Trust and transparency amid a crisis
Leaders must rely on agility, transparency, and forward-thinking strategies, especially in times of crisis. Indeed, when asked how their companies could succeed in this environment, fully one in four CEOs said that “placing a priority on creating a culture of trust and transparency” and “breaking down hierarchies and building agility” were paramount. Furthermore, one-third of CEOs said the qualities they felt were most critical to their success were being authentic (33%) and inspirational (24%).
“CEOs are under relentless pressure to deliver results while also transforming their business,” says Tierney Remick, Vice Chairman and Co-Leader of Korn Ferry’s Board and CEO Services practice. “Employees, customers, and communities are looking for leadership that can be trusted and leadership that is real and authentic amid all the turbulence. Stakeholders want to work with leaders who are courageous, have vision, embrace inclusivity, and possess real integrity.”
The digital journey, ramped up
The survey showed 50% of CEOs were optimistic about how digitally enabled their employees are. Yet the rapid switch many companies experienced when employees started working from home showed that some CEOs may have been overconfident in the workforce’s digital ability: only 30% of CEOs said digital was the new normal, compared to 21% of CIOs. “Technology is no longer solely the realm of technology companies,” says Remick. In fact, 39% of CEOs said leveraging digital tools was the company’s primary strategy for preparing for success in the changing workplace.
Enabling the company to act fast amid unknowns
For many companies, business went from normal to unprecedented in a mere six weeks. The crisis showed the need for CEOs to be able to operate in the gray and to move quickly and strategically. “We’ve seen the elimination of the meeting before the meeting before the meeting to save time,” Remick says. “Right now, we’re still in a fog. CEOs have to make tough calls and survive and get through it all. No one knows how long it will last and what the recovery will be like.”
CEO Action Plan