Study: Interpersonal tasks challenge CEOs more than business tasks
- Most company chiefs (68%) said that they weren't fully prepared for their role as CEO, according to a new study by Egon Zehnder, a global executive search firm. In a survey of 402 leaders from 11 countries, corporate heads felt less prepared for the personal and interpersonal aspects of their responsibilities than the strategic and business aspects.
- Half of the CEOs felt that driving change in their company's culture was more difficult than anticipated. Almost three quarters of respondents (74%) said their previous experience helped them prepare for the top company spot, and 87% of experienced CEOs said they were prepared for their new role. Only 28% of CEOs who were promoted internally said they were prepared for their job.
- Nearly half (48%) said finding time for themselves and for personal self-reflection was more difficult than they initially thought. About the same amount said they were surprised that developing managers proved a challenging task.
CEOs need many of the same skills that other professionals need, based on Egon Zehnder's survey results. Personal or soft skills are as important, and sometimes more challenging to find, than professional skills. People acquire the career-related skills required to do their jobs, but how they work with others is the true testament of their ability to help move an organization forward.
Although CEOs face unexpected challenges when they take on their roles as company heads, they're likely aware that demands on their time and others' expectations of them will be higher.
“CEOs know and accept the fact that their jobs are extraordinarily all-consuming — they are extremely well-compensated for it, after all — and that they must give oﬀ an air of omniscience, particularly with certain stakeholders," Egon Zehnder said. "Yet most leaders we surveyed were outspoken about their desire and need to work on their own personal development because they see this as a critical element of both their own success and that of their organization.”
As new CEOs adjust to their roles, HR leaders can educate them on the value of human capital management (HCM) and how strategies for hiring, training and development, compensation and other HR functions line up with organizational goals. In a study released in 2017, only 8% of CEOs saw the impact of learning and development on business, yet HR leaders know that L&D is what employees want from their jobs and that it's often a recruitment and retention advantage. HR can be the CEOs "trainer" on all things related to HCM, its value to the organization and potential return on investment (ROI).
- Hunt Scanlon Are Leaders Really Prepared to Take on the Job of CEO?
- Egon Zehnder The CEO: A Personal Reflection