What question should CEOs be asking? - Preparing you for the future of work.

What question should CEOs be asking?

The question, “What keeps CEOs awake at night?” has been around for a little while now and attempts to highlight the key issues that companies have had to address from a strategic point of view. It’s important to know what the head of an organisation is focusing on. But things have changed over the past few years ...

One of the new facts of life to emerge is that, while the CEO is an important person, he or she is not the only person who determines the success of a company. Gone are the days of the heroic leader who supposedly does it all and takes the credit for the achievement.

The age of collaborative leadership has now dawned, recognising the contribution of all to a company’s success.

This, of course, begs the question: If everybody counts, instead of everybody asking what keeps the CEO awake at night, shouldn’t CEOs be asking what keeps their employees up at night?

THAT’s the difference between a heroic leader and a collaborative leader!

Of course, the term “CEO” could refer to any leader of people. When leaders start to focus on what challenges the people they’re leading are facing, some interesting things start to happen. Here are merely three of them:

1 Trust increases

When someone takes a genuine interest in your challenges, you feel they care for you. That engenders a trust in you for them. And when there’s a high level of trust, there’s usually a high level of support, commitment and energy. That, in turn, results in higher productivity and profitability. Trust is necessary for personal relationships between any two people as well as between leaders and their people. Never underestimate the power of trust. It might seem like a warm and fuzzy property but it’s not. Mistrust leads to all sorts of sideshows that distract people from doing what they’re supposed to do and reduces productivity. Trust does the opposite.

2 Teamwork improves

We live in an increasingly connected world, which means that very few of us can achieve something without the assistance and/or support of someone else. A functional team is critical to achieving success. When team members feel they can discuss their work with one another and their leader, their productivity increases exponentially. The quantity and quality of decisions improves dramatically, resulting in more being achieved by fewer people in less time.

3 Retention increases

One of the biggest challenges companies face today is the mobility of younger talent. While there is a lot of truth to the fact that younger people generally tend to move around a lot more than their more mature counterparts, that is not the whole truth. There is another side to this. Companies which have a sense of a greater purpose with which its workers resonate have a much better chance of retaining their talented workers.

The same is true for workers who are led by people who do not create a power gap between them and their people. Millennials have grown up in an age of reality TV where real people are portrayed as stars. On the other hand, stars are now being portrayed as regular people – one sees photos of them playing in the park with their children or walking the dog. This, and a number of other factors, has led to the death of the power gap. Young people no longer see a gap between themselves and their leader. A leader who works closely with them will win their affection, trust and support, resulting in a longer tenure with the company. However, when a leader creates such a power gap, they lose the support and loyalty of those younger people, then they complain about young people who have no sense of loyalty and commitment and who jump ship when they feel like it, not realising that they played a role in that behaviour.

So, if you’re leading one, two or a whole lot more people, why not start asking yourself what keeps them up at night. You might find yourself increasing employee engagement, increasing retention and ramping up productivity and profitability!

Alan Hosking is the publisher of HR Future magazine, www.hrfuture.net, @HRFuturemag, and assists executives to prevent, reverse and delay ageing, and achieve self-mastery.


  1. Join our newsletter to receive all the latest news in the HR space!
  2. Email(*)
    Invalid Input

Contact us

If you have a question or would like to get in touch with us, contact us on +27 11 888 8914 or info@hrfuture.net

Business Hours

We are open:

  • Mon – Fri: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
  • Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: closed