Sotiris Chatzidakis, executive vice president of CEO Clubs, tells Business Review about the concept behind this project and explains the added value CEO Clubs and its offshoot, Next Gen, offer to their members.
What can you tell us about the added value that CEO Clubs brings to its community of CEOs?
In a sentence, organizations like CEO Clubs, act as a kind of CSR for the corporate world and, consequently, for the local society The more cultivated a CEO becomes, the more inspiring he is for his employees and stakeholders, who in turn become more inspiring to their employees and families, who ultimately have a ripple effect on the whole society. And when we talk about about “personal development,” it applies to all core aspects of our lives, not just one. It’s a virtuous circle. This context gave rise to our core values: continuous learning, sharing, constant contribution and fun. We make sure we live all of them through all our activities.
What are the main projects that CEO Clubs develops in Romania?
During the four years of our operation in Romania, we have been honoured to have a highly engaged group of members who continuously contribute with new ideas and suggestions. That means an amazing source of creativity and innovation that our team then transforms into several projects. One of these projects that we’ve evolved and enriched this year is our Advisory Boards: our members form external “sounding boards” with other peers who lead organizations in different industries. Another project is Next Gen which today is a Club itself with more than 100 members who are C-Level executives or members of the leadership team in their organizations. They meet on a monthly basis, building relationships, being exposed to new concepts and adding value one to another by sharing their knowledge and experience. There are many more projects, but we will probably run out of space if I keep going.
What can you tell us about Next Gen and whom it is designed for?
Next Gen is the ideal place for selected C-Level executives who want to prepare for the next step. One thing that we are very proud to mention is that Next Gen is a concept that was born in Romania and thus doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world so far. In a few months it will however, as the CEO Clubs in Dubai will introduce it to its Members in five countries: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan. And this is just the beginning. It’s a great achievement for all the members and our team in Romania who have worked hard on this project.
How does Next Gen help managers to become better leaders?
One of the first things that we communicate to all leaders is that it’s normal not to know everything. At the same time, we tell them that there is a way to turn this concept into a competitive advantage for themselves: by sharing and exchanging knowledge and experience with peers. The knowledge is there. Imagine if we could gather all this wealth in a computer and, at the same time, also add the emotion deriving from the relationship that these leaders have built. If you finally add the continuous learning, you have access to a “super brain” where almost all answers could be found.
How does Next Gen improve the managerial skills for the C-Level executive?
Leadership among other things is about extroversion. Our scope is to bring good people with great skills and potential together. Such people are smart and know by nature how to excel in such an environment. Then, we provide the learning part with speakers from all over the world and top Romanian CEOs and everything else just happens naturally. This is the blessing of dealing with people with considerable intellectual capability.
How do CEO Clubs and Next Gen help top and middle managers share their business experience and learn some “management lessons”?
It’s all based on members’ trust: trust in their peers and trust in themselves that they are destined to make a difference in this world. Trust is the value that makes us accept new things in a fast-changing world. It makes us willing to challenge our status quo and make our micro-environment better and more meaningful, as well as inspire people around us to bring out the best in themselves. A leader today must be a catalyst of change and progress. And catalysts are the leaders who are not kings themselves but rather king “builders”. These leaders build sustainable organizations and leave a legacy behind; they are the ones remembered long after they leave. In this context, our job is to get constant feedback from them, come up with the topics that are related to their short and long-term challenges, match them with the right speaker and take care of the logistics (location, invitations, parking.) We all get excited when we see our members happy. For 2016, we already have even greater plans in place which we will present at our “IV Years Celebration” this January. Disruption is part of our DNA and this is the reason why we never stop to disrupt ourselves. And that’s a promise from all of us at both Clubs.