Leadership Confidence Index

Explore leaders’ confidence in their executive leadership team and how this has shifted over time.
Leadership Confidence Index
Learn about the methodology


As leadership teams struggled across 2021 and 2022 to adjust to a set of interconnected and volatile issues—such as uncertain economic growth, geopolitical uncertainty, climate change, and technological disruption—there was a sharp decline in how confident leaders were in their executive teams’ capability, behavior, and management of critical issues.


However, our H1 2023 Leadership Confidence Index shows that this decline has come to an end, with confidence leveling off overall. Yet significant pockets of declining confidence remain in certain industries, regions, and amongst CEOs, indicating that leadership teams must continue to adjust to this ever-changing environment.


Leadership Confidence Index H1 2023—5 key findings


01 CEO confidence continues to decline



CEO confidence in their executive team has declined by

3.1 points

since H2 2022

CEO confidence in their executive team has continued to decline over the last six months, whilst C-suite leaders’ confidence in their executive teams has remained the same against H2 2022 figures. The main differentiator? Confidence in their leadership team’s capability to lead the organization successfully.


As organizations continue to adjust to the current environment, CEOs are right to be cautious about the capability of their leadership team. However, they must distinguish between gaps in domain expertise or technical knowledge and the resilience and learning quotient of the team.


To help their organization succeed, CEOs should focus on empowering their C-suite to work together through change and identify leaders that will help drive forward innovation.


02 Next-generation leadership confidence starting to recover


Next-generation leadership confidence in their executive team has risen by

1.8 points

since H2 2022


Next-generation leadership confidence had been lower than other leaders in 2021 and 2022. However, in the last six months, confidence has risen by 1.8 points, driven by rising confidence in executive teams’ capabilities and behaviors.


Although next-generation leaders’ confidence has recovered slightly and economic indicators may make talent retention easier, organizations should still focus on increasing next-generation leader engagement levels.


Investing in development opportunities, robust succession planning, and ensuring that C-suite leaders are effectively coaching and developing the next generation is not only important for talent retention, but also for overall organizational resilience.


03 Board confidence continues to sit well above that of executives



Board confidence in the executive leadership team is

11.3 points

higher than C-suite confidence

Board confidence in their executive leadership team continues to sit significantly higher than that of executives themselves 8.5 points higher than that of CEOs, and 11.3 points higher than that of the C-suite.


The disconnect between board and executive perceptions could be because board members have a broader and longer-term view. The CEO and board chair should consider creating opportunities to build connections between the board and the C-suite outside of formal board meetings. Doing this not only gives the board deeper insight into the business, but also creates opportunities for C-suite leaders to learn from board directors’ experience.


04 Leadership confidence in the technology sector has dropped significantly


Leadership confidence in the technology sector has declined by

6.7 points

since H2 2022


The technology sector has experienced the largest drop in leadership confidence, declining 6.7 points in the last six months. This fall is primarily driven by declining confidence in the executive team’s ability to model the right culture and behaviors, and to drive decision-making on critical issues.


As analysts and commentators raise questions about over-hiring, mass layoffs, and the suboptimal prioritization of investments, technology leaders need to ask themselves whether their executive team has the skills, mindset, and leadership team culture to sustain growth in a more cost-constrained environment.


05 Whilst US confidence stabilizes, Europe and Asia record further declines



Leadership confidence in Switzerland has declined by

6.8 points

since H2 2022

Leadership confidence in the US has levelled off, while Europe and Asia recorded drops of two points each in overall leadership confidence in their executive team. The largest regional decline was in Switzerland, where leadership confidence dropped by 6.8 points—a decline that could be linked to issues in the financial services sector.


Overall, leadership confidence is down from 2021 across regions. While varying market and geopolitical dynamics drive these differences, a globalized world requires executives to evaluate and adapt how their organizations are managed. Executives must determine whether they have the right leadership in place to manage complex, global perspectives that also unify their organizations through behavior and culture.



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The Leadership Confidence Index captures the view of CEOs, C-suite leaders, next-generation leaders (those 1-2 levels below the C-suite), and board directors on the effectiveness of the executive leadership team (ELT) at their organization across three constructs:


1. Capability

Does the ELT:

  • Have the right capability to lead the organization successfully?
  • Have a strong grasp of competitive dynamics in their industry?
  • Access to the right information to support decision-making?
  • Receive good advice and input from the supervisory board?


2. Behavior

Does the ELT:

  • Work together effectively as a team?
  • Effectively embrace change?
  • Role model the right culture and behaviors?


3. Issue management

Does the ELT:

  • Effectively embrace the opportunities of digital transformation?
  • Effectively embrace the opportunities of ESG?
  • Have a successful strategy for leadership succession at the C-level?
  • Implement practices to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion?


Responses to these items are combined into an overall Leadership Confidence Index on a 100-point scale, as well as a sub-index on each of the three constructs.


The Leadership Confidence Index is derived from RRA’s Global Leadership Monitor, which is an online survey of executives and non-executives that gathers the perspective of leaders on the impact of external trends on organizational health and their leadership implications (first launched in 2021). Russell Reynolds Associates surveyed its global network of executives using an online/mobile survey from 28 February to 20 March of 2023. Data from previous Global Leadership Monitor surveys were deployed in February/March 2021, March 2022, and October 2022.


View a breakdown of the survey respondents








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Tom Handcock, Managing Director of the Center for Leadership Insight conducted the analysis and authored this report.

Learn more about the authors and The Center for Leadership Insight


The author wishes to thank the thousands of leaders from RRA’s global network who responded to the Global Leadership Monitor over the last 2 years. Their responses to the survey have contributed greatly to our understanding of leadership in 2023 and beyond.


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