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If growth is your #1 job, what’s #2?

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in Leaders & Managers

As CEO, what are your top priorities? According to a recent study by the Conference Board, your answer probably depends on what industry you are in.

Of the 10 priorities that CEOs were invited to rank, business growth came in first place. After growth, though, CEOs’ answers varied.

Leaders in the financial sector said government regulation was the second-biggest challenge. Overall, though, government regulation ranked fifth in the list of key priorities.

Innovation ranked third among CEOs in manufacturing and nonfinancial services firms, while financial firm CEOs put innovation toward the bottom of the list. Talent came in second place across the board.

Why such a discrepancy?

One reason may be the intense scrutiny that financial firms are under. “Innovation” is associated with the complex financial instruments that led to the near collapse of the market.

CEOs also have been under intense pressure to cut costs throughout the recession. Adding talent, efficiency and innovation to the mix becomes tricky when you’re under that sort of pressure.

“I’m getting the sense that CEOs have squeezed out [all] the efficiency they can and now have to move to innovation and talent to grow,” says Stanford University professor Robert Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss.

— Adapted from “Most CEOs Prize Growth, But Other Priorities Vary,” The Wall Street Journal.

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