The Face of Today’s CEO: New Study Captures 360° View of Corporate Leaders
Survey reveals that employees want more frequent, more in-depth communication from their CEOs, among other surprising findings.
SILICON SLOPES, Utah – June 11, 2014 – CEOs work hard to manage their brands and balance the demands placed on them by a variety of stakeholders. But what do employees and executives really think of their corporate leaders—and how do CEOs perceive themselves? These are some of the questions we set out to answer in a revealing new study sponsored by Domo and CEO.com, an online resource that enables busy executives to stay up to date with the latest news and best practices in business management.
Based on responses from 1,500 CEOs, executives and general employees across a variety of industries, the study paints a comprehensive picture of today’s CEOs and their leadership style, including the way they communicate, motivate and prioritize. The research found that, although CEOs and employees think about leadership in similar ways, there are many instances in which CEOs and employees are in disagreement.
For instance, 79% of executives and 74% of general employees say they would like to receive communications from their CEOs at least monthly. Yet more than a quarter of executives and general employees report hearing from their CEOs less than once a quarter. The research also found that 84% of CEOs say they never use company meetings to reprimand employees but 10% of employees and executives perceive that blame and rebuke are all they hear from their CEO.
Going deeper into the numbers, the survey shows that executives overall are much more critical of their CEO’s communication style than are general employees. Executives are twice as likely to say their CEO always focuses on negatives or never focuses on positives when communicating with the company. And just 17% of executives say their CEO always celebrates company successes, compared with 31% of general employees.
“Being a great business leader isn’t simply about product development or corporate finance, it’s also about effective communication,” said Josh James, founder and CEO of Domo. “As this study clearly shows, communication skills are vital for every CEO. Your employees want to hear from you and they want to be inspired by you. In today’s social world, there are so many ways to effectively communicate with your employees beyond the typical company meeting—whether through a blog, video, Twitter, email, etc. If you’re not leveraging multiple channels to get your message across and instill vision, you’re missing an opportunity to connect with your employees and drive the business forward.”
When it comes to inspiring employees, CEOs are not as effective as they should be. While everyone agrees that fear is not an effective motivational tool, CEOs rely on it more than they think. According to the study, only 10% of CEOs claim to use fear as a motivator yet executives rank fear as the number-one motivational tool of their CEOs. Perhaps that’s why 46% of executives say they need to massage and manipulate data to make it look good before handing it over to their CEOs. Both executives and general employees say that instilling vision is the most effective motivational strategy, with fear ranking dead last.
There are plenty of things that CEOs are doing right. For example, 87% of executives feel their CEOs respect their opinions and more than two-thirds are comfortable going to the CEO with an idea. Additionally, executives find their CEOs to be quite responsive, with 69% reporting that they receive email replies from their CEO within the day. Moreover, 60% of executives and general employees choose positive adjectives to describe their CEOs, with words like “intelligent,” “nice,” “honest,” “competent,” “visionary” and “hardworking” leading the way.
Still, the disconnect between CEOs and their employees persists. Across the board, CEOs believe they’re placing a strong emphasis on positive actions, while their executive teams are not so sure. For instance, 42% of CEOs rank “recognizing and rewarding achievement” as their most important priority, yet only 17% of execs agree. And 39% of CEOs say “caring about the success and welfare of individual employees” is most important to them but just 19% of executives concur. Finally, 31% of CEOs identify “seeking ideas and input from employees at all levels” as their top concern but only 14% of their executives agree.
Other notable survey findings include:
- 39% of CEOs feel they make less than their fair share but only 7% of executives and 4% of general employees agree.
- CEOs say they work an average of 64 hours each week.
- 54% of executives say CEOs micromanage and/or interfere with company progress.
- CEOs, executives and general employees all agree that motivating and inspiring employees should be the CEO’s highest priority.
A complete copy of the report is available for download at CEO.com.
About the Survey
CEO.com surveyed 1,500 CEOs, executives and general employees from companies across a wide range of industries to provide a multidimensional look at the leadership style of today’s CEO.
CEO.com was launched by Omniture cofounder and longtime CEO Josh James, before he launched Domo, to help business executives stay up to date with the latest news and best management practices across top industries. CEO.com is now sponsored by Domo.
Domo is a cloud-based executive-management platform that redefines the business intelligence market and transforms the way business is managed. Domo gives users direct, real-time access to all the business information they care about, all in one place.
With more than $125 million in funding, Domo is backed by an all-star list of angels and investors, including Benchmark Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, IVP, Ron Conway and David Lee of SV Angel, Hummer Winblad, plus a who’s who of SaaS and Internet technology.
Domo’s founding team consists of some of the most sought-after talent in the industry, with experience including Amazon, American Express, Ancestry.com, eBay, Endeca, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, MLB.com, Omniture, Salesforce.com and SAP.
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Julie Kehoe, VP of Communications