Corporate Eye

What’s On The Minds of CEOs (Part 2)

This post will outline two more CEOs surveys —

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers’(PWC) “11th Annual Global CEO Survey”
  • The Center For Creative Leadership’s “Ten Trends”


In an increasingly connected world, what differentiates the business that thrives from that which merely survives? Our 11th Annual Global CEO Survey explores the impact of global connectivity on the sources of growth and risk, the way in which companies work and their relations with their stakeholders.

The evolving pattern

In last year’s CEO Survey, CEOs told us that the competitive landscape and nature of value creation were undergoing fundamental changes. Three trends, in particular, were transforming the way in which organisations operate:

Globalisation: the increasingly borderless nature of capital, labour, goods, services and information;

Connectivity: new, IT-enabled forms of collaboration, including supply chain networks and flexible webs of employees and contractors; and

Community: the growing emphasis on integration of a business with its neighbours, investors, regulators and other stakeholders.

CEOs continued to stress the importance of people – both for the skills they bring and for the strategic role they play in the dynamics of change. They also acknowledged that the war for talent is fierce, and getting fiercer as demand for the best people becomes increasingly globalised. Our 11th Annual Global CEO Survey drills more deeply into some of these issues. It examines what the ‘connected world’ – as we have called it – means for businesses today.

The complete survey can be downloaded here.

Center for Creative Leadership

Trend 1: The Rise of Complex Challenges
Nearly 92 percent of the executives surveyed believe the challenges their organizations face are more complex than they were just five years ago.

Trend 2: The Innovation Revolution
Though our organizations grow in different ways, there is no topic that is providing more fuel to that fire than innovation. Everywhere you turn, organizations from Google to Apple to Honda are looking for the next big thing.

Trend 3: The Art of Virtual Leadership
As globalization increases, organizations are continually asked to bridge cultural, geographical and functional boundaries effectively and efficiently.

Trend 4: Collaboration Nation
Collaboration has been talked about in business circles for years, but few strategies have been put forth to accomplish it effectively. However, in a complex, global environment and with new technology, collaboration is becoming a central part of our work as leaders. Collaborative Strategies, which promotes collaborative technology, claims that over 1,000 companies are focusing on collaborative practices and the number is growing daily.

Trend 5: The World of Interruption
Our research with senior executives shows that they often are interrupted about every half hour. Some executives say they are interrupted every five minutes, while some say never. The difference in the self-reported data and observational data begs the question: Do we even realize when we are interrupted in this age of information overload?

Trend 6: Authenticity Is the Next Celebrity
Many people feel as though they lead dual lives, switching identities between work and home and conforming to the expectations of others. Others, however, are able to be authentic in both contexts. Do executives struggle with this same issue? Nearly 90 percent of the 247 executives surveyed say that in their role as a senior leader, they present their authentic self to others. In other words, the vast majority of leaders are able to do their job without compromising their values, beliefs, or personality.

Trends 7 & 8: The Fallout from the Baby Boom
The 2000 U.S. Census estimated that the baby boomer generation is comprised of nearly 83 million individuals who would start leaving the workforce in about four years. What would this mass exodus mean to organizations? When asked to rank the expertise that is most likely to be lost if their tenure ended tomorrow, 30 percent of 132 leaders selected institutional vision, followed by knowledge, external personal networks, internal personal networks, skills and historical context.

Trend 9: Leadership for Longevity
Research shows that effective leadership and regular exercise are strongly linked. Executives who exercise are rated significantly higher by their coworkers on their leadership effectiveness than non-exercisers. In addition to the health benefits, exercisers score better than non-exercisers in all leadership categories including organization, credibility, leading others and authenticity (European CEO, December 2006).

Trend 10: What’s Next?
When asked to identify a trend they see emerging in leadership, 112 executives mentioned 21 different trends, including everything from internationalization (9 percent) to internal alignment (6 percent). But the trend most often mentioned is the shift from an autocratic style to one that’s more participative. Leaders predict that future success will depend on the ability to be collaborative and to focus on the team rather than the individual. Leaders also note the trend towards instant gratification. Employees are becoming less patient, less company-centric, more mobile and more interested in near-term tangible rewards.

Download 10 Trends.


Seems that the Cs have it — Change, Customer, Collaboration, Community, Credibility are some common themes along with Globalization and talent management.

Dealing with rapid change is the overarching theme. Businesses have always had to deal with change but the surveys indicate that the pace of change is much faster than the past. When combined with complexity, CEOs are struggling to find effective approaches to deal with change. For more of our thoughts on this see some of our posts

Customers relationship and engagement is another key CEO issue. Customers, after all, are the reason you are in business. See our thoughts.

Collaboration and community are also on CEOs’ minds. Collaboration involves both internal and external stakeholders. In addition, CEOs are increasingly becoming aware of their social responsibility. We have addressed these topics in a number of our posts.

Globalisation continues as a key issue for many CEOs as geographic boundaries are breached. It is encouraging to see that many CEOs are finally realizing the value of their people and have something to say about this topic.

This is not an end but hopefully a channel for a continuing dialog on these and emerging issues.

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Ed Konczal has an MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business (with distinction). He has spent the last 10 years as an executive consultant focusing on human resources, leadership, market research, and business planning. Ed has over 10 years of top-level experience from AT&T in the areas of new ventures and business planning. He is co-author of the book "Simple Stories for Leadership Insight," published by University Press of America.