What do companies REALLY pay CEOs for?
For predicting the future? No.
For keeping the ship steady? Sometimes.
For managing the forthcoming unknown? Always.
Just not overtly, until now that is.
The CEO trait that boards will start to look for in the next five years will be that confidence to talk about managing the unknown.
Paul Polman at Unilever has been doing it for a while.
John Brock at Coca-Cola Enterprises has just started doing it.
Both talk about it with reference to sustainability targets and risks.
Others are catching on.
A few years ago a CEO couldn’t say he/she didn’t know how the company would manage issues the company was facing. That would be tantamount to admitting incompetence. No longer.
Now it’s becoming a badge of honour among a select few bosses. More will catch on.
Managing unknowns with holistic risk management approaches is what sustainability strategy for big business is now all about.
That and taking hold of the opportunities to save money, invent new products and build trust.