Being the CEO of an LSP: What Does It Take?

by | Aug 11, 2020

Google is known for being attentive to human resource and knows a thing or two on what the main skills and qualities of a good CEO should be. In 2008 the Mountain View company decided to conduct a research on this topicProject Oxygen. 

Project Oxygen analyzed the distinctive traits of the most competent managers, which were then included in management training programs. After a while, Project Oxygen paid off, as in the next few years Google saw a clear improvement in turnover, satisfaction, and employee performance. 

That was 2008. Things move fast and change, though, especially within sectors that rely heavily on technology, like the translation and localization industry. So, let’s look at the present moment: What makes for a good CEO of a language service provider in 2020 and the coming years? How can you prepare yourself for the role? What advice would you give to future CEOs in the translation and localization industry?  

To answer these question, Wordbee set things up for a live discussion and we invited four CEOs of big and mid-sized translation and localization companies active in Europe and in the US. We asked them to share their experiences of what makes a great CEO - our very own Project Oxygen in a nutshell. Here are the highlights of the discussion.

CEOs are made, not born

First of all, all four experts advised to keep one important thing in mind: there is no natural-born CEO, and nobody becomes a great CEO overnight. You need to build your role step by step—just as much as your company—with a combination of hard work and perseverance.

You should be prepared to learn from experience, which means being willing to cover different roles and positions. Starting from the base and working your way to the top will definitely help.

It’s important to draw on other CEOs’ ideas and experiences. Surround yourself with people who act with your same spirit and values but who can challenge you when necessary. Study their work to find the necessary inspiration to develop your entrepreneurial, personal, and interpersonal leadership skills. Attending events and joining industry initiatives are great ways to keep up to date with the latest trends as well as to meet like-minded people.

Flexibility is at the core of all leadership styles

As we all have learned in the first half of 2020, things can change slowly and then suddenly. As a CEO of a translation and localization company, you have to be prepared to adapt to all kinds of circumstances, adverse or otherwise. Learn to act quickly and effectively in certain situations. In turbulent times, don’t be afraid to change strategy to make your company future-proof.

Growth strategy requires a vision

If you want to ensure the success of your translation and localization company, you need to analyze its evolution and development from different perspectives as well as assess, monitor, and minimize risks.

You will need to refine different strategies, identify opportunities and be ready to solve problems with innovative solutions. Overcoming challenges means paving the way to your goals. 

Delegation is not abdication

… and it doesn’t mean evading responsibility either. As a CEO, you’re leading a team of specialists, with different skills and experience. Rely on your ability to delegate to your team all questions that you yourself don’t have the expertise to answer and solve. Trust your team’s competences. This way you will be able to devote your time to tackle other equally or more important challenges, such as devising and implementing business strategies.

Keep in mind that you are nothing without your team and that teamwork is necessary for your company to achieve the desired goals. If needed, ask your team’s opinion and reward the efforts they make.

Hiring is a team effort

As a CEO, it’s hard to resist the temptation of always being directly involved in staff recruitment and instead delegating this task to others. After all, choosing people is a delicate task: You want to create a team of professionals capable to work at their best.

Hiring requires a whole series of elements to be considered. First of all, the professionalism and skills of the people involved. They must be able to fulfill all job requirements. But this may not be enough: the human aspect must also be assessed. 

A candidate with fewer skills but determined to grow and improve may prove a winner when compared to an established professional with little enthusiasm and flexibility.

So, when it comes to recruiting, pick your HR manager carefully and let him/her do his/her job; or, if you are eager to run it yourself, listen to your vendor managers, project managers and localization managers. Involve them in the selection process.

Remember that the top quality of a great CEO lies in the ability to surround themselves with a solid, qualified, and reliable (management) team, to leverage their employees’ talents and help them succeed. This is the only way to move the company forward.

You can watch the video recording of the panel webinar “What does it take to be a successful CEO of an LSP” here. Make sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter for updates about upcoming events, and interesting localization content.

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