With the pace of change increasing in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, more than ever CEOs need to be visioning and driving a strategic plan for their company. This will increasingly involve the reinvention of their business model and displaying a tech savvy that blends people with technology in smooth, agile and proactive processes.
The future pipeline of potential CEOs would seem at least well positioned to address the technological aspect. Both CIOs and CMOs – two of the most technologically involved positions, are heavily touted as possible steeping stones to the number one position. Technology – ironically enough, may help alleviate some of the stress on CEOs to better enable them to address these fundamental core issues. Whilst CEOs spend 1 percent of their time on things they need to accomplish, according to Professor Richard Jolly, the ideal is around 50 percent[i]. However, it is estimated by McKinsey ‘…that activities consuming more than 20 percent of a CEO’s working time could be automated using current technologies[ii].’ This would suggest the digital divide between CEOs evident now is of critical import; those with a better strategic understanding of how automation can increase productivity and free high-end professionals from some of their more mundane tasks stand to benefit more than those that do not. A bifurcated standing of CEOs, regardless of their position within the emerging networked economy, would appear in the offing and arguably, only the fittest will survive.
It could therefore be argued that in addition to the ability to question, reimagine and redesign a company’s business model on an ongoing basis, an awareness of how technologies can a) support this process, and b) enable the emergence of new competitors, opportunities and markets, is central to the future CEO role.
Given the need for agility, transparency and global experience, future leaders will likely also need to demonstrate strong communication skills, a worldwide range of experiences and perhaps even an entrepreneurial record. They will be increasingly diverse too. It is likely that western multinationals in need of a new strategic positioning will turn to emerging multinationals for future CEO and C-Suite positions, whilst 30 percent of the top 2,500 CEOs around the world will be female by 2040 according to a report by Strategy&.
The pace of change in the world of work – driven by new work structures, automation, the erosion of market boundaries, new competitors from other verticals and shifting consumer preferences all demand a new type of company and a new type of CEO to lead in the new normal.