Strategic Partner and Stakeholder Champion - Lloyd Emerson Johnson

Lloyd Johnson has reinvented the role of strategic partner and stakeholder champion by effectively evaluating all corners of a business. This strategy has enabled him to create value-driven businesses that are strong operationally, technologically, and financially. As an independent board member and board consultant, Lloyd thinks across disciplines, business functions, cultures, and scenarios. We have been in conversation with Lloyd about his experiences in the business world.

This is part three of the conversation we had with Lloyd.

You are being perceived as both a strategic partner and a stakeholder champion, giving you a versatile perspective of an organization. Can you talk about that dual role and why that is a rather unique combination of expertise?

“These are very synergistic skills that work together to bring tremendous value to the boardroom. As board members, our oversight responsibilities demand that we leverage our best thinking with insight and foresight to enable prudent judgment and decision making. Strategic-level thinking with stakeholders in mind is essential to this process.

“Recent events have shown that strategic thinkers help companies avoid “boiling frog” scenarios where the competitive environment may be changing around them while they are content with the status quo to the point of complacency. We have seen many instances this decade where companies failed to adopt the digital technologies that were essential to continued success and failed to make the shift to online sales until it was too late. Having a strategic thinking partner who can step back, scan the operating environment, the horizon, and look at potentially disruptive changes and competitive threats is a tremendous benefit to executives who are focused on running the business and maintaining the earnings for the quarter or year.

“The expectations of corporations are evolving, and in a Darwinian sense, we have to adjust to the new realities to stay relevant. For the first time in this country, we are beginning to see a seismic shift in the way that corporate leaders think about stakeholders and their long-term value to the corporation. This does not diminish our fiduciary historical shareholder support roles but, in essence, broadens the way leaders think about responsibilities and the benefits of including all significant stakeholders in major decisions. This includes employees, the communities where we operate, vendors within our supply chain, and, importantly, customers. To me, this is not new as corporations in my orbit have always valued and nurtured these important relationships — this is especially true in the international arena. If you step back and think about it, you quickly realize that the long-term value and survival of most organizations depend on these stakeholders. And, if managed properly, everyone benefits.

“In the corporate world, we are playing a long game whether we realize it or not — profitable long-term survival or longevity is crucial. Creating long-term shareholder value is our ultimate goal and, although CEOs work diligently to optimize quarterly and annual TSR and ROIC, the real objective remains sustainability and long-term profitability. Hence, when you view the stakeholder and strategic interests with a long-term lens, the curves actually converge and there is little difference between the two.

“A board member with a strategic partner mindset can stimulate discussions on issues around competitive awareness, leap-frogging threats, disruptive industry forces, and stakeholder value. In light of these factors, future-focused boards will continue to recognize and embrace the powerful combination of strategic focus and stakeholder values.”

Great talking to you, Lloyd. Thanks for sharing.

You can listen to part 1 of the conversation with Lloyd here.

You can listen to part 2 of the conversation with Lloyd here.

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