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With the Tour de France only a month away, professional athletes and journalists are lauding it as the ‘most gruelling endurance race on the planet’. But have they tried to make it to a CEO role?

For most of us, our careers will be the longest and most gruelling thing we’ll ever take part in. From the preparation of school, college and, for some, university to the career highs and setbacks we’ll face over the years.

In a month, 198 riders will set out on the 3,351 kilometre Tour de France route, and each year riders drop out from injury, bad conditions and fatigue. But that has nothing on the job market.

In 2017, there were 14 million graduates entering the UK labour market, which meant an average of 75 graduate applications per job role advertised graduate role. However looking at the leadership roles, it looks as though a lot of people drop out of the race by the time it gets to senior roles, with as few as 10 applicants per C-suite position.

So what does a leader look like?

We analysed various studies on common traits of CEOs and common traits of professional athletes and found that some of the top traits crossover.

To make it to the top, you’ll need to be:

  • Intelligent
  • Competitive
  • Committed and passionate
  • Calm under pressure
  • Willing to make personal sacrifices
  • See the value in raising up your team

A recent study stated that the personal sacrifices it takes to get to the top of any field is too much for most people, which is why it takes certain characteristics to get there. However, in an ever-more digital environment, perhaps the challenges and sacrifices people will need to make will lessen. And the access to the right support and training will encourage more to stay in the race to the top if they want.

The graduates entering the job market today expect very different environments at the start of their career to those in more senior roles. According to a Deloitte study, “More than two-thirds of Millennials believe it’s management’s job to provide accelerated development opportunities to encourage them to stay”.

So providing a comprehensive learning and development structure is essential for supporting people to achieve their career goals.

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