What is the CEO’s obligation to help her C-Suite function as a team?
What is the obligation of the CEO in creating common language and a safe space for hard conversations, particularly when a company is facing difficult challenges? How can other members of the team support the CEO in setting “rules” to help the group communicate more honestly and make better decisions?
It is critical that the CEO set the tone for the organization and create an environment of open dialogue without fear of consequences or reprimand. I've seen situations in companies where the CEO was used as a shield or excuse for hiding results or information, ultimately to the disadvantage of the business. The best CEO's have a friendly rapport with all levels of employees, not just the senior team, and show it by being available and regularly circulating amongst the workforce. This fosters more informal relationships and opens dialogue. Senior management can facilitate this philosophy by inviting the CEO to interact with staffs, whether at a group meeting, a corporate sponsored event, or even at an extracurricular activity that is perhaps endorsed by the company (e.g. a 10K Run).
I'm a firm believer that the CEO's actions are a significant driver to an organization's culture. And the healthier the culture, the happier the staff and the higher probability for business success.