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What Drives A CEOs Priorities?

So where do CEO’s put their energies and what are their priorities when managing their companies? According to an article in the WSJ by Joe Light, in Most CEO’s Price Growth, But Other Priorities Varyit appears that the need to grow is priority #1.

Across the board we see that issues that are critical to a firms success, such as brand management, reputation and customer service, appears to lag significantly for a CEO attention. Yet there are great variances, depending on the industry the CEO is operating in.

Read the entire story, to explore all the details:

Chief executives have to juggle multiple priorities, but according to a recent study, they tend to rank some higher than others.

Top of the list? Business growth followed by talent management and cost optimization, according to the Conference Board Inc., a nonprofit research organization.

Of the 10 priorities that CEOs were invited to rank, business growth far outpaced all other challenges in the No. 1 spot.


After growth, however, CEOs from different industries tended to show stark differences in priorities. Among financial-services CEOs, government regulation ranked as the second-biggest challenge, while across industries overall, regulation ranked fifth.

Meanwhile, innovation ranked third among CEOs in manufacturing and nonfinancial- services firms, while financial- services CEOs tended to rank that challenge near the bottom.

Part of these discrepancies might be due to the intense scrutiny that financial firms have come under since the financial crisis, said Rebecca Ray, managing director of human capital for the Conference Board.

Innovation, while a hot issue for most industries, was associated with complicated financial instruments that contributed to the collapse of some banks, she explained.

Across the board, CEOs were unlikely to name investor relations and international expansion as top challenges.

CEOs tend to balance talent, efficiency and innovation as their main strategies to drive growth, but during crises, cost cutting can drown out the other two, said Stanford University professor Robert Sutton, author of “Good Boss, Bad Boss.”

“I’m getting the sense that CEOs have squeezed out [all] the efficiency they can and now have to move to innovation and talent to grow,” he said. Talent wars between high-tech companies have heated up, he said.

Among global geographies, CEOs based in the U.S. ranked government regulation as their second-highest concern, whereas European and Asian CEOs ranked regulation fifth- and seventh-highest, respectively.

Asian CEOs were the most likely to name talent as a top challenge, but European CEOs only ranked talent seventh.

“The emergence of talent as a key challenge [shows] the economy may be beginning to take a turn to a more healthy state,” said Ms. Ray.

The Conference Board surveyed 704 CEOs between November 2010 and January 2011


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