CEO's as Leaders of the ELT


My annual survey of Chief HR Officers is finally completed and has gone public. I wrote a few weeks ago about some of the dysfunction on the executive leadership team (ELT) and how CHROs help. Another set of questions on this year's survey focused on the CEO's leadership of the ELT.

In response to two open ended questions regarding where their CEOs exceeded or fell short of their expectations regarding their leadership of the ELT. Six dimensions arose where some CHROs identified the area as a strength while some did so as a weakness. First, the area of CEO strength identified by the most CHROs (26) was titled "Encourages Discussion and Listens" and it refers to CEOs who either proactively seek out others' opinions or stifle others from expressing their opinions. Second, "Drives Results/Accountability" distinguishes between CEOs who held team members accountable for specific results and those who seem to let poor performers continue performing poorly. Interestingly, there were almost equal numbers of CHROs who identified this as a strength (21) and a weakness (15). "Builds the Team" was the third full dimension and the one mentioned as an area of weakness by the most CHROs (17). Generally CEOs who did not do this either used a hub and spoke governance or simply did not seem to be focused on building the team as a team. Surprisingly, the "Leads Strategy and Vision" distinguished between those CEOs who build a consensus around a clear strategy versus those who seem unable to articulate or communicate a clear strategic vision for the firm. "Develops/Coaches/Gives Feedback" separated those who take seriously their responsibility to personally help develop the ELT members versus those who spend little time and effort in doing so (and this latter group was identified by 12 CHROs). Finally, "Values Employees/Cares" was identified by 11 CHROs (only one as a weakness).

In addition, CHROs also identified two areas only as a strength or weakness. Interestingly, "Lives Values" referred to CEOs who display great ethics, integrity, and model the firm's values, and 25 CHROs suggested this described their CEO. On the other hand, the area of weakness mentioned by the most CHROs by far (24) was "Manages Conflict." CHROs certainly suggested that a number of CEOs fail to step up when necessary, and avoid conflict at all cost.

See the final survey results here.