Chief Enabling Officer

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Sylvia Grant
Consultant, Australia

Chief Enabling Officer

In a predominantly knowledge-based organization, it would be more productive for a CEO to see himself as a 'Chief Enabling Officer', and adopt the philosophy of the book "Employees first, customers second" by Vineet Nayar.
The CEO as chief enabling officer would use his/her position to empower personnel in a knowledge-based organization, encourage innovation, employee participation in decision making, idea development, skills transfer or cross-skilling, and lead the synergies towards excellence in customer service. A confident CEO would also encourage employees to participate in problem solving, even at the highest organizational levels, eg a CEO could have a website where he/she could describe problems and invite suggestions for their resolution.
Vineet Nayar's book is particularly relevant because the author shares his own experiences, and demonstrates that this approach is effective. Under the leadership of Vineet Nayar, HCLT has been voted the ‘Best Employer in India and Asia’ by Hewitt, the ‘Best Employer in UK’ by CRF, and also won the ‘Workforce Management Optimas Award for Human Resources Innovation’ in USA, was rated among the ‘World’s Most Democratic Workplaces by WorkBlu’, and was recognized by Fortune as the ‘World’s Most Modern Management’.
I am not easily impressed by either books or new ideas - however, Vineet Nayar's book [Employees First, Customers Second] is like a breath of fresh air. In today's knowledge-based organizations, where more and more employees are Gen-Y who would absolutely reject the 'Command and Control' leadership style, Vineet Nayar's approach becomes even more relevant. The fact that he has actually put his ideas into practice makes it all the more significant. Employees of service provider organizations these days not only come into direct contact with the customer, but also with the customer's employees. I believe it is not difficult to accept the fact that employees who work in an environment that is energizing [rather than enervating], dynamic, and facilitating, within a culture that is inclusive and transparent, are employees who practise personal discipline, thought discipline, and action discipline.

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