10 Key Challenges for CEOs in 2013
"It has never been more difficult to be a CEO," says Leadership Advisor
Stephen Miles, CEO of The Miles Group
NEW YORK, Dec. 19, 2012
NEW YORK, Dec. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- It's never been a more difficult time
to be a CEO," says Stephen Miles, founder and chief executive of The Miles
Group, which advises top CEOs and boards globally. "With 2013 around the
corner, corporate leaders are facing some of the most challenging times of
their careers. Companies' unprecedented exposure on the regulatory and
reputational fronts requires that CEOs get in and manage a lot of this
themselves, in addition to providing inspiring leadership in the face of so
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10 Key Challenges for 2013
Mr. Miles identifies some of the top challenges for CEOs in the coming year:
1.Stakeholder overload – "When you talk to global CEOs and ask them what has
been the biggest surprise in the role, one of the top responses is
'stakeholder overload.' Stakeholder groups have become very powerful; in
recent years, governments, NGOs, regulators, and special interest groups
(e.g., advocates in the environmental, climate change, sustainability,
food safety, fighting obesity, and occupational health & safety arenas;
Occupy movements) have taken to the 'open microphone' and people are
listening. Companies can no longer send just a representative to address
these groups – stakeholders want to interact only with the CEO. Mass
movements are overthrowing governments likedominos,and expect the heat
to continue to be turned up with global CEOs and their brands."
2.Board engagement – "A primary message to CEOs is that 'you get the board
you deserve.' Boards continue to be more involved and aggressive as it
relates to transparency, company performance, and the interface with their
CEO. Many boards are taking a much stronger leadership position and
getting on the front-foot as it relates to the discharge of
theirfiduciary duties. CEOs who believe they can be 'imperial' or somehow
dismissive – behaving as if their board is a'necessaryevil' – are going
to have a shocking wake-up call. CEOs must really invest in these
relationships at the one-on-one level as well as with the collective."
3."License to operate" – "A 'social license to operate' was once a term
referring specifically to the regulatory approval required for petroleum
and mining companies to operate in primarily developing countries, but the
need for a 'license to operate' is now true in Western economies as well –
and across a broad scope of industries and retail operations. Governments
and regulatory bodies are using regulations to impose themselves on
companies, and consumers are using their own forms of pressure – dictating
what companies can and cannot do in their markets. New rules in the
banking sector since the financial crisis, for example, have changed
banks' business model, upending everything from investing options to fees
they can charge customers. Businesses in New York City, as another
example, are now facing Mayor Bloomberg's large soda ban initiative. The
host of restrictions businesses face as they enter local communities will
have massive implications for business models and returns."
4.Who is controlling your brand? – "Never before has company news become so
instant and transparent. Every single citizen/employee/customer has a
camera and a microphone, and they are speaking loudly on their 'virtual
stage.' How do we handle an employee – or ex-employee – who has built up a
personal brand online and is vocal about topics that may not align with
the agenda and values of the company? Or recall the New York Times op-ed,
'Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs,' in which a relatively junior employee
decided to quit in a very public way. The piece, which implicated CEO
Lloyd Blankfein in the 'decline in the firm's moral fiber,' captured the
front page of most newspapers, eventually making it all the way to a '60
Minutes' interview. CEOs are increasingly facing this kind of direct
attack on their leadership, which is incredibly magnified by social media.
Today's CEOs are operating in a goldfish bowl – you can hide in an
5.Activist investors – "Activist investors historically targeted smaller
companies, where they could take a position and then demand certain
outcomes. What has changed is they are now going 'big game hunting.' No
matter how large the company is – from Yahoo! to J.C. Penney to Procter &
Gamble – if these activists believe there is an opportunity, they will
6.Where will growth come from? – "A key item on every CEO's agenda going
into 2013 is 'where can we find growth around the world?' The last few
years have been about streamlining and findingproductivityimprovements
as the world has been in an economic shock. Now investors are getting more
vocal around asking the question of where growth is going to come from.
This will not be easy, and it is going to take a combination of M&A
(consolidation and/or entry into a new product or market), innovation, and
invention. Those companies that can maintain their 'lean and mean'
operating structures while they invent and innovate will separate
themselves from herd. The 'weak elk' will become very obvious through the
next couple of years."
7.Real succession planning – "Boards are more demanding of CEOs around
succession planning processes. They are demanding greater visibility down
into the organization and more exposure to developing candidates, and are
expecting updates on a much more frequent basis. This can no longer be a
perfunctory activity where 'we do a little' and everyone is happy – but we
then don't actually have viable candidates if we are tested. CEOs are
being heldaccountable– as are boards – for truly having an 'operational'
succession plan where the company has options when they need them, which
is usually not in the planned time frame."
8.Disruptive technology – "Understanding the complete disruption that
technology is causing across all dimensions of business is an absolute
requirement for CEOs. 2013 will demand even greater immersion in the
threats and opportunities that technology is presenting to their business
models and leadership. Social media, Big Data, mobile device dominance,
and the Cloud are only part of the story; innovations are really about a
whole new way of thinking and operating and organizing companies in order
to reach consumers and other stakeholders."
9.Global talent development – "The pursuit of global growth – through supply
chains or consumer markets – demands a commitment to developing truly
global talent that many companies are not yet making. There are a lot of
expatriate programs, but not so many for repatriation; typically, another
company ends up monetizing one's investment in global talent, hiring the
best people away once you've trained them. Additionally, with the massive
push to 'localize' talent, there are fewer and fewer opportunities for
this development to occur. Creating a real plan for retaining global
talent and expanding the growth opportunities for executives is a
directive that, frankly, must come from the top."
10.Talent (im)mobility – "One of the toughest challenges in developing talent
anywhere is the reality that fewer and fewer executives are willing to
move, limiting the talent pool. Entire cities have formed around this –
Minneapolis is a community where you see executives hop from one Fortune
500 company to another, with a strong reluctance to leave Minnesota.
Companies are finding highly qualified candidates to apply for jobs but
who then won't commit to a move. This reality – however well-intentioned
the reasons may be (usually family) – makes it tough for CEOs to tap into
a truly diverse and long-term talent pool."
Named by Bloomberg Businessweek as "the rising star of CEO consulting,"
Stephen A. Miles is the founder and CEO of The Miles Group, which develops
talent strategies for organizations, cultivates high-performing individuals
and teams, and ensures effective leadership transitions through readiness
coaching and succession.
To speak with Stephen Miles, please contact Suzanne Oaks or Davia Temin of
Temin and Company at 212-588-8788 or email@example.com.
SOURCE The Miles Group
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