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Every year, CEOs and other company leaders cite increasing revenue or acquiring new clients as their top priority. However, many overlook key changes that they need to focus on first in order for those goals to be viable. To succeed in 2017, the leadership team needs to start caring about these 5 priorities now.

1. Employee Development

Your employees are the lifeblood of your organization. They manage the day-to-day processes that keep your company running. However, a recent report from CareerBuilder reveals that over 21 percent of employees may be entertaining new job opportunities this year. That is an increase of 5 percent from last year. In 2017, it is crucial for company leaders to focus more on their employees, specifically on their development programs.
Last year, 41 percent of individuals reported that they wanted to better their career, and it’s doubtful that figure has changed in the last 12 months. It is crucial for companies to offer employees development tools and opportunities and challenge them in a healthy way that promotes their own personal growth and development.

2. Cyber Security

Security is no longer simply a concern for IT departments or third-party providers. Company leaders need to care about data security in 2017. In the past three years, the global cost of data breaches has broken record levels, according to the Ponemon Institute.
Plus, a cyber attack can be nearly impossible for companies to overcome. Organizations need to earn back the trust of employees, customers, clients, and others that may be affected by it, a feat that is impossible for most. Cyber security is a company-wide issue, and the entire executive team needs to be involved in training, planning, and responding to it.

3. Innovation and Transparency

Technology has completely transformed businesses today, and it will continue to change in the coming years. Advanced collaboration tools, social media, and data analytics have opened up more offices to a culture of innovation and transparency.
Employees and customers increasingly value a brand’s trust and honesty. In order to build that trust, companies need to show employees that they value the opinion of their constituents and to provide them with opportunities to share them.

4. Mobile Technology

More businesses are trading in their desktops for laptops and tablets.They are unplugging their meeting room cables and projectors and upgrading to wireless presentation solutions. Embracing mobile solutions in the workplace is one of the most important priorities for company executives this year. Based on a Harris Poll report, over 90 percent of IT leaders say enterprise mobility is a critical function to overall business performance. Both customers and employees want more mobile tools, and executives need to take notice.

5. Customer Experience

This year could be known as the “year of the customer”, according to several reports. A study by Accenture found that improving the customer experience is the top focus and motivator behind digital transformation. In the study, both B2C and B2B organizations named improving the online customer experience as one of their top priorities for the coming year.
Customers want their experience to be integrated seamlessly, whether it is in-person or through digital means. They also want it to be personalized for them. In order to meet new customer expectations, each member of the leadership team needs to get involved.
Ultimately, leadership teams want their businesses and their revenues to grow in 2017. When leaders start caring about things like customer experience and mobile technologies in the workplace, they will be more likely to reach those goals.
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A little professional development never hurt anyone, even the most senior of your staff! Sure, taking classes and studying for advanced degrees/certifications are great to build your skillset and resume. However, a little knowledge from the printed word can change your perspective on how you lead your team and advocate for your employees.
Here are 5 top books that CIO/CTOs should have on their bookshelves!
Work Rules by Laszlo Bock (Twelve)
Laszlo Bock is the Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google Inc. You may wonder why such a fancy title for someone that’s essentially in Human Resources? After reading Work Rules, it makes sense, Laszlo gives insights into how Google views Human Resources and how their goal is to promote growth and strength at all levels from senior leadership to the individual contributor. While all employers want the best quality employees, Google wants to bring in good people who connect with their mission with transparency and lifelong learning. The lessons learned from the book follow the humanistic approach that people are generally good, who want to do good and be good employees. Leaders should look into how their role not only is to harness that goodness but also promote it in and out of the office.
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek (Portfolio)
In his book, Start with Why, Simon Sinek introduces us the “Golden Circle” and how to connect people to our passions and our business. It’s about how to build trust and loyalty with your audience. In his latest book, Leaders Eat Last, he examines the team dynamic and the role of the leader in it. It discusses how trust and loyalty can grow internally within your organization. Leaders meant to set the tone, create the environment and provide guidance and motivation. In this digital age where works are both working in-house and remotely, this book explores how leaders can use their skills, drive and passion to create a positive work experience for all around them.
How to Look People in the Eye Digitally by Ted Rubin (Substantium)
If you’re not familiar with Ted Rubin (tedrubin.com), do a search on “Return on Relationship.” As leaders, we are all making investments in our company and our teams. To ensure the greatest return is communication. How to Look People in the Eye Digitally brings us back to basics in how we interact with each other offline as we should online. Successful leaders understand the art of conversation. It never hurts to brush up on style to better our interactions, whether one-to-one or one-to-many.
The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential by John C. Maxwell (Center Street)
John Maxwell shares stories of how individuals can unlock their potential to be leaders. The 5 Levels of Leadership gives insights into what makes for a good leader, focusing on the community surrounding him/her. The explanation of the levels explore how and why people connect to effective and successful people, which are noted as: 

  1. Position – People follow because they have to.
    2. Permission – People follow because they want to.
    3. Production – People follow because of what you have done for the organization.
    4. People Development – People follow because of what you have done for them personally.
    5. Pinnacle – People follow because of who you are and what you representLeadership doesn’t mean you stop learning. The professional development continues after the promotion or placement. Maxwell provides to the tools for everyone to understand what makes a leader and what it takes to grow as a leader.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey (Simon & Schuster)
This book is essential for anyone in a leadership/managerial role. Originally released in 1990, The 7 Habits… require the individual to change their perspective on the world, making the paradigm shift. It requires looking your personal belief system and actions and how they relate to the world in which you want to live. It’s not just about being your best self; it’s more about how you connect with the world through focus, direction and organization. Covey presents basic concepts that can help us make changes in small and big ways for personal and community growth.
These titles are just a few to add your personal library. There are many more to be read and shared to enhance and promote our skills to grow and improve as leaders, regardless of level. Have any titles you like to share? Post them in the comments!
Additional Reading
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