CEOs need long-term Brexit view says research.

Brexit Challenge.

New research from leading global search and leadership advisory firm Russell Reynolds Associates has shown that investors believe the most important characteristic for the CEOs of the largest 250 companies on the FTSE is a long-term vision to lead their organisations through Brexit. Nine in ten (93 per cent) institutional investors believe a long-term vision is an important characteristic for leadership in a Brexit UK, far greater than the importance placed on short term action.

Most investors (53 per cent) believe that Brexit will make it harder to attract global talent at CEO and board level. Very few investors (18 per cent) believe that leading a UK company through Brexit will be seen as an attractive career challenge. The vast majority of investors (86 per cent) believe Brexit will result in a higher turnover at the top of organisations. They attribute this to the leadership challenges of Brexit, greater shareholder scrutiny and the lure of attractive opportunities outside of the UK.

Disruptive leadership, often associated with high growth digital companies, is now viewed as a core requirement for leaders of FTSE 250 companies.  More than three quarters (76 per cent) of investors believe that the ability to disrupt and challenge business models is important. Almost two thirds (62 per cent) believe that resilience is a key management attribute.

James Roome, UK country manager at Russell Reynolds Associates, commented: “The research reminds us that UK companies are competing for leadership talent in a global market and shows that investors are concerned that the UK may lose some of its appeal to global leaders.  We should not be complacent that the UK will continue to be a magnet for international talent.  Any reluctance of high calibre global leaders to be based here and lead UK companies will be problematic.

“Intense uncertainty in the UK is a very particular challenge for CEOs and boards. The uncertainly of Brexit is layered on top of rapid technology disruption and changing markets. Leaders will need to adapt more than ever before. Russell Reynolds Associates has developed a proprietary framework, Leadership Span, which shows that leaders who are able to work across a range of leadership styles will be more effective in unpredictable environments. According to this framework, the strongest global leaders balance ‘loud’ leadership characteristics, such as disruption, with ‘quiet’ leadership characteristics such as vulnerability. These characteristics initially appear contradictory, but leaders who span both will be more successful.”

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