If you are a gambler, you could place multiple bets on the demographic composition of our future leaders. You could bet that global U.S. corporations will be run by a greater number of Chinese leaders. Or that people of color will rise to the top in greater numbers. Or that C-suites will have far greater female representation.
There is, however, one bet you could place you would be certain to win. In the not-too-distant future, those calling the shots will hail from one generation: Millennials. The reason is straightforward. In due time, those leaders from older generations will be long gone from their roles. They’ll be retired or, at the risk of sounding morbid, no longer present.
Now, the 18- to 24-year-old Millennials are 76 million strong—the largest living generation in the U.S. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, since 2005 the share of leadership jobs held by Millennials has ballooned from 3 percent to 20 percent. And, of course, the rise of Millennials isn’t just a U.S. phenomenon. Take a long plane ride to India, and you’ll find close to 700 million millennials—more than the entire U.S. population!
As many Millennials are already far along in their first leadership jobs, there are several questions we should ponder: What inner values guide their motivations and choice of companies and careers? What does their comfort level with technology mean for how they learn and develop? Will they be more like the current crop of Millennial CEOs—David Karp (Tumblr), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), and Leen Kawas (M3 Biotechnology)—or will their leadership styles resemble those of Howard Schultz (Starbucks) and Mary Barra (General Motors), CEOs whose ages place them in older generational groups?
The biggest question that hangs over the ascendance of Millennials is this: Will they really be ready when the time comes for them to become CEOs?
Founder | CEO
Chief Finance Officer
Chief Operating Officer
Chief Marketing Officer