NATNews Blog > February 2017 > Leadership views of C-suite and millennial execs

    Leadership views of C-suite and millennial execs

    2/13/2017 10:33:08 AM
    With each passing day, millennial leaders assume an increasing role in steering both the nation's economy and the organizations that comprise it. Yet the subject of their leadership lacks adequate research, with widespread assumptions painting an often inaccurate picture.
    New research from The Conference Board comes in the wake of an extensive, ongoing departure of baby boomers from the U.S. workforce and sheds light on millennials' leadership values and preferences; where they agree with and differ from other leadership cohorts and generations; and, in light of the findings, what steps organizations can take for enhanced performance.
    Developed in conjunction with RW2 Enterprises and Development Dimensions International (DDI), The Conference Board report, Divergent Views/Common Ground: The Leadership Perspectives of C-Suite Executives and Millennial Leaders, offers findings that result from interviews, surveys and focus groups with millennial leaders, CEOs and other non-millennial leaders at the following 14 organizations: Aetna, American Express, athenahealth, The Boeing Company, Cardinal Health, Humana, Johnson & Johnson, Kindred Healthcare, KPMG, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America, United Rentals, UPS, Verizon Communications, and Xerox.
    "These young leaders will ultimately sit in every leadership seat at every U.S. corporation," said Ronald A. Williams, CEO of RW2 Enterprises. "The U.S. GDP is currently tipping the scales at $18 trillion, and the global economy continues to become increasingly more challenging. It was my view that not only were we missing critical research on millennial leaders, but we also were missing a fact-based analysis of how millennial leaders' views differed from current CEOs and C-suite executives. Their differences are not necessarily right or wrong, but understanding how to bridge between the two will be crucial to the future of our economy."
    Contrary to conventional thought, millennial leaders hold much in common with other generations and CEOs. However, some significant differences exist, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • In the eyes of millennial leaders, a future leader succeeds globally through adeptness at the interpersonal and interaction facets of leadership. CEOs see an ideal future leader as one who focuses more on efficient decision-making and business know-how.
    • While millennial leaders care about social values, including organizations contributing to a cleaner environment and giving back to the community, somewhat surprisingly, CEOs place a bigger premium on these.
    • Millennial leaders have different workplace design preferences than CEOs think: they do not want low-hierarchy organizational structures or open design.

    Despite their differences, leaders across the spectrum (millennial, non-millennial, and CEOs) voiced much agreement in areas which include, but are not limited to, the following:
    • All place "arrogance and avoidance" as top leadership derailers.
    • All rank "engaging and inspiring employees" as the skills that matter most for getting leaders from one level to the next. Among CEOs, these skills were tied with "managing and successfully introducing change."
    • All say that it is important that the company "operates based on ethical values, not just legal obligations;" "preserves the profitability of its business operations;" and "takes actions guided by the needs of all stakeholders."
    • All say that "leading through transformation" is the top leadership experience that shapes leadership competence and motivation.
    The report also features recommendations for organizations and leaders across generational cohorts. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
    Start or amplify the dialogue to resolve the discrepancy in future leader skills. If organizations turn a blind eye in this area, both millennial leaders and CEOs will be frustrated with what top leaders become. Millennial leaders will develop themselves in a fashion that may contrast sharply with what today's CEOs believe is important for successful leadership.
    Reinforce the corporate imperatives of ethics, profitability, stakeholder needs, and environmental responsibility. Research has found that companies with a well-defined social mission tend to outperform their peers in revenue growth.
    Address the "I'll need to leave if I want to keep ascending" misperception. More so than their older peers, millennial leaders are more likely to feel that they will need to change organizations to reach the highest leadership level.
    Source: The Conference Board 
    Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.