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Introduction

In January of 2019, The Predictive Index™ surveyed 156 CEOs, presidents, and chairpeople. We asked a slew of questions that cut to the heart of what drives them, what their challenges are, and what keeps them up at night. Their answers revealed the patterns of high-performing CEOs and allowed us to explore the executives’ inner thoughts and biggest weaknesses.

We’ve broken our findings down to four sections:

  1. CEO Top Priorities, Challenges and Anxieties
  2. Analysis of CEOs at high-performing companies
  3. CEO’s biggest weaknesses – and what else they’re secretly thinking
  4. The real lives of CEO

CEO top priorities, challenges, and anxieties

CEOs’ #1 priority

We begin by looking at the issues that consume CEOs. What are their biggest priorities and biggest challenges? As you’ll see, strategy and talent are top of mind.

We asked our panel of 156 CEOs to identify their single biggest priority. The data tells us strategy and people come first—and then there’s everything else.

Biggest challenges

We also asked CEOs to identify their top three challenges, and a distinct pattern emerged. The majority of their top challenges map back to people strategy and talent management; and their #1 challenge is finding the right talent. (In the chart to the left, all talent optimization challenges are highlighted in purple.)

People costs

CEOs’ fixation on optimizing their talent makes sense—not just on an emotional level, but also on a financial level. In fact, if left unchecked, by 2030, the talent shortage could result in about $8.5 trillion in unrealized annual revenues (Korn Ferry). So there’s the ubiquitous reality that “our people are our most valuable asset,” and here’s another truism:

“People are most companies’ biggest expense.”

We asked the CEO panel what percentage of their total costs are employee-related. For 63 percent of companies, employee-related costs constitute at least half of their overall costs.

On average, employee-related costs make up 55 percent of total company costs.