CEOs and other top executives of U.S. companies are suffering from a “confidence action gap,” expressing confidence about the future of their organizations but failing to translate that feeling into long-term investment, according to a new survey.

Deloitte Consulting said that two-thirds of the 300 C-suite level executives it surveyed for its first Business Confidence Report were very confident that their companies will outperform the competition over the next 12 months. But when asked about their confidence in their ability to address specific obstacles to growth, 43% had doubts.

That lack of confidence, Deloitte suggested, may be manifesting itself “in a lack of focus on investment areas that are most likely to help [executives] overcome the issues they’ve identified as being obstacles to growth.”

Nearly three-quarters of the responding executives, for example, identified “cyber risk” as an obstacle to growth but do not prioritize investments in both technology and incident response, the survey found.

“As competition intensifies, there has never been a more crucial time for America’s top business leaders to be confident and place bold bets,” Jim Moffatt, CEO of Deloitte Consulting, said in a news release. “Yet our survey reveals a lack of investments in those areas [exeutives] indicate are fundamental to growth.”

Jonathan Copulsky, a principal at Deloitte Consulting, told CNBC that the goal of the survey was to look at where executives “ had a good sense of confidence about the future and where they had different views. We think there’s a confidence action gap.”

Deloitte also polled future C-suite executives ranging in age from 33 to 48 and who were employed as senior vice president or executive vice president or the equivalent at companies with 1,000 or more employees. The results from that group indicated a similar mindset, with 63% saying they were confident about the future but 44% having doubts about being able to address obstacles to growth.

Those surveyed weren’t very confident about their subordinates’ abilities. Fifty-two percent of current and 59% of future executives do not believe that their direct reports have the skills to assume greater leadership roles in the organization.

Source: CFO