2021 CEO Priorities Study: Find Your Essential | IBM Institute for Business Value

Workforce Trends

This report reflects one of the most extensive Chief Executive Officer (CEO) research projects ever and polled 3,000 CEOs across 26 industries in nearly 50 countries regarding their 2021 priorities. The 56-page report is replete with insights, including that empowering remote work became the No. 1 strategic priority for CEOs–ranking above virtual customer engagement, supply-chain continuity, and even cost reduction. More than half of outperforming company CEOs (those who were in the top 20 percent for revenue growth of those surveyed) said that managing a remote “anywhere” workforce is a top leadership challenge over the next few years. Seventy-seven percent of outperforming company CEOs surveyed also report that they are prioritizing employee well-being even if it affects near-term profitability. These results suggest that surveyed leaders from top organizations heavily focus on their people. This increased focus will likely call for upgraded leadership capabilities–presenting implications for leadership development. As noted in the report, CEOs should continually examine five questions that help them find their essential priorities: 1) What is our essential strategy? 2) What is our essential technology? 3) Who is our essential workforce? 4) Who are our essential leaders? 5) What are our essential risks?

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