Why the pressure? Why now?
First, CEOs feel like they are operating in a world of disruption that is directly impacting their business. More than 90% of business leaders told us that, and there were similar findings released in Davos this week from PWC, where four in 10 felt their business might not be economically viable in a decade.
Second, government and other institutions have long served as a buffer between business and disruption. After the events of 2022, CEOs no longer believe that buffer exists.
CEOs rated their confidence in the government to deal with volatility at five out of 10. That puts more pressure on the CEO.
Third, the general public shares this view. And, no longer believing in the competence of our institutions to manage disruption, they think business needs to do more.
This puts CEOs under enormous pressure. More to worry about, less help and increased expectation to lead across a wide range of financial, environmental and social issues.
A guiding light
In our view, there can’t be a one-size fits all approach to how to deal with this.
But there can be a common starting point, and that is to understand your organisation’s purpose. The word ‘purpose’ is often used in business as a shorthand for initiatives that set out to achieve environmental or social good.
But it shouldn’t be that. It should be a clear articulation of what your organisation exists to do, and that should provide clarity to the decision-makers within the business on where to prioritise their time, and on which topics to lead and engage. Purpose should serve as a guiding light for your overall business strategy and as a rapid decision-maker for when and how to engage more broadly.
Climbing out of the box
It’s a myth to think there is just one strategy that is right for your organisation, but it’s undoubtedly a benefit to know your purpose and to develop your strategy from that starting point. Spending time to get this clarity of purpose should help CEOs to climb out of the box they’ve been put in and concentrate on their strategic objectives.