Ahead of Davos, CEOs need a grip on reality

Less than a week from now, the world’s elite will convene in Davos. As they sit high atop the Alps, they will muse about a new architecture for globalization — this year’s theme. Meanwhile, elsewhere, economic reality will prevail: a trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies, the possibility of an ugly Brexit resolution, mounds of national debt piling up around the world, disruptive innovation from competitors threatening business models, and turbulent stock markets that are rattling nerves.
The uncertainties are vast. In a new survey of over 800 global CEOs by The Conference Board, corporate leaders ranked the risk of a recession as their number one external concern for 2019. Global political instability and trade disruptions came in as runner-ups. They also have little faith in the traditional levers of power — policy and political institutions — containing the external turbulence.
What’s more, the CEOs feel quite confident about having the right cultures in place in their own companies for thriving in the future, and the right leaders and organizational structure for succeeding down the road.

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