The concept itself is subjective, subject specific and dependent on subject position. It varies according to the event, the challenge and the context. It means different things in different situations, in good times and bad, in big and small businesses and in early-stage and mature organizations.
What seems to bind these factors is a common description: the exertion of influence to optimize the efforts of others in order to reach a collective goal. It is at the heart of what we seek as we understand the importance of leadership excellence.
In assessing the nominees this year for our annual BC CEO Awards, it was evident there are in our midst many more leaders than prizes to recognize them.
That is a reflection of the riches we enjoy. The depth of expertise and experience is formidable. The narrative of operational growth and improvement is extensive. The dividend of sophisticated and innovative leadership is evident.
Our 2019 winners – three women, three men – represent the range of business leadership as a composite sketch of the economy of British Columbia. They hold titles in companies small and large, in profitable and not-for-profit sectors and as entrepreneurs and stewards of business.
What makes for a winning CEO?
By the time our judges convened in August to choose the winning entries, we had already spent time in the days and weeks prior evaluating the nominations of dozens of CEOs in six categories: Enterprise (revenues of at least $500 million), Large Company ($100 million to $500 million), Mid-Market Company ($50 million to $100 million), Small Firm ($10 million to $50 million), Not-for-Profit and Public Service.
It is never easy to find the leader among leaders. It might sound like a cliché, but the competition is tough and getting tougher each year.
What we weighed went beyond financial performance (although that cannot be bypassed) into many of the so-called softer skills of leadership, and in this regard we depend on the nomination forms, the letters of support, the evident commitment of time and resources, and the reputations and accomplishments of leaders and their organizations.
These leaders need to be developing leaders of tomorrow, need to be innovating and not just operating, need to be demonstrating a defined social responsibility in the markets they serve, and need to balance the immediacy of results with the importance of sustainability in what they do.
The tall order is, obviously, no small matter. But it surprises me each time to see how many make the case credibly and require that the judges apply their own leadership skills to find the best choices in the circumstances. It ought to make us proud to have such excellence available and in our service, just as it should make clear to those who don’t win one year that there is always a next year to apply.
I want to thank the many judges in this and other years for making this such a respected event. We are honoured to be associated with such leadership. •
Kirk LaPointe is editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media. •