Korn Ferry Survey: Corporate Executives Would Say “No Thanks” to Role of U.S. President

Eighty-Five Percent of Respondents Say They Would Rather be CEO of Their Company than President

Vast Majority Say Role of U.S. President More Complex than S&P 500 CEO Role

Nearly Three Quarters Say “Making a Difference” Top Reason Someone Would Want to be President

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- A new survey by Korn Ferry (NYSE:KFY), the preeminent global people and organizational advisory firm, finds that the vast majority of corporate professionals would much rather take the helm of their own organization than become President of the United States.

In the November 2016 survey of nearly 1,500 respondents, only 15 percent said they would choose being President of the United States over being the CEO of their own company.

“In a way, you could consider the incoming U.S. President as the Next National CEO,” said Korn Ferry Hay Group Senior Partner Rick Lash. “While serving as a corporate CEO is generally considered a very challenging role, executives acknowledge the U.S. President faces hurdles that are much higher than those faced by a leader in Corporate America.”

Eighty-one percent of respondents say that the role of U.S. President is more complex than the role of CEO at a Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) company.

Despite that complexity, participants acknowledge the positive reasons one would pursue the Presidency. Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) said the No. 1 reason someone would want to be President is to “make a difference.” None of the respondents cited salary/compensation as the top reason someone would want the role.

Even though the incoming President is taking only $1 to assume his role, the President’s compensation as set by Congress is $400,000 annually — plus $150,000 for expenses and travel. According to 71 percent of respondents, the President would be undercompensated at the standard offered salary.

Nearly 50 percent of respondents (46 percent) believe the President should receive at least a $10.4 million compensation package annually, which is the average compensation for a CEO at an S&P 500 company.

About the Survey — The Korn Ferry survey was conducted in November 2016 and garnered 1,432 responses.

Survey Responses:


Would you rather be CEO of your company or President of the United States?

CEO of my company     85 percent
President of the United States 15 percent

Who do you think has a more complex job?

CEO of an Standard & Poor’s 500 company

19 percent
President of the United States 81 percent

What is the top reason someone would want to be U.S. President?

Salary/Compensation 0 percent
Challenge 7 percent
To be in power 22 percent
To make a difference 72 percent

What attribute is the most important for a U.S. President?

Driving growth 32 percent
Managing crisis 19 percent
Developing strategies 42 percent
Financial management 7 percent

At $400,000 annually (plus $150,000 for expenses and travel), is the President of the United States being fairly compensated?

Overcompensated 5 percent
Correctly Compensated 24 percent
Undercompensated 71 percent

What do you feel is the most appropriate compensation for the President of the United States

More than $10.4 million (median total compensation for Standard and Poor’s 500 CEO)

22 percent

$10.4 million (median compensation for Standard and Poor’s 500 CEO)

24 percent

$400,000, plus $150,000 for expenses and travel (compensation for President of the United States)

41 percent
Less than $400,000, plus $150,000 for expenses and travel 11 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is the preeminent global people and organizational advisory firm. We help leaders, organizations, and societies succeed by releasing the full power and potential of people. Our nearly 7,000 colleagues deliver services through our Executive Search, Hay Group and Futurestep divisions. Visit kornferry.com for more information.

Korn Ferry
Tracy Kurschner, 612-309-3957

Source: Korn Ferry