What attracts employees to leadership roles?

by HCA07 Apr 2017

Granted that higher pay comes with moving up the company ladder, age groups across the world do not view it as the most attractive aspect of a leadership role according to a report by INSEAD in collaboration with Universum, the HEAD Foundation, and MIT Leadership Centre.

Except for Generation Z (those born from 1997 to 2002), age groups ranked “opportunities to coach and mentor others” as the most attractive aspect of a leadership role:

  • Gen Y Students (university students born 1984-1986): 36%   
  • Gen Y Professionals (academic degree holders born 1984-1986): 38%
  • Gen X Professionals: 44%

“Even as Gen Y and Gen Z are altering the workplace, they may also be changing the traditional patterns of organisational leadership behaviour that Generation X has gotten used to. As companies strive to build their leadership pipelines, it’s important to understand the gaps between how one generation wants to lead and how another generation wants to be led,” said Vinika D. Rao, executive director of INSEAD Emerging Markets Institute.

Those from Generation Z placed “high level of responsibility” (35%) on top of their list. More than half of all age groups worldwide said it’s “very important” or “important” to become a leader during their career. More than half also agreed that “high levels of stress” made leadership roles unattractive.

“Stress, be it the perception of stress or experience with it is the top reason cited by all generations that prevents many from seeking out leadership roles,” said Universum’s senior vice president, Jonna Sjövall.

“58% of Gen Z cited stress as the factor that makes leadership roles unappealing. Even the older, wiser Gen X isn’t immune, with 52% of the respondents from this generation citing that it is the stress associated with leadership roles that makes them unattractive, however as we highlight in the report, certain countries a more concerned about stress than others,” he added.

Data also showed a “high degree of alignment” between Generation X and Generation Y regarding preferred leadership style – open communication and feedback were most often cited as qualities they prefer in leaders. For Generation Z, a positive attitude is most important.

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