What does a CEO want?

FreudIt seems that we are always guessing what CEOs want. Even the Mentalist would be hard-pressed to figure out some of the inscrutable things they say.

“Transparency” may have climbed to the top of most organizations’ list of core values, but CEOs remain difficult to read. What do they see that we don’t? What keeps them up at night?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a PRSA-NCC workshop I attended on social media. Presenter Anthony Shop of Social Driver mentioned a Conference Board survey of CEOs that ranked what global business leaders are concerned about these days.

That piqued my interest, so I decided to track down the survey and take a closer look. It’s a pretty darn good snapshot of what’s on the minds of CEOs. It may not explain everything your CEO is thinking about, but it could help you strike up a conversation the next time you see her in the lunchroom or get stuck with him on the elevator.

So here are the Cliff Notes of this year’s Conference Board CEO challenges. Below are the top four challenges, followed by the top five strategies CEOs said they will employ to meet those challenges.

I think you will see an interesting pattern. If there is a theme song this year, it might be “People” from the Broadway musical “Funny Girl.”

1) Human Capital

  1. Grow talent internally
  2. Provide employee training and development
  3. Raise employee engagement
  4. Improve performance management processes and accountability
  5. Increase efforts to retain critical talent

2) Operational excellence

  1. Raise employee engagement and productivity
  2. Focus on reduction of baseline costs
  3. Break down internal silos
  4. Continual improvement (six sigma, total quality, etc.)
  5. Seek better alignment between strategy, objectives and organizational capabilities

3) Innovation

  1. Apply new technologies (product, process, information, etc.)
  2. Engage in strategic alliances with customers, suppliers and/or other business partners
  3. Find, engage and incentivize key talent for innovation
  4. Create culture of innovation by promoting and rewarding entrepreneurship and risk taking
  5. Develop innovation skills for all employees

4) Customer relationships

  1. Enhance quality of products/services
  2. Sharpen understanding of customer/client needs
  3. Engage personally with key customer/clients
  4. Increase speed of products and services to market
  5. Use competitive intelligence to better understand customer/client needs
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2 Responses to What does a CEO want?

  1. Steve Reynolds says:

    Great post, Jay!! This blog indeed applies to all groups, whether it be business, social or religious. Churches are constantly trying to search these principles to recruit and develop existing talent.
    Good job . . . . Great read . . . .

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