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By Ed McLaughlin and Wyn Lydecker

Deloitte’s recently released Business Confidence Report revealed several troubling findings about today’s corporate leadership. First, there is a gap between the things business leaders say and the actions they are willing to take. While these leaders are confident in their ability to outperform the competition, they are not confident in making business decisions or addressing specific obstacles, such as cyber risk, new market entrants, and the shortage of skilled workers, according to the survey.

And while C-Suite executives (CXOs) publically profess confidence about their companies’ futures, they also express some doubts in overcoming obstacles to growth. These obstacles include lack of confidence in the ability to develop future leaders for their companies and a division on how to drive innovation.

“While the U.S. economy is slowly recovering, we still see capital sitting on the sidelines due to escalating economic and political uncertainties around the world,” said Jim Moffatt, CEO and chairman of Deloitte Consulting LLP.  “As competition intensifies, there has never been a more crucial time for America’s top business leaders to be confident and place bold bets. Yet our survey reveals a lack of investments in those areas CXOs indicate are fundamental to growth. The actions taken now will determine which businesses will thrive in ‘the new abnormal,’ and those that may struggle to succeed in a rapidly evolving marketplace.”

Nearly half of CXOs surveyed admitted that they do not display confidence in high-risk (49%) or long-term (46%) business decisions. Viewing Deloitte’s Infographic of their Business Confidence Survey is an excellent way to grasp what is going on. The confidence gap could be viewed as a real obstacle to future growth for America’s top executives.

In our previous blog, “Plugging the Talen Drain,” we discussed ways CXOs could address the loss of their companies’ most talented executives and also how they could foster innovation within their corporate fold. The ability to continually innovate is one of the most pressing challenges and one the Deloitte survey shows is causing consternation among CXOs.

Where do our leaders excel? Forbes’ High-Impact Leadership Development report, based on the study of more than 700 companies over the last five years, showed that successful leaders have skills in four broad areas:  people leadership and execution, intellectual capacity and drive, adaptability to different cultures and situations and ability to influence and align people toward a goal. These are the skills which need to be developed and nurtured within companies in order for CXOs to feel more confident. But according to the Deloitte survey, only 49% of the up and coming emerging executives said that their organization created opportunities for them to succeed, and only 49% of CXOs said they are committed to developing leadership skills at all levels of their organization. Josh Bersin, a corporate HR analyst, said that these are broad skills which must be assessed slowly and once these are identified, leaders who move into CXO roles will need support.

What actions do you think corporations should take in order to address the challenges facing their leaders? What steps should be taken to develop future leaders?


Ed McLaughlin is currently co-writing the book, The Purpose Is Profit: The Truth about Starting and Building Your Own Business, with Wyn Lydecker and Paul McLaughlin.

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Copyright © 2015 by Ed McLaughlin All rights reserved.