Viewpoint — June 2017

Where are all the Future Leaders?
by Bob Gershberg, CEO/Managing Partner Wray Executive Search

Bob Gershberg, Managing Partner/CEO Wray Executive Search

Quite often of late when I am chatting with my CEO buds they query, “Where are the future leaders in our industry?”  Trust me folks, they are in our midst, within our reach and often right under our noses. You can breed stars, develop stars or recruit stars from the “academy companies”.  If there in fact is a leadership gap, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Exceptional leaders develop future leaders.  Did we forget an entire generation of industry leaders who were mentored by the late Norman Brinker?

Lamenting the fact that our C-suites are all too often occupied by ineffectual retreads, a Women’s Food Service Forum CAO friend of mine asked a great question, “What about all of those able bright women in our ranks?” So please allow me to make the case for the “Up & Comers”:

  • They will make lots of mistakes – but will scramble and change tack much more readily than their seasoned counterparts.
  • They are not yet so impressed with themselves and therefore tend not to believe their own bulls—t.
  • They don’t yet love to hear themselves talk.  They are good listeners.
  • They are unfamiliar with “command and control” leadership so they are driven to inspire.
  • They will not only see the elephant in the room, but will talk about it.
  • Kicking the can down the road has not yet entered their thought process.
  • They are often too trusting but recognize loyalty abets loyalty.
  • They are focused on metrics.
  • They remain aware of their strengths and weaknesses and are comfortable hiring to complement their competencies.
  • They are eager to learn and willing to take risks.


According to Hay Group's study, the Best Companies for Leadership take a determined and disciplined approach to helping leaders develop and rise within their organizations. A key finding from this year’s study was that 80 percent of the Top 20 companies had established clear career paths for their employees, compared to only 48 percent of all other companies. Similarly, 80 percent of the Top 20 were well ahead of their peer groups by providing career development experiences for their organization’s highest potentials, ensuring the company has the right people with the right skills when needed to fill their most critical roles. “This year’s research shows that the world’s leading organizations are purposefully developing leaders who will be able to drive innovation and transform their organizations,” said Ruth Malloy, global managing director of Hay Group's Leadership and Talent practice and co-leader of the Best Companies for Leadership Study. “These best-in-class organizations are providing non-traditional, more diverse, career paths and training high-potential employees to meet specific business challenges and develop the skills required to help their organizations succeed in today's increasingly volatile, global environment.”
We frequently refer to certain companies both within and outside of our industry as “good schools” or “academy companies”. Just check out a few Proctor & Gamble alum:

  • Meg Whitman – CEO Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • Intuit Founder Scott Cook
  • AOL Founder Steve Case
  • Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
  • General Electric Co.'s Jeffrey Immelt


Career Origins of Fortune 100 CEOS


Human capital is just as important for the long-term health of a brand as financial capital.  Leadership development has never been more important. At Amex 25% of an executive’s variable pay depends on talent development.

Whether you breed them, develop them or recruit them, the future of leadership is in your hands.

All the best, 


Bob Gershberg |CEO|Managing Partner|
(888) 875-9993 ext 102

Finding tomorrow’s leaders today!


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