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Corporate CEOs Are Better Skilled To Be U.S. President Than Those With Political Backgrounds, Though Most Executives Don't Want The Job, According To Korn/Ferry Poll Of Executives

August 22, 2012
-Sixty-five percent believe a CEO is better or equally skilled to be president; most say the task of building voter confidence is more difficult than maintaining shareholder and board support-

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- A corporate CEO is better or equally skilled to serve as U.S. president than a candidate with a traditional political background, said 65 percent of business executives polled by the Korn/Ferry Institute.  In the survey, 43 percent agreed with the statement that a corporate CEO is better skilled to serve as president, while 34 percent disagreed.  About 22 percent said a CEO and a traditional political candidate would be equally skilled to hold the job. 

The Korn/Ferry Institute is the research arm of Korn/Ferry International (NYSE: KFY), a global provider of organizational leadership, human capital development and talent management solutions.

Despite the wide support in the survey for a CEO's ability to be an effective president, most business executives wouldn't want the job.  When asked if they would like to be U.S. president, an overwhelming 74 percent of the executives said "no," while 26 percent would embrace the challenge.

The majority of the executives (56 percent) also believe that the task that a U.S. president faces in maintaining the confidence of voters is more difficult than maintaining the support of shareholders and directors as CEO (44 percent).

The survey also explored the competencies identified by business executives as mission-critical to presidential effectiveness.  Some 78 percent cited "negotiation and compromise" as a critical competency, likely reflecting Washington's current partisanship environment.  Yet, executives also said that core competencies in "understanding others" and "conflict management" are the hardest for most people to develop.

When asked if any presidential candidate, regardless of party, possesses the competencies to create a bipartisan spirit in D.C., a third of the executives said "only someone with superb negotiating ability" would be able to accomplish such a goal.  Roughly the same number said "Congress moves only according to political party interests."

"Whether you're the CEO of a multinational company or the president of the United States, the foundational competencies of effective leadership are typically calibrated around the ability to deal with ambiguity, build effective teams and motivate others toward a common vision," said Ana Dutra, CEO of Korn/Ferry's Leadership and Talent Consulting.  "The proven ability to master these mission-critical leadership competencies is often what separates executives who rise to the top of the organization or the political official who gains prominence and stature in our nation's capital."

Detailed survey results follow:

Do you believe a corporate CEO is better skilled to be President of the United States than a candidate with a traditional political background (or the current presidential candidates)?*





Equally skilled



Do you believe any presidential candidate, regardless of party affiliation, possesses the essential skills, such as negotiating and composure, to create a bipartisan spirit again in D.C.?*

No one man or woman has such ability


Only someone with superb negotiating ability


Only someone who's charismatic and charming


Only someone who has political leverage


Congress moves only according to political party interests



Out of the following, which is harder to achieve?

A U.S. president maintaining the confidence of voters


A CEO maintaining the confidence of shareholders and directors



Negotiation and compromise are prized CEO skills. Given the current political climate, how valuable are these skills to a U.S. president?





Semi important





Which of the following skills is the hardest for professionals to develop?

Conflict management


Understanding others




Priority setting


Learning on the fly


Motivating others



Would you want to be president of the United States?

Yes (26)


No (75)


*Due to rounding, percentages do not equal 100 percent

The Korn/Ferry Institute regularly conducts surveys to glean insights on the current workplace and leadership environment.  Results are based on surveys of executives globally registered with the firm's online Executive Center,  The survey was conducted with more than 100 executives from July 24-August 8, 2012.

About the Korn/Ferry Institute
The Korn/Ferry Institute serves as a premier global voice on a range of talent-management and leadership issues. The Institute commissions, originates and publishes groundbreaking research using Korn/Ferry's unparalleled expertise in executive recruitment and talent development combined with its preeminent behavioral research library. The Institute is dedicated to improving the state of global human capital for businesses of all sizes around the world.

About Korn/Ferry International
Korn/Ferry International is a premier global provider of talent management solutions, with a presence throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.  The firm delivers services and solutions that help clients cultivate greatness through the attraction, engagement, development and retention of their talent. Visit for more information on Korn/Ferry International, and for thought leadership, intellectual property, and research.

SOURCE Korn/Ferry International

Nicole Roberts, +1-310 226-2619,

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