Vistage’s Chief Research Officer, Joe Galvin, presents Vistage’s Q2 CEO Confidence Index Survey recapping our members’ opinions on the economy, financing, and the prospects for their own business. You can see the report here – “The First Steps of the Hard Climb to Recovery Begins.

 

The survey shows that while CEO Optimism was one of the three lowest ever recorded, most CEOs are experiencing an increase in activity with the lifting of lockdowns. However, the survey data is before the initial wave was increasing in the South and West. I feel that we are “At the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end.”

 

CEOs identified the most significant leadership challenges they face today, which fall into the following four categories:

 

  1. Morale. The most common theme shared by CEOs was maintaining and building morale with their leadership team and employees. It has been a very stressful three months for everyone, personally and professionally. The next three months won’t be any easier, which will challenge leaders to motivate a workforce with diverse needs. Priorities for leaders include keeping employees focused and positive, avoiding executive burnout, and inspiring the organization for the hard climb.
  2. Back to Work/ Work from Home. The pandemic has changed the workplace forever. CEOs have to redesign the workplace with physical health and safety as a priority, and also creates a feeling of protection for those employees returning to that workplace. Compound that with the broad acceptance of remote working as a proven option, which forces leaders to adapt their culture and communications to incorporate remote workers, engage in hybrid meetings, and accept that work-from-home is a permanent fixture in the new reality.
  3. Growth. Leaders need to crank the growth engine back on from a cold start. For 80% of businesses, revenue is down at some level since customers shut down or postponed non-essential purchases over the last three months. Creating new demand, re-engaging with customers, and rebuilding opportunity pipelines are all prerequisites to rebuilding business volume. Quickly adjusting to changed customer behaviors and shaping messages that connect to their new reality will accelerate the return to the growth curve.
  4. Uncertainty. Undercutting everything is the uncertainty leaders feel and face in every direction. There has never been a business scenario like this except in classrooms. Uncertainty about the pandemic’s length, the economic outlook, and the unknown impact on their markets are some of the difficulties facing leaders. Forecasting has become a black art once again, as pre-COVID financial models have lost relevance. The absence of data or clear direction will force leaders to rely on their instincts and judgment to make the best decision and be prepared to adapt quickly.

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