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The CEO Magazine – Everything a New CEO Needs to Know

Making a move into the C-suite is exciting and challenging. Here’s how a new CEO can start performing from day one.

Many CEOs regard the job as the pinnacle of their career, and one they will take on only once. So how can they rise to the challenge and perform effectively from the start? A 2018 report by Egon Zehnder suggests that many CEOs are not ready on day one. Out of the 422 CEOs surveyed from 11 countries, 273, or nearly 65% of respondents, admitted to being unprepared when they first began their tenure. In the face of digital transformation, automation, and globalization today's business leaders are asked to achieve more, faster, better, and at a lower cost. “Whether you’re joining a start-up, a large multinational or a not-for-profit, these demands are consistent right across the board,” says Chris Corneil, former Australasian CEO of a $25 billion investment management business. “Leadership in Japan will look and feel a little bit different from leadership in Australia or France but I think we’re all subject to the same relentless pressure to fix, improve and change."

Like most of the CEOs surveyed by Egon Zehnder, Kirsten Pilatti was promoted into the C-suite from within the ranks of her organization, the Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA). Twelve years of internal experience had provided Pilatti with a keen insight into the inner workings of her organization, and as a result, she developed strong views on how BCNA should evolve. "I had the advantage of familiarity but there were still some surprises,” she says. “I think the biggest was the power that comes with the position – how willing people were to do what I said without question. That made it harder than I expected to create my ideal culture, where everyone feels able to challenge everyone else, including me, to achieve better outcomes.” The best CEOs get a grip on the job they've been hired to do, acknowledge the power of their role, and are honest with their staff as they build the organization according to their vision. 

Full story: Domini Stuart: Everything a new CEO needs to know to hit the ground running in The CEO Magazine (27 September 2019)

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