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It starts with the CEO

972 global CEOs share their perspective on the future of CEO leadership.


Dear CEO,

Our survey of nearly 1,000 CEOs from around the world revealed a growing interest among CEOs to engage with their peers, gain insights from them as well as reflect on their roles, development and responsibilities.

first time CEOs
in role for
5+ years

When we weave together the voices of your peers with the latest thinking from Egon Zehnder’s CEO advisory work, four findings stand out:

  • Complexity and rapid change are reshaping business—and the CEO’s role. 90 percent of CEOs surveyed agreed that the CEO has moved into the center of louder, more diverse and diverging voices in recent years.
  • It starts with you—CEOs recognize they must change themselves to change the world. Nearly 80 percent of CEOs strongly agree that they need to transform themselves as well as their organization. But change is hard: Your peers admit that they struggle to connect with their people and lift the collective ambition.
  • CEOs sense their goal is prosperity for the many—but most are far from achieving it. Although our survey respondents agree social and environmental contributions are at the forefront of progress, it’s still not a main priority: Traditional financial metrics remain the dominant decision-driver for most CEOs.
  • CEOs are expanding their capacity to be adaptive, relational, and self-aware. CEOs are working to develop a new set of leadership, specifically in self-reflection, listening to diverse points of view, and seeking frequent, honest feedback from team members, Chairs, mentors, consultants, and other CEOs.

This report is part of an ongoing series of perspectives drawing on the rich data and reflections of our CEO study.

CEO Snapshot
global CEOs
global CEOs
2020 annual combined revenue
2020 annual combined revenue
individual qualitative reflections
individual qualitative reflections
Study findings
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CEO Participants
Study Demographics
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For more information please contact

Dick Patton, former consultant of Egon Zehnder, co-authored this report.

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