The Career Engagement Group from New Zealand recently conducted an online survey of over 1,000 employed people ages 18-65. The focus of the survey was to understand the career aspirations, agility and drivers of the current workforce across key demographics such as gender, age and career stage.
Maybe because the survey originated in New Zealand, some different questions were asked than the usual employee engagement surveys we see so routinely today. It’s always good to get a different take on what’s important.
One of the subjects covered that seemed out of the ordinary was Leadership Aspiration. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure I’ve ever been asked – in the many engagement and career development surveys I’ve taken – if I wanted to lead at the most senior level in an organization. It’s a great question. And the answers surprised me. How about you?
Leadership Aspirations & Gender & Generations
- Only 11% of all respondents want to lead at the most senior level in an organization.
- Women report lower leadership aspirations than men – 15% of all males aspire to senior leadership positions, while only 9% of all females had similar aspirations.
- Younger people have higher leadership aspirations overall.
Hmmm. Only 11% of all respondents want to lead at the most senior level in an organization! That surprises me. A lot. I would have loved to have seen the breakdown in responses by age group as well as gender. Because I might have thought that the younger generations might be less interested in the stress and costs of leadership at the top than their older colleagues, but the results say otherwise according to the Career Engagement Group.
And women being less interested in leadership at the top than men? That’s kind of a show stopper, don’t you think? With more and more women entering the workforce around the world, this finding should be concerning. Many industry-leading organizations are working hard to keep women in their organizations – maybe they should also be more encouraging about the value and rewards of life at the top. According to this survey, there aren’t a lot of people — male or female –dreaming about being the CEO and making plans to get to the top.
When the demographics are already working against us (see my posts here and here) and the C-Suite is justifiably concerned about where the next generation of leaders is coming from, perhaps what’s needed is a marketing campaign to encourage workers to reach for the top.
What do you think?
2 responses to “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the C-Suite…”
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I don’t know, maybe I’m a cynic but this doesn’t surprise me all that much. I might have predicted that more people would say that they want to be an executive, but I think people are wising up to all the work, pressure and BS that comes along with the big title and paycheck. Practically speaking, 11% of our workforce having ambitions to fill jobs that make up a fraction of a percent of total jobs doesn’t sound all that out of whack. The key is making sure it’s the right 11%. The optimist in me suggests that perhaps people are finding more meaningful aspirations to pursue that would sound like purpose and impact rather than title or place at the top of the org chart. I think if the numbers were much higher, it could mean that a lot of people want the executive job for the wrong reasons (power, fame, fortune, etc.).
If nothing else, this is really interesting and thought provoking data. Thank you, as always, for finding and sharing it.