Survey by JP│KOM, Civey & Quadriga Hochschule

The top challenges for CEOs in the Future: One quarter of Germans states shortage of skilled labor and social change

The most important aspects at a glance

What is the greatest challenge facing CEOs in the future?

Should a CEO in your opinion take a position on important sociopolitical issues?

Which CEO do you think represents his company best externally?

percent of Germans state shortage of skilled labor as the greatest challenge for CEOs in the future.
perecent would like a CEO with a profile on sociopolitical issues.
perecent of Germans cannot name a CEO.

Not only shortage of skilled labor but also social change

In the view of Germans, the shortage of skilled labor (24 %) and social change (22 %) are the greatest challenges executive level managers will be faced with in the future. Young Germans in particular see social change as the major issue: 41.5 % of 18- to 29-year olds state this challenge.



The overall results show digital transformation (12 %), climate change (10.5 %), trade disputes (10 %) and the lack of economic momentum (10 %) to be mid-table in the challenges top managers will have to overcome in the future. However the replies show differences between the age groups. In the age group 40- to 49-year old, 23 % state digital transformation as the second greatest challenge after social change. In contrast, 19 % of 18- to 29-year olds think that CEOs must confront climate change as the second most important challenge. The topic of “New Work” or work models (4 %) is however less relevant for all population groups among the respondents.



Long-term strategy is the top task whereas making profits is not

The “long-term strategy” is by far the most important task a top manager at executive level has to attend to in the future for around half of all Germans (46 %). The second most frequent issue stated is the motivation of staff (12 %), followed by observing employees’ work-life balance (12 %) and good communication (10 %). Germans regard making profits (7 %), providing momentum (5 %) and auditing (1 %) as among the less important CEO tasks for the future.



Strong leadership yes, but vision, capacity for teamwork and communication skills are increasingly important

More than one quarter of Germans (27 %) is of the opinion that strong leadership is the most important skill a top manager requires in the future. Vision is stated by 18 % of Germans. Capacity for teamwork and communication skills are the pivotal factors for success for 12.5 % respectively of those surveyed. Agility as a skill is however of virtually no importance; only 2 % stated this. Strong leadership is of particular importance to the age groups 18 to 29 (35 %) and 30 to 39 (32 %). Whereas the age group 40 to 49 wished for much greater communication skills (24 %) from a CEO.



Required: CEOs with clear opinions on sociopolitical issues

More than one half of Germans (52 %) replied in the affirmative to the question of whether a CEO should take a position on important sociopolitical issues. Only 10 % of those surveyed did not want a CEO to take a position on important sociopolitical issues “at all“.


AfD voters (65 %) above all rejected this; among FDP voters an above average number of those surveyed at 24 % negated this question compared to the other parties.



Top CEOs in Germany scarcely known

Almost one German in ten is of the opinion that CEO Joe Kaeser from Siemens represents his company best externally. Above all 40- to 49-year olds (16 %) and over- 65 Germans (12.5 %) named him. Adidas boss, Kasper Rorsted is named by just under 7 % of those surveyed, followed by Mathias Döpfner from Axel Springer (4 %). However more than 56 % of Germans could not name any CEO who represented his company well externally.



"Social skills gaining enormously in importance"

“The classical areas of competence of a successful CEO will change increasingly in the future. Making profits alone is no longer sufficient in the opinion of the majority of Germans. Top managers not only have to be able to successfully solve the challenge of the shortage of skilled labor but also social change. And the CEO should also take a position on this issue“, says Susanne Marell, Managing Director of communications agency JP│KOM. “Strong leadership remains a crucial skill; however vision, capacity for teamwork and communication skills are gaining hugely in significance. Our survey thus shows that a new generation of top managers is required at the executive level of companies according to German opinion.”


About the survey

The opinion research institute Civey took the replies of more than 2,500 participants per question from August 20, 2019 into account for the representative result. The statistical error in the results is 3.5 %. Further information on the method can be found here.

About JP│KOM

JP│KOM is the agency of the future. We represent strategic consulting, fascinating stories and high-quality content in modern media. At our offices in Düsseldorf and Frankfurt, 38 employees support customers in the mechanical engineering, technology and chemical industries, banks/insurance companies, in healthcare and other sectors on their way into the new communications era. We shape digital change – in traditional companies as well. As a member of the International PR Network (IPRN), JP | KOM has more than 40 cooperation partners worldwide. 

About Civey

Civey is the market and opinion tech leader. The Berlin opinion tech company has developed an innovative process using machine learning with which representative surveys can be performed fully automated online. Customers can view and use the data gathered in real time. Participants in surveys also have access to representative results in real time. Civey reaches users on more than 25,000 Websites including Spiegel Online, WELT, Focus Online, FUNKE Mediengruppe or Two years after Civey’s start it has the largest and most active panel for market and opinion surveying in Germany.

About Quadriga Hochschule

The Quadriga Hochschule Berlin is a private university for management in PR and communication, politics and public affairs, human resources, sales and marketing. The university promotes interdisciplinary knowledge exchange, practice-oriented research and professional network building for career development. We currently offer seven professional development courses as well as numerous post-graduate training formats at executive education level.

Contact and Downloads

Contact us and download more content

Susanne Marell
Managing Partner
Tel. +49-211-687835-14

Steffen Braun
Partner, Director Economy and Society
Civey GmbH
Tel. +49-160-94737268


Photo: FangXiaNuo/, Illustration: JP│KOM, Graphics: DataWrapper, Dats Source: Civey