Six Priorities for CEOs in Turbulent Times

Last week, McKinsey & Company representatives shared a briefing discussing their recently published special report, What matters most? Six priorities for CEOs in turbulent times. Liz Segel, Senior Partner, Chief Client Officer and Managing Partner, Global Industry Practices, New York and Homayoun Hatami, Senior Partner and Managing Partner, Global Client Capabilities, Paris, shared their insights.

Everyone knows the list of issues that have confronted CEOs the past few years. During these economic headwinds, the reflex may call for hunkering down and weathering the storm, but this is the time when companies can gain ground on rivals, if they play their cards right.

As McKinsey surveyed hundreds of CEOs, they found six priorities top the list of CEO agendas worldwide.  They are:

  1. Resilience
  2. Courage
  3. Grow new businesses
  4. Grow through technology
  5. Stay the course on net zero
  6. Modernize ways of work


Let’s go a little deeper on each priority.

Resilience. It’s the vital “muscle” for companies navigating a disruptive world. Resilience needs to be deployed across six areas: finance, operations, technology, organization, business model and reputation.

Courage. The best chief executives and leaders need to be ambidextrous: careful managing downside while courageously pursuing outside opportunities. These leaders are thinking not just how to make it the next two or three years, but how to reframe the game so their company thrives over the next decade.

Grow the business. More than half of top executives see growing new businesses a top three priority. It’s time to think about building a unicorn and the biggest opportunities are in green technology.

Consistent with McKinsey’s top findings, the recently released PwC 2022 Global CEO Study polled 4400 CEOs. 73% expected global economic growth to decline over the next twelve months. 40% said their companies would not be economically viable over the next decade unless they innovated and transformed at a faster pace.

Technology. It seems all companies are shifting to put software at the heart of their business. But digital transformation is just the start.  Technology is always evolving, providing new opportunities for CEOs who seek to transform their business.

Net zero. The private sector is now engaged in reducing carbon emissions. Economic competitiveness, affordability, national security and sustainability are each important and make up the mosaic for CEOs to knit these concepts together in order to reach net zero.

Modernize the way of work. The final priority is leading people by providing purposeful work with new incentives. CEOs need to carefully consider the office of the future and the implications for top talent. Do these well and you’ll create a competitive advantage.

The CEO is the company’s top strategist and integrator. The McKinsey report provides in-depth readings to give CEOs what they need during this tumultuous time. For CEOs who seek to create an enterprise of great value, this is must reading.

Why are Executive Leadership Teams Failing to Perform?

What Can Be Done?

If you are a CEO and you have lost confidence in the performance of your executive leadership team (top team), you are not alone.  According to a recent study, CEOs, top team members, and their direct reports have all lost confidence in the top team over the last eighteen months.

Results from the Leadership Confidence Index, released last month, shows the confidence leaders have in their top teams has dropped precipitously since mid-2021, falling 7.1%.

Developed by executive search and leadership advisory firm Russell Reynolds Associates, the Leadership Confidence Index captures the views of CEOs, C-suite level leaders, board directors and next generation leaders on their top team. Reflecting on the capability, the behavior and how they respond to key issues, leaders’ confidence in their top teams has trended downward of late.

Three key messages from this study:

  1. CEOs are concerned about their top team members abilities to transform and reinvent the business.
  2. Top team members are concerned how they work collectively as a team, how they lead change, and how they role model a positive culture.
  3. The next-generation leaders (those who report into top team members) have the lowest levels of confidence about top teams, creating potential retention and succession risks.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Great CEOs are obsessed with the psychology and performance of their top teams.  They care about the dynamics of the team and how the team works together. They know a high performing top team can be a huge value creation lever.

The dynamics of a top team can make or break a company. Investors understand this and cite the quality of the top team as the single most important non-financial factor in evaluating a new IPO. When a top team works together with a common vision and supportive behaviors, the company is twice as likely to have above median financial performance. Yet most senior executives report their team is underperforming. How about you? On a scale of 1 to 10, how is your top team performing today and how should it be performing?

During the new normal as top teams are meeting regularly and in-person again, top teams need to raise their collective games to fulfill the needs of their stakeholders. The need for the top team to perform today and transform for tomorrow is particularly acute in this environment of economic headwinds.

If you are the CEO or a business unit president, consider the following:

  • Is your top team aligned strategically?
  • Is there a healthy working climate within your top team?
  • Do your team members trust one another?
  • Does your top team have the capability to successfully lead the company?
  • Is your top team embracing and leading change effectively?
  • Are your top team members growing, developing and reinventing individually and collectively?
  • Is your top team a positive role model for others within the company?
  • Is your top team transforming your business by embracing the opportunities of digital transformation and of ESG initiatives?
  • Does your top team have the necessary skills and mindsets to capture opportunities this year? In the future?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you are not alone. High performing top teams don’t become high performing by accident – they are built and attended to continually. Your top team should create tremendous value and be a competitive advantage. If not, you’ve got a problem.

The good news is as CEO and leader of the team, you can dramatically lift your team’s performance by partnering with a top team coach. Your top team coach will listen to you and show you how to create clarity, increase capability and build commitment within your team.  Through a series of customized team advance sessions, conducted over several months, you can build a high-performing top team while your team works on your business.

During the team advance sessions, all team members get better – individually and collectively. In a relatively short time, with focused effort, they will perform at a higher-level running today’s business, while driving transformation and building the future to which you committed. A top team in which you and your stakeholders will be confident.

What’s the price you pay if your top team is not high performing? Is that a price you can afford? Transforming your current team into a powerfully performing top team, Optimizing Your Top Team, is key for your company to thrive in today’s complex world – a competitive advantage that cannot be duplicated.

Top Reports for Healthcare CEOs in 2023

Informative Resources for Executives to Create Massive Value

For the first time in person since 2020, the 41st annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference is taking place January 9-12, in San Francisco. Over 8,000 attendees representing 550 healthcare companies have gathered for the premier conference, widely considered to be the largest and most informative healthcare investment symposium in the industry. It connects global industry leaders, emerging fast-growth companies, innovative technology creators and members of the investment community.

With hundreds of CEOs meeting face-to-face for the first time in three years, the networking and insights shared this week are a welcome return to the past.  With the higher cost of capital, a focus on tightening the balance sheet, geopolitical concerns, and other factors, we are in an era that requires innovation and value creation. Every healthcare company CEO needs all the resources, connections, expertise and insights they can get to help their company win.

As a CEO executive coach working exclusively in the healthcare sector, I’m asked daily by my clients and others for connections, information, and updates about what’s new in our industry. Since work obligations made it impossible to attend live and converse with colleagues at this year’s event, here’s a list of the most useful reports for healthtech sector CEOs (and other leaders) from the past year I’m recommending.

The selected CEO content comes from research conducted by EY, CB Insights, Accenture, Pitchbook, SVB, McKinsey, KPMG and more, with a short description of the report and a link for quick access. Addressing topics like disruptive technologies, digital health, the future of healthcare, the growing role of private equity, the strategies of the biggest players, these reports share valuable insights. Which forces are transforming the healthtech industry? Which trends deserve the most attention? Which innovations are likely to disrupt? You’ll find the answers within this baker’s dozen list of informative free reports. As you review the material, even in choppy economic waters, you will see there is still a tremendous opportunity for healthtech companies to grow and become more valuable.

Pulse of the Industry Report 2022: In today’s disruptive healthcare environment, how will medtech transform? – EY

To gain deeper insights on where medtech has been and where it’s headed, download the full annual Pulse of the Industry medical technology report. There you will find original perspectives on how medtech can rethink innovation to address new challenges and opportunities in commercial models, supply chain and talent management. https://tinyurl.com/5n8ysx2t

Digital Health and Medtech: New Signals for Transformation – Accenture

Globally, healthcare is experiencing increasing pressure and disruption, from affordability challenges to shifting patient expectations. Care is expanding from hospitals to ambulatory and at-home care, but the industry remains at the beginning stages of having the capabilities to meet this shift. Medtech must find an approach that reflects and benefits from the speed of transformation now enabled by digital innovation. Five trends that can help medtech companies mature and scale their capabilities to thrive in this new paradigm of digital health are shared. https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insights/life-sciences/rise-digital-health

The Future of Healthtech 2022 – SVB

Dramatic shifts over the past year indicate that a market rebalancing is underway, with investments and valuations lowering from 2021’s boom. However, the healthcare industry is more resilient during periods of downturn and remains ripe for innovation.

https://www.svb.com/trends-insights/reports/healthtech-trends-report

2022 State of VC, PE & M&A: Health Tech – Axios Pro

What forces are transforming the healthtech industry right now? Which trends deserve the most attention? Which firms are making the biggest impact on VC, PE and M&A? This report answers those questions. https://www.axios.com/pro/venture-capital-private-equity-manda

Private Markets Rally to New Heights – McKinsey Global Private Markets Review 2022

This annual review of private market investing shares research on industry dynamics and performance. Private markets bounced back last year, despite a new set of risks with a war, higher inflation and interest rates, supply chain and labor challenges. Private equity continued to drive global growth. Private equity fundraising ‘winners’ do so by growing their flagships and raising more frequently. https://tinyurl.com/5yc627u7

US Private Equity Breakdown 2022 – Pitchbook

After a busy start to the year, US private equity dealmakers are finally feeling the bite of higher interest rates, with activity in Q3 collectively slowing across M&A, growth equity and recap deals by more than 20% year-over-year. Yet what may seem like a dramatic decline could also be considered a reset. Far from being a new normal, 2021’s blistering pace of activity was an aberration, making the “old normal” of the pre-pandemic years a better comparison for private equity, according to this report. https://pitchbook.com/news/reports/q3-2022-us-pe-breakdown

Book of Strategy Maps – CB Insights

This 67-page coffee table book of strategy maps shines a light on the strategies behind some of the world’s most important companies – from JNJ, to CVS Health, to Optum.

https://www.cbinsights.com/research/report/book-of-strategy-maps/

2023 US Venture Capital Outlook – Pitchbook

With 2022 coming to an end, many investors are happy to turn the corner on a year that saw crypto ride a remarkable rollercoaster and VC firms clutching their pearls. 2023 is shaping up to be an even more stress-inducing ride for investors, according to this outlook. But while analysts predict some downward movement, there is of course always some upside—if you know where to look. https://pitchbook.com/news/reports/q4-2022-pitchbook-analyst-note-2023-us-venture-capital-outlook

H12022 Digital Health Review – Fletcher Spaght

The report contains details on revenue performance, investments and exits (M&A, IPO).

https://www.fletcherspaght.com/post/h1-2022-digital-health-review

Trust Barometer Global Report 2022 – Edelman

The report is published in January and covers a range of timely and important societal indicators of trust among business, media, government and NGOs, shaping conversation and setting the agenda for the year ahead. https://tinyurl.com/2s4z9kpk

Book of Market Maps – The CB Insights

The reports consist of 31 pages about healthcare companies that are navigating the marketplace. Fascinating and comprehensive. https://www.cbinsights.com/research/report/book-of-market-maps/

2022 Year in Review Images – McKinsey

Reflecting on the past year sheds light on pivotal moments and forges the path toward a resilient future. The past year has been anything but ordinary. The unnerving combination of war, inflation, energy scarcity, and climate change wasn’t what anyone expected as life was just beginning to move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic. 2022 has also proven to be a year of resilience. McKinsey designers put a lens on the images that helped bring our insights to life, and their selections are telling.

https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/2022-year-in-review/2022-the-year-in-images

CEO Outlook: Growth Strategies in Turbulent Times – KPMG

Tested by enormous challenges in quick succession — a global pandemic, inflationary pressures and geopolitical tensions — it’s encouraging that CEOs, surveyed in the 2022 CEO Outlook, were confident in their companies’ resilience and relatively optimistic in their own growth prospects. The 2022 CEO Outlook draws on the perspectives of 1,325 global CEOs across 11 markets to provide insight into their 3-year outlook on the business and economic landscapes. https://tinyurl.com/5n8mnvba

CEO 2022 Study: Own Your Impact: Practical Pathways to Transformational Sustainability – IBM

The IBM Institute for Business Value, along with Oxford Economics, interviewed 3,000 CEOs from 40+ countries and 28 industries as part of this series. These conversations focused on executives’ perspectives on leadership and business; their changing roles and responsibilities; and sustainability, including how they are addressing challenges, what they see as opportunities and visions for the future. https://www.ibm.com/downloads/cas/6NJEKDD8

For additional CEO resources for 2023, see The CEO’s List of “Must Have” Tools for 2023: The Best New Studies, Books, Articles, Apps and Resources for CEOs Who Seek To Create Value in an Uncertain World.

Sometimes it is the smallest insight that can have the biggest returns. When CEOs are equipped with the right insight, at the right time, they make better decisions and all stakeholders benefit. Invest some time reviewing this excellent content to help you lift your game. To become the exceptional, value-creating CEO you are meant to be.

 

The CEO’s List of “Must Have” Tools for 2023

The Best New Studies, Books, Articles, Apps and Resources for CEOs who Seek to Create Value in an Uncertain World

In today’s turbulent business world, CEOs need all the help they can get to navigate the treacherous waters. Despite the supply chain, inflation and great resignation challenges, the job of every CEO remains to create great value sustainably. To create value, every CEO (and aspiring CEO) needs to learn, grow and get better. This year’s list of the best new tools for CEOs is sure to provide any leader with many insights and ideas for how to elevate their game in their value creation quest.

Here’s the 2023 list.

What Matters Most? Six Priorities for CEOs in Turbulent Times by Homayoun Hatami and Liz Hilton Segel. This McKinsey & Company article and report shares six priorities that are featured prominently on CEO agendas worldwide in late 2022, and the moves leaders are taking to shore up defenses and gain ground on rivals.  https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/strategy-and-corporate-finance/our-insights/what-matters-most-six-priorities-for-ceos-in-turbulent-times

Leading Through Inflation: A Playbook by Ram Charan. This well-known advisor to boards and CEOs created an exclusive primer with Chief Executive to help leaders plan for this new inflationary environment. In this uncertain time, this article is relevant to every CEO and board member who seeks to help their company survive – and possibly thrive – in this new era of rising inflation.  https://chiefexecutive.net/inflationplaybook/

Your CEO Check Up This free, confidential, self-assessment measures your current performance on the six key CEO responsibilities and the mindsets and practices that underpin them. Whether you are an aspiring CEO, a new CEO or have been a CEO for many years, Your CEO Check Up will give you insights that will help you create greater value in your role. https://yourceocheckup.com

Women in the Workplace 2022: The State of Women in Corporate America by McKinsey & Company. Women are demanding more from work and they’re leaving companies in unprecedented numbers to get it.  If companies don’t act, they won’t just lose their female leaders; they risk losing the next generation of women leaders.  https://womenintheworkplace.com 

The Last Mile to the Top: Future CEOs Who Beat the Odds and What Research Reveals About the Four Most Common CEO Steppingstones by SpencerStuart. An aspiring CEO’s “last mile” role is the final opportunity to address areas that could handicap performance as CEOs. What are the areas to unlock performance for each of the four primary steppingstones to CEO? This article identifies specific opportunities to unleash potential by building new skills and mindsets for aspiring CEOs. https://www.spencerstuart.com/research-and-insight/future-ceos-who-beat-the-odds

How CEOs Can Make Diversity and Inclusion a Priority by Dan Hawkins. This Forbes article builds the case for a more diverse team, the bottom-line impact of diversity, equity and inclusion practices, and provides guidance for CEOs who need to accelerate their DEI efforts.  There is a link to the insightful report Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters, for those CEOs who seek to dive deeper.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2022/07/13/how-ceos-can-make-diversity-and-inclusion-a-priority/?sh=d9e2119279a6

CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets that Distinguish the Best Leaders from The Rest by Carolyn Dewar, Scott Keller, Vikram Malhotra. Today’s CEOs must navigate far more than the traditional running of the business. What a CEO does matters – a lot. Why is CEO excellence so elusive? Based on the findings from a massive research project of publicly traded companies, this book identifies what the most successful leaders really do in their role as CEOs. A must read for any CEO who seeks to stay ahead of the competition.  https://books.google.com/books/about/CEO_EXCELLENCE.html?id=Ssq2zgEACAAJ

Be The CEO Who Gives Gifts and Thanks CEOs and leaders who give gifts of admiration and recognition to their colleagues lift the commitment, trust levels and performance of their top team members.  A straight-forward process is described that can be applied by any CEO to elevate the contribution and commitment of top team members.  Investing in building bonds and tighter relationships creates a strong foundation for top team and company performance.  https://theboltongroup.com/be-the-ceo-who-gives-gifts-and-thanks/

Your CEO Resource Guide What specific actions can you take to elevate your performance as CEO? Your CEO Resource Guide shares the insights to make you and your company better. The CEO Cheat Sheet for Creating Massive Value shares fifty-seven value-creating practices that can be deployed across the six unique CEO responsibilities. A useful tool, also, for aspiring CEOs, who are preparing for the top job. https://yourceoresourceguide.com

The Unicorn Within: How Companies Can Create Game-Changing Ventures at Startup Speed by Linda K. Yates. This excellent “how to” book shows large company executives how to beat startups at their own game – to build a pipeline and portfolio of new ventures to drive meaningful growth. Newly released, discover the teachable, repeatable and scalable method to venture creation.  https://www.theunicornwithin.com

Re-Culturing: Design Your Company Culture to Connect with Strategy and Purpose for Lasting Success by Melissa Daimler. Whether you’re launching a startup, running a global firm, or shifting to a hybrid work setting, it’s up to you and your senior leaders to craft the culture you need that drives long-term business success. “Re-Culturing” is the continuous act of redesigning and reconnecting behaviors, processes, and practices to each other and to the organizational system. Just as a company’s strategy evolves, so too should a company’s culture evolve. You will discover how to “disintegrate” what no longer serves the company and “remake” your culture – the key to navigating this next evolution of work. https://www.melissadaimler.com/reculturing-book/

Calm Renewing one’s physical, mental, spiritual and emotional energy is a must for any busy CEO. Calm is a user-friendly app for sleep and meditation, designed to lower stress and anxiety. There are free courses on the topics of sleep, anxiety and focus that provide a good sense of all the meditations offered. It is widely recognized as the #1 app in the meditation space. https://www.calm.com

When the CEO gets better, everyone around them gets better. Check out each of these “must have” CEO tools, try them on and become a better CEO in 2023. So you can become the exceptional, value-creating leader you are meant to be.  All your stakeholders will be grateful.

Be the CEO Who Gives Gifts and Thanks

During the past two weeks, the business news has been dominated by tech companies that are laying off staff. Meta laid off 11,000 employees or 13% of their workforce. Twitter terminated the employment of 3,700, nearly 50% of its staff.  A long list of other companies followed. Intel, Snap, Robinhood, Stripe, Salesforce, Lyft, Microsoft, Shopify, Netflix, HP and Coinbase rounded out the list of companies laying off 10% or more of their team members.

The news of layoffs in the tech sector strikes fear in the markets and in those outside of the industry, too.  Meanwhile, unemployment remains at or near an all-time low. Most businesses are not laying people off but doing their best to meet the needs of employees and customers. Many CEOs are projecting an economic bounce back and predict 2023 will return to a more normal year. Outside of the tech sector, where most Americans work, is where the good stuff in our economy is happening, although it is rarely mentioned in the news.

One of my CEO clients in the medical device sector brought his top leadership team together last week to discuss their 2023 plans. Since he was hired just over a year ago, four of his eight direct reports are new to the company. Aware his team of leaders have been working hard learning the business, managing their responsibilities and building their credibility, he took them off-site for a few days to plan for the upcoming year and to recognize their contributions. It is a lonely journey most leaders walk, saddled with multiple demands and high expectations, yet rarely do they receive positive support and affirmation. He decided to change that.

His desire for his new team is not just to develop and execute the strategy, but to get to know one another better and build trust as they work together to create a great company.

During the last working session of the day, everyone wrote on a sheet of paper the name of each team member. Then they wrote three gifts each person brought to their work. These were not technical skills or work competencies; they were personal qualities demonstrated by the individual. At the bottom of the sheet, they wrote what they would miss if that person was no longer on the team.

Ten minutes later, each person received seven pages of their gifts as perceived by their teammates. They took a few minutes to each read their gifts silently, then they shared what they heard with the full team.

After each individual shared “What I heard”, their colleagues elaborated on the gifts and unique qualities that person brought to their work, sharing examples and a story or two.  Many smiles were shared. After everyone took their turn, to take it a step further, they reflected on what they heard, what they saw as their own special gifts and wrote and shared their unique gift statement.

Here is a sample of the gift statements shared:

  • I use my gift of enthusiasm, joy and a positive attitude, to lift people up, encourage and support others, to see the bright side and find a silver lining.
  • I use my passion and ability to connect with others, to create an environment that creates an opportunity for people to achieve excellence and enjoy the experience that leads to results.
  • My gift is passion and care for people. I use my gift to serve others, to increase confidence, so they can achieve increased fulfillment and impact in their lives.
  • I use my gift of a deep caring for people – to engage, support, serve and impact others – helping them elevate.

As they exited, the CEO thanked each team member for their willingness to lean in and work together. He said, “You’ve now landed on your unique gift statement, the uniqueness that no one else in the world brings. What makes you special. Let’s now bring our gifts to all the opportunities and situations that come our way.”

What do you think the collective mood of the team was walking out of the room that afternoon?

One team member stated, “I’ve never been through a process like this, giving and getting gifts from your colleagues and leader. I’ve worked with some companies for many years and never heard what others thought my gifts were. I feel tighter with this team already than the other teams I have been part of.”

Another said, “While it was at first a little uncomfortable to be recognized by my peers and boss in such a way, I am grateful you appreciate me for who I am. I am so happy to be part of this team and company. You make it safe and motivating. Thank you for your encouragement and letting me be me.”

As they wrapped up, high fives, smiles, thank yous and hugs were abundant. An uplifting and affirming afternoon. The team was tighter, more supportive and trusting at the close of their meeting.  Each person felt accepted, encouraged and inspired.

Is the collective emotional state of your top team, CEO, like this team’s? Do you invest in building relationships, trust and commitment?  If not, why not? What’s the price you’ll pay if you aren’t the CEO who gives your team gifts and thanks?

Intentionally building relationships, trust and commitment secures the foundation from which you build and grow your company. The bonds and tight relationships serve as the cement that holds the blocks of the foundation – the people, strategies, goals, products, execution and results – together. A small investment in time and effort can yield a tremendous return on investment.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving and the holiday season, won’t you be the CEO who is grateful for your team and gives gifts and thanks?

CEO Panel Discussion at The Medtech Conference

How Medtech CEOs Are Falling Short – On Purpose!

After two long years, Advamed’s annual MedTech Conference took place in Boston last week. Over two thousand executives, entrepreneurs and medical device professionals gathered to share ideas, learn, network and connect for three days.  The importance of a company’s purpose – the overarching guiding principle for why the firm exists – was raised many times by the CEOs who took part in panels and presentations.

Purpose was cited repeatedly in response to questions about how to encourage their people to accept change, how to motivate and inspire, how to recruit and retain the best, and avoid losing top talent due to the Great Resignation. In the three panel discussions I attended and recorded, purpose was mentioned twelve times during the Leadership in Times of Change session, nine times in the EY Pulse of the Industry panel and seven times during the Top Trends Shaping the Medtech Industry.

CEO Panel Discussion at The Medtech Conference

Jim Welch – EY
Ashley McEvoy – JNJ MedTech
Geoff Martha – Medtronic
Gary Guthart – Intuitive

The gist of the CEO responses is the medtech industry has a “built in” purpose, or as one CEO described, an “Uber purpose”, due to the life enhancing nature of the sector’s work.  In other words, people employed in medtech should be motivated because the work they do improves lives worldwide. One CEO of a company that treats cardiovascular disease, said his company was unlike companies that make “toaster ovens”, which presumably have a less important purpose for existence. Another CEO remarked, “We’re not making and selling baked beans, what we do matters to patients around the world.” Every CEO stated their businesses operate in accordance with a shared company purpose.

Panel Discussion at The Medtech Conference 2022

Ashley McEvoy – JNJ Medtech
Mike Minogue – Abiomed
Barry Rosenberg – Boston Consulting Group

From my own early career experiences at Baxter and Boston Scientific, I agree working at a medical device company that operates by a shared purpose statement can be motivating. But that alone is insufficient. Purpose doesn’t stop with only the company purpose statement. While it is admirable these CEOs embrace purpose statements and purposeful work, that’s the beginning of the purpose journey. It’s only table stakes.

After their panel appearances, I asked a few of the CEOs if they helped their team members discover their own personal purposes. I received the “deer in the headlights” look in response. They apparently aren’t encouraging their people to discover and operate with a sense of personal purpose. By failing to do so, these medtech CEOs are falling short – on purpose! They aren’t embracing purpose-driven leadership.

What is purpose-driven leadership? For starters, it is leading and making decisions in a way that is consistent with the company’s purpose and values. But that’s not all. It’s believing that every person craves meaning in their lives. It’s understanding that every person has a personal purpose – even if they haven’t yet defined it. Purpose-driven leaders know their personal purpose. They live by their personal purpose as they carry out the company’s purpose. The two purposes are not in conflict. They openly share their personal purpose with others when asked. They teach and encourage others to find their unique purposes, too.

Why should leaders teach and encourage others to seek their unique personal purpose, when the company already has a purpose statement? Because they know that a personal purpose is the overarching principle that gives your life meaning.  It’s a forward-pointing arrow, that gives you clarity and helps you get out of bed in the morning. A personal purpose must serve a bigger cause than just yourself. The company purpose isn’t a personal purpose. You can be fired, quit or retire from the company’s purpose, but once defined, you’ll never quit your personal purpose.

Panel Discussion at The MedTech Conference

Nana Mohtashami – Russell Reynolds
Jim Hollingshead – Insulet
Bronwyn Brophy – Thermo Fisher Scientific
Quentin Blackford – iRhythm Technologies
Deepak Nath – Smith & Nephew

With personal purpose defined, purpose-driven leaders help their team members apply that purpose in a way that meshes with the company’s overarching purpose. Encouraging team members to create and live by their personal purposes is important for three reasons:

First, all medtech companies share an identical purpose. Each one is worded slightly differently, but it’s a version of, “We exist to enhance (or save) the lives of patients through _________ (pick a buzzword: innovation, technology, medical procedure, global, etc.)”

Don’t believe me? The company purpose statements of the CEOs on the panels are listed below. Throw the purpose statements of these companies in a hat (Abiomed, Insulet, Intuitive, iRhythm, Johnson and Johnson Medtech, Medtronic, Smith & Nephew, Thermo Fisher Scientific) pull them out, and match them to the respective company. I bet you can’t do it. There is nothing that distinguishes one from the other. (The correct matchups are at the bottom of this post.)

  • To enable our customers to enjoy simplicity, freedom, and healthier lives through innovative technology.
  • A leading provider of groundbreaking medical technology that provides circulatory and oxygenation support.
  • Helping people get back to what matters most.
  • We unleash diverse healthcare expertise, purposeful technology, and a passion for people totransform the future of medical intervention and empower everyone to live their best life possible.
  • To enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer.
  • To contribute to human welfare by application of biomedical engineering in the research, design, manufacture, and sale of instruments or appliances that alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life.

Secondly, since we agree medtech company purpose statements are virtually identical, the company’s purpose statement can’t make the critical difference in the employee experience. What makes the critical difference then? A direct manager who is purpose-driven and coaches others to become their best. The direct manager creates upwards of 70% of the working climate a team member experiences. Many companies intentionally create a desired macro-culture for the company, but there are many micro-cultures within the firm that create very different employee experiences.

Gallup has reported that 70% of leaders don’t know their personal purpose. A study published in Harvard Business Review reported that fewer than 20% of leaders have a strong sense of their individual purpose. That number is likely even higher in the general population. If I’m a prospective employee, I need to know my manager’s personal purpose. Is the manager purpose-driven? How do they mesh their personal purpose under the company purpose? If my manager doesn’t have a personal purpose, why in the world would I want to work under that person?  I’ll take the managers who know their personal purpose and embrace the company’s purpose – while coaching and encouraging others to do the same – all day long.

Third, people who operate by their personal purpose in sync with the company’s purpose are your passionate value creators. They take great care of your clients. They are your “A” players. They are clear about their gifts, their purpose, their values and they know how to apply them in support of your company’s mission of enhancing and saving lives worldwide.

If it is true that fewer than 20% of employees operate with a defined personal purpose, as CEO, how can I expect them to take great care of our customers, perform at a high level, create great value, and grow and stay with the firm? If I’m not helping them define their purpose, and showing them how to thrive at our company, won’t they vulnerable to being poached by more insightful companies and leaders who are purpose-driven – and can help them discover and live by their individual purpose? Here’s how you can help others discover their purpose.

My invitation to medtech CEOs is to embrace purpose at both the company and individual levels. It’s your job to be a great value creator and make an enormous impact. You are the role models for purpose-driven leadership. Harnessing purpose in all your team members – and connecting it to the company purpose – is a critical step forward in creating great value for all your stakeholders.

“I apply my knowledge of the purpose of my life every day. It’s the single most useful thing I’ve ever learned.”Clayton Christensen, late professor at Harvard Business School and bestselling author

Company Purpose Statements

  • To enable our customers to enjoy simplicity, freedom, and healthier lives through innovative technology. Insulet
  • A leading provider of groundbreaking medical technology that provides circulatory and oxygenation support.Abiomed
  • Helping people get back to what matters most. Intuitive
  • We unleash diverse healthcare expertise, purposeful technology, and a passion for people totransform the future of medical intervention and empower everyone to live their best life possible. Johnson and Johnson MedTech
  • To enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer. Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • To contribute to human welfare by application of biomedical engineering in the research, design, manufacture, and sale of instruments or appliances that alleviate pain, restore health, and extend life. Smith & Nephew

Attention All CEOs: Torpedo the Performance Review – Try the “W5” Instead

The loathed performance appraisal is raising its ugly head again across corporations. Many companies that halted reviews during the pandemic now have employee performance in their crosshairs. The Dreaded Performance Review Makes a Comebacappeared as the lead article in the Wall Street Journal’s C-Suite Strategies section on September 19, 2022.

Meta Platforms (Facebook), Google, McKinsey, CarParts.com, and Goldman Sachs were identified as ones where performance reviews are returning. It’s a big mistake. Performance reviews at most companies, as conducted for decades, is an inherently flawed process. There is, however, a better solution for managing performance.

What’s required for any business that seeks to serve its clients well and grow? A group of motivated, high-performing people is a necessary component. And how do most businesses monitor the performance of its people? An annual performance review is typically used. And who feels the performance review process works well? Just about no one!

Consider these facts:

  • Employees – Only 13% think performance reviews are effective.
  • Managers – 70% of managers admit they have trouble giving a tough performance review.
  • Human Resources – 58% of HR executives grade their performance review process a grade of C or below.
  • CEOs – Only 6% of CEOs think their performance review process is effective.

Clearly all the stakeholders of the annual performance review see the process as broken. If that’s the case, isn’t it time to obliterate – instead of bring back – the traditional performance review?

Why don’t companies blow up their performance review processes? Three reasons:  1. Because it is necessary to give feedback on performance and this provides a mechanism for the exchange of feedback; 2. Because (pre-pandemic) we’ve always done performance reviews before; 3. Even if we acknowledge performance reviews don’t work well, we don’t have a better solution for delivering performance feedback.

I’m all about giving and receiving feedback, improving performance and fanatical about creating performance-oriented cultures. But I’m adamantly opposed to the annual performance review process, which sadly is the antithesis of high performance.  So, what can companies do differently?  I suggest the W5 meeting.

Five-way view

The W5 (work in 5 directions) meeting is an innovative idea in performance management.  These meetings offer a powerful opportunity to promote self accountability.  Very simply, a W5 meeting is a one-to-one meeting between a team member and the direct manager.  At these meetings, the team member should report a self-assessment on their performance from five directions:  customer, direct reports, peer, manager and self (how they are learning and growing). 

Coaching discussion between manager and direct report

Typically held monthly, the focus of this meeting is about the results the team member is achieving.  It is the team member’s responsibility to schedule the meeting and report in full.  During the W5 meeting, which should be conducted in 30 minutes or less, the team member gives a full accounting of progress on how they are meeting and exceeding the requirements in the five directions as listed above.

The team member provides an overall assessment of how they are delivering, taking accountability for performance shortfalls and reports on a plan to correct any deficiencies.  Both problem areas and success stories are shared.

Specific topics on which the manager can assist are identified, and together a plan is developed.  For both the team member and the manager, the W5 meeting is held in a spirit of collaboration, alignment and coaching for future performance. The manager should look for ways to encourage, support and recognize the team member throughout the meeting, in a genuine way.  The meeting is supported by candor and an open dialogue.

Implementing W5 meetings monthly builds accountability for performance with an eye on what is required for future success.  If W5 meetings are held regularly and with the right intention, the manager will only need to hold team members accountable when they are failing to hold themselves accountable.

Companies that implement the W5 process across the board can discard their annual performance review process.  Using the W5 process provides for recognition of excellent performance. Meanwhile poor performance gets addressed quickly and is not tucked away for a discussion that may occur months later.

There is no ambiguity how work performance is perceived, in the world of W5.  Problem performers find themselves in a pressure cooker, have nowhere to hide and are quickly faced with a choice:  dramatically improve or leave. Mid-level performers are encouraged and coached on ways they can lift their contribution.  Excellent performers are recognized for their superb work.

So, if we are committed to growth, extraordinary results and a performance-driven climate, it’s time to obliterate the old performance review process, substituting it with real time feedback and the W5 process.

 The biggest challenge of W5 meetings is the discipline to initiate and sustain these meetings, which take time.  But what could be more important to leaders and managers than creating a team of motivated, high performing team members that are positioned to achieve sustained results?  After all, taking great care of clients by creating the capability and climate for sustained results is what leaders are paid to do.

If you are getting great results with your traditional performance review process, you wouldn’t be reading this article.  If you want great performance in the future, I encourage you to consider committing to the W5 process.

 

 

What Do Exceptional, Value-Creating CEOs Actually Do?

Every CEO has six key responsibilities they must embrace. Exceptional CEOs think and act differently as to how they carry out their responsibilities.  They take different actions and deploy practices that create great value. These mindsets and practices can be learned, applied, and mastered.

The first responsibility is set the direction. The accompanying mindset of the highest performing CEOs is to be purpose-driven, to create an exciting vision of the future and to and take the bold actions to reframe the game in your sector.

The second responsibility is to optimize the top leadership team. The prevailing mindset is creating a high performing top team. Hiring, coaching, and investing in team members, who are capable, are candid in addressing the challenges facing the business, and are committed to the company’s success.

The third responsibility is to align and mobilize all to execute. The mindset is shaping a working climate that is energizing, is friction-free so individuals and teams can operate efficiently, and building a culture that reinforces and rewards value creation.

The fourth responsibility is to guide your stakeholders. To be credible, you’ll need to master and deliver one compelling narrative that helps you connect with both internal and external stakeholders and be seen as trustworthy.

Excellent CEOs know they need to count on a wise board of directors. Responsibility #5 is leveraging your board. The mindset is to be transparent about your business and its challenges. To educate and engage the board and embrace a forward-looking perspective.

The sixth and final responsibility is to lead yourself. The hardest job you’ll ever undertake, is leading yourself. The mindset is a commitment to professional growth, of operating with humility and gratitude, and a practice of recognizing and encouraging others, even during challenging times.

Do these mindsets describe how you embrace your six key CEO responsibilities?

When you get better, everyone around you gets better. Go to YourCEOCheckUp.com, take the self- assessment to measure your current performance on these mindsets and practices. You’ll receiver your results instantly.

Then, for more on the practices excellent CEOs deploy to create massive value, go to YourCEOResourceGuide.com to discover what you can do to raise your game and put yourself on the path of becoming the exceptional, value-creating CEO you are meant to be.

Every CEO Needs a Coach

As CEO, your job is to create great value. More than any other person, your impact as CEO is the single biggest predictor of your company’s success. Perform in the upper 20% of CEOs and you’ll generate a nearly 3X greater return to shareholders than the average performer.

Yet sustaining top performance and value creation is not so easy. Today’s environment is riskier and more challenging than just a decade ago. You operate in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world, where disruptive technology abounds, talent is scarce and shifting, new business models and competition threaten the status quo, and social unrest, a pandemic, and the climate crisis loom. You have a lot of weight on your shoulders. To help you navigate this treacherous terrain, can you benefit by having a CEO coach, whose sole goal is to help you become more successful in work and life?

Every top performer has a coach. World-class athletes, musicians, and entertainers all have coaches. Best-in-the-world performers hire coaches to help them improve their games, become better and stay on top. It’s the same for smart CEOs.  Eric Schmidt, former chairman and CEO of Google said, “The best advice I ever got was from John Doerr (chairman of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins) who said to get a coach.” A CEO coach sees you with a different set of lenses, making suggestions and offering insights that help you create great impact.

 

Your CEO coach’s only agenda is a desire to see you operate at your best and succeed. Your coach is a confidant who plays a role no other stakeholder can play. Board members, direct reports, or well-meaning spouses aren’t coaches as they have their own agendas. Your coach sees your greatness, beliefs, and blind spots. Listening carefully, your coach learns your biggest challenges and opportunities. Your coach asks thoughtful questions, explores options, and offers perspective and wise insights.  Your coach helps you learn new skills and strengthen your relationships. Your coach shows you how to grab hearts and minds. Your coach will teach you how to connect with, persuade and inspire others to act. Your coach encourages and inspires you to become your best.

When you get better, everyone around you gets better. You serve as a role model for others to grow and lift their games, too. That’s a powerful way of building a team of high performing, value creating leaders.

What to look for in your CEO coach? Your coach must understand your context, bringing senior level executive experience in your industry sector along with a track record of success working with CEOs on the topics where you seek assistance. Your coach must clearly describe what you can expect working together and provide examples and references of client success stories that resonate. Your coach must always keep your discussions confidential. Finally, your coach must be a good personal fit with you. The chemistry has be right.

Every CEO needs a coach. When you select and engage with an outstanding CEO coach, and commit to do your work, the benefits you’ll receive can be enormous. You’ll gain a brainstorming partner, a confidant, a trainer, a sage, and a motivator, who’ll help you thrive. So, you become better – in work and life – creating great value for yourself and all your stakeholders.

What Do Exceptional CEOs Do Differently? Where Do You Fall on the Scale?

As CEO, your job is to create great value. More than any position, your impact is the single biggest predictor of your firm’s success. What you control accounts for up to 45% of company performance. In an increasingly volatile world, your impact will become even more important in the future.

Every CEO has six key responsibilities they must embrace. Exceptional CEOs think and act differently as to how they carry out their responsibilities.  Finally, we have a self-assessment tool that measures your performance on these areas.  It’s called Your CEO Check Up. It takes about 10 minutes to complete on-line, it is confidential, you get your results instantly, and best of all, it’s free.

How you perform matters – a lot.  You can be a boost for your company or can set it back.  The risks are high. With CEO turnover on the rise, fail to create the value you must and you’ll be shown the door.

 How about you? Are you winning or losing? Every CEO has blind spots. What’s the risk if you don’t perform to your full potential? What price will you pay?

With results in hand, you’ll want to know how to create the value you must. For more on the mindsets and CEO practices that drive value, you’ll need Your CEO Resource Guide.  It’s full of valuable insights and information, its downloadable and it is free, too.

When you get better, everyone gets better. Go to YourCEOCheckUp.com, take the self- assessment and get your results. Then, go to YourCEOResourceGuide.com to discover what you can do to raise your game and put yourself on the path of becoming the exceptional, value-creating CEO you are meant to be.