What are the critical competencies needed to lead in our fast-changing business environment? This question was the focus of a study jointly conducted by the professional services firm Heidrick & Struggles and the University of Oxford Said Business School. The study was based on over 150 conversations with CEOs from a wide range of sectors around the world. Its findings were recently published in The CEO Report: Embracing the Paradoxes of Leadership and the Power of Doubt.
“Declining tenure rates and levels of public trust suggest that CEO leadership has not kept pace with increased expectations,…” notes the report in its opening paragraphs. “Indeed, the role of the CEO is becoming more complex as competing and increasingly vocal stakeholders permeate organizations.” Leading in today’s world requires new thinking: “past experience is no longer a reliable guide for future action… success as a CEO today hinges on continual growth in the role, even more than on the preparation beforehand.”
The key challenge confronting CEOs, - and senior executives in general, - is the relentless pace of change. But, while speed is the major dimension of change, it’s not the only one. Beyond speed, executives must also focus on scope and significance. They must carefully consider a few fundamental questions about each: