How have CEOs progressed from the 2021-2022 Challenges?
As we come to a close of 2022, let’s revisit my May 2021 post on “the top 6 new challenges for CEOs” and rate how we did with those predictions. These six challenges included diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI); transgender diversity (TD); social justice and social issues (SJS); politics; generational changes and demands (GCD); and artificial intelligence (AI).
DEI: Culture AMP’s analysis and the survey suggests companies believe in DEI, but are not investing adequate resources to create significant change. Resources are being hired, but the problems still exist. Result: some progress.
TD: The same Culture AMP report qualifies this under “gender identity,” which falls under Inclusion. There are resources in many companies assigned to manage TD under “employee resource groups.” Result: some progress.
SJS: This topic has gained significant headway in 2022, as there are individual city programs, country programs, and conferences. This week, Pace University, New York, has a Social Justice Week event. It is their 3rd annual event following the unrest in 2020. Result: Good progress.
Politics: This is one of the most challenging issues we are all facing in 2022, and CEOs are not necessarily in a good position here. The mid-terms (elections) are in 10 days, the country is divided more than ever between red and blue states, and voters in the US and similar in other countries are somewhat confused: the presidential election of 2024 has already started as #45 and #46 bicker with each other publicly with international relations in the limelight; gun control due to so many mass shootings has become a major issue; abortion due to the overturning of Roe v Wade; and the January 6, 2021 insurrection is still open (Investigation Committee in Washington), as are many related items. Politics remain top of the list, and it’s not easy for CEOs to deal with these issues that their employees, partners, customers, and peers are all also dealing with. This will remain as we move into 2023 as a top CEO challenge. Results: no progress.
GCD: We now have five generations in the workplace. Baby Boomers are working longer, Gen Zers are becoming founders and leaders, and everything in between is all involved in many companies. Each generation brings experiences and new ideas, and CEOs can struggle with how to make it all work. There are many resources, training courses, and community groups on sites such as LinkedIN that can help each other generation. Still, there is not a slam dunk easy button for all to get along without friction and understanding how to work together. Result: Progress, but challenging.
AI: This is the only technology in my predictions from 2021. However, AI continues to bring new solutions and more challenges to CEOs. Where is AI being applied? Is it intrusive, or is it truly value add? The Gartner Group Hype Cycle tells us AI comes in 4 categories: data-centric, model-centric, applications-centric, and human-centric. Much of AI is excellent for helping us improve accuracy, enhance business performance, and reduce costs. However, because there is synthetic data as part of the decision process, it brings on new challenges for CEOs. It seems like on an ongoing basis, new information is discovered that is beneficial to businesses. Examples might include improved business processes, increased predictability, and increased speed of decision-making.
My 2023 Predictions – Top 6 CEO Challenges
- Inflation, recession, and economy
- International and Global Relations
- Talent remix, quiet quitting, quiet firing
- Sustainability, climate change, energy
- Tech: AI, voice search
With the midterms being completed this quarter and party swings in January 2023, there will be a disruption to programs within the US and how we deal with global partners within global markets and regions. Followed by the campaigning for the 2024 presidential election and the divided country in the US, this will be a tremendous challenge for CEOs.
Add the prime minister change in the UK, Ukraine defending their freedom, NATO changes, and activities in various countries. You can see the potential for a global crisis that can severely impact the supply chain, business partners, and people.
Inflation, recession, and economy
At this point, politicians and consumers (voters) are debating if we are in a recession, but we know the US is experiencing its highest inflation rate in 4 decades. This is changing the economy for commercial and residential properties, work-from-home dynamics and people moving away from the office, layoffs which have started in many companies, and many more challenges to CEOs are enormous, growing, and stress-creating. These are all potential for CEO burnout.
International and Global Relations
The economy, political situations, and what is happening in Ukraine drive this top issue for CEOs. How do the global economy, country allies, and political nature of each country affect all businesses? Supply chain? Costs? Purchasing? This is not an easy situation for leaders of businesses.
Talent remix, quiet quitting, quiet firing
Top talent acquisition and retention have always been challenging; however, with the changes we continue to discuss, layoffs, work-from-home vs. return-to-office, inflation, the terms quiet quitting and quiet firing have recently arrived on the scene. In my opinion, they have always been around. People just “named” them. I see more people with side hustles while still working full time, more people building online businesses and passive income streams, and the world is changing with regional lines being eliminated because of the Internet and many online business opportunities.
I strongly believe this will bring a remix of talent as CEO’s attempt to upgrade to an “A-Player” team while many “A-Players” are being recruited heavily, causing CEOs to find new ways to retain talent and re-build their employee base, company culture and provide top tier customer experiences. This is a substantial CEO challenge.
Sustainability, climate change, energy
This is not a new issue, but it has risen to the top 6 list because hiring younger digital native GenZ and millennial talent requires the company to have a “purpose,” and climate change is one of those major drivers. As consumers, sustainability is critical to buyers, and we all must be concerned with energy, both availability, and cost. From the fast-growing trend of new electric vehicles to the cost of utilities to survive and afford living expenses. These are issues for CEOs to deal with.
Tech: AI, voice search
AI will continue, as mentioned above, to be a major emphasis in new products and businesses as technology becomes more powerful. This will continue for years to come. Constant change and enhancements to AI-based solutions will continue to drop decisions into CEOs’ inboxes that will challenge their integrity, their ability to handle shiny-object syndrome, challenge their ability to leverage AI technology in the most appropriate ways humanly possible. This, too, will be a substantial challenge for CEOs to grapple with.
CEOs own the vision, strategy, and direction of the company. Their words and their behaviors matter. Add these external challenges to their plate, and you can see why CEOs generally make more money, have more stress, and need help in so many ways! From their senior leadership team, which they must trust to get the job done via delegation, to having a coach or mentor to discuss their top challenges and provide guidance and assistance, CEOs have tall orders to build and grow their companies while handling all the noise!
Good luck to all CEOs!
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