The President? No thank you

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A new survey by Korn Ferry, 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 Rick Lash, Korn Ferry Hay Group senior partner. “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 & Poors 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 a 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 be 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 Poors 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