Egon Zehnder
Close filter
Leaders & Daughters 2019 Global Survey
Power Moves: Redefining Leadership by Gender, Generations, and Geographies

Is power moving? That simple question inspired our 2019 survey on leadership, success, and diversity. As the baby boomer generation transitions out of the workplace, Gen X and millennials are poised to make large-scale organizational change—but just how differently do generations and genders define leadership?

In January and February 2019, we sought to find the answer. We surveyed more than 2,500 women and men at various leadership stages and from seven countries—Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We asked them how they defined great leadership, the importance of a diverse organization, and how they prioritize and balance their professional and personal lives.

Defining Leadership

Women and men defined great leadership similarly, but generations had distinct differences.

Younger generations expected leaders to be humble. Millennials rated humility higher than any other generation (48%), and above the global average (43%). Male millennials were more likely to say humility was important (55%), compared to male boomers (32%). Boomers were more likely to prize resilience as a key leadership quality (35%), compared to millennials (21%).

Download Report
While millennials valued humble leaders, boomers placed more significance on resilience.
Overall
Millennial
Gen X
Boomers
0% 50% 100%
Overall
Millennial
Gen X
Boomers
0% 50% 100%

We asked respondents to select the top 3 traits a great leader should model.

Download Report
What are the most important characteristics that a great leader must role model?

Millennials were significantly more likely than other generations to say their leaders always exhibit these key qualities (38%), while only 22% of Boomers and 26% of Gen Xers agreed.

Download Report
Does the leadership team in your organization exhibit qualities you deem important?

76 percent of respondents agreed their leadership teams demonstrated these behaviors always or frequently.

Defining Career Success

While there were some differences between men and women in how they defined their career aspirations and motivations, there were far greater differences between generations, geographies, and job titles.

C-suite aspirations have nearly evened out between men and women, with 27 percent of women aspiring to reach the C-suite compared to 31 percent of men.

Download Report
Percentage of respondents who aspired to reach the C-suite

Millennials were the most aspirational group, with 33 percent hoping to reach the C-suite compared to 13 percent of Boomers (the global average was 29 percent).

Which, if any, of the following have been barriers to your own career success?

  • Conscious or unconscious bias from peers and/or senior colleagues
  • Lack of mentors or sponsors
  • Lack of role models
  • Competing personal and professional priorities
  • Self-doubt
  • Limited opportunities for promotion
  • Limited opportunities for learning and skills development
  • Lack of flexible working options
  • Lack of diversity in the workplace
  • I haven’t experienced any barriers
Download Report
Barriers at work

The majority of respondents (86%) experienced some type of barrier during their career journeys. The top three overall barriers to career success were conscious or unconscious bias (33%), limited opportunities for promotion (33%), and lack of mentors or sponsors (30%).

Boomers were the most concerned with providing for themselves and their families—45 percent rated this their chief motivation. It was significantly less important to Millennials (24%) and somewhat less important to Gen X (32%). Power and influence and public recognition and status ranked low across genders, generations, geographies, and job titles.

Download Report
Which of the following motivates you the most at work? (Respondents ranked their choices from most to least motivating.)

Defining Diversity at Work

A diverse workplace is more important to younger generations.

Geographically, a diverse workplace was more important in China--78 percent said it was very important--compared to 44 percent in Germany.

Download Report
We asked respondents to rank the significance of a diverse workplace on a four-point scale, from very important to unimportant. Below are the percentages who believed diversity was very important.

%

Overall

%

Gen X

%

Millennial

%

Boomer

Nearly a quarter of male boomers said diversity in the workplace was not important to them.

A majority (61%) believed there were equal opportunities for all within their organizations.

Download Report
We asked respondents how much they agreed that opportunities in their organizations were equal for all. (strongly agree to strongly disagree).

Female Gen Xers were the least likely to believe that they had equal access to equal opportunities (57% said they did) compared to female Millennials (63% said they did).

There was little difference between genders and generations in responses.

Download Report
My organization genuinely values different ways of thinking and approaches to problem solving. The below is those who agreed or strongly agreed.

%

Overall

%

Gen X

%

Millennial

%

Boomer

Agreement increased with seniority: 60 percent of junior leaders, 69 percent of mid-level leaders, 71 percent of senior leaders, and 79 percent of the C-suite.

Download the report

See below to download the reports

Download the 2019 Report Download the 2018 Report

Join the Conversation

Back to top