In worldwide study, IBM has found many similarities between the leaders of today and the leaders of tomorrow – but discovered Gen Ys are more likely to prioritise issues of sustainability and globalisation.
The Global Student Study was done because IBM Business Global Services says in few short years the “Millennial” generation, sometimes called Generation Y, will make up half of the worldwide workforce. The study, based on similar questions to the IBM 2010 Global CEO Study (CEOs struggle to cope, NZ Management August), drew over 3600 responses from graduate and undergraduate students from more than 40 countries
Like CEOs, six out of 10 students rated creativity among the top three leadership qualities, more than any other attribute. CEOs and students both agreed that organisations should concentrate on setting up new channels for their customers, that access to greater information and insight was critical to setting up closer relationships, and that organisations today can’t move fast enough to keep up with the pace of change.
CEOs viewed the new economic environment as more complex, and students did too – even more so (69 percent compared to 60 percent). MBA students saw the greatest complexity.
For all the areas of agreement between students and CEOs, there was still deep divide, say the authors, which may be attributed to future leaders having different experience of the world. Historic events weren’t rated by students, their experience of information was different, and they understood that economies, societies, and organisations are made up of interconnecting networks.
There were two themes that consistently differentiated students from CEOs. Globalisation was one; sustainability, both environmental and societal, was the other. CEOs and students both expected sustainability issues to have large impact on organisations over the next five years. Students, however, were particularly passionate about the implications. When asked “What will you do differently in your career compared to previous generations?”, the students did not hold back. With few exceptions, they expressed commitment to the responsibilities of global citizenship.
CEOs said they trusted gut instinct, but future business leaders indicated they would need to lean more heavily on data analysis to reach their strategic and operational goals. The study’s authors suggested as fact-based decisions begin to prevail, future leaders may well need to pioneer an entirely new management style – one that continually enriches personal experiences with new sources of insights based on “fact checks” rather than “gut checks”.
The authors suggested in meeting the challenges of an interconnected world, organisations can look forward to formidable capabilities among the ranks of future leaders. One United States CEO told the study, “I am excited about our next generation of leadership and the new level of energy it brings.”
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