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Le Temps – CEOs Need to Look Inward

  • September 2021

Today’s business leaders need to reinvent themselves more than their companies, reveals an Egon Zehnder survey of 972 CEOs worldwide, including 100 in Switzerland, as quoted in Swiss French-language daily newspaper Le Temps. 

There is increasing pressure to change, according to 90% of those surveyed. Accordingly, 78% of leaders surveyed say that they are focusing on self-transformation. 

“I was struck by the fact that business leaders across the world and in Switzerland, women and men, declare a strong need for introspection and question their actions and the way they positively influence the company and its environment and this to a far greater extent than a few years ago,” the newspaper quotes Gaëlle Boix, a partner at Egon Zehnder based in Geneva. “The need for introspection differs from director to director. The way they interact with their organization varies a lot.” 

The era of managers who reign supreme is over. Instead, today’s CEOs express a need for introspection and exchange with their teams, the survey shows. CEOs need empathy, authenticity, and good listening and interpersonal skills to cope with an uncertain, ever-changing world. Meanwhile, there is growing demand for equality in the workplace, as well as flexible, hybrid work. 

Cohesion is crucial, yet less than half say that their objectives are in line with those of the executive committee (46%) or with those of their board of directors (50%). Egon Zehnder sees the positive aspects of “constructive disagreement”. 

Financial performance remains key, even as leaders address ESG issues, adds Boix. “Investors, both private and the capital markets, demand financial results. So managers have to balance social, environmental and economic objectives.”

In Switzerland, 62% of leaders consult their partner or a family member, compared with 48% on average worldwide. And Swiss leaders also differ from their international counterparts by seeing innovation as a major priority. 

The need for local roots expressed by the survey “does not reflect a search for a regional or national boss but rather an understanding of the environment in which he or she operates, including listening to the national media”, adds Boix.

Emmanueal Garessus: „ Les chefs d'entreprise ont besoin d'introspection“, in: Le Temps, 16th of September 2021

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