The talent challenge: A time for extraordinary leadership

16th Annual Global CEO Survey

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Download the CEO Survey: The talent challenge infographics

The world’s business leaders are facing market conditions which are as challenging as many can recall; only one in five CEOs believe that the global economy will improve over the coming year and 70% are committed to cutting costs. The division between markets has become more pronounced and CEOs find themselves navigating a multi-speed global marketplace where matching talent supply and demand has become a constant headache.

As if these challenges weren’t enough, CEOs must also work in an environment where trust in the world’s businesses (and their leaders) has hit an all-time low.

The need to rebuild trust through engagement, which will in turn attract and retain the best talent, set alongside the need to reduce costs still further creates a powerful dilemma for leaders. Actions to reduce or shift headcount often run counter to efforts to build enduring trust and create growth. It can be done, of course, but it requires extraordinary leadership.

In fact, it might be the leadership challenge of our times.

About our 16th Global Annual CEO Survey

We conducted 1,330 interviews with CEOs in 68 countries between 5 September and 4 December 2012. In addition, 33 CEOs sat down with us near the end of 2012 for more extensive conversations. Their thoughts on the talent issues impacting their businesses are reflected in the quotes throughout our report. Visit the CEO Survey microsite >

How much do CEOs plan to increase their investment over the next 3 years ...

How concerned are CEOs about the threat of availability of key skills to their growth prospects

To what extent do CEOs anticipate changes to strategies for managing talent over the next 12 months.

How concerned are CEOs about the threat of availability of key skills to their growth prospects

To what extent do CEOs agrees with the statement ...

How concerned are CEOs about the threat of availability of key skills to their growth prospects

CEO interview quotes

"Two words sum up the global economy currently for me and they are ‘fragility’ and ‘volatility’. Wherever you look, things are shifting very rapidly indeed."

Alison Cooper
CEO, Imperial Tobacco Group, UK.

"I worry enormously about skills. Statistics from the UK and US on the number of kids studying science, technology, engineering and maths show that we’re not actually creating enough people with the necessary skills today to fuel the industry in the future."

Steve Holliday
CEO, National Grid Group plc, UK.

"Our staff need to believe in what they’re doing. They need to be passionate and entrepreneurial in how they do things because with good team effort, you can achieve anything that you want to do."

Aireen Omar
CEO, AirAsia Berhad, Malaysia.

"We have a more global and diverse team than we did a few years ago. We’ve increased our training and the exposure management has to new opportunities, all of which are oriented to making them more adaptable, because we think the pace of change is going to accelerate."

Douglas D Tough
Chairman and CEO, International Flavors & Fragrances Inc, US.

"CSR helps to develop a vibrant, sustainable corporate culture. This is why many people join Schneider Electric: they are keen to belong to a company whose operations serve the best interests of the planet, cities, countries and people."

Jean-Pascal Tricoire
President and Chief Executive Officer of Georg Fischer Ltd.

"Of course you have to pay people the market price, or they’ll leave. But treatment of people is also important. Even in China, if people are well-treated and see opportunities, they’ll stay – at least most of them will."

Yves Serra
President and CEO, Georg Fischer Ltd, Switzerland.
Michael Rendell
Partner and leader of Human Resources Services
Tel: +44 (20) 7212 4945
Justine Brown
Global Marketing & Business Development, Human Resources Services
Tel: +44 (0)113 289 4423
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