Two-thirds of global chief executives are concerned about the impact of the 2024 US election on their business, while a hefty 60% worry about losing their jobs in the current economic environment.
The concerns appear in new research revealing that CEOs around the world also feel under pressure from boards and investors to “take a stance” on environmental and social issues.
The results, from the 2024 Disruption Index, produced by consultancy firm AlixPartners, speak of a business cadre that has become better at confronting disruption, particularly since the pandemic, but who are also faced with uncertainty over supply chain instability, worker shortages, record levels of inflation and rising interest rates. AlixPartners surveyed more than 3,000 executives from 11 countries.
Simon Freakley, CEO at AlixPartners, warned that business leaders and boards are entering an era of “less controllable disruptive forces”, demanding agility and decisive action in management.
“Although our survey suggests that an increasing number of leaders are feeling more confident in their ability to manage disruption, there’s no room for complacency,” Freakley says.
In terms of geopolitics, CEOs worry about the US presidential election (66%) and the US-China relationship between China and the US (68%). Generative AI is viewed as an opportunity by 68% of execs, but, significantly, 63% of chief executives suffer anxiety that their companies cannot keep up with the rate at which technology changes.
There are also concerns about responding to the climate transition, inflation and interest rates.
‘Total’ business model change
A third of CEOs say they are “more anxious” in their roles than they were a year ago, and nearly two-thirds, 63%, believe their business models will change significantly in the next year due to disruptive forces. A hefty 18% say the change will be “total”.
While corporate leaders may be concerned about the range of issues before them, CEO pay appears to be rising on both sides of the Atlantic with the London Stock Exchange in the UK leading calls for more pay to increase competitiveness.
However, there are other trends. The United Nations has challenged chief executives in the US on the wages they pay employees, while European CEOs are coming to terms with new reporting responsibilities on human rights and sustainability. Regulators have reported UK companies appear to be struggling with climate risk reporting.
With war still raging in Ukraine and Gaza, inflation and interest rates still high, and demands for climate action increasing, 2024 could prove a tough year for CEOs.