The Five Habits of an Industrial CEO: Leadership for a New Digital Era

In 2020, there’s never been a better time to be a CEO of an industrial company. In a world where everything felt somewhat seamless approximately eight months ago, we are now being met with rapid changes that are here to test the leadership potential of the world’s greatest leaders. Transformation is now the order of the day. Now is the time to practice all the lessons in leadership that were seemingly theory, and now have their own room to be utilized. Leadership is the greatest gift, because it will be with the organization even when you leave as CEO. Culture is what will live on in an organization.

As a CEO, the transformation process will be one of the most critical decisions that you will have to make. Essentially, an organization is as good as its leadership, and it will be key for a company to ensure that both the internal and external customs are in place.

As a CEO, now is the time for you to shine. Your abilities to both lead and deliver will be put to the test. With a committed effort, focused action and a team that is supportive, the transformation process will be one that the organization can seamlessly make. As an intense organization-wide commitment, the key to all change is that it has to trickle down from the top. Before, you had the comfort of a phased transition, but with COVID-19 on all our backs, changes that took months, will now have to take place in a matter of weeks or days.

Transformation is necessary in 2020. Challenge yourself to grow and to change. With a few key insights, let’s see in a nutshell what the Industrial CEO needs to be able to leverage, in order to achieve change.

  1. Decide that the business needs to change: As an industrial CEO, you have to have a clear picture of where your organization stands. Conduct an analysis much like Michael Porter’s five forces, and allow yourself to know exactly where you stand in the business that you are in. Survival is a matter of the plans that you make, and how you execute them. All great CEO’s have a vision for their companies, and they take the time to build them intentionally. Gone are the days when you can just wing it and win. With the goals set, start linking them to key performance indicators such as cost and quality. Where possible, take the time to actually ensure that all your assets are being properly utilized. Understand where possible, where government policy changes can affect your business, or if it’s possible for you to expand to new jurisdictions and have earnings coming in from overseas. Embed a culture of change into your team.
  2. Make Transition a Culture: The industrial realm is filled with various practices that often seem fleeting. While the training overload can be overwhelming from a safety, business and even daily operation perspective, eventually people feel like certain training tools are a fleeting bout of information transfer. Essentially, after the workshops, if there’s no time to implement the knowledge, it will fade. With transformation, employees will have to be reminded daily of these changes, so that it will be embedded into their minds that this is an endeavor that the team is committed to. In times of change, it cannot be just business as usual. Organizations have to be very careful and intentional about what we do. Approach the transformation process as a means to deliver value and work towards continuous improvement. Track transformation where possible.
  3. Set ambitious goals: Humans are always growing and seeking to explore. They set intentions to do grand things like reach places like Mars. While we still have challenges here on Earth, how we approach our business will be a stretch goal for the organization. Think about things like: What’s the best way to orient the staff in a safe way? What new PPE can they wear to work? What new direction can the business go in, in a digital realm? All of these ideas will set the ball rolling on a positive path.
  4. Own the change: In life, one of the things that we all learn is to be responsible for ourselves. As a CEO, leadership requires knowledge of the self, knowledge of the business, and a driving force to lead the organization to the grander picture. Organizations that have great leaders are the ones who have leaders that take ownership, show their abilities to lead and motivate their staff, and really remain engaged in the system. Spending real time with their teams, and showing them that you are committed to the change is one of those things that organizations really love. Represent the future that you want to see. Have the ability to tell a vision to the organization with such compassion, and then commit to its fruition.
  5. Involve your Team: As the adage goes…”There’s no I in team”. And yes…while there’s a me in team, that individual won’t be strong enough to effect change by themselves. The me or CEO, needs the support of the team to ensure that they bring about this vision. By making the team feel included, and responsible for their own actions, it will be important for all to understand that they are the ones pulling the weight of the organization. Set ambitious targets, and go all in with the actions to achieve them. If you as a CEO are energized about your mission, so will your team, and their teams. Brainstorm ideas for change. Now’s the time to have virtual conferences and plan for the future, and also start to implement the ideas as they flow. If an idea works, then keep it. If it doesn’t work, embrace the challenge and make the change. It will make the process of change even more fun.

Life as an industrial CEO in 2020, will be one of the greatest memories of your life. It will be a time where the greatest opportunities were generated, that will ultimately always reap the greatest results.