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Susan M. Heathfield

Excellence of Execution: CEOs' Top Concern

By January 20, 2008

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A tip of the hat to Bob Prosen** and his monthly e-newsletter for pointing me to the results of a November study of 769 global CEOs from 40 countries. The Conference Board report, CEO Challenge 2007: Top 10 Challenges identified excellence of execution as their top challenge and keeping consistent execution of strategy by top management as their third greatest concern.

According to a spokeman for The Conference Board, "Sustained and steady top-line growth, which led the pack last year, now ranks second, with profit growth fourth, and finding qualified managerial talent fifth."

"Judging by this year's U.S. Top 10, finding qualified managerial talent (sixth place) and top management succession (seventh place) have become the dominant people issues for U.S. CEOs, replacing last year's top HR concern, healthcare costs. The two concerns are closely intertwined because competition for talented managers will become even fiercer as many baby boomers depart the 'top of the house' to move into 'third-stage careers' and retirement.

"After ranking seventh last year, the challenge of employee healthcare benefit costs slipped out of the U.S. top 10 in 2007. Its lower ranking as a greatest concern is most likely due to the downward movement of average annual rises in employee premiums for employer-sponsored health coverage, illustrating successful implementation of cost containment innovations."

The report, which provides the results of the survey that asked executives to rate their greatest concerns from among 121 different challenges, showed regional differences between Asia, Europe, the United States, and so forth.

I had recently featured a book excerpt from Ram Charan, who co-authored the book, Execution (compare prices), a testimony to the timeliness of the topic.

**Bob is the President and CEO of The Prosen Center for Business Advancement, whose mission is to help business leaders rapidly increase performance, productivity and profits. He is the author of the award-winning book: Kiss Theory Good Bye: Five Proven Ways to Get Extraordinary Results in Any Company (compare prices).

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