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Lessons in leadership: CEO of the Year Celebration 2020

29. Oktober 2020

It’s been a professional highpoint for me recently to moderate a panel—along with my friend Dan Bigman—comprised of the 4 best business leaders of the past quarter century. 

The CEO of the Year Awards were indeed very special this year. Honoring Brian T. Moynihan of Bank of America as the 2020 CEO of the Year were three other outstanding CEOs: Arnie Sorenson of Marriott International, Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin, and Michael Dell of Dell Technologies, Inc.

These leaders are all exceptional at leading through crises and disruptions. They understand and practice what is really important in CEO leadership today: CEOs must deliver on purpose as well as profits. Each CEO has grown beyond the core essentials of taking care of shareholder needs to be able to embrace multiple stakeholder needs and respond to urgent societal concerns. As government and traditional institutions continue to fail and falter, each one of these CEOs has stepped into the breach to show the kind of leadership that supports more than just their shareholders.

Today, CEO leadership itself is being disrupted. Society is demanding a different kind of leadership from CEOs. They’re being asked to connect their employees to a cause bigger than themselves; to show up as authentic leaders every day that empathize, inspire, motivate, and urge their people to do not just the next thing right, but to do the next right thing. 

CEOs who are able to lead through disruption must possess an adaptive, growth-oriented mindset and the communication skills to be able to bring their teams along with them. As Marillyn Hewson of Lockheed Martin put it, “Today, CEOs are being asked to do more than they've ever been asked before. To not only run our businesses, but to be the voice and the example for the nation on some of the highest ideals that our nation has.” 

As Michael Dell of Dell Computer put it, “You got to explain the purpose of what you're doing and why it's important to the world and why it really matters; be transparent. Tell [employees] what you don't know and over-communicate; be visible, empathize and understand the challenges. Lead with optimism!”

And at a very human level, CEOs are not superheroes. They need to maintain energy, stamina and optimism in order to respond to demanding days and weeks and to take care of thousands of other people. So how does a top CEO take care of themselves during disruption?

In the words of this year’s CEO of the Year, Brian T. Moynihan, “You have to have physical stamina. I exercise and get a lot from that. You have to stay curious by reading completely outside your field, so you're continuously learning. You have to keep challenging yourself by getting outside and listen to smart people. And obviously your family and your significant other, your partner, whoever supports you, is very important.” 

And as Arne Sorenson added, “There’s nothing like enjoying your work and being grateful for the job you've got.”

Please watch this tribute to exceptional CEO leadership at Chief Executive magazine.

This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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Leading for profits and purpose

"Today, CEO leadership itself is being disrupted. Society is demanding a different kind of leadership from CEOs. They’re being asked to connect their employees to a cause bigger than themselves; to show up as authentic leaders every day that empathize, inspire, motivate, and urge their people to do not just the next thing right, but to do the next right thing."

—Ted Bililies, Managing Director, Global head of Transformative Leadership

"Today, CEO leadership itself is being disrupted. Society is demanding a different kind of leadership from CEOs. They’re being asked to connect their employees to a cause bigger than themselves; to show up as authentic leaders every day that empathize, inspire, motivate, and urge their people to do not just the next thing right, but to do the next right thing."

—Ted Bililies, Managing Director, Global head of Transformative Leadership

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