Conferences Should Mirror These CEO Employee Expectations

2012.07.13_reflections (A) by camil tulcan, on Flickr1,700+ CEOs in 64 countries identified collaboration, agility, mining connections and relationships, and innovation through partnering as the top critical traits that their employees need today.

According to CEOs, the top four personal characteristics most critical for employees success were: collaboration, communicative, creative and flexible. CEOs seek employees who will thrive in an open environment.

How many of your conference education sessions allow attendees to learn more about, practice and apply these CEO employee expectations? How many of your education opportunities involve collaboration and relationship building?

If CEOs are responding to the increasingly complex connected economy with these expectations, doesn’t it make sense that your conference should respond similarly?

Leading Through Connections

The 2012 IBM CEO Study, Leading Through Connections, identifies and analyzes CEOs’ perspectives on emerging business trends and issues. Today, CEOs are looking beyond traditional revenue models, supply chains and integrated back-office systems.

Their focus has shifted towards:

  • Creating open and collaborative cultures
  • Empowering employees through values
  • The power of social and new media
  • Embracing and engaging customers as individuals
  • Analytics of customers’, employees’, investors’ and partners’ connections
  • Amplifying disrupting innovation through partnerships

How many of these issues does your conference focus on and offer more opportunities for growth and development?

Three Critical Issues Your Conference Should Mirror

Here are three key issues your conference should emulate.

1. Creating Open And Collaborative Cultures

CEOs are encouraging employees to connect, learn from each other as well as others outside the offices’ walls. Collaboration is the number one trait that CEOs seek in their employees. More than 75% of the CEOs interviewed called collaboration critical to success! Similarly, navigating rapid change is critical to success. CEOs seek employees that embrace change instead of resisting it.

Conference Implications
How much of your conference programming is dedicated to peer learning, peer sharing and collaboration? Do you create spaces and sessions that embrace and leverage collaborative processes? Is your conference aimed at helping attendees navigate change? Do you create experiences that help them evolve to better suit the complexity and pace of business today?

2. Developing Agile Analytic Muscles That Respond Immediately With Relevancy

CEOs are investing in customer insights more than any other functional areas. More than 70% seek better understanding of individual customer needs and improved responsiveness. CEOs are looking for employees that can convert customer data into insights that lead to action. Similarly, more than 50% of CEOs expect social channels to be a primary way of engaging customers within five years.

Conference Implications
How much of your conference experience helps attendees learn how to mine and interpret customer data? Do you help attendees better understand their customers? Have you stopped providing education on how to use social channels for engagement?

3. Embracing Radical Innovation Through Exclusive Partnerships

Rising complexity and escalating competition have made partnering a core innovation strategy for many organizations. The pressure to innovate has not decreased! CEOs are intentionally introducing disruptive thinking as catalysts to growth. And they are doing it through partnerships.

More than 50% of CEOs are using partnerships to drive innovation. This focus on sustained partnerships requires more intention to building and maintaining integrated relationships.

Simultaneously, instead of settling for new products or more efficient operations, CEOs are moving their companies into new industries. Or they are inventing new industries.

Conference Implications
How much of your conference programming discusses building partnerships? Do you model innovative thinking and design by creating innovative experiences that serve as catalysts for learning?

CEOs today have found themselves in positions of learning while leading. Do you help attendees learn, unlearn and lead at the same time? Have you placed an emphasis on relevant learning or just dispersing of information?

How should conferences harness the power of collaboration and connectedness? What types of programming should conference organizers create that embraces human connectedness and innovation?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
  1. While I love all these qualities, value them and work very hard to create a corporate culture internally that sustains them, I can’t help but wonder how many of the CEOs who say they value these things actually create environments where their employees have the freedom to behave in this way.

    The recent Forbes article about how Microsoft created a culture that was so corporate it discouraged innovation jumps to mind. But I also know how difficult it is for leaders to maintain humility, which is an essential ingredient for encouraging collaboration. Not to mention how difficult it is for managers to trust talent and not micromanage.

    With all those things in play, making the workplace a dangerous place to display these values CEOs say are so important, if you can create a temporary safe haven at your event– how awesome and valuable would your work be?!

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      I had the same skepticism that you did when I first started reading the report. Interestingly enough the CEOs that responded addressed the very issue that you mention, creating cultures that allow this. The report is filled with data where CEO’s are changing the traditional culture into one that allows employees more authority, responsibility and empowerment by embracing the company’s values. Go read the report. I think you’ll like it.

  2. I look forward to reading it. Thanks again for being such a consistent, entertaining and thought-provoking voice in this industry.

  3. Love Kristi’s closing comment, above, about creating the atmosphere we’d all like to see in corporations. Taking that even further, the beauty of that is the idea that conferences are often mini-labs, beta-tests of what we’d love to see happen in our everyday working life. We can afford to try new things out at conferences, so let’s continue to push the envelope and set a standard for corporations.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:

      Thanks Yi for reading and continuing the discussion. I like what you said about seeing conferences as mini-labs and beta-tests. Great point.

  4. […] Hurt recently published this article that references what CEOs say they want to see in their employees. Being open and willing to collaborate tops the […]

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *