Gap Between CEO and Employee Perception Diminishes with Objective Data

A large graph

CEOs Lose Touch with Their People When They Lack Objective Data

As we noted earlier in this report, CEOs tend to be highly optimistic about how things are going in their organizations and their ability to meet future business challenges. However, in several places across our data, we saw that this optimism is out of sync with the view of managers who see challenges play out on the front lines.

While gaps between CEO and employee perception were significant, we saw them shrink significantly among CEOs who said they rely on objective talent data, such as assessments and tests, to make decisions. For example, CEOs who had objective talent data were more likely to agree with their lower-level leaders about the challenges of burnout, turnover, and inclusion in their organization.

One of the widest gaps between CEO and employee perception often centers around how they view senior leaders in the organization.

In many cases, the CEO primarily interacts with senior leaders and has a very positive view of them. Meanwhile, the mid-level and frontline leaders are often frustrated by the quality of senior leaders, which can contribute to other issues such as high turnover and burnout.

CEOs who have objective data about their senior team are much more likely to understand these key leaders’ effect on their organization and make informed decisions about how to select and develop these leaders.

In organizations that gather objective data about their leaders, CEOs' perspectives are not only in sync with others at their organization, but senior-leader quality is also 2.2X higher overall.

The one area where CEOs remain most consistently out of sync with their workforce—even with objective talent data in hand—is inclusion. The vast majority of CEOs say they are well-prepared to be inclusive, yet leaders lower in the organizations say they struggle to foster an inclusive environment.

While in most cases CEOs can reduce their blind spots with better data, it’s crucial that they also seek feedback regularly and consider the experiences of employees with every decision.

Unexpected CEO Promotions Stress Test the Bench Where to Focus: How Top Companies Approach Leadership Succession


Get your copy of the report.

Download a full PDF of the CEO Leadership Report 2023.

Get the 2023 Report