Top CEO Challenges and Fears for 2015

There have been all sorts of surveys and discussion papers released in the last six months discussing the challenges for leaders in 2015.  (Click here for a list).

  • Businessman looking into future trendsNumber one on the list is Human Capital Management (again).  Whether it’s attracting top talent or looking for the leaders for tomorrow, getting the right people on the bus is critical.
  • CEOs claim they need innovation as well as an outward-looking, customer-centric focus.
  • Many CEOs believe acquisitions are required in order to supplement organic growth.
  • Productivity and process efficiency are also an ongoing concern.

At the crux of each of these challenges is culture and it is starting to take a front-row seat.  According to Merriam Webster, “culture” was the word of the year in 2014.  It had the largest increase in lookups in 2014 over 2013.

Compounding these business issues, CEOs must also deal with “demons”.  How does one tackle all these challenges with courage and go where no CEO in the organization has gone before?  In a recent article from Harvard Business Review (, Roger Jones announced that the greatest fear of CEOs is being found to be incompetent.  Could this be driving the high search results on culture as more and more people are trying to up their “culture competency”?  Absolutely!

Organizational leaders have been focused on the “what”, delivering the bottom line and shareholder benefits. But the law of diminishing returns is raising its ugly head on the “what”. “What” is becoming a commodity. “How” things get done needs to get a boost onto every leader’s radar screen.

But as one of my clients put it, “If I venture out to investigate our culture then I’m really opening the kimono.  Am I ready to hear the results, and even more importantly, am I ready to deal with them?”

Great leaders don’t let the fear of the unknown stop them.  They become informed in order to demystify the fear. According to success expert Brian Tracy, the key to success is to focus our conscious minds on the things we desire – not the things we fear.  So rather than worry about what a culture assessment may expose, leaders need to focus on the results that a strong vibrant culture can deliver.

Igniting your culture can attract and retain top talent.  It can set the stage for innovation and a customer-centric focus.  Assessing and managing the integration of an acquisition’s culture can magnify the benefits.  And by eliminating bureaucracy, silo mentalities, and information hoarding, organizations can fuel productivity and efficiency.

So when you take stock of this year’s challenges for your organization remember to include your organization’s culture on the checklist.  Is it a barrier or contributor to success?  Can you afford to keep the kimono tight and let the fear of the unknown keep you from boosting the positive impact that a strong, vibrant culture can have on your employees and your bottom line?

Let us help you demystify your culture, dismiss your demons and declare the start of your journey to a happier and more productive workplace – together we can do it!  For a free 30-minute consultation to kick start your thoughts around your organization’s culture click here.

CEOs and leaders in the most successful organizations drive their culture and you can too!

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