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CEO Daily Brief – Nov. 11, 2010

Fewer CEOs Headed for the Exit in October The number of chief executive officers leaving their posts in October fell …

Fewer CEOs Headed for the Exit in October

The number of chief executive officers leaving their posts in October fell to its lowest level in 18 months, according to a new report. The drop seems to show that the volatile job market, at least among corporate chiefs, appears to be stabilizing.

Last month, 81 CEOs parted ways with their employers, down 27 percent from the 111 departures recorded in September, according to the report compiled by global employment-services firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. The rate was the lowest tracked since April 2009, when 78 CEOs exited their jobs.

For the year so far, the pace of CEO departures is about on par with 2009, Challenger said. In the first 10 months of the year, 1,048 CEO departures have been announced, up slightly from the 1,028 announced during the same period last year. Government and nonprofit organizations had the highest number of turnovers in October, with nine CEOs departing. So far in 2010, government and nonprofits combined have announced 141 CEO departures, ranking second only to the health-care industry, which has reported 173 this year, including eight in October. Last month’s most notable departure may have been that of Randy Michaels at Tribune Co.

In its report, Challenger noted that criticism of CEO compensation has grown increasingly vocal during the last year. Corporate boards for the most part have defended the generous pay packages even as CEOs have less room for error.

For more information from Daily Finance, please click here.

CEOs Endorse Freer Trade, Investment

Top executives of some of the world’s 120 richest companies urged vigorous but careful efforts to promote free trade and investment Thursday as leaders of the Group of 20 major economies opened a two-day summit for discussions on how to tackle the global economic downturn.

The call came as part of 68 recommendations for G-20 leaders the corporate leaders reached at the end of their unprecedented business summit with the world’s most influential political leaders.

In a joint statement released at the end of working group meetings, the business CEOs urged G-20 leaders to “roll back protectionism at least to where it was at the start of the global financial crisis” and put trade and investment permanently on the agenda of the G-20 summit.

Rare meetings between business and political leaders began earlier Thursday following an opening plenary session of the G-20 Business Summit, where South Korean President Lee Myung-bak stressed the importance of the role of business in overcoming the global economic downturn.

For more from the Yonhap News Agency, please click here.

Why the Best Executive Teams Can Make the Worst Decisions

Good guidelines and motivations are rarely enough to ensure sound decisions. Research has shown that it is entirely natural for decision-making groups, whatever their motivations and guidelines, to tend to suppress information flow, have extreme attitudes, make extreme judgments, be inflexible in adapting their approach to changing circumstances, and–despite all that–have great confidence in their decisions.

This is not because of individual ability or motivation; it arises from natural group dynamics. Put your best people in a cohesive group, and chances are that sooner or later these group dynamics will emerge and get the better of them. These are not faults that arise when something goes wrong. They are natural occurrences that require extra, unusual steps to avoid.

Consequently, merely establishing processes and providing guidelines and information is unlikely to deliver improvement. To bring about change against the tide, to help people do something other than what comes naturally to them, requires more than just imparting awareness of how they should act and then leaving them to it. It demands hands-on help and repeated practice and feedback, direct and individualized interventions to make possible the development and practice of new skills. This often requires the presence of an expert coach.

For more from Forbes, please click here.

CEOs Do Care About Sustainability

Accenture’s recent study with the U.N. confirms that CEOs do care about sustainability, which is why they need to work on making investors understand the business case. Over the past year, Accenture has been speaking with a wide range of business leaders as part of a study, A New Era of Sustainability. Done in partnership with the UN Global Compact, during the course of taking the temperature of chief executive sentiment on corporate sustainability, they conducted 50 in-depth interviews with company bosses, backed up by an online survey of a further 766 CEOs from around the globe. Each of the CEOs would turn to us and say, “Look: We’d like to do more on sustainability, but mainstream investors just don’t care about it.”

CEOs cite a lack of investor interest as a critical barrier to further investment, but few CEOs attempt to communicate to shareholders on sustainability as a business issue, and even fewer see investors as an important voice in shaping their activities in this area over the next five years.

In addressing the difficulties, many CEOs pointed to internal challenges of complexity or competing priorities, but others believe that the major challenges are outside their organizations— specifically, that the investor community does not currently reward companies that invest in sustainability.

There are significant differences across industries, and in certain sectors CEOs see a more value-focused and productive conversation already occurring. In the oil and gas and automotive industries, for example, where corporate value and sustainability imperatives are inextricably linked, CEOs believe that investors have a better understanding of the material impact of sustainability on business performance. Many CEOs also pointed to a rising—if still largely niche and specialized—interest among socially responsible investment funds.

For more from BusinessWeek, please click here.

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