Why CHROs are the new C-Suite power players




By Lindsey Galloway


This is the first in Chief’s new series, The New C-Suite, which examines how rapidly-shifting workplace norms and technologies have impacted today’s top corporate power players — and what it means for executive women.

What do Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, Leena Nair, CEO of Chanel, and Anne Mulcahy, former CEO of Xerox, all have in common? They all once served as HR leaders. Once relegated to the sidelines, HR and People leaders have become a pivotal part of the C-Suite, especially as remote work, ‘quiet’ hiring and firing trends, DEI initiatives, and other talent management functions have taken center stage in the corporate landscape.

According to data firm AON, the failure to attract and retain top talent comes in as the fourth largest risk to organizations today, a huge jump when compared to previous years when it didn’t even rank in the top 10. The need for an executive leader to manage that talent continues to grow, with 473 of the Fortune 500 having a Chief Human Resource Officer, and the role seeing a growth in average salary as well.

The function also continues to be dominated by women. Spencer Stuart research found that 70% of CHRO roles in the Fortune 500 are held by women, trailing only Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer for sheer representation. Since the role interfaces closely with the CEO and every other department, the CHRO offers essential experience on the way to the corner office.

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High-Stakes Leadership: How CEOs Navigate Critical Decisions




by Simone Olbert, executive coach, and Natalia Karelaia , INSEAD


Strategies to help leaders make better, more confident decisions under pressure.

Imagine you are a CEO immersed in deep thought alone in your office. You need to make a high-stakes decision by the end of the week. You are under intense time pressure and feel that there is no single good choice. If you make a mistake, the result could be detrimental, both for the company and its external stakeholders. 

How would you approach such a difficult decision? Would you trust your gut, the data or both? What would be your guiding principles? Who would you involve in the decision-making process? Who do you trust enough to openly share your thoughts and emotions with? How can you gain more clarity about the right choice before it’s too late?

Leaders often find themselves at a critical juncture – be it deciding on major investmentsor the future of the company, handling mergers and acquisitions, responding to critical client issues or navigating organisational changes and crises. These situations demand not only strategic foresight but also the ability to manage stress and conflicting interests under pressure.

Common challenges of decision-making

A recent study we conducted provides insights into how leaders navigate high-stakes decisions. We asked 111 CEOs to share their experiences using both online questionnaires and interviews. The findings shed light on the personal and organisational hurdles that executives face when making difficult choices and highlight effective strategies to cope withdecision-making challenges.

The study participants spanned a diverse professional spectrum, and two-thirds had held a CEO position at least twice. Geographically, they were mainly based in Europe and Asia, with others spread across North America, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and South America. The companies they helmed ranged from small enterprises with annual revenues under €1 million to large conglomerates bringing in over €1 billion. Such diversity provided a rich backdrop for understanding the complex challenges of high-stakes decision-making in different business environments.   

The CEOs highlighted several personal challenges they faced when making crucial decisions. A significant number were concerned about striking the right balance between intuitive judgment and analytical thinking. Psychological pressure and the impact of personal biases also emerged as common issues, with many leaders fearing that their emotions could cloud their judgment.

Underlying organisational challenges were equally daunting. Over 65 percent cited balancing competing stakeholder interests as one of the most complex aspects of decision-making, while over 60 percent said that unpredictable market conditions and a lack of reliable data further complicated the process. Other factors included resistance to change within companies, a misalignment among the members of their decision-making team and difficulties with balancing risk and reward.

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How To Master A Mock Interview In Any Industry




by Caroline Castrillon


Mock interviews, or practice interviews, aren’t just for students. In fact, a mock interview can benefit anyone at any experience level. Why? Because interview processes, tools and etiquette change over time.

A mock interview allows you to have a dress rehearsal where you can focus on building confidence, learning (or honing) interview skills and receiving valuable feedback. Also, it’s an increasingly competitive job market—especially for the technology industry. After mass layoffs, technical interviews are more grueling than ever. So, if you want to be well-prepared and stand out from the crowd, a mock interview is a great way to do it.

A mock interview is a practice session that simulates the interaction you would have with the actual interviewer. It can be conducted virtually or in person with a friend, mentor or former colleague. Preferably, choose an interviewer you trust who has industry-specific knowledge and experience. That way, the feedback you receive will be more objective, insightful and actionable.

The key to a successful practice interview is doing your homework. Here’s a guide to help you prepare so you can increase your chances of landing the ideal role.

Do Your Research
Mock interviews are most helpful if you treat them as seriously as the actual interview. In preparation, research the company to familiarize yourself with its goals, values and mission statement. Learn about the company culture and its competitive differentiators. Helpful information sources include the corporate website, social media sites, press releases and news articles. Use LinkedIn to find current employees who are willing to share information on what it’s like to work there. Remember, job interviews are a two-way street. So, as you conduct research, write down any questions you’d like to ask.

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Collaboration Requires Proximity – But It Doesn’t Have to Be Physical






by Manuel Sosa, INSEAD, and Massimo Maoret, IESE Business School



Even when colleagues are not in the same office, strong social ties can bridge the gap.

The future of work is undoubtedly hybrid. Major corporations from Apple to Zoom now require employees to be in the office two or three days a week, citing the benefits of face-to-face collaboration and culture building. Indeed, traditional thinking suggests that being physically close leads to better communication and collaboration.

Our recent research reinforces this idea, but also shows that social closeness (strong direct and indirect connections) can offset a lack of physical proximity. Namely, we found that when people are physically close, the need for strong social bonds is less crucial; conversely, strong social connections can compensate for physical distance. In other words, physical proximity and social closeness can substitute for each other.

Putting proximity to the test

In our study, we took advantage of the relocation of a global pharmaceutical company’s regional offices to conduct a quasi-natural experiment. The offices, located in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, were moved to new sites in the same cities. The new offices had an open-floor layout and hot desk policy where employees did not have assigned workspaces. 

We asked employees to identify their contacts at work, the nature of their relationships with those contacts and their work styles. We also collected data on the location of each employee’s desk before and after the relocation.

We examined whether changes in physical distance and social networks before and after the move were associated with changes in collaboration effectiveness. Our findings revealed that both physical and social proximity were positively correlated with collaboration effectiveness. 

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How CEOs Can Master The Labor Jigsaw Puzzle




by Anne Lackey


When I think about our tight labor market, I return to the puzzles I love to solve on our kitchen table. It takes such attention to snap it all together, but I love the challenge.

Today’s CEOs face a grand, complex labor jigsaw, and the pieces keep changing shape. Just when we think we’ve figured it out, we see gaps we can’t fill. And this puzzle is bearish.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects major demographic shifts already impacting the job market. Baby Boomers, the generation that has been the backbone of our workforce for decades, are retiring en masse. Gen Z is entering the workforce, but they don’t have the numbers to fill the void left by the exiting Boomers. The labor force participation rate, which measures the percentage of the working-age population that is either employed or actively seeking employment, has been on a downward trend for years. In 2000, it was at 67.3 percent, but by 2022, it had dropped to 62.2 percent. And it’s expected to keep dropping, with projections suggesting it could fall to 60.4 percent by 2032. We’re talking about millions of workers just vanishing from the job market.

But it’s not just a numbers game. There’s a qualitative shift happening, too. As more of the population ages, we’ll see a huge demand for healthcare workers. The surge in demand for healthcare services will pull even more people out of other industries. It’s like trying to complete a puzzle when the pieces keep disappearing right before your eyes. Continue reading