of Transition

CEO transitions should be seen as a time in which to develop new and exciting ideas, not just carry on impressive legacies or the status quo. When people are well prepared to let go of what “was,” there is an opportunity for creativity that was not present before. Use this time to stir excitement, birth new ideas, and create stronger and more engaged teams. – Dr. Rachel MK Headley, Rose Group, Intl

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?
4. Transitions Should Be Made At The Height Of Success

Too many times, we see leaders resign when the company is at its worst and leadership is in turmoil. Being able to pass the torch to someone you have helped mentor and prepare is the goal for any company and CEO. If you transition to a successor who knows the business and brand as well as you do, you’re able to exit knowing you left the company better than when you came. – Niya Allen-Vatel, Career Global

5. Leaders Are Remembered For How They Made People Feel

Everyone has wins and losses while leading a firm. What people truly remember is how you made them feel in the heat of the battle. Admired leaders remember to treat employees at all levels with respect and play a strong hand in bolstering the success of others. There are a lot of billionaires in the world, but only one or two that generate followership over the long term. – Shoma Chatterjee, ghSMART

6. Be Humble Enough To Know When To Bow Out

One problem successors run into is that they are passed the reins after the momentum has left. They are then tasked with reviving a situation, when they could be focusing energy into making it thrive. As leaders, it’s important to know when your influential apex has passed and be willing to bow out so that your hard work counts for something more than a title. Pass the torch while it yet burns. – Maleeka T. Hollaway, The Official Maleeka Group, LLC.

7. Define Your Leadership Communication Strategies

A transition is a good time to establish clarity around key elements of communication. Many wealthy and successful business leaders struggle or have struggled with speaking in public. This skill is essential to getting across ideas, persuading investors, inspiring employees, attracting customers and engaging critical stakeholders. – Maria Pastore, Maria Pastore Coaching

8. Companies Should Always Be Grooming The Next In Line

When people transition, the first question is, “Who do we have left?” The important lesson in transitions is to remain ready. HR often nags and rants about succession planning, but this is where it really comes into play. We can never really plan for a disaster, but we can groom people and have contingency plans to stay afloat when the unexpected (or expected) happens. Talent agility is key! – Kelah Raymond, SPARC Solutions Group

9. Honor The Difference Between Change And Transition

As William Bridges reminds us, “Change is situational; transition is psychological.” It is essential to give respect to both aspects. When change occurs within an organization, so too begins a transition, which is experienced uniquely by all its participants. Strong change management processes offer space to navigate the external changes and the internal transitions with equal investment. – Tonyalynne Wildhaber, The Courage Practice

10. Leaders Should Create A Personal Transition Plan, Too

Successful CEOs have a vision for success and know how to execute on it. Yet many senior leaders haven’t defined what success looks like during one of the most significant transitions in their lives: retirement. This transition requires reflecting on what will be lost – paycheck, schedule, intellectual stimulation, professional identity – along with identifying dreams to be achieved. – Tricia Christian, EY

11. New Leaders Should Stay The Course Until They’ve Mastered the Helm

When a CEO has been successful and a company is thriving, new CEOs want to come in and make their mark, implement new and exciting technology, and start their own legacy. However, it’s critical you keep doing what the prior regime did until you know the staff, programs, statistics, and how all departments flow and integrate. Then you will see gaps you can leverage without rocking the boat. – Tracy Repchuk, InnerSurf Online Brand & Web Services


Companies will focus on building digital workspaces in 2018: Citrix

With a surge in the adoption of digital workspaces, the Indian enterprises will work towards harnessing opportunities created by integration of new technologies in 2018, desktop virtualisation leader Citrix said on Monday. “Digital workspaces will help organisations across various facets of operation, ranging from talent retention in HR, productivity in operations, data-driven decisions in finance, improved customer engagement in sales and so on,” Makarand Joshi, Area Vice President and Country Head, India Subcontinent, Citrix, told IANS. The workspace transformation is inevitable and the benefits far outweigh the transitional hurdles that might come up, he added. According to Citrix, Cloud and cloud-enabled Software-as-a-service (SaaS) apps are here to stay. “Capabilities around analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics that have been integrated into Cloud-based offerings are proving hard to emulate using traditional on-premise deployments due to cost, complexity, and skill considerations,” Joshi said. Businesses, therefore, will have to evaluate the capabilities of the Cloud offerings alongside on-premise offerings and accordingly implement an environment spread across Cloud platforms that best meets their capability and productivity goals.

As work paradigms and technologies change, we will see an even wider gap between generations. “With 50 per cent of employees being digital natives who prefer not to be restrained by a location, and the rest comprising of traditional non-digital employees, organisations will have to invest in creating systems that regulate this gap,” Citrix added.

Organisations need to encourage adoption of digital technologies like automation, Internet-connected devices, and online communication tools, to reduce the technology awareness gap across groups. “Hiring trends will also see a shift as the newer generations joining the workforce are increasingly mobile and technology savvy, it will be increasingly difficult to attract the best people in this talent pool without extending capabilities like mobile digital workplaces and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD),” Joshi emphasised.


Attention Entrepreneurial Leaders: Are You — And Your Employees — ‘Bore-E-Gaged?’

I think of entrepreneurial attention span as a short continuum that stretches from bored to engaged.

Sometimes you are bored. Sometimes you are engaged. Probably the same way most people feel when reading articles like this on the internet. You keep reading if you are engaged, and you stop reading if the article becomes a bore.

“Bor-e-gaged” is an uncomfortable place to be for an entrepreneurial leader. In this space, you’re not engaged enough to truly focus on the business you’re operating, but you’re not mind-numbingly bored enough to cut the cord and move on. In the middle zone, you’re not yet putting the effort into something new, but you’re thinking about it, and your company is suffering from your lack of engagement.

For entrepreneurs, this can be a typical state of mind to be in. When entrepreneurial leaders are bored, they start thinking about the new ideas that get them excited and engaged again. Then they start to change things within their companies, because they can, even when their organization is doing extremely well.

What about the employees of entrepreneurial leaders?

Employee engagement is a property of the relationship between an organization and its employees. An “engaged employee” is one who is fully absorbed by—and enthusiastic about—their work. He or she takes positive action to further the organization’s reputation and interests.

With constant access to the internet at our fingertips, the minute boredom kicks in ample alternatives to work are staring a disengaged employee directly in the face – time to surf the web! As a result, employee disengagement has a measurable cost to a company’s bottom line.

Making things worse, Gallup’s 142-country study on the State of the Global Workplace found that only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. In other words, only about one in eight workers—roughly 180 million employees in the countries studied—are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations.

So while entrepreneurs shift between being bored and engaged by being more entrepreneurial, their employees shift by becoming less interested and productive.

This information underlines the importance of seeking more awareness of the state of mind of everyone inside your organization. Entrepreneurs need to recognize the difference between boredom and active engagement so that they can manage themselves appropriately for the good of their companies and their future. They also need to recognize when they are furthering the cause of their employees’ lack of engagement.


Seven Proven Insights Into A Powerful Mentoring Relationship

Some of the most successful people in business today have mentors. As a career coach, I can say that mentors have made all the difference in my career development. Mentors helped inspire, guide and shape the person I am today. I firmly believe that, without key influencers, I would not have been able to secure a fulfilling career. Because I connected with the right people, I was able to reap the rewards from a powerful mentoring relationship.

Partnering propels you.

John Maxwell says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, take others with you.” There is a lot of truth in this. Only the very arrogant or very ignorant shun the unique insight that comes from partnering with the right mentor. Life’s lessons are best learned from others. Finding the right mentor could make the difference between floundering in your professional career or making it big.

A mentor can challenge you, inform you, connect you and inspire you. I spent many wasted years in my youth trying to bushwhack through the professional jungle alone. I was fiercely independent and determined that I could find the right answers on my own. For some reason, I thought asking for guidance was a weakness. I see now that I was a fool. Fortunately, someone saw past my stubbornness and gave me a chance to benefit from a mentoring relationship.

What makes a powerful mentoring relationship?

Not all mentors are made equal and not every successful professional can help you make a leap forward professionally. “Mentoring must be like a waterfall. What I pour into you, you must then pour into others,” said Mark Cole, CEO of the Maxwell Companies, during a recent Q&A session for Maximum Impact Mentoring members. The knowledge and wisdom gained from a solid mentoring relationship are not found with just anyone. There are proven insights into a powerful mentoring relationship to ensure that you find the best mentor for your career focus.

The Mentee’s Power Plan

1. Avoid being star-struck. Do not ask an idol to be a mentor. If you are in awe of someone, chances are you will not be in the mental position to retain the important information your mentor provides. Your brain will be too busy comparing your experience to your preconceived notions. You may not feel comfortable openly asking questions or even being yourself.

2. Define your idea of success. A successful mentoring relationship starts with someone you can look up to professionally. Clearly define what your idea of success looks like for your career focus. This will help guide you to find the right mentor. A professional who has proven success in their career and the experience to impart knowledge will be in a better position to aid you towards your goals.

3. Experience matters. Mentors cannot give what they don’t have. Experience matters. Inexperienced individuals will struggle to become successful mentors. Mentoring relationships with peers tend to be shorter and more narrowly focused. These can be beneficial if approached correctly. Mentoring relationships established with more experienced professionals usually allow the mentee to access additional knowledge depth. These types of partnerships can be transformational.

4. Seek support, not direction. A good mentor is someone that is fulfilled in what they do, professionally successful and has no vested interest in where you go in your career. A good mentor will only be interested in lifting you up and giving you the tools you need to succeed regardless of your path.

5. Be specific on the why. Define and explain why you approached a particular professional to be your mentor. As the mentee, you have everything to gain. The mentor is donating time and attention to you. You must have a tangible and specific reason why you asked someone to mentor you. “You make a lot of money” isn’t the most compelling reason to mentor someone.

6. Communicate your goal. What does a successful mentoring relationship outcome look like to you, and what specifically do you want to learn? Clearly communicate what your goal is from the partnership and why you are sure that your mentor can get you there.

7. Be prepared. As a mentee, you have a job to do. In addition to being a sponge, soaking up all the knowledge you can, you must also be prepared for each mentoring session. Best practices are:

• Take notes during each session.

• Determine actionable items at the end of each session.

• Be prepared to report on what you applied from the last session.

• Have questions prepared ahead of time for your mentor.

Transforming Your Career

A powerful mentoring relationship between two professionals can be mutually beneficial. The mentor also gains insight during the act of coaching another professional. But, not every powerful mentoring relationship takes place in person. I have benefitted tremendously in my life from unwitting mentors, such as John Maxwell and Simon Sinek. While I am fortunate to be in John’s mentoring circle with other like-minded professionals, I have also absorbed his teachings from seminars and books. The same applies to my mentoring relationship with Simon. While not meeting in person, I am still able to gain powerful knowledge from his published insights.

Any professional who strives for solo victories will discover that the road to success is rocky. It’s nice to have a helping hand over the hurdles. It took me valuable years to understand that a solid mentoring partnership can clear the path to success. In addition to the inspiration gained from a powerful personal mentoring relationship, there is much to be gained from published professionals as well. If you want to truly transform your career and propel yourself into success, I encourage you to develop a vision of the fulfilling future you desire and reach out to a mentor to help you along the way.