CEOs need to be ‘hybrid leaders’: PwC

Able to respond to challenges and opportunities from technology advances, demographic changes, and shifts in global economic power.

PwC highlights the need for CEOs to develop ‘hybrid leadership’ as they face more changes ahead.

"To pilot their organisations through times of enormous change, CEOs will have to become hybrid leaders, comfortable straddling two worlds to draw on the best of the old while operating at the frontiers of the new," says PwC in its 17th Annual Global CEO Survey.

CEOs, both in New Zealand and globally, identified the following trends that will have the most impact on their organisation in the next five years: technological advances (91 per cent in New Zealand, 81 per cent globally), demographic changes (74 per cent in New Zealand, 60 per cent globally) and shifts in global economic power (49 per cent in New Zealand, 59 per cent globally).

“Together these trends will create many opportunities for innovation and growth, but they will also raise new challenges for traditional business models," says Bruce Hassall, CEO of PwC New Zealand. “If your organisation’s core DNA does not have the ability to change, evolve and adapt, you are going to be in real trouble in a world that is changing at such an unprecedented pace."


Across most business functions, New Zealand CEOs gave a mixed response about how well prepared their organisations are for transformative change. The executive got the highest response, 82 per cent, as being "well prepared" for the shift. The lowest rankings went to IT and R and D, with 38 per cent of CEOs believing these functions are “well prepared” for the change.

If your organisation’s core DNA does not have the ability to change, evolve and adapt, you are going to be in real trouble.

Bruce Hassall, PwC NZ

The report states organisations must be willing to invest, but be prepared to end projects quickly if these are not working. “This should not be viewed as a sign of failure, but rather, as an inevitable outcome resulting from exercising initiative in a fast evolving competitive marketplace. If an organisation cannot quickly reinvent itself in a rapidly changing world, it will most likely go out of business.”

To accommodate fast-paced markets, PwC says many organisations now work to to two strategic plans. One takes a long-term view – usually five years – and is vision focused. The second tends to be a one to three-year revolving strategy, which can accommodate sudden but expected regulatory or political changes, and react quickly to new opportunities.

The survey finds 43 per cent of New Zealand CEOs are currently working to a three-year plan. However, 77 per cent see five years or more as the ideal. PwC asks whether “the optimum planning time zone horizon" could be a mix of the two.

Another key finding is that New Zealand CEOs are significantly more positive about the outlook for the global economy over the next 12 months, compared to their global peers.

The report shows 63 per cent of New Zealand respondents believe the global economy will improve in the next 12 months, compared to just 44 per cent globally.

Additionally, 89 per cent were either somewhat or very confident of growing their revenue in the coming year.

Critical questions for CEOs:

Developing hybrid leadership

• How do you ensure you’re in a position to make sufficient – even radical – change today to realise your longer-term vision for your organisation?

• How do you drive growth that is lasting, responsible, real and inclusive?

• How do you measure the impacts of your decisions today on all your stakeholders and your business tomorrow?

• How do you assess/compare the relative weight of the expectations of, or the outcomes for, various stakeholders in order to arrive at decisions that create most value?

• Have you considered the legacy you want to leave? How have you incorporated this into your strategic planning?

Creating value in totally new ways:

• What are you doing to become a pioneer of technological innovation?

• Do you have a strategy fit for the digital age? And the skills to deliver it?

• How are you using ‘digital’ as a means of helping customers achieve the outcomes they desire – rather than treating it as just another channel?

• How are you adapting your sales cycle to avoid product obsolescence, as new technologies emerge at breakneck speed?

• And how are you accelerating innovation to increase revenues?

Source: PwC CEO Survey 2014

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