Shifting Priorities for CEOs


The weakening global economy grabbed a bigger slice of CEO attention as 2008 drew to a close, pushing HR issues further down the agenda.

According to a global survey of chief executives by The Conference Board, when asked to rate their greatest concerns from among 94 challenges, the sample of CEOs chose excellence of execution as their top challenge for the second year in a row.

But 46.7% of survey participants—up from roughly half that (24.5%) in a summer survey of the same CEOs—were most concerned about speed, flexibility and the ability to adapt to change. Global economic performance (44.6%) and financial risk—including liquidity, volatility and credit risk (43.8%)—were the fourth and fifth most pressing concerns but were not in the top 10 concerns in the summer survey.

There were no people-management issues in the top 10 in the year-end survey, and, among the top 10, only efficiency and health care costs gained in importance from the summer survey.

Source: CEO Challenge 2008: Top 10 Challenges—Financial Crisis Edition, The Conference Board, www.conference-board.org.

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