May 27, 2015 in Events (live blogging), European HRD Business Summit 2015

The Generation Y CEO: The new breed of leader

Adam Kingl – Executive Director of Learning Solutions, London Business School

There is plenty of literature on ‘how will we lead these pesky Gen Y’s?’, but nothing so far on how these people will lead when they reach the C suite. Adam defined Gen Y as people born in 1982-2004, but noted that there is no common definition; people’s values will be massively influenced by their surroundings, and that not everybody will fit into neat, discrete boxes.

One neat illustration of Gen Y is the number of employers we have in a lifetime:
Our Grandparents: 1-2
Parents: 3-4
Gen X: 7-8
Gen Y: 15-16
Does this suggest that Gen Z will have 32? We have no idea, but is is possible.

Adam referenced their ‘Emerging Leaders Programme Survey’, conducted with Gen Y participants on the LBS programme (noting that they are a skewed sample as they are on a leadership programme) and shared some highlights:

When do you start work with an employer, how long do you expect to stay with them?
11+ years 5%
6-10 years 5%
3-5 years: 53%
1-2 years: 37%
So, 90% plan to leave within 5 years and over a third plan to leave within 2 years.

What matters in selecting an employer? Top 3 answers
1 – Work-life balance (not meaning that they don’t want to work, but they want flexibility)
2 – Organisation culture (although this seems to refer more to the immediate team culture)
3 – Promotion opportunities (With anecdotal stories of people being frustrated about lack of promotion just 6 months into a role)

90% plan to leave within 5 years
37% plan to leave within 2 years
54% are more loyal to the team than to the organisation
Employer value factors don;t include traditional benefits, bonuses etc. (in the top 3)

This has some really interesting implications and could mean that we want to find ways of helping people to re-join a few years after they have left: (e.g. flexibility of benefits, pensions etc.)

Aspiring Gen Y leaders will not worship the Gen X gods of linear advancement and extrinsic rewards
They see ‘a network of possible wanderings’ maybe including helping with a start-up, working for a non-profit, running their own business from home.

Potentially, people in Gen Y will each have 16-32 opportunities to develop as leaders. It may not be long before people have a 60-year career, which means that they have plenty of time to explore. Each opportunity can be an adventure in its own right without having to be a stepping stone to a pre-definied position. People will focus on progression, rather than promotion, and there is an ever-increasing focus on purpose.

Asking Gen Y future leaders about what kind of CEO they will be:
11.5% will focus on how the business is trading
11.5% will focus on the global impact of the business
33% will focus on retaining the entrepreneurs view
43% will focus on making the organisation and world a better place
1% will focus on financial worth

As Gen Y start to reach CEO positions, organisations will start to have very different conversations with their investors and will start to have a much longer-term horizon. E.g. Facebook wasn’t committed to be a company, it was created to accomplish a social mission. HR can play a major role in creating an environment in which people can flourish.

(This was live-blogged during a session at the European HR Directors Business Summit 2015 in Barcelona – I’ve tried to capture a faithful summary of the highlights for me but my own bias, views – and the odd typo – might well creep in.)


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