VM EVENTS: VM Summit Opening Session Looks to the Role CEOs Play in a Company’s Success Story By Mary Kane Saturday, April 23, 2022 12:59 AM RELATED CONTENT VM Summit Examines Megatrends Shaped by the COVID-19 Pandemic As a Media Channel, Retail Offers New Messaging Opportunities Speakers Highlight the Need for Brands to Explore New Outreach Mediums Talking Tech: Two Takes on Health and Vision Trends Walmart Sees an Opportunity to Provide ‘Affordable Health Care’ Scenes at the VM Summit David Kepron Speaks About Culture Shifts and Adapting to the Unknown Kicking off the Summit program was a session titled “The CEO Leadership Moment,” featuring Vikram (Vik) Malhotra, a senior partner in McKinsey’s New York office and co-author of a new book, CEO Excellence: The Six Mindsets That Distinguish the Best Leaders from the Rest. Malhotra posed the following question: What really makes a good CEO? What separates the best from the rest? And what are the characteristics of a truly successful CEO? Throughout his career, Malhotra has spent extensive time counseling CEOs and boards. He is also active with major nonprofits outside of McKinsey. He said, “Being a CEO is tough. Their tenure is short and there is lots of failure.” Malhotra elaborated about how the role of the CEOs portrayed in the book extends to all business leaders. He said, “The CEO role is a difficult one. In their first year of the job, studies show that more than half of CEOs believe they are failing. Those that do the job well, realize that the impact of the role matters.” For the book, Malhotra interviewed 67 of the highest performing CEOs in business today, including Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase and Reed Hastings of Netflix. In the book, he outlined the six responsibilities of great CEOs, which he presented to the Summit audience. The CEO is the Ultimate Negotiator: 1. Be bold and set the direction. 2. Engage the board, help the directors help the business. 3. Connect with stakeholders and start with “why?” 4. Manage personal effectiveness by doing what only you can do. 5. Mobilize through leaders, solve problems for the team’s psychology. 6. Align the organization and treat the soft stuff as the hard stuff. Malhotra observed that today’s business leaders are spending more time connecting with stakeholders and customers than ever before. “Being a CEO is more than just inheriting a company and running it—good CEOs are bold, they reframe the game, act like an outsider and make big moves early and often,” said Malhotra. In today’s ever-changing business landscape, in order to make big changes, good CEOs need to pick one important cultural change and focus on it closely, Malhotra advised. “When it comes to speaking out about controversial and political issues, the best CEOs are clear and they anchor the beliefs, purposes and values of their company and focus on the things the company stands for,” said Malhotra. He advised CEOs to “mobilize through their leaders, engage their board of directors and make the team the star. “You don’t need a team of stars—you need a star team,” Malhotra said. “Good CEOs are not afraid to make big moves and they realize that to be successful you sometimes have to treat the soft stuff as hard stuff. Only do what you can do, and do what only you can do,” said Malhotra.