769 CEOs from 40 countries were asked to rate their greatest concerns from among 121 challenges. The polled CEOs selected "excellence of execution" as the top challenge and "keeping consistent execution of strategy by top management" as the third-greatest concern. Sustained and steady top-line growth, which led the list last year, now ranks second, with profit growth fourth and finding qualified managerial talent fifth.
The survey responses reveal some remarkable regional differences. CEOs from Europe expressed greater concern with getting new, more responsive ideas out sooner, which may be why execution--in terms of speed, flexibility and adaptability to change--is a more dominant theme in Europe (third place) than in Asia (tied for eighth) and in the United States (10th place).