Each year, our editorial staff interviews these honorees in an effort to gain some insight into what’s made them leaders in the HR profession.
And each year, we find many of our winners have traveled winding career paths, and we frequently hear our honor roll recipients saying things like they “sort of stumbled into HR” or they “hadn’t planned on a career in human resources” when they started out.
If some recent survey findings are any indication, this phenomenon isn’t unique to HR.
In a poll conducted by Los Angeles-based Korn/Ferry, 68 percent of more than 600 executives said they are not working in the careers or industries they planned to work in when they began their undergraduate careers.
In addition, 66 percent said focusing on broader leadership skills that can be applied to multiple jobs is more important than concentrating on specific disciplines such as finance and marketing. Moreover, 42 percent of the executives surveyed predict that up to one in four current college freshman will ultimately find themselves in professional positions that don’t even exist yet.
These findings underscore the growing need to seek out employees and cultivate future leaders with broader skill sets that can be applied in multiple settings, according to R.J. Heckman, president of Korn/Ferry’s leadership and talent consulting business.
“This survey casts new light on education and executive development,” said Heckman, in a statement. “One takeaway is that, while specific disciplines like finance and marketing will always be important, more ubiquitous skills such as the ability to influence and motivate others and apply past lessons to new challenges are key to career advancement regardless of industry or role.
“To use a baseball analogy, the leaders of the future will be ‘five-tool players’ who can run, field, throw and hit for average and power,” continues Heckman. “They will be agile executives who can readily adapt to any industry and challenge.”