4 leadership personas driving success today

Feb 5th '19

A new report from Deloitte identifies four types of leader that will shine in the fourth industrial revolution, or ‘Industry 4.0’.

The report, Success personified in the fourth industrial revolution is the output from Deloitte’s second annual survey ‘assessing business and government readiness for the fourth industrial revolution’.

It aims to assess how leaders are adapting to their changing environment, the progress they are making, and the traits that the most effective leaders share.

There’s also a quiz you can take to see which of the four personas fits best with your own leadership style. So – what are the four personas that drive business success?

The four personas

The leadership styles are categorised as:

  • Social Supers
  • Data-Driven Decisives
  • Disruption Drivers
  • Talent Champions

Social Supers

Societal impact has become a growing priority for businesses. For those companies that have come into existence during the fourth industrial revolution – broadly, since 2011 – the report claims that societal issues are ‘woven throughout the fabric of their organisations from day one’.

For established firms, while ESG (environmental, social and governance) issues may not always have been so firmly entrenched, the importance of societal impact is starting to be recognised, not least because ‘they believe a sincere commitment to society plays a large role in a company’s success’.

Its importance is reflected in the survey findings, where over a third (34%) of leaders said that societal impact was the top factor used to measure success when evaluating annual performance.

The leaders who are heading the charge in this area are the ‘Social Supers’. These leaders have a firm belief in a symbiotic relationship between a socially-conscious approach and a profitable business. They are more likely to have:

  • An appetite for disruption. 42% say they are likely to invest in new technologies to disrupt the market compared to 29% overall. With the board recognised as the secret ingredient in a successful digital transformation programme, Social Supers seem to be on the right lines with their approach to innovation.
  • An able, proactively trained workforce and an ethical mindset. Training and preparing their employees for Industry 4.0 was a far higher priority among this group than elsewhere. Complacency was cited as one of the deadly sins of business in a BBC report last year – Social Supers are staying a step ahead by ensuring a steady stream of new potential leaders waiting in the wings.
  • More holistic and defined decision-making processes. According to the report, ‘Social Supers exhibit greater rigour around decision-making’. This is somewhere that Boards can sometimes struggle; maybe appointing a Social Super could help.

Data-driven Decisives

Today’s rapidly changing markets can make it difficult to create and pursue effective strategies. What’s relevant this month may not be the next. In this environment, leaders ‘need to be willing and able to innovate and explore new business prospects’.

According to the survey respondents, the biggest impediment to tackling this challenge is a ‘lack of vision on the part of leadership. Discipline and rigour are needed in order to cut through the choices and make incisive decisions that will move the organisation forward.

Step forward, the Data-driven Decisive. These leaders follow a ‘methodical approach to strategy development’. Their confidence comes from their use of data to support decisions. They are:

  • Nearly half of this group invest in technology to disrupt markets, compared to a third of leaders overall.
  • Committed to their workforces. 47% believe their firm has the right make-up of employees and skill sets to address the future.
  • Ethically-driven. Nearly 60% believe their organisations place importance on using technologies ethically.
  • Strong performers. 46% of organisations led by Data-driven Decisives generated 5%+ annual revenue growth in the last year, compared to 25% of those led by others.

Disruption drivers

The technological potential open to organisations and their leaders is unprecedented. However, the report suggests that many of these organisations and leaders ‘still view technology less in terms of advancement and more in terms of protection’.

In other words, firms risk being disrupted more than they value leading a disruptive charge. Twice as many say they use technology to protect against disruption than to create it. Leaders are reluctant to threaten the status quo.

Equally, a lack of understanding around new technologies, their potential and the investments needed to ensure they’re exploited often causes leaders to put off change. An overwhelming choice of possible technology solutions adds to the stagnation.

Disruption Drivers are bucking this trend. These leaders invest in technologies with the aim of unsettling their markets. Where they make investments, these have generally achieved or succeeded their objectives.

They exhibit:

  • Holistic decision-making. In common with their Data-driven counterparts, empirical evidence is a big part of the Disruption Drivers’ strategy. They are more likely to have clearer decision-making processes based on hard data.
  • A ‘rolled-up sleeves’ approach to talent. 59% train their employees extensively, compared with 40% of other leaders. 54% believe their workforce has the skills it needs for the future.

Talent champions

Sharing this commitment to talent are the Talent Champions. These leaders are further advanced than the others when it comes to preparing their workforce for the future. They believe they currently have the right workforce composition and know the skills their organisation needs.

They share:

  • A proactive approach. 51% embrace their responsibility of training their employees for the future, compared to 41% of other leaders. Like the Disruption Drivers, they are more likely to invest in technology with the aim of disrupting their competitors.
  • A focus on the societal and ethical. They are more likely to prioritise ethical technology usage (44% do this, compared to 28% of others). 64% have generated new revenue streams via socially-driven initiatives, compared to 51% overall.

Do you recognise any of these leaders on your board? Are there traits your existing directors could develop or enhance?

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