Top Business Book Authors of 2020 Share Tips for CEOs
Influential thought leaders and business heads offer CEO Today their strongest advice for success in 2021 and beyond.
In January 2020, nobody could have predicted the year of disruption and uncertainty that lay ahead. Whole industries have shifted, relationships between companies and customers have been transformed, and emerging social and technological trends have accelerated at sometimes dizzying speeds.
Throughout the year CEO Today have been picking out the best business books that will help CEOs to navigate the various challenges of 2020. Here, we have asked the authors of 8 of our favourite books of 2020 to share their top tip for success in the coming year:
1. It is time to become a ‘partner in life’ for customers
“As a business leader, you’ve probably spent the last decade trying to improve digital convenience for your customers – and 2020 has certainly put that to the test. The reality is that transactional convenience has become the minimum standard customers now expect, meaning it is no longer enough to differentiate brands from competitors.
Most people I know would love to have more time, money and energy. As CEOs, we’ve been focused on our pricing to save customers’ money, and digital convenience to save their time. Over the next decade, the big winners will be those brands that look at their customers’ ‘life journey’ and identify ways to save people energy, or even create positive emotional experiences that generate an extra supply of it.”
Steven van Belleghem is one of the world’s top thought leaders on customer engagement, and the author of The Offer You Can’t Refuse.
“The reality is that transactional convenience has become the minimum standard customers now expect, meaning it is no longer enough to differentiate brands from competitors.”
2. Stop trying to improve managers. Start making the management role easier
“If more than 1 in 10 people in your org chart are performing management duties, you are undoubtedly wasting time on unnecessary bureaucracy. When used appropriately, today’s technology can vastly simplify the management role by automating or decentralising the things managers typically do. This enables you to have far fewer management roles, saving you time and money, and allowing your employees to thrive under the natural leaders in your business.”
Matt Casey is a management expert, the co-founder of DoThings.io and author of The Management Delusion: What If We’re Doing it All Wrong.
3. Treat data with as much care, respect and skill as you do financial assets
“Data about money has replaced money itself as the medium of commerce and investment. Today, that concept has extended into every part of the enterprise, and data about an organisation can now be as critical as its products and customers, influencing brand equity and shareholder sentiment.
Today’s CEO knows business data is a critical asset that needs robust mechanisms to assure its accuracy, integrity and security. They also recognise that managing the presentation and perception of data has become a core competence for business leaders. Leadership is still about people, customers, products and finance, but now also data.”
Was Rahman is an expert in the ethics of artificial intelligence, the CEO of AI Prescience and the author of AI and Machine Learning.
“Data about money has replaced money itself as the medium of commerce and investment.“
4. Find the real ‘why’
“Engage and energise the people you lead to do great work by talking with them about how their daily work can express their purpose. Ask questions such as: ‘Why does your work matter to you? When do you feel most alive in your daily work? How does your work align with your personal values and aspirations and how can I support that?’
People experiment with new ideas, keep going when they meet obstacles and be an ambassador for your organisation when they’re in touch with their ‘why.’ Being powered by purpose creates a real buzz.”
Sarah Rozenthuler is the author of Powered by Purpose: Energise your people to do great work.
5. Embrace partnerships to de-risk and accelerate innovation
“Technology is changing the rules of business, everything from strategy down to execution is impacted. With limited budgets and constraints on CapEx, technology innovation that drives increased enterprise value cannot be done in isolation.
Therefore, the focus of innovation should come through strategic partnerships with start-ups, vendors, and even customers. Building, investing and fostering an ecosystem of partnerships is an essential way to de-risk and accelerate innovation.”
Arif Harbott is a Chief Technology Officer specialising in large-scale transformation or disruption. He is the co-author of The HERO Transformation Playbook with Cuan Mulligan.
With limited budgets and constraints on CapEx, technology innovation that drives increased enterprise value cannot be done in isolation.
6. Nurture your personal resilience
“As CEOs we are all continually weathering personal and professional storms, so the more we cultivate our own resilience, the more able we will be to adapt and lead during uncertain times.
Firstly, looking after yourself is critical, so don’t deprioritise the things that make you feel good, such as exercise, meditation, reading or music. Secondly, don’t forget to focus on what is going right. During challenging times we be so caught up in what’s wrong that it just reinforces our fear and uncertainty. There are still good things in this world, it is just a question of what we focus on and prioritise.”
Karlin Sloan is the CEO of leadership development consultancy Sloan Group International and author of Inspiring Leadership for Uncertain Times.
“2021 must be a year in which you listen. Listen beyond your inner circle right into the bowels of your organisation. Listen too, all the way up and down your supply chain. In listening, decide to put your weight behind the establishment of a culture and way of working in which all of your people, without exception, feel they belong and can thrive. Take those bold, different and symbolic people decisions that send a message that positive change is here to stay. Do this and you’ll increase your ability to inspire and unleash the potential in your people inside and indeed your stakeholders outside to perform at their best.”
Yetunde Hofmann is an executive leadership coach and author of Beyond Engagement – The Value of Love-Based Leadership in Organisations.
8. Make empathy the ‘E’ in CEO
“As we move into 2021 the elevated requirement for CEO’s to embed emotional wellness into their teams has been heightened to a whole new level. Not only are employees demanding more inclusive and empathetic working environments but the higher pressure on our businesses to recover at speed requires the elevated teamwork and cohesion that comes with this. The CEO’s that attract and keep the best talent, and the most loyal clients, will be the ones that embrace the ‘E’ in their title as ‘empathy.’”
Mimi Nicklin is a globally recognised millennial thought-leader and author of new book, Softening the Edge.