September 10, 2012
New Survey Reveals Critical Insights Into Tomorrow's Business Leaders: CEOs of Tomorrow Value Passion Above All Else — And Believe Entrepreneurial Experience Is Vital to Future Success
Business leaders of tomorrow believe that passion is the most important trait for a CEO, while education is considerably less important, according to a new study sponsored by Domo and CEO.com, an online resource that lets busy executives stay up-to-date on the latest news and best practices in business management. The CEO of Tomorrow survey, which was created to explore the mindset and preferences of future executives and business leaders, also found that a majority of respondents believe that starting one's own company is an essential experience in the life of any future CEO.
The survey includes responses from more than 2,400 students from 499 colleges and universities across the United States. The study is one of the first of its kind to shine a light on how the next generation of business leaders thinks and how this group could potentially change the way business is conducted going forward.
While education is clearly important to this group — 48% think that CEOs should have a graduate degree — only 3% of respondents believe it is the most vital characteristic that a CEO should have. Instead, passion ranked the highest at 40%, followed by leadership experience at 29%, and people skills at 14%.
The study also revealed that this is one of the most entrepreneurial generations in history. Fully 41% of respondents said they plan on starting their own company after graduation while 59% plan to work for an existing company. What's more, 20% would go so far as to drop out of school to start a business. All told, 57% agreed that entrepreneurial experience is crucial for the future success of any CEO.
"This survey offers a fascinating window into the thinking of tomorrow's business leaders," said Josh James, founder and CEO of Domo, in a news release. "The world is clearly changing, and this survey provides a glimpse into what business will look like in the not-too-distant future. This up-and-coming generation is more passionate than perhaps any other. But they are not interested in business as usual. They want to explore new and better ways to achieve their goals and enhance their careers. Current CEOs need to take note and create an environment within their own organizations that makes these future leaders feel welcome and gives them the opportunity to grow."
As further proof that this generation thinks differently, they overwhelming selected Apple co-founder Steve Jobs when asked to choose their top picks of whom they would most want on their executive dream team. Jobs, who tallied 63% of the vote, was famous for his innovative thinking and his refusal to conform to traditional corporate norms. Jobs was followed by Oprah Winfrey with 41% of the vote, Walt Disney with 38%, and Winston Churchill with 30%. Sports stars and showbiz celebrities did not fare so well, with Michael Jordan netting just 18% of the vote, and Lady Gaga near the bottom at 14%.
Social media usage is another factor that distinguishes tomorrow's leaders. Fully 53% of respondents use social media to stay up-to-date on the latest news and business trends. Moreover, they regularly use social media tools in their daily lives including Facebook (73%), LinkedIn (57%), Twitter (55%) and Personal Blogs (50%). These activities are in stark contrast to current Fortune 500 CEOs who, by and large, shun social media.
CEOs of tomorrow are also eager to do away with many of today's corporate conventions. For example, 75% of respondents want some kind of casual dress code, while 39% feel management titles are unnecessary. One thing they are big believers in, however, is a virtual working arrangement. Fully 72% are open to allowing employees to work from home and 3% want entirely virtual organizations.
Finally, when asked about their primary concerns over the next decade, respondents put Globalization at the top of the list with 54% of the vote. This was followed by IT Security (53%), Corporate Social Responsibility (48%), Mobile Technology (47%), Social Media (44%), and Talent Retention (38%).