Put 25 CEOs from different associations, each representing a profession or industry unlike each other, in one Zoom call and you quickly see how much alike they are.
This happened earlier this month. Near the end of the session, one CEO said what everyone else was thinking but had not yet said. “We are working so much harder now and the truth is we have no idea what’s ahead, so I just wish for a crystal ball. Each day we are making tough decisions and the next day it pivots again and we end up rethinking and deciding something else.”
Because of that defining moment, what rushed to the top of my mind were voices of several hundred CEOs, not in this meeting, who had lessons learned on the front lines of tough choices, to share. Through me, the guide. To share with the whole tribe. It’s true the past 7 months have been strange and not what any of the associations or credentialing leaders put in their strategic plan for 2020. What struck me as profound were the voices from the most recent 7 years—all with words of wisdom and some comfort for CEOs wandering into the crystal ball conundrum.
In our work with more than 500 professions and standards-setting groups, we notice that some are more likely to overlap or run into massive confusion with other professions. This starts to show up when working on what the profession uses as their ultimate guides for scopes of practice. Some call these their Body of Knowledge (BOK). Some call them Competency Models. Others call their ultimate guide the candidate handbook, which contains a summary of findings from the Job & Task Analysis (JTA) research.
When working with the leaders of the change management profession in 2013 to create ACMP’s Standard for Change Management© we noticed the expansiveness of it. For example, many CEOs and everyone who reports to them are managing change all day long. Whether or not they call themselves change managers they are hip-deep every day in change management principles and practices. We would not say the same for the work completed for healthcare interpreters because most CEOs do not work in a healthcare situation and interpret two or more languages and cultures in life and death situations.
One lesson or takeaway for every CEO asking for a crystal ball is they might ask this one question: Who seems to be in the crystal ball business and might have one they can share with me?
There’s an association for everything, right? More than 92,000 trade and professional associations in the U.S. There’s probably a Competency Model and accompanying books, online courses and downloadable white papers for anyone who wants them for expansive areas such change management, human resource management, instructional design, and online training, and communications, just to name a few. Add to that the World Future Society and you can probably find a fellow CEO who says what they do involves a crystal ball—future forecasts and future models, all of the time.
Why do CEOs put together invitation-only Zoom sessions and mastermind groups? One reason is they have no time to waste playing games and want to get in a high-trust conversation with others like them, who will help them—creatively and without judging. Here’s some immediately useful information from the most recent 7 years in our firm’s 40-years as Go-To Guides for Leaders of Professions and Credentials Creators.
No matter how much you thought you knew about the CEO position before you stepped into it, many colleagues admit, in total confidence, nearly all experience these three feelings:
Even if I put that crystal ball on your desk today, did you want to know that much about the future? Instead, is your greater need to feel safe to innovate and try new things without negative thoughts—from yourself, mostly and then from others?
All of this points to why we created the Ultimate Guide for Recharting Your Business Path in April.
We started five weeks ago for these two reasons:
The situations at the moment are unprecedented. The frameworks to explore new options, ask better questions, and chart new paths to tomorrow, next week, next month, next year are with us now.
Think of the best, guided tour you ever had. The guide knew more about the subject, the territory than you and made you curious about going there. Going on the journey was your choice and commitment; so, amplifying and narration of that journey seemed like a smart way to navigate something new to you.
That’s why I show up as The Guide with the maps. That’s better than a consultant, advisor, or guru. That’s why I prefer you to speak up and participate. Where do you want to go? What do you want me to point out next? What have you always wondered about? What insights and context would you like, to add meaning to your choices and decisions?
About your Guide: I am a journalist, thinker, and writer—a normal person who worked through the struggles we all go through. I became a CEO and learned those three CEO feelings are all true. Like you, we want to know who we are, why we are here, and what living, being, working means for us. And we want to know that before we die. We know for sure that will happen and time is the one thing that we never get back. We can lose and regain health. We can lose and regain love. There are no “do-overs” on living.