Seven skills needed for tomorrow's CEOFollow @PwC
As the New Year unfolds, I can’t help thinking about the challenging environment business leaders around the world are facing in 2015. Crude oil has fallen by more than 50% over the last few months. Market prospects in key geographies have ebbed and flowed from positive to negative - with Japan, Greece, Brazil and Russia amongst the most unpredictable investment markets. And risks on the horizon seem to be increasing. These are just a few examples of the volatility we’ve seen over the past few months.
If you’re like me - and took a short break to spend time with family over the winter holiday - you may also have been surprised at just how much can change in the world within a few days (especially when you consider the surreal cyber attacks that took place on media companies). The business outlook, when I got back to the office, felt like an entirely new ball-game!
This acceleration in the speed of change makes me to wonder just how business leaders keep up with the changing geopolitical outlook, fickle consumer preferences, new risks and new competitors? Leaders of successful businesses in 2015 are going to need a ‘Super CEO’ at the helm!
In our forthcoming Annual Global CEO Survey, we asked CEOs what capabilities tomorrow’s leaders will need to succeed in this evolving business environment. According to their responses, the CEO of tomorrow will need to possess the following skills:
1. An ability to see around corners - a number of CEOs mentioned the need to identify trends early (avoiding temporary hype) and stay ahead of the fast-moving competitive landscape.
2. Tolerance for ambiguity - many said tomorrow’s leaders need a constant readiness for changing business dynamics and an ability to work towards unclear goals and outcomes.
3. Agility in decision-making - being flexible-minded and a curious life-long learner who’s open to testing and measuring new ways of doing things was the message from many others.
4. Adaptability in execution - the most often-mentioned response was adaptability – the power to drive near-constant renewal inside their organisation.
5. At ease with technology - CEOs told us that technology plays an important role - both as an accelerator of change, and as the key tool at their disposal to remain agile, to adapt to changing circumstances, and to stay close to consumers and influencers.
6. Surrounded by a great team - CEOs must have talented staff in place to compete in the marketplace. The ability to attract great people was one aspect, but being able to cultivate a positive culture with a happy workforce, centred around trust with staff, was also key. One respondent felt that, “A CEO must always surround himself with people better than him.”
The seventh capability was a bit of a surprise and mentioned by a good number of CEOs from across geographies and sectors - and that was ‘humility’. The CEOs naming this capability said it was important to maintain a modest opinion of your own importance and be open to listening and learning from all that’s happening in the global environment. And, of course, humility highlights the importance of CEOs knowing the limits of their own 'superpowers'.
I think Denise Ramos, Chief Executive Officer and President of ITT Corporation, sums up the challenge for today’s leaders rather nicely in this video clip:
Not an easy task for any one individual…
So, we’ve heard from our CEOs, but we’d also love to hear from you. What skills do you think tomorrow’s leaders need to be successful? Share your thoughts in the 'comments' section below – or join the discussion on Twitter using #CEOSurvey. You can also follow the conversation on PwC's pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
Welcome to the challenges of 2015!
Suzanne is Programme Director for PwC's Annual Global CEO Survey and Global Director of Thought Leadership at PwC. She has a passion for scanning the horizon for the latest trends and issues which impact global business and pilots PwC's network of thought leaders engaging in the creation, development and presentation of PwC's research and insights.
Our 18th Annual Global CEO Survey, which launches on the 20th January 2015, will reveal more about the capabilities that CEOs are using to compete in a volatile competitive environment. Sign up here to join the webcast of the live launch of the survey from the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.