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Mr. or Ms. President? No Thanks, Say Most Business Leaders

Washington may be poised to be populated with more CEOs than at any other time in history.

GettyImages-491313818-compressorWashington may be poised to be populated with more CEOs than at any other time in history. But that doesn’t mean everyone in business necessarily wants to be America’s commander-in-chief.

In fact, a new survey indicates that the vast majority of corporate professionals would much rather be CEO than the U.S. president.

Their reluctance to take the political path comes despite eight years of tepid economic growth since the global financial crisis increasing many voters’ openness to the idea of having a businessman like Donald Trump in charge. And he’s managed to lure former CEOs or senior leaders at Exxon, Goldman Sachs and CKE Restaurants, among others, to join his inner circle.

“72% of Korn Ferry survey respondents said ‘making a difference’ was the key reason they would consider running for president.

The problem—as outgoing president Barack Obama recently pointed out—is that running a constituency to provide services is a “messy” affair that involves dealing with problems that “nobody wants to deal with.” Then there’s the matter of compensation: the president gets paid $400,000 per year, plus $150,000 for expenses.

That’s still higher than the roughly $350,000 average paid to American CEOs of private companies. But it’s well short of the tens of millions of dollars earned by leaders of big companies–and the presidency is a rather important job.

Around half of the 1,432 respondents to the survey, conducted by Korn Ferry, believed the president should receive at least a $10.4 million annual compensation package, which is the average for a CEO at an S&P 500 company.

Just 15% said they would choose the presidency over being CEO of their own company.

“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,” Korn Ferry senior partner Rick Lash said.

Compensation was selected by none of the respondents as a reason for pursuing the presidency, with “making a difference” the most nominated driver with 72%, followed by “to be in power” with 22% and the “challenge” with 7%.


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