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Are Today's Leaders 'Unfit' For The Future?

by Danial
Mar 18, 2019 at 11:25 AM

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Is your company's top leadership fit for the future? A study by Korn Ferry titled The Self-Disruptive Leader found that out of 795 investors surveyed around the world, 69% of investors in the Asia Pacific said today's private-sector leadership is "unfit" for the future.

This can be seen in China, where 82% of investors say the traditional leadership style is not fit for the future. Investors in Japan followed behind with 80% The least pessimistic investors were in Singapore and Hong Kong, but more than half still agreed with the sentiment with 51% and 54% respectively. 

In Asia Pacific, talent was found to be the key decision-making factor for investors, primarily in Austrialia where 92% say the CEO is the most important in deciding which companies to invest in. On the other hand, investors in China were the least likely to hold this opinion in the region, with 70% stating the CEO is critically important.

As for the rest of the world, 78% believed the CEO is critically important when deciding which companies to invest in and 83% cited an exceptional CEO as critical to an organisation's success in today's disruptive era. 

The research also unveiled that a majority of investors in China (96%), Indonesia (91%), Singapore (91%) and India (90%) thought that companies are confronted by disruptive challenges.

In line with this, they acknowledged the need for transformation will only increase the demand for effective leadership in the very near future.

  •  77% of investors in Malaysia said the need for transformation is going to make leadership more important to company performance within the next three years.

  • While investors in Australia a close second at 76%.


The importance of leadership

The Asia Pacific also hosts the most sceptical markets of the research. Investors in India and Indonesia were the least likely to recognise the increasing importance of leadership, with only over half (54%) saying it will be the case.

In some markets, the demand for future-ready leaders was felt more urgently. More than two out of three investors value future vision and orientation over past performance, with 66% in Hong Kong, 69% in Singapore, and 78% in Japan.

Investors in Singapore are also much more likely to agree that the challenges of disruptive market conditions will make leadership more important in the next three years.

More than two-thirds of investors value future vision and orientation over past performance in Hong Kong (66%) and Singapore (69%), peaking to 78% in Japan.

The study also found that in 150,000 leadership profiles worldwide, only 15% of executives had what it takes to be truly great leaders in the rapidly-changing business world.

Managing Director Advisory, Korn Ferry Singapore, Gareth McIlroy said: “Companies have a crucial role to play in cultivating leaders of the future. To close the leadership gap, businesses urgently need to revolutionise how they uncover future execs who have what it takes—and accelerate their growth, as well as build a culture that empowers talent at all levels to challenge and innovate.”



According to the research, a new model of future-ready leadership is needed. Self-disruptive leaders must possess a strong portfolio of future-oriented skills: the ADAPT dimensions (Anticipate, Drive, Accelerate, Partner and Trust).

Each of the five dimensions then qualifies as the biggest priority for leadership development in the country, according to the gaps between the ADAPT skills that leaders have and the ones that the markets demand.

In Singapore, the biggest gaps between leaders’ current performance and market demand were trust and anticipate. Singaporean leaders need the ability to drive towards a vision and purpose and build trust more effectively to become self-disruptors.

Dennis Baltzley, the co-author of the new report, said: “For the last one hundred years, leaders have been taught that control, consistency, and closure are the principles of business leadership. But dramatic changes to the global business environment mean that this is no longer a reliable blueprint.”

McIlroy also said: “As we accelerate further into the age of disruptive technology, competitor landscapes are evolving more quickly than ever before. Self-disruptive leaders who can continually adapt to keep pace with the market are the key to success in today’s disruptive environment, but not all business leaders are ready for the challenge.”


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Source: Korn Ferry


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