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Deloitte: Leadership disrupted: Pushing the boundaries 2017 Global Human Capital Trends

According to a study of this year conducted by consultancy company Deloitte, today, Many organizations need a completely different kind of leader: a "digital leader" who can build teams, keep people connected and engaged, and drive a culture of innovation, risk tolerance, and continuous improvement.

2017-10-09 21:43:24

Authors: Anthony Abbatiello, Marjorie Knight, Stacey Philpot, Indranil Roy

Leadership development continues to be a significant challenge for companies around the world, as the transition to the new digital organization creates even larger leadership gaps. High-performing leaders today need different skills and expertise than in generations past, yet most organizations have not moved rapidly enough to develop digital leaders, promote young leaders, and build new leadership models.
• The leadership gap has become larger; organizational capabilities to address leadership dropped by 2 percent.
• Forty-two percent of companies cite "leadership development" as very important.
• The percentage of companies with strong or adequate experiential programs for leaders rose by 2 percent this year.

As digital disruption sweeps across every major industry, leadership capabilities are not keeping pace. In 2015, we termed leadership the "perennial issue in business"—a challenge that never seems to go away. This year we see a radical shift. Today, as never before, organizations do not just need more strong leaders, they need a completely different kind of leader. In short, organizations need to build a new breed of younger, more agile, "digital-ready" leaders.

Leadership today is less about the "art" of leadership and more about the challenges leaders are facing. Above all, the dramatic transformation of business is driven largely by the switch to digital.
Unfortunately, many CEOs do not understand the gravity of this issue. In a recent industry study of 800 top business executives, 67 percent believed that technology will drive greater value than human capital (and 64 percent believed people are a cost, not a driver of value).1 While the topic of human capital vs. technology may be in debate, some executives still continue to focus on the technology side of the business at the expense of developing leaders.

Leadership: Percentage of respondents rating this trend "important" or "very important"

The new skills needed in a digital leader
Of course, technology is critically important, but human capital remains indispensable.
However, the concept of "leader as hero" no longer scales. Highly effective companies such as Google, Lyft, WL Gore, Mastercard, and Atlassian look at leadership as a team effort and recruit leaders who can work together, complement each other, and function as a team.

When older business models are no longer working, leaders need new capabilities. Yet most companies are digital "immigrants," new to this world and built on older models such as control mechanisms and financial returns. Now, companies are scaling for different goals, such as innovation and moving at high speed. Ninety percent of companies are redesigning their organizations to be more dynamic, team-centric, and connected. These changes require not just new operating models, but a different type of leadership to mobilize and execute these models.

Because of these shifts, organizations need people who can lead teams and partner with the broader ecosystems. This new type of leader must understand how to build and lead teams; keep people connected and engaged; and drive a culture of innovation, learning, and continuous improvement. They must also be able to lead a workforce that now includes contractors, the contingent workforce, and crowd talent.

A natural corollary of this is that leaders need interdisciplinary skills. Companies such as GE, IBM, Nestlé, Xerox, and Mastercard now bring leaders together for collaborative design and problem-solving exercises, challenging them to understand how different business functions, industries, and technologies come together to form solutions. The days of a line leader reaching the executive level in a sole function have ended.

Perhaps most important, innovation and risk-taking now define high-impact leadership. In the words of Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, "The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks." Risk-taking has become one of the most important drivers of a high-performing leadership culture.

You can read the full study in the upcoming edition of Outsourcing Today, out on desks starting November.

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