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CEOs' Top Challenges - Leaders Aren't Ready

By Rich Wellins, Ph.D.

Richard S. Wellins, Ph.D.

Each year, The Conference Board surveys more than 1,000 CEOs around the globe with the aim of gaining a better understanding of their top challenges. And every other year, DDI conducts its Global Leadership Forecast. Thanks to our partnership with both The Conference Board and ATD, the 2014|2015 Forecast sampled an astounding 13,124 leaders, spanning 2,031 organizations, across 28 countries.

This year, for the first time, we married some of the data from both reports. Out of a list of ten challenges, human capital was at the top of what’s keeping CEOs up at night. For two years running, customer relationships came in second, continuing to rise in importance. Third was a tie between innovation and operational excellence.  While the order of challenges may vary a bit from region to region, these four consistently take the top spots. It’s fitting, of course, that human capital tops the list. Why? Because the other three challenges depend heavily on the quality of talent as well! Innovation does not happen without the talent to both create and bring new ideas to market. Customer relationships, of course, depend totally on people staying close to customers to design and deliver their organization’s products and services. And, it would be fair to say operational excellence is related to people excellence.

In joining the data from the two reports, we set out to look at the degree to which leaders felt they had to tackle each of the ten challenges. The graphic below lists the challenges in the order ranked by CEOs. For the top four, we listed the percentage of leaders who indicated they were very prepared to address these challenges. Only about one in four of the 13,124 leaders who participated felt up to the challenge. In fact, there were never more than 50 percent of leaders prepared to handle any of the challenges! The implication: Expect CEOs to have many more sleepless nights until they develop leaders with the right skill set to succeed them!

CEO's Top Challenges - Leaders Aren't Ready

We urge you to download a copy of the Global Leadership Forecast. In it, you’ll discover an array of proven practices to drive leadership readiness in your organization.

Rich Wellins, Ph.D., is a senior vice president at DDI.

Posted: 13 Oct, 2014,

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