4 Things CEOs Should Learn from Youth Leaders

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PwC has been running an annual survey for global CEOs for the past 20 years. In 2017, they decided to compare the results with a parallel survey answered by 200 young leaders from AIESEC.  The survey takes a look at how the business environment is changing and the risks and opportunities these changes might bring along.

The survey found both similarities and differences between the CEOs of today and the youth leaders. One of the biggest differences was about economic growth. 61% of the young leaders believed that economic growth would improve in the next year, whereas only 29% of the CEOs felt the same. The threats the future brings were also seen differently. Young leaders were much more worried about climate change and environment damage as well as unemployment than the CEOs. In addition, 70% of the youth leaders were concerned about breaches of data privacy and ethics affecting negatively on stakeholder trust levels, whereas only 55% of the CEOs agreed.

So what can the CEOs of today learn from the CEOs of tomorrow? Here are four valuable lessons to take into consideration.

1. Balance between optimism and being realist

Young leaders see the future brighter than today’s CEOs, but don’t forget about the possible risks. The young respondents think the current world is riskier than the CEOs. Especially risks brought up by the technological advancements are on their minds, possibly because they have been brought up during the digital revolution. However, as stated above, the young leaders believe that economic growth will improve next year, so even though they are concerned of the potential risks, they keep their heads high.

2. HR systems and processes need to adapt to the new generations

Millennials and Generation Z (the generation after millennials) are looking for very different things in their working life than previous generations. They want to connect to the values of the company they work for and feel proud of their employer. However, only 63% of the youth leaders feel that organizations are promoting talent diversity and inclusiveness and only 57% say that companies are adapting their people strategies to the skills and employment structures needed in the future. The youth leaders feel that current HR processes are just not fit for the purpose. To be able to stay successful in the future, CEOs should adapt their HR processes to reflect the future employees: the millennials and Gen-Z.

3. Finding the best talent is no longer tied to the borders of your country

While 88% of the youth leaders are planning to work abroad in the future, only half of them believe that organizations are looking for the best talent outside the borders of their country. CEOs should realize that in today’s world, the younger generation is ready to move wherever they find work. This means that they should broaden their horizons when it comes to looking for the best talent. The global workforce is an incredible opportunity to grow any company, it just needs to be embraced.

4. Taking advantage of technology

The youth leaders who answered the survey have grown up with technology, and you can barely see them without their mobile phone in hand. They are experts when it comes to social media, but are not naïve about cyber threats. Only 43% of CEOs said they are active on social media, compared to 90% of the youth. CEOs should make sure their companies are taking advantage of the digital transformations in every way possible to truly become fully digital. Technology has brought so many opportunities for companies to not only reach, but learn about their customers, and optimize their processes, that it would be a waste not to use them. Millennials can easily navigate through different platforms and thus, can be a great aid for any company looking to digitalize their operations.

You can find out more about the comparison between the PwC CEO survey and the survey done for the young leaders here.


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