From Truman to Trump, a handful of U.S. presidents have made their way to the Oval Office via the business sector.
If a recent Korn Ferry Institute survey offers any clues, it might be a while before we see another commander-in-chief who’s taken that route.
In a poll of 1,432 corporate executives, an overwhelming majority of respondents showed no signs of aspiring to the highest political office in the land. Given the choice, 85 percent of executives said they would rather be CEO of their own organization than lead the country, according to Korn Ferry.
While recognizing the similar requirements for both roles—the ability to drive growth, manage crises, think strategically and manage finances, for example—most business leaders allow that the president has even more hats to wear.
Indeed, 81 percent of the executives polled said they think the U.S. president has a more complex job than they do.
“In a way, you could consider the U.S. president [to be] the national CEO,” says Rick Lash, senior partner at Korn Ferry Hay Group, in a press release summarizing the findings. “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.”
In addition to complexity, you can put compensation on the list of reasons why your CEO isn’t likely interested in leading the free world.
Seventy-one percent of executives, for example, reported feeling that the U.S. president—at $400,000 annually, as determined by Congress—is underpaid. Nearly half (48 percent) said the president should receive at least $10.4 million per year; the current average compensation for a CEO at an S&P 500 company. And exactly 0 percent cited salary/compensation as the top reason someone would want the job of U.S. president. But money, or a lack thereof, isn’t the only thing deterring executives from someday pursuing a presidential run.
The position of U.S. president “comes with extra scrutiny as well,” according to Korn Ferry.
Donald Trump, for example, “has been president for less than a week and he’s been questioned about his every action, from the serious (the words he used during his inaugural speech and his choice of cabinet members) to the silly (whether the dance with his wife, Melania, at an inaugural ball was ‘awkward’),” notes the aforementioned release.
“A corporate CEO may be questioned on his or her firm’s stock price and business strategy, but usually isn’t scrutinized for dancing ability.”