Looking for something / We can rely on / There’s gotta be something better out there / Love and compassion / Their day is coming / All else are castles built in the air.
Tina Turner was prescient. It’s clear that the complexities of business will extrapolate. The superhero CEOs of the past – experienced, all-knowing, iconic leaders like Jack Welch and Steve Jobs – remain inspirational, not least because they demonstrated qualities which are timeless: curiosity, candour, judgement, and picking the right people.
But it’s interesting to note the shift in the last decade. In IBM’s CEO Study reports, the 2010 document already tracked the importance of qualities such as fairness, humility, openness, and a focus on sustainability – but at low ratings, just above 10%; the key attribute for the five years ahead was deemed to be creativity. The latest, 2021 report highlights the paramount need for CEOs to lead with purpose and mission, and to engage employees.
Netflix and its CEO Reed Hastings might point to the importance of both – a focus on creativity and purpose – as key to their extraordinary success over the past fifteen years. And Netflix may attribute at least some of its phenomenal success – 2020 revenues at $25 billion – to a strategy of diversity, including at leadership level. Nine of its 22 directors or senior leadership are women; some occupy perhaps the most crucial roles for continuing global expansion and growth: programming is led by Bela Bajaria as Head of Global TV, and Maria Ferreras is the company’s Global Head of Partnerships.
Bajaria, in particular, has driven a deliberate ‘inclusion lens’ in its production commissioning, and an insistence on gender equality in lead roles. Interestingly, women also occupy leadership roles in driving content and regional franchises at Viacom, Disney, Amazon Studios and HBO. Netflix may be a forerunner, but there’s a trend here: