All hail the disruptive revolution

At Rialto, we have always been keen to highlight the opportunities as well as the threats that come amid the current economic and political uncertainty, as well as those arising from digital disruption and transformation.

So, it is pleasing to learn that two-thirds (65 per cent) of CEOs view disruptive forces as an opportunity, not a threat for their businesses, according to a newly released KPMG 2017 Global CEO Outlook survey.

The study is based on in-depth interviews with nearly 1,300 CEOs of some of the world’s largest companies. While optimism has waned from 2016 with only two-thirds compared to four-fifths expressing confidence, almost three-quarters of respondents claim their aim is to be the “disruptor” rather than be disrupted in their sector.

According to John Veihmeyer, global chairman of KPMG, disruption has become “a fact of life” for CEOs and their businesses as they respond to heightened uncertainty. “But importantly, most see disruption as an opportunity to transform their business model, develop new products and services and reshape their business so it is more successful than ever before,” he says, adding: “In the face of new challenges and uncertainties, CEOs are feeling the urgency to ‘disrupt and grow’.”

While leaders must ensure their organisations are future-fit, they must also invest in themselves so it is good to see that seven in 10 (68 per cent) are equipping themselves for future leadership challenges by evolving their skills and personal qualities.

Other findings in the outlook include a major focus on trust. In the light of a more transparent business climate, three-quarters of leaders are placing greater importance on trust, values and culture to help safeguard their organisations’ long-term future.


Separate research findings serve to highlight how much this is needed from a workforce perspective. Willis Towers Watson’s Global Workforce Study reveals that UK employees give their senior leadership low marks when it comes to evoking trust and confidence with only two-fifths (41 per cent) believing their leaders have a “sincere interest” in employee wellbeing.

Meanwhile, only one third (35 per cent) of respondents think their organisations are doing a good job of developing future leaders.

Irrespective of what one might think about survey results and the presentation of them, there is no denying the consistent and cautionary messages that have emerged from many of them in recent years.

The business and leadership landscape is radically changing and those individuals who refuse to accept it risk being left behind. Yves Duhaldeborde, director Willis Towers Watson, raises concern that a significant percentage of workers don’t believe their leaders are as effective as they can be, “given that strong leadership is a key driver of employee engagement and improved performance”, he says.

Ultimately, while surveys and studies can highlight shortcomings and what we should be doing as leaders, they can’t instigate the necessary changes on our behalf. And the time for action is now.


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