We can all remember the ‘stars’ at school – heads of school who also excelled as captains on the sports field, won the academic plaudits and were admired and liked by their peers.
Now, new research suggests that today’s heads of school, prefects and sports captains are set to be our business leaders of tomorrow and that potential for leadership is manifest early in life, to be nurtured and developed through experience.
This is the intriguing conclusion of a report published tomorrow (5 January), The Leading Edge, based on research among British Captains of Industry by MORI for global HR consultancy DDI. Among over 100 business leaders interviewed, 70% had been a school prefect; 50% had captained their sports team; 30% had been head or deputy head of school and a similar number had been leader of a youth group outside school such as the Scouts or Brownies.
The research also reveals that most captains of industry have always seen themselves rising to the top. A significant majority, 65%, say they always wanted to lead rather than be led and nearly 60% say they have always been ambitious. For four in 10, the top has yet to be reached as they still aspire to a bigger role.
The research also uncovered business leaders’ continued range of talents and passions, indicating that many are well-rounded individuals who excel in other, unrelated areas beyond the boardroom. Despite their apparent single-minded focus on career success, almost half are involved in voluntary work, almost 40% are learning a new skill and almost 60% still manage to find time for vigorous exercise such as running.
Steve Newhall, managing director of DDI, said: "There is a popular misconception that our business leaders are stale, pale males who play golf and watch their companies’ share prices - and not much else. Now we’ve shown that the reality is that many are those same charismatic characters we all knew at school who seemed able to pick almost anything up and become good at it are running our biggest companies today and still finding time for a whole range of other activities from the arts to charity work."
The research also confirms that today’s top leaders are those to whom others have always been drawn, suggesting that authenticity, and developing a leadership style that’s true to oneself, are also important predictors of success.
For more information about DDI visit www.ddiworld.com
Notes to editor:
- The Leading Edge report is based on 105 face-to-face interviews with chief executives, managing directors, chairmen, finance directors and other board level directors from a mixture of FTSE 500 firms and the country’s largest 500 by turnover. Six of the respondents were women. The interviews were conducted by MORI in late 2004.