What are CEOs made of? Egon Zehnder’s Study reveals


Egon Zehnder is one of the world’s pre-eminent leadership advisory firms. It has conducted a study on 973 CEOs worldwide to capture the pulse on how the roles and expectations of CEOs evolve at the hands of global challenges and emerging trends.

The results uncovered CEO priorities that have jumped to be among the top are: self-reflection and personality development as they become very much self-aware with the realization that improving the human side of leadership is the key to prosperity.

As the business culture is getting dramatically shaped up with heightened demands of equality at the workplace and new pressures around hybrid work, CEOs around the world have a great deal to do with their role evaluation. How they engage with their team, and their organizational managing capabilities – and themselves – accountable for creating a future-ready business.

Today’s CEOs prioritize their self-development as a tool to tap into the intrinsic sources of energy of the people in their organizations for navigating through complex environments.

These are the key findings:

  • 90% of CEOs have reported that they have moved to the increasingly louder, more diverging and diverse voices, highlighting accelerated decision making and greater economic uncertainty due to the impact of the recent circumstances on their organizations.
  • 83% of leaders find their leadership style to be essential. It is up from 66% in the 2018 study, The CEO: A Personal Reflection. With expanding adaptive, relational, and self-aware abilities, they are committed to listening to diverse perspectives and have been increasingly seeking feedback. Female CEOs are likely to gather feedback from a range of sources like fellow CEOs, mentors and family members than their male counterparts.
  • 78% of CEOs strongly agree that they need their self-transformation to continue three times as much from 2018, with a strong agreement on the importance of the “dual journey”. There is unanimous agreement that CEOs need the capacity to transform themselves as well as their organizations.
  • 66% of CEOs report their decision-making ability has remained constant, despite new economic and social expectations that they express support for.
  • More than half of the surveyed CEOs think that relational capabilities as a key blind spot. And less than half of them think that they feel fully aligned with their teams and even fewer with their board members. This pointing to higher levels of tension and an increased need for collaboration.

Honing their skills and adapting to the human-centric approach to leadership, CEOs will evolve to be resilient and develop their leadership and adaptability skills.

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