CEO for a Day: Thoughtful Business Leadership

Women of  HR were asked, “If you were CEO for a day, what would (or did) you focus on to improve an organization's productivity, employee engagement or ability to recruit?”  This is the fifth post in the series of responses.

“Wow! It is really fascinating to hear people call me a CEO of my company even if it is for a day! Let me make this a 12 hour work day for myself. I am getting one shot at this and I need to maximize my work day to make a few hard decisions and to inspire everyone in communicating why we do things the way we do!”

So, how would it be if I, an HR professional, were CEO for a day?  When Lisa asked me, my mind pondered a lot of questions. What is the culture of my organization? What are the values and behavior I want to instill? What kind of behavior do I want to see rewarded? Am I rewarding and engaging the right employees so that they will continue to stay with us?

Eliminate Toxic Managers

All these questions directed me to first study my current manpower. Do I have the right people in place to do their job and help others get their jobs done? Are they engaged?

Before investing on engagement I need to know if I can rely on my employees at least for the near future. I don't want to see someone quitting the  day after receiving training, monetary or other rewards. I have seen employees wait to get their pay raise or incentive only to quit and join some other organization – timing their departure to their advantage.

Having said that, I am going to rely on my experience and my HR eyeglasses to create a list of toxic managers. These are the managers who mess up the organization’s culture and values and make a bad impact on employees. So, let me just flush them out before it hurts the immune system of the organization.

Hire for Culture

To replace toxic managers and get the right people in leadership roles, I will consider the opinions of peer leaders. The people I would consider are those who consistently deliver outstanding results, are willing leaders and have the right attitude. And I would be reviewing all new pending hires before any offers are made.

This will make sure that we hire for our culture.


Although recruitment and employment engagement is an ongoing process, I do feel having been given only a day as CEO, it's necessary and critical that I gain the confidence of my employees in me. I will target a few things on this day:

  • Instill our Culture. I will create a value-based culture in which employees are be truste

    d to do the right things because they know what the organization stands for and believes in it. To strengthen this trust in our culture I would stretch myself to all employees by making myself accessible at every level. I am going to draw inspiration from speaker, writer and visionary Simon Sinek, who says, “Trust doesn't come from making the right decision. Trust comes from giving people an honest assessment for why the decision was made.”

  • Walk the Talk. As CEO, I am actually one among  our employees so I will emulate the behavior that I want to see from them. I will not over promise and under-deliver because that can poison the work culture I want to instill. And I will not put up with someone else doing that. I want people to inspire and to be inspired.
  • Reward Results. I will make it obvious to everyone what good performance means. Everyone needs to understand their commitment to execution which will in turn open up opportunities for growth. I will ensure that there are career advancement opportunities within the organization for employees that will result from their effort and work.
  • Seek Feedback. I will provide a platform for every employee to open up andshare their views and suggestions with me. Their suggestions don’t have to be only about their immediate work or even about the organization. I want to get their best ideas about anything in life. This will get them to think creatively and one person’s ideas could be another person’s solution. Best suggestions will be awarded and implemented.

I know it is only a day that I can use this authority and hearing this, some of you might think that it is such a short notice and so I may not be able to implement all of these things. But my answer to this is if you are a thoughtful leader you can create a big impact on the people in less than a day. If  I create the foundation well then the rest will follow naturally.

Photo credit: iStock Photo

About the author: Nisha Raghavan is the author of Your HR Buddy blog. A former HR Generalist with extensive experience in Talent Management and Development, she specializes and writes about Employee Relations, Organization Development and how companies can keep their employees more engaged through Employee Engagement Initiatives. Her experience in the corporate world was as an HR Deputy Manager at Reliance Communications Limited, India.


About the Author

Nisha Raghavan

Nisha Raghavan-Your HR Buddy!! is an Talent Management Professional and a blogger who likes to paint her thoughts with the shades of HR at . She writes about Work Culture, Social Media, Organization Development and engaging employees with Employee Engagement Initiatives. Her experience in the corporate world was as an HR Deputy Manager from Reliance Communications Limited, India where she specialized in orchestrating Talent Management & Development. She is also a proud Co-host of DriveThruHR-HR's #1 Daily Radio Show and a contributing author at and Connect with her on Twitter @Thehrbuddy.

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