Female chief executive officers may feel as though their positions are rather precarious now, but all that is going to change dramatically by the time 2040 rolls around.
A report by Strategy& recently studied how the role of the CEO has transformed over time, and how it will continue to evolve in the future, by examining CEOs at four specific points in time – 1914, 1964, 2014, and, finally, 2040, when the generation entering today’s workforce will be taking the reins.
“Though we don’t have a crystal ball, we can offer our educated prognostication about what the business world and, thus, the CEO’s role will look like 25 years from now,” the report stated.
Keeping in mind that 60% of US college students, and some 40% of MBA students today are women, the report concluded 30% of the top 2,500 CEOs around the world will be female.
Steeped in technology use from early years, tomorrow’s CEOs will also be more comfortable with the fact that IT is deeply integrated into every experience than most present-day CEOs are, and he or she will be keenly interested in potential disruptions brought on by sudden changes in technology.
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Leaders of the future will also be more financially astute, and risk-savvy than their predecessors. Additionally, their communication skills will be paramount.
“It’s hard to imagine anyone reaching the corner office in 2040 who does not possess extraordinary listening, speaking, writing, and engagement abilities,” the report stated.
“For today’s leaders who are thinking about finding and grooming the bright young people who will one day succeed them, we recommend focusing on taking the broadest view of talent development.”
Leaders of 2040 will also have to be more transparent, particularly because investors will be more impatient—not necessarily for short-term financial results, but because they want their voices to be heard.
The study also highlighted the type of competitive environments CEOs in 2040 will be leading, as companies will be clustered into two primary categories – integrators and specialists.
Companies like Amazon and Cisco will be known as ‘integrators’ focused on providing distinct, solutions-based value propositions to their customers. These solutions will be built on a unique set of complementary capabilities.
By contrast, organisations belonging to the ‘specialists’ field will be the complementary players providing the products and services the integrators sell. These include retailers, or the next-generation accessory makers, parts suppliers, and inventors who excel at one particular, often narrow, thing.
As a result, CEOs of the future will have to be highly entrepreneurial and highly focused.
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However, the tenure of CEOs in the future, will be relatively shorter, and such leaders will have to quickly divest a business when it’s no longer viable and assemble a new one just as rapidly.
“Our best advice is to prepare for the unknown. And the best way to do that is to get out of your comfort zone early and often.”