About this time every year for the last four years I have sent out a two question survey to over 200 CEO’s. These are senior leaders not only in my own network but across all of our consultants networks also. This year (as he did last year) our business partner John Spence also sent the survey through his US & global network of US based Chief Executives and business experts.
The results of this survey are a barometer of how senior business leaders are feeling & what they are facing in todays dynamic business environment. As you can imagine a huge amount of information was provided and it took some time to distil the information & to identify the patterns. Here are the results of this years survey;
Question 1: What were the three biggest leadership lessons you learnt in 2016?
- Change is constant & becoming even more so. This has increased the need to make faster decisions & to effect change faster. An interesting pattern was that some felt that resistance to change within their company can actually be due to ambiguity i.e. the lack of clarity on what needs to change which can result in people resisting the change.
- The culture of the company is a critical success factor. Many felt there was a need to act fast to preserve the culture, there was a need to have a culture of high trust between those in the team. It was important to attract & retain people who fit the culture of the company on the team. A culture of coaching & teaching team members to get better in their role was an emerging trend.
- Effective communication is critical to success. It needs to be clear & simple. Issues arising need to be confronted with urgency.
Question 2: What are the three biggest challenges you will face in 2017?
- Leading in continuing change and managing the tempo/pace of this change. Leading “culture” change as companies look to change how they do things. The challenge of proactively staying ahead of change rather than being reactive to it.
- Staying profitable whilst navigating the uncertainty created by ongoing change, global influences, political uncertainty and the impact of global markets.
- Understanding what clients really need. Understanding the opportunities in the market. The challenge of standing out as a brand and getting cut through with important marketing messages.
As you can see there are some big themes around the challenge of leading in ongoing change & the impact this has on culture and profitability. Without question the modern CEO is a change leader and this will be a continuing trend as disruption and complexity increases over the coming years.
Those leaders who are constantly up skilling themselves, keeping abreast of the emerging technology, building resilient leaders within their company will be able execute and thrive in the future. Those who fail to adapt fast enough will not do as well, if they survive at all.
You can look back on last years results (and previous years) to compare trends by clicking this link.
It has been a busy and exciting year to lead in business and there will be no shortage of challenge in 2017. I write this in Atlanta as I wait for my return flight to New Zealand having just spent some time working with clients in Florida and New York. The world is now a very complex & connected place – connected by technology, systems, relationships and markets.
The role of a leader is to lead change with certainty and we look forward to continuing to support our clients as their Strategic Execution Partners as they seek to simplify their business.
I wish you a Happy New Year.