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Today's millennial CEOs have morphed into a different breed of leader

A groundbreaking study has revealed the character and personality traits of today's millennial CEOs


Yahoo Finance | May 19, 2016


Russell Reynolds Associates CEO Clarke Murphy was featured on Yahoo Finance for a segment on how “Today's millennial CEOs have morphed into a different breed of leader.” He spoke about the firm’s research and insights into what differentiates the modern CEO from their C-suite peers. 

 

Modern CEOs have morphed into a different breed than those of 20 years ago. As would be expected, generational forces are at work, but rapid changes in the tech world have made these changes especially pronounced.

Russell Reynolds Associates, a global recruiting firm, conducted a groundbreaking survey of 200 CEOs among a subset of more than 7,000 executives, studying over 60 personality traits. It determined that modern leaders possess three important traits: influence, inference, and initiative.

“Influence” relates to the ability of a​ leader to inspire action in others without seeming like a dictator. “Inference” requires a CEO to make sense of information, whether it’s sparse or an avalanche of data. Finally, a leader must have the “initiative” to make difficult decisions under uncertain conditions.

How modern CEOs are different

All in all, not too surprising. However, there are two additional traits that particularly distinguish modern CEOs from their C-suite peers: courageousness in terms of taking risk and the ability to be fast-paced. Clarke Murphy, CEO of Russell Reynolds, adds that most people think of CEOs as larger-than-life and ego-driven. However, the study finds otherwise.

Murphy says, “CEOs are more introverted than extroverted, which I think shows a change in leadership over the last ten or fifteen years where the vision thing was so important a while ago. Right now [the questions are]: Can I bring people along? Can I influence them?”

Murphy says, “CEOs are more introverted than extroverted, which I think shows a change in leadership over the last ten or fifteen years where the vision thing was so important a while ago. Right now [the questions are]: Can I bring people along? Can I influence them?”

CEOs in the 21st century

More than ever, it's easier to connect with smart people, so leadership isn’t the lonely space it used to be. Today’s CEOs have the ability to tap the brainpower of their peers while subtly influencing them to achieve their goals. According to Murphy, this effect is especially pronounced in the C-suite as opposed to the board of directors.

Murphy says, “The C-suite is the concept of remote teams and remote decision making—virtual decision making by the use of technology and being in a global world…The board of directors—the governance aspect of it—is still more centralized than remote … We at Russell Reynolds Associates have recruited hosts of digital directors, whereas we've never really recruited single-purpose directors before. The importance of this transformation shows the impact in the boardroom.”​


 

Watch the other Yahoo Finance segments featuring Russell Reynolds Associates CEO Clarke Murphy.
 
  • Click here​ to watc​h CEO Clarke Murphy speak on how “There's still a stunning lack of diversity at the tops of U.S. corporations.”
  • Click here​ to watch CEO Clarke Murphy speak about “How to be the next Mark Zuckerberg.” ​
 

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Today's millennial CEOs have morphed into a different breed of leader