Opinion: What great CEOs do differently

Newsroom 09/10/2015 | 10:14

“Daniel, your job is to make sure the salaries are paid just in time” – I remember that this was how one of my mentoring sessions started back when I was preparing to take over my first CEO position. Today I would translate it as one of the most important responsibilities: positive cash flow.

I had the opportunity to grow professionally in a company where the organizational culture was strategically the top priority. Why is this so important? Because we were developing software platforms for financial services – therefore, people involvement was key for innovation and commitment. Moreover, financial resources were not one of the main assets so we had to rely on people’s engagement to monetize the opportunities we were pursuing. And we succeeded, big time!

Later on, I moved to a much bigger group, a corporation, where I had the chance to interact with many CEOs from around the world and to observe the most efficient and respected ones. Talking with some or just observing others, I realized that they have the ability to coagulate small groups very quickly and drive discussions around a common topic, interest of everyone. In other words, great leaders in action.

But what are all these CEOs doing differently in their businesses? After all these years my answers is “team culture”. They have the ability to transform the business strategy into a story based on strong values and transpose themselves into this spirit entirely. And this is the key! Being around such leaders, you can feel the culture, start being inspired and energized. Then you know you can follow them!

But why are the culture of the team and the CEO job so important? Sharing the same culture is the only way to have the team aligned. Moreover, the entire company will be guided by the same values while taking the decisions so homogeneity in actions will drive everyone in the same direction. Put another way, if the team is the vehicle of the company, the culture is definitely their engine.

Think for a moment about a few leaders you admire and you will easily visualize the values they are creating across their teams. Aligning the company strategy with the values of the executive team is the key to reaching the business objectives – and this is the mission of the CEO.

Another observation about what all these successful leaders have in common is that all of them think about their business outside the office. They look to free their mind by running, hiking, swimming, biking and whatever else they can. You might say that this is only to reach work-life balance but it is more than that; “looking” at the business from the outside is also very important. It is the only way to observe how the company is doing inside the entire business ecosystem so you can adjust the course in time and in the proper direction.

The team culture is reflected everywhere, including the office space. When entering an office that is full of people sharing the same values and the same beliefs, you can feel it instantly and you can practically smell it! The power of such a team is the key ingredient for a fabulous execution! So let me ask you this: what’s the smell of your company?

Daniel Nicolescu, managing partner and co-founder of SymphoPay

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