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4 Characteristics That Show What Kind of C-suite Leaders Millennials Will Be

Millennials in the C-suite is becoming a reality, since the oldest millennials will turn 35 this year. As demographics shift profoundly, we need to step back and ask the broader question: What kind of C-suite leaders will millennials be?


Chief Executive | February 26, 2016


Chief Executive published a bylined article by Russell Reynolds Associates' CEO Clarke Murphy on "4 Characteristics That Show What Kind of C-suite Leaders Millennials Will Be." The following is an excerpt of the article.

To better understand what characteristics usually distinguish the C-suite from other executives, we measured seven “classic” C-suite figures—CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CMOs, General Counsels, CIOs/CTOs, and CHROs—across 60 psychometric attributes. We identified four attributes (seeking varied activities, being adaptable, trusting others, and embracing calculated risk) that truly distinguished C-suite executives on a statistically significant basis.

We then looked at millennials across these four attributes, to understand how well they do or do not match the personality profile of the current C-suite.

When it comes to matching well with today’s C-suite, two traits stand out:

  1. Seeking varied activities. Millennials have grown up in a world of multiplicities—hundreds of TV channels and an infinite array of web and now mobile content. Accordingly, they seek “variety, novelty and speed.” This is a good match, since even the most narrowly defined functional C-suite roles naturally involve a wide gamut of activities (as opposed to pre-C-suite roles which have a more singular focus, such as treasurer rather than CFO).

  2. Being adaptable. Millennials thrive by adapting. Rapid technological change combined with shifting and rapidly redrawn political realities has shaped a generation that can make nimble shifts at will. This adaptability is palpable—60% of hiring managers in a recent study perceived millennials as adaptable (compared to just 40% for Gen X). This trait is also pervasive at the C-suite level since, unsurprisingly: in the last couple of decades, C-suite leaders have grappled with substantial disruptions.

To read the full article, click here.

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4 Characteristics That Show What Kind of C-suite Leaders Millennials Will Be