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Friday, 12 February 2016

Support Mechanisms for CEOs - Why are they important?

The challenges for nonprofit CEOs and equivalent positions is immense and even more so in the current environment of economic uncertainty, political instability (especially in an election year), organisational change, and, in the context of nonprofit disability service providers, the changing nature of their business models in response to the movement away from a supply-driven market to one that is responsive to the demands of consumers in the form of the NDIS.

This scenario places heavy burdens on the CEO and equivalent positions as they face these challenges whilst maintaining ongoing service levels, addressing organisational sustainability, and dealing with boards that may not be necessarily skilled in identifying or addressing the strategic challenges that need to be understood and faced.

In August 2013, Forbes Leadership polled 200 CEOs and board directors and noted a range of collective concerns which were reflected as themes from the survey. These included:
  • the need to get help with handling conflicts
  • the need to further develop talent within their organisations
  • the need to establish improved motivational skills amongst their executive teams
Whilst these were seen as major challenges within these organisations and ones that needed to be addressed by the CEO, there is ongoing recognition amongst organisational leadership, that active CEO groups could greatly impact the effectiveness of CEOs as they address these and many other related challenges including responding to such questions as:
  • as your organisation grows, how do you maintain an inspiration to innovate and not dampen enthusiasm amongst your managers and staff?
  • how do you encourage creative thinking in your organisation to foster growth and development?
  • how do you promulgate your organisation's mission, vision and core values?
  • how do you ensure that vision is being correctly interpreted in your organisation?
  • how do you achieve organisational alignment through all levels of the organisation?
  • how do you ensure your own growth and development?
CEO groups can be effective in improving the overall effectiveness of CEOs, ensuring improved organisational and personal outcomes, and this is why:
  1. There is always more than one way of looking at a problem or a challenge. Obtaining broader input is necessary to ensure that you overcome any myopic tendencies.
  2. A small supportive group can develop into a community of trust which can underpin an "off-the-record" type of engagement, allowing you to speak your mind freely without fear of repercussion.
  3. Diversity within such groups ensures that input into your challenge is based on perspectives that you may not have or even able to see at given points of time.
  4. The role of the CEO has often been described as a lonely one for various reasons. There can be an understandable tendency to be somewhat isolationists in your thinking. This can be balanced by the recognition in seeing your group as a small but safe 'community'.
OPTIMUM NFP recently launched its CEO Roundtable in response to the individual challenges associated with being a CEO and in the context of the organisational implications associated with the CEO performance. The CEO Roundtable ("CEOR") has been designed exclusively for CEOs of nonprofit organisations as a professional learning forum to support ongoing development of CEOs through a facilitated discussion and peer support process. The CEOR supports CEOs by:
  1. being a sounding board
  2. sharing experiences and challenges whilst collaboratively searching for solutions
  3. challenging your thinking purely for the purposes of getting better organisational and personal outcomes, and
  4. benchmarking your own performance through personal and group reflection
The CEOR is based around 4 foundational pillars:
  1. FACILITATION  - it is professionally facilitated with a structured agenda that combines free-flowing discussion within focused attention to agreed pertinent issues
  2. CONFIDENTIALITY - meetings take place in a confidential and emotionally safe environment enabling easy exchange of ideas
  3. EXPERTISE - guest speakers with required specialist expertise will be invited as appropriate and as agreed to by the group
  4. NETWORKS - fostering and supporting new and existing professional networks 
CEORs are being introduced in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide. For further information regarding the CEO Roundtable, visit the OPTIMUM NFP website at and click the tab entitled "CEO Roundtable" which provides further information as well as an online registration process. Alternatively, you can contact David Rosenbaum on 0411-744-911 or at to make further inquiries.

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