Tough at the top: The Marketing Society/Accenture Leadership survey

The Marketing Society and Accenture spoke to a cross-section of business leaders to find out what they thought were the key qualities of successful CEOs in today's tough business environment. This is an edited version of the conversations that produced a list of eight essential leadership skills that the modern chief executive needs to develop in order to succeed.

Chief executives are important to marketers. They are the marketing director's first and most important customer. As a starting point for our interviews, CEOs were asked to rate a series of leadership attributes on a five-point scale from 'unimportant' through to 'critical'. Figure 1 shows the order in which our respondents placed the different skills required by a CEO. 'Strategic thinker' was clearly seen as the most important characteristic, while 'personality' and 'visionary' were the least.

Figure 1: 'Please rate the importance of each competency to the needs of future CEOs in relation to the changing customer agenda'