CEOs eye 2022 with optimism and a dash of uncertainty
The Winter 2022 installment of the Fortune/Deloitte CEO Survey finds that CEOs are ready for more growth amidst continued uncertainty.
Maybe 2022 will be better?
Last January, CEOs described 2021 as the year of hope. One year later and looking back on their lived experience, many CEOs describe 2021 as “challenging.” Nearly 60% of CEOs are delivering one-word sentiments that put 2021 in a distinctly negative light: In addition to “challenging,” they found the year “chaotic,” “exhausting,” “long,” “unpredictable,” and “volatile.”
But with the start of a new year, similar to the start of 2021, more than two-thirds of CEOs appear determined to see sunshine on the horizon. Asked to describe 2022 in one word, a significant number of CEOs are offering less “hope” (as they did last January), but “hopeful”—in addition to “opportunity,” “optimistic,” and “recovery.”
The number of CEOs who write “hopeful” is almost exactly counterbalanced by the number of CEOs who write “uncertain,” a decidedly less sunny sentiment. Both are likely to pervade the weeks and months ahead.
In the latest Fortune/Deloitte CEO Survey, fielded January 4-12, 2022, 175 leading CEOs representing more than 15 industries share a perspective on what is both hopeful and uncertain about the next 12 months—covering growth rates to inflation rates, supply chain challenges to talent challenges, and more.
Notwithstanding the challenging societal circumstances at this moment presented by the Omicron surge, CEOs remain optimistic about the business environment and see strong growth opportunities over the next year. A new normal appears to be setting in whereby business leaders simply expect new challenges to arise continuously, and are confident they can manage through them to achieve positive business results while making a real difference in society.
The next 12 months: Déjà vu?
The timing of our most recent Fortune/Deloitte CEO Survey editions coincided with the rise of two COVID-19 variants: Delta in September 2021, and now Omicron. Even with the Omicron variant top of mind, CEO expectations are remarkably unchanged from four months ago—lending credence to our observation in the Fall 2021 survey that CEOs appear confident that their organizations already adjusted and adapted to a “new normal” marked by the enduring uncertainty of COVID-19. One CEO even describes 2022 in the current survey as “déjà vu.”
Access the full report here