What CEOs worry about

The greatest concerns of U.S. CEOs
(% citing challenge as of “greatest concern”)

  1. Sustained & steady top-line growth (41.3%)
  2. Excellence in execution (39.6%)
  3. Consistent execution of strategy by top management (38.5%)
  4. Profit growth (29.9%)
  5. Customer loyalty/retention (25.6%)
  6. Finding managerial talent (20.9%)
  7. Top management succession (20.1%)
  8. Corporate reputation (19.7%)
  9. Stimulating innovation/creativity (19.2%)
  10. Speed, flexibility, adaptability to change (18.2%)

Base: Survey of 409 U.S. CEOs
Source: The Conference Board “CEO Challenge 2007” (4 October 2007)


  • In the broader survey results for a total of 769 CEOs worldwide, “excellence in execution” was No.1. In fact, The Conference Board’s overall conclusion is that execution is king, taking precedence over profit and top-line growth as a focus of CEOs around the world.
  • In Europe (170 CEOs), “speed/flexibility” was ranked much higher (No.3) and another concern, “speed to market,” was No.10. In the U.S., “speed to market” didn’t crack the Top 10. So it appears that the Europeans are more interested in speed and agility than the Americans.
  • Finding qualified managerial talent (No.6) and top management succession (No.7) have become the dominant “people issues” for U.S. CEOs, replacing last year’s top HR concern, health care costs. After ranking No.7 last year, the challenge of employee health care benefit costs slipped out of the U.S. top 10 in 2007, perhaps due to cost containment initiatives. But the cost of employee health care benefits still ranks much higher for U.S. CEOs (No.16) than it does for CEOs in Asia (No.69) or Europe (No.71).
  • CEOs in Asia ranked “finding qualified managerial talent” as their most acute concern (ranked No.1).

What CFOs worry about [chief financial officers]
CFOs predict: The top business risks through 2009
Top HR challenges

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