Over the past five to ten years or so, the C-Suite has become creative in its ranks. We have seen the development of the CIO the CMO and some companies have even implemented a CHRO, which I think is absolutely awesome! There is one executive that actively at work within every single organization. The sector doesn’t matter, the industry doesn’t matter and the governance structure doesn’t matter. That is the role of the CAO – Chief Attitude Officer.
This isn’t your typical executive role. It is an unpaid position and even if you don’t purposefully develop the role, it will develop on its own. When left alone, the CAO typically creates a toxic workplace and ends up costing you more money than not. Who is the usual culprit of this occasional organizational carnage? Culture.
The culture within your organization functions as an extra executive. It governs behavior, perception and performance. Culture dictates the direction things will take and usually has more influence than policies and procedures. How things are approached, processed and completed are all influenced by the attitude created through culture.
Attitude is emotionally charged and understanding that there is always an emotional response to culture is crucial to knowing what kind of attitude you can expect. It will influence the way work relationships develop and are managed. It has significant control over performance. Attitude plays a massive role in customer service. It touches every part of your organization and culture is what helps define it.
Here are some valuable ways to develop the CAO in your organization.
- Create a clear agenda – Even the best executives work even better with a bit of direction. Make it as easy as possible to be successful in this role. Being responsible for an entire organization is serious business, so the more support you can give the CAO the better off your organization will be.
- Communicate purpose – We all like to feel like we have a purpose, and when that purpose is noble and brings about some real good to a large group of people…well, that is when things really start to hum along. Make sure the role of the CAO has a specific purpose. Don’t just say it once and done. Keep the message of purpose going 24/7/365.
- Engage. Engage. Engage. – Just like everyone else in your organization, the CAO needs to be engaged in order to perform well. If this role is left to the side and only addressed when there are problems, you shouldn’t expect much in the way of performance. Attitude matters. Emotions matter and the CAO is the best person to get things moving in the right direction.
- Never give up. – This is one role you can’t outsource or make redundant. It is as crucial to the survival and flourishing of the organization as any of the other C-Suite roles. If you don’t fully understand the CAO, then learn to ask better questions. Whatever you do, don’t just ignore the CAO as if they are an inconvenience and just take too much time. Huge mistake!
What other suggestions can you offer to develop the CAO role (culture) in organizations?