the future CEO

November 09, 2014

the future CEO

London Business School conducts a survey among participants to its Executive Education Leadership Program every year and is thus able to tell us what GenYs are thinking about with regard to the business of the future. GenYs are those born between 1980 and 2000 and the oldest are now entering their 30s.

First, results indicate that they do not intend to stay at their jobs too long. The vast majority (90%) do not expect to stay beyond five years and over one-third put the ceiling at 24 months. What’s important to them — you’ve heard it before….are work/life balance and culture. Teams are also critical in their world. Their value their team over the organization. They are always looking for the next job. 

LBS asked these young CEO wannabes what they would focus on if they were CEOs and running the businesses where they work. They were given a list and here’s their answers:

  • aligning with purpose (43%)
  • thinking entrepreneurially (33%)
  • minding the core business (12%)
  • globalizing the business (12%)
  • maximizing return to shareholders (1%)

They are evidently purpose-driven, you might say to a fault. Return on investment — 1% — is hardly on their radar screens. As the article says where I first read about the survey: “Either way, 1% is significant in its insignificance – that it bears so little import to this population.” Purpose is going to be hard core for this population segment. We are likely to see a reasonable balance between the two when they take the reins but without purpose, they might not even want the job. 

I was searching around for the full survey when I found a post by Adam Kingl, Director of Learning Solutions, Executive Education at London Business School, who seems to have spearheaded the research. He tells a story in his blog post about a conversation with an executive recruiter who deals with GenYs. Essentially he said that when GenYs come for job interviews, they are interviewing him. They want to know why they should work for this particular company and quiz him on job mobility and culture. Quite a change for those of us on the other end of the age spectrum. We are from the school of “You’re lucky to have a job. Now put in your time.”

If purpose and meaning are going to be at the top of our future CEOs’ agendas, it can’t be all that bad. We’ve seen what Facebook has done as well as other Fortune 500 companies driven by both profit and purpose. I hate to say that time will tell but no doubt it will. 

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of corporate and CEO reputations.

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