Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, says in his 2016 report, The Fourth Industrial Revolution, that the combinations of technologies in this day and age is forcing companies to reexamine the way they do business.
“The bottom line, however, is the same: business leaders and senior executives need to understand their changing environment, challenge the assumptions of their operating teams, and relentlessly and continuously innovate,” he says.
However, there is a problem at the top of businesses, and that’s how CEOs are responding to this revolution. Schwab, who was born in 1938, says: “Today’s decision-makers, however, are too often trapped in traditional, linear thinking, or too absorbed by the multiple crises demanding their attention, to think strategically about the forces of disruption and innovation shaping our future.”
So how does a CEO prepare himself for such a future? By being more intelligent than the challenges, of course. And to do that, they need to keep learning.
Almost all the bosses that D:Code has featured have considered continuous learning as a vital contributor to their success.
The stereotypical fat cat towkay who sits in the big office at the top level of the firm’s building, dictating policy and operations to a row of lieutenants at his beck and call, is slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past
And while the primary function of leading the company remains the same, the environment in which this leadership is exercised has changed dramatically.
Today’s CEO lives in a much more crowded world and has to deal with business and staff across the globe, each with their own geopolitical situations to deal with. Meanwhile, environmental issues, social matters and corporate governance is constantly pushed in front.
So Mr Towkay now needs to consider stakeholders on every level – employees across the region or globe, the wider community of each office in each territory, in all decisions.
How then, does a CEO or boss, who would have a very busy schedule, continue to learn?
By reading and listening. Reading books, listening to audiobooks, reading blogs or listening to podcasts, especially those by venture capitalists or specialists in your industry, will enable you to keep learning. Reading or listening to those in fields relevant to your business will help you remain informed of developments in a specific industry as well as trends in entrepreneurship and leadership.
A CEO can also take up online courses such as those provided by Udemy, whose introduction best explains how it works: Learn on your schedule. Pick a course or subject whose understanding you feel you need to beef up on, then start learning at your own time.
Finally, CEOs can learn through old-fashioned networking.
It could be a face-to-face session over coffee or tea, lunch or dinner, golf or karaoke, a phone call, text messages or a video call. Discussing ideas and challenges with an outsider can help you see blindspots you never knew existed.
From time to time, D:Code will organise such networking opportunities where entrepreneurs and CEOs from various fields get together to exchange ideas.
So keep learning, and watch this space for updates on D:Code’s CEO networking and sharing sessions.