CEOs are expected to provide a strong leadership framework. Read these three things they should consider doing right away!

August 19, 2019 Vincent Belliveau

Did you know that 92% of all surveyed businesses are undergoing digital transformation?

Today 1 in 5 businesses in Europe say that lack of vision from the leadership is an important barrier to delivering Digital Transformation. In countries like Germany (23%), France (20%) and Denmark (20%) the issue is more pronounced, whereas, in Spain (11%) and Benelux (12%), lack of leadership vision is seen as less of a challenge. However, our research also showed that CEOs agree that it’s predominantly the cultural resistance to change that is inhibiting digital transformation, but also believe that lack of know-how and insufficient partnerships play an important role.

This disconnect between internal partnerships and lack of know-how points to the first thing that CEOs need to avoid, namely retaining a narrow view of the HR and IT departments and treating them separately from the rest of the business, especially at a time of rapid transformation!

The research also showed that CEOs do have an impact on the type of applicant characteristics that their organisation looks for when it comes to building the workforce. CEOs tend to evaluate candidates not only on job requirements, but also on their lateral thinking, ability to solve a problem, and diversity, which shows CEOs understand the complex nature of work and are willing to look past someone's CV to get the right fit.

However, CEOs embrace a classic approach towards training and development, with a focus on in-person training. This is more prevalent than in other roles within the organisation and points to a rigid development approach that may be inconsistent with what employees want today. Staying focused on traditional approaches regarding the workforce, that may soon come to contradict the need for innovation and change, can prove a major mistake and lead to higher attrition and lower engagement.

Another key takeaway for CEOs, was that companies with a high degree of organisational and product/service innovation primarily select new hires based on their ability to solve problems and be creative. In turn, organisations that focus on creating personal development opportunities and company culture are more likely to be high performing businesses.

This points to the fact that focusing on short-term business performance and ignoring the positive impact that comes with an emphasis on personal development can prove detrimental to an organisation's growth. We all know that the wave of digital transformation has been putting pressure on businesses right across Europe. But how much do we know about the actual level of impact and the overall reaction to this pressure? In a unique new study, IDC worked together with Cornerstone OnDemand to understand how this is impacting organisations and discovered a range of different strategies being implemented to deal with some of these internal pressures. Whether it’s the availability of talent or recruiting for the age of disruption there are many new challenges facing organisations today.


  • Create and communicate a new, unifying vision for digital transformation that employees can relate to. It’s okay to be provocative, as long as you make the required investments in human capital.
  • Going forward, use the CHRO as a key partner in the broader cultural and talent transformation required.
  • Focus on employee happiness and sentiment scores as a key KPI for success as you embark on the transformation journey.


  • Don’t ignore the chasm between the skills required today versus future requirements. Workforce planning will be a critical space that will need to be monitored on a corporate and business unit level.
  • Don’t underestimate the CIOs ability to drive technological changes and to build industry partnerships. The CIO community is very strong, and it can an opportunity for them to introduce potential synergies for digital.
  • Don’t ignore the important long-term business goal benefits coming from an engaged workforce.

[check out the results from the study here]

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