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5 New Year's Resolutions for the Modern CEO

The top New Year's Resolutions roundups typically include the same goals: Lose weight, get fit, drink less, and learn something new. Since the first three don't sound like much fun, I'd like to propose New Year's Resolutions for the Modern CEO who would like to learn something new.

A Modern CEO is a new breed of business leader that focuses on creating a business culture that's expansive, mapping social purpose to the creation of goods and services. This new CEO changes the way that we think about leadership, dealing with the forces of the Web, social responsibility and new technology, as well as the challenge of the crushing economy. In short, the Modern CEO has an opportunity to boldly change the course of modern business.

Here are 5 New Year's resolutions for the Modern CEO:

  1. I Will No Longer Fear My Investors. 2011 can be the year that CEOs start to plan for long term success and sustainability rather than trying to satisfy the unquenchable thirst for quarterly, short sighted profitability. The Triple Bottom Line is quickly becoming the ubiquitous measure of success, with a focus on People, Planet and Profits. Even if Wall Street continues to behave like it's New Year's Eve in Vegas, the Modern CEO knows that the world is changing. This year's CEOs must rise to the occasion to create sustainable business, and overcome their fear of the ugly investor.
  2. I Will Lead with Transparency. No seriously. For real this time. As Bank of America hires consultants to fend off exposure of an "eco-system of corruption" by Wikileaks, it should give the rest of the CEO universe pause to think about what would happen if their emails went public. Self-awareness and an internal moral compass have been in short supply in CEO profiles recently. 2011 is the year to put integrity back into business. It's time to introduce fish-bowl transparency into the C-Suite.
  3. I Will Embrace Social Media—It's high time for the Modern CEO to embrace social media. CEOs are discussed in online channels every day, and it is important to create an authentic voice that consumers know and trust. Truly, social media provides what CEOs need most and receive least—unfiltered feedback. Listen to what people are saying about your brand, your products, and you. You will learn things that your deputies won't tell you. You'll find out what makes your customer tick and what ticks them off.
  4. I Will Address Bonus and Compensation Disparity—In this day and age, there's no reasonable excuse that the average CEO compensation package is 400x the average employee salary. Walmart CEO Michael Duke makes the average worker annual salary every hour. Let's face it, you just aren't worth that much. We've now achieved such polarizing inequality that the wealthiest 1% of Americans possesses a greater collective net worth than the bottom 90%. Historically speaking, this is usually followed by a bloody revolution. Why not circumvent such an ending by initiating a voluntarily compensation reset this year? This resolution takes the most guts, but will go the farthest to instill confidence in employees, consumers and other stakeholders.
  5. I Will Demonstrate Better Leadership —This sounds obvious, but sometimes it's difficult to distinguish between running a company and leading a company. It is critical that Chief Executives have ambition for the success of their company, rather than just for themselves. With the exception of the finance industry, selflessness is in, unbridled greed is out. C-Suite decisions must be prioritized based on the good they bring to customers and employees first. Without those two pillars of corporate America, there is no company.

New Year's Resolutions are about reflecting on the past and taking corrective action for the future. As Modern CEOs, the best thing you can do is to make sure that the race to the top doesn't become a race to a bottom. While focusing on ever increasing profitability and reduction of expenses, make sure that your stewardship of the company does not lead to ruined environments, lost jobs and a broken society. We'd like to see American business reflect American culture as it used to be: innovative, optimistic, determined and strong. We would like to think that a few bold New Year's Resolutions can lead to big changes in the New Year.