Leadership styles: What students should know to prepare for the future
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Leadership styles: What students should know to prepare for the future

Leadership styles: What students should know to prepare for the future

A new report by MIT Sloan Management Review and multinational corporation Cognizant has reimagined what it takes to lead.

Named The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age, the report highlights that there is an urgent need to change global organisations’ leadership styles.

Co-author of the report and Director of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work Benjamin Pring said in a press release: “A generation of leaders in large companies are out of sync, out of tune, and out of touch with their workforces, markets, and competitive landscapes. 

“Allowing unprepared senior executives with outdated skills and attitudes to stick around forces next-generation, high-potential leaders to move on to new pastures.”

The report’s findings are based on a survey of 4,394 global executives from over 120 countries, 27 executive interviews, and focus groups with next-gen global emerging leaders. 

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Do you have what it takes to become a future leader? Source: Rob Walsh/ Unsplash

Key findings

The report revealed that:

  • Just 12 percent of respondents strongly agree that their leaders have the right mindsets to lead them forward.
  • Only 40 percent agree that their companies are building robust leadership pipelines to tackle the demands of the digital economy.
  • Only 48 percent agree that their organisations are prepared to compete in digitally-driven markets and economies.
  • 82 percent believe that leaders in the new economy will need to be digitally savvy, less than 10 percent of respondents strongly agree that their organisations have leaders with the right skills to thrive in the digital economy.

What does this mean for students?

For students who want to become future leaders, this playbook serves as a guideline for future workforce expectations.

And one way in which the report supports aspiring leaders to embrace future leadership skills is by revealing emerging workplace behaviours.

The coming digital economy will entail digitalisation, upstart competitors, the need for breakneck speed and agility, and an increasingly diverse and demanding workforce.

“Data will no longer be the job of the CIO or an analytics division,” states Rajiv Srivatsa, cofounder and former chief technology and product officer of the India-based omnichannel furniture retailer Urban Ladder. “It will be the job of every single person in the company, whether they are in marketing, sales, customer service, or HR.”

In addition to the lack of digital savviness, the report also found outdated cultural and behavioral leadership norms as well as four types of blind spots: strategic, cultural, human capital, and personal.

When leaders fail to see the changes upending business models in their industry, that’s a strategic blind spot.

“Software is eating every industry,” notes Brian Halligan, cofounder and CEO of the marketing software provider HubSpot. “I mean, you name the industry, it’s going to eat it. And every company is a software company today. You’re a company that makes tables or chairs — you’re in the software business. You’re a tech-enabled services business. If you don’t get that, your company is in trouble.”

Another core leadership skill that interviewees emphasised is collaboration.

As Global CIO of JPMorgan Chase and interviewee Lori Beer said, “We need to collaborate effectively not only with colleagues inside the bank, but with our customers and other partners in our ecosystem.

“That’s an important way we’re able to deliver solutions and end-to-end customer experiences.”

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