Global workers shy away from CEO post, poll finds

NEW YORK: Today's workers might still want to confront the big problems and influence their companies, but that doesn't mean they want to be the CEO, according to a new global study conducted by Burson-Marsteller along with the Economist Intelligence Unit.

NEW YORK: Today's workers might still want to confront the big problems and influence their companies, but that doesn't mean they want to be the CEO, according to a new global study conducted by Burson-Marsteller along with the Economist Intelligence Unit.

"CEO Capital 2005," a survey of 685 global business influentials, shows that 54% would not want to be CEO. The highest levels of disillusionment with the position were found in North America and Europe, where 64% and 60% would decline a CEO offer, respectively.

"The trend is toward top executives questioning whether they would like to be CEO," said Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief knowledge and research officer worldwide at Burson. She added that the leading reason for not wanting to be CEO is poor work/life balance. Others include too much focus on quarterly earnings (42%), too much stress (37%), too much public scrutiny (27%), and Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations (18%).

To help combat this perception, Gaines-Ross said, companies will have to do a much better job of leadership development training, including helping execs with strategies to manage the work/life balance.

"Companies that are very good at grooming their leaders are the ones that really will have more executives interested in taking that top slot," she said.

GE and HSBC are two companies known as leadership factories, she added.

The study also showed the top reasons executives want to be a CEO are because they like complex problem-solving (56%), can directly affect business (43%), and can implement ideas (36%).

"Top executives who feel that they can make an impact, who like to see their ideas in action, who want to build a company from good to great are the ones probably most right for CEO leadership," said Gaines-Ross.

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