European CEOs Look into Crystal Ball, Predict Greater Focus on Ethical Leadership and Less Focus Solely on Profits, According to Korn Ferry Study

‘Making a Difference in How Business is Done’ Strongest Driver for Future Leaders

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- According to new research by Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY), European CEOs believe that a greater focus on ethical, people-oriented leadership will be the new norm by 2025.

In the survey of 163 CEOs in Europe, 94 percent say the CEO role will have a greater emphasis on moral/ethical leadership by 2025. In addition, 95 percent say that CEOs will shift from a single focus of profit to include greater emphasis on people and “planet.”

“CEOs realize that the business world cannot be guided by profits alone at the expense of ethics, fair treatment of people and environmental stewardship,” said Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner Marie-Osmonde Le Roy de Lanauze-Molines. “It is increasingly critical that leaders guide with transparency and a focus on the greater good.”

The CEO survey found that today’s leaders feel that the biggest driver emerging leaders need to succeed is the drive to make a difference in how business is done.

The surveyed CEOs also indicate technological forces will have the greatest impact on how they do business in the coming years, followed by economic and political forces. When asked about their largest obstacle to obtaining their vision in the future, the CEOs cite a shortage of qualified talent.

Having a sense of mission and purpose is the most important factor to a CEO’s future success, according to the survey, followed by agility/openness to change and a strong values set.

“There is no doubt that the business world of 2025 will be quite different from today, and it’s a positive sign that today’s European CEOs are seeing a shift to a broader view of what success will look like in the future,” said Le Roy de Lanauze-Molines.

About the Survey

In August and September 2019, Korn Ferry (NYSE: KFY) conducted the survey of 163 CEOs of both private and public companies across sectors in different European countries. The survey examined the characteristics and success factors these CEOs thought to be of importance for the next generation of CEOs in 2025. Due to rounding, responses may not equal 100 percent.

Survey results


Rank 1

Rank 2

Rank 3

To what extent do you see the CEO role in 2025 becoming more focused on moral/ethical leadership?

To a great extent (56%)

To some extent (38%)

Same (5%)

To what extent do you see future CEOs in 2025 shifting focus from a single focus of profit to a triple bottom line including profit, people, and planet?

To a great extent (62%)

To some extent (33%)

Same (5%)

Which factors do you see as having the biggest impact on future CEOs in 2025?




What are the strongest drivers for emerging leaders to want to become future CEOs in 2025?

Making a difference in how business is done

Driving innovation

Changing business’ social contribution

What will future CEOs in 2025 find as obstacles to their vision?

Shortage of right talent

Inability of business models to keep up with pace of change

Global complexity

Which factors are most important for CEO success in 2025?

Having a sense of mission and purpose

Agility and openness to change

Strong values set

What made the most difference in your own ability to sustain peak performance as a CEO?

High performing team and colleagues

Personal sense of purpose

Core values

Which experiences most prepared you for the challenges of being CEO?

Bringing a team together to achieve a daunting goal

Learning from one’s own mistake or failure

Leading an enterprise-wide transformation program

When are development experiences most impactful in shaping future leaders for the CEO role?

First leadership role (33%)

First P&L leadership role (25%)

Childhood/as early as possible (15%)

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with clients to design their organizational structures, roles and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward, develop and motivate their workforce. And, we help professionals navigate and advance their careers.

Tracy Kurschner

Source: Korn Ferry