Isolated CEOs Put Their Organizations at Severe Risk

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Weak Frontline Leaders Undermine CEO Confidence

The biggest risk to CEO success is becoming isolated from their workforce. The more that they insulate themselves by focusing narrowly on what’s happening at the senior level, the less equipped their organizations are to face key challenges ahead.

In this special report from our Global Leadership Forecast series, we examine how an organization’s leadership at every level affects the CEO’s ability to execute their strategy and successfully lead their organization. We analyzed responses from 529 CEOs and 1,827 human resource executives around the world, across more than 10 industries, with an average company size of 16,000 employees.

The powerful message that emerged from the data showed how deeply dependent the CEO’s success is on their people strategy.

And the proactive nature of this strategy is key. With every change and challenge to the business strategy, HR has to have already done the work to prepare their people for it.

Our data showed that this is true at every level of leadership. We saw how heavily CEOs rely on the strength of their frontline leaders to adapt to nearly any business challenge. At the mid-level—a group of leaders often taken for granted—we see a significant difference in the stability of organizations that support them versus organizations that assume they can navigate leadership on their own.

And at the very top levels, there’s a dramatic difference between organizations in which the CEO has a holistic understanding of leadership dynamics versus those who look at performance in silos.

While this report delivers the views of the CEO, the hidden figure behind the scenes is the CHRO. In organizations where CEOs are optimistic and poised for success, it is likely due to the work the CHRO has done to set the table. In contrast, in organizations where the CEO lacks confidence in their leadership, they are likely missing a strong relationship with a strategic CHRO.

If there’s one relationship the CEO should invest in now, it’s with their CHRO. CEOs that build this strategic executive relationship successfully will not only have greater leadership alignment but also be better poised to capture the talent capabilities they need for the future.

Weak Frontline Leaders Undermine CEO Confidence


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