Collapse of trust demands fresh approach to leadership development
November 21, 2013 – Executives navigating today’s complex business landscape no longer can rely on past experience to drive future performance success, according to a global study released today by Egon Zehnder, the world’s leading privately-owned executive search and talent management consulting firm. The study of more than 800 executives from around the world found that a new leadership paradigm is emerging that shifts away from what leaders know and toward a more personal evaluation of who they are.
An overwhelming majority (87 percent) said companies will need to think outside the box and be more creative, daring and innovative in their approaches to developing and retaining top executives in the future. The findings suggest that a key indicator for this change is a shift in what underlying skills define a great executive. Seventy-eight percent of executives said past performance is no longer the best predictor of success in a new role and 87 percent noted that strong inter-personal traits are a key differentiator when identifying a truly exceptional leader.
“The financial crisis accelerated a collapse of trust in business leadership, which demands fresh thinking about what is needed from the next generation,” said Damien O’Brien, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Egon Zehnder. “Leaders today must win the hearts and minds of employees and this requires a different type of leadership.”
The survey respondents revealed that only 2 in 10 of their companies consider their organizations very successful in identifying leadership prospects early on, and just more than one-fifth see their company’s leadership pipeline as very promising. Compounding the challenge, nearly one-third report it is very difficult for their organizations to attract and hire the best talent from outside.
O’Brien added: “The world is transitioning to different business models which demand new kinds of leaders. Who you are, in the sense of personal character traits and motivation, has become more important than ever. This generation of talent is looking to follow leaders who walk the talk when it comes to values. Companies need to close the leadership gap by identifying executives who naturally align due to their personal character and values.”
When asked what helped executives unleash their own potential, 71 percent of respondents cited assignments which stretched their current skill set and exposed them to new and challenging contexts. Furthermore, participants added that job rotations and personal mentoring were key contributors to helping them develop as executives.
“The notion of high performance equating to high potential no longer holds true,” said Karena Strella, Global Head of Management Assessment at Egon Zehnder. “Our experience underscores the findings of this survey, showing that specific personal traits and characteristics are the strongest indicator of leadership success. Curiosity, insight, engagement and determination are vital when assessing a person’s ultimate leadership capability.”
About the Study
Egon Zehnder’s International Executive Panel was conducted in the summer of 2013 and included executives from the firm’s online executive “Club of Leaders” community, with members representing Asia, Australia, Europe, North and South America. More than 800 senior executives from a range of industries and organizational sizes participated in the survey. To access the full survey, please visit IEP Potential.
About Egon Zehnder
Founded in 1964, Egon Zehnder is the world’s leading privately-owned executive search and talent management consulting firm with more than 420 consultants in 68 offices across 41 countries. The firm provides senior-level executive search, director search, board consulting, management appraisal, executive talent management and executive leadership strategy services, including potential assessments, to many of the world’s most respected organizations. Egon Zehnder’s clients range from the largest corporations to emerging growth companies, government and regulatory bodies, and major educational and cultural organizations.
Egon Zehnder has conducted leadership potential assignments globally for clients across Europe, the Americas and Asia. Assignments span industry sectors including consumer, life sciences, industrial, technology and financial services. The majority of assignments touch board-level executive positions including chief executive officers and primarily external hires.