Managers are more ambitious again | A commentary on the Manager Barometer 2019-2020

19 Nov 2019

Managers are more ambitious again | A commentary on the Manager Barometer 2019-2020

This year we once again discovered some amazing changes and developments in our survey.

Managers are more ambitious again. They are convinced of their additional potential, which shows their increased will to further develop their career. More than 60 percent of all managers want to achieve the maximum success in their career - and this also applies to the much criticized generation Y!

However, it has become clear that the understanding of a career shifts significantly from a purely career-oriented path to a more content-oriented perspective. Thus, two thirds of managers understand that the maximum career success includes being continuously given new challenges in terms of content. Women are more content driven than men. They are also more ambitious than their male colleagues. This result contradicts - thank God! - the still very widespread assumption that women are not career-oriented or willing to reach a top management position. On the contrary, we are seeing that the promotion of women is now slowly bearing fruit in companies that have been investing in this for many years!

Managers are open to new career paths

An increased self-confidence among managers and a strong willingness to shape one's own career have also been confirmed this year. 57 percent of managers are motivated to contribute to changes and to be a part of an innovative company. The flexibility of managers in terms of industry and content of their position has also been extremely high for years: almost 90 percent are prepared to change industry for their next career step, two thirds of managers would also change their subject area.


Learn how managers tick

What does career mean for managers? What motivates you? Under what conditions would you change your position? All answers can be found in the Manager Barometer 2019/2020.

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This openness is only met with limited approval on the employer side. Especially in higher management levels, companies often prefer to choose candidates from within the industry. In disruptive times like these, new impulses from outside are urgently needed. Employers should have greater openness and be more flexible and creative, both in recruiting candidates from other fields and in providing attractive and flexible incentives. This also requires the courage to invest in candidates with high potentials.

The majority of managers are managers out of conviction

More good news: after a significant decline the previous year, the joy to conduct management tasks is again one of the top 3 motivators for the further career path. In addition, two-thirds of managers report that their attitude about being a managers has improved in the course of their careers. To the contrary of the survey results from previous years, this result does not show leadership fatigue. If managers enjoy taking on responsibility and influence of their employees by promoting and developing their skills, then  the German-speaking management does not have to worry about their future. In disruptive times, when not only millennials but many others are looking for role models, personalities who can motivate and provide orientation are indispensable.

Managers need an innovative and sustainable company

The increasing doubts of managers about the innovation and future viability of their employers are not to be overlooked. These are amongst the main reasons for the managers' renewed willingness to change their job. In view of the current candidate market, this should be a wake-up call for companies: They need to be more aware than ever of the importance of managers, how their employer is strategically positioned, and to be prepared for the future if they want to attract and retain the best minds. When investments in innovations are questioned during times of uncertain economic perspectives, companies must think about their ability to compete and to attract talent!

Managers have a positive attitude towards artificial intelligence!

An innovation-oriented corporate culture and a convincing strategy towards digitization and artificial intelligence (AI) are part of the attractiveness of an employer and more important than ever. The results on this year's main topic show that managers do not consider their employers to be optimally equipped. They see less need for action in the strategic-organisational area, than in further education for employees, in the ethical handling of data and in risk prevention. Nevertheless, the vast majority of managers are open-minded about AI. They see significantly more opportunities through the use of AI than risks and do not share the concern about the loss of jobs, or even their own leadership position. This wide-spread approval is gratifying for companies because open, motivated managers are essential for the successful introduction and application of AI.

Interest, knowledge and application competences regarding AI are essential prerequisites, but only the actual implementation and regualr use leads to noticeable positive effects. The leadership also benefits: for managers the use of AI contributes to more successful management activity and all together greater corporate success (superleadership).

Read the complete study now in german:

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On the methodology of the Manager Barometer

Every year, Odgers Berndtson surveys its Executive Panel, which includes executives from companies of all sizes and in all industries in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The aim of the annual survey, which Odgers Berndtson conducted online and anonymously for the 9th time, is to determine what motivates managers, what motivates them for their future careers, what they are willing to do and what they are not willing to do.

The survey, which is one of the most comprehensive executive surveys in the German-speaking world, provides important insights into the attitude and motivation situation in German-speaking management. Once again around 2,400 managers participated in the Manager Barometer 2019/2020.