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Leadership priorities for CEOs in 2021 and beyond

The C-Suite: 2021 and Beyond

What’s changed for Chief Executive Officers?

Harnessing digital technology is now at the forefront of priorities for Chief Executive Officers, driven by the accelerated digital transformation within most organisations necessitated by COVID. This has made it a necessity to urgently understand how technology can bring organisations closer to their people and customers, and an imperative to keep up to speed with the pace of transformation is now paramount.

Chief Executives have also expressed a high degree of direct interest in learning more about technology issues: in 2020, only 19% of Chief Executives were ‘very interested’ in learning more about technology topics but this has increased to 60% in 2021, with particular interest in how automation can be used to prepare for the new digital workplace.

Many CEOs have gained the confidence to invest as a result of their speedy reaction to COVID and the success achieved in strengthening of supply-chains, ensuring data security and implementation of advanced technologies in operations.

CEO Mega Themes

Strategic Opportunity

CEOs are focused on maximising the opportunity to strategically reposition the organisation, ‘build back better’, inspire people around a purpose and new ambitions and to get change done fast. Execution based on the right balance of evidence and innovation will be key; and people the essential ingredient.


Increased pressure from vocal stakeholders demanding CEOs to create fairer, more diverse and inclusive organisations must be addressed alongside achieving new climate change targets and ambitions.

Customers & Demand

There is an opportunity to build on a post-COVID confidence, and capitalise on increased demand from changed customer behaviours. New methods of connectivity with customers, more thoughtful and intelligent communications and the opportunity to drive business growth will drive strategy.

People & Leadership

CEOs must continue to amplify engagement of dispersed and remote teams, whilst at the same time ensuring a flexible, diverse and fair culture. They must listen, collaborate and look up and outside their normal circles.

Digitalisation, Data & Ethics

CEOs are under pressure to take advantage of the new tools and assets available whilst also meeting staying on the right side of ethics and the regulators.
Explore these themes further at one of our Chief Executive Officer Network events

Platform Housing Group: Elizabeth Froude

Purpose and commercial viability have collided, as have the expectations of our customers and staff. 

The expectation of us as leaders is one of empathy and authenticity. We must amplify the volume of our engagement, with an ever more dispersed workforce.

We must share and listen to the experiences of others and collaborate, outside of our normal circles, to bring faster and greater levels of success as we chart unknown territories such as the growing environmental agenda.

‘Leader’ is a status that is earned, and it will be harder to maintain.”

Platform Housing Group: Elizabeth Froude

Elizabeth Froude, Group Chief Executive, Platform Housing Group

CEO Challenges & Opportunities 2021

As Chief Executive Officers lead their teams through 2021 and beyond, what are the key challenges they must confront and what opportunities can they exploit?
  1. Defining purpose, vision, values and the role of the Board in delivering on that purpose

  2. Building the right foundations, internal talent and business preparedness

  3. Using data intelligence to enhance customer service

  4. Digitalisation and its impact on work and innovation

  5. Reputation management & brand perception

  6. The virtual work environment, its impact and future skills

Ipsos MORI: Ben Page

“2020 showed us how our cultures need to change in becoming much more flexible, diverse and equitable.

If you have a great culture, that defaults to doing the right things needed for success, that will help with all the technological, regulatory and other challenges we face.”

Ben Page, CEO, Ipsos MORI

Ben Page, Chief Executive, Ipsos MORI

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It’s time for the C-Suite to look beyond ‘normal’. Time to build a resilient organisation with a purpose, business model, skills, resources and strategic direction fit for the new future. Find out how C-Suite leaders are prioritising their leadership agenda.

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