In a recent survey, more than 800 international executives agreed that leaders navigating today’s complex business landscape can no longer rely on past experience to drive future success. An overwhelming majority (87%) also said that companies need to think outside the box and be more creative, daring and innovative in their approach to developing and retaining top executives.
What makes a great executive?
These findings suggest a shift in what underlying skills define a great executive. 78% of our survey group said past performance is no longer the best predictor of success in a new role, while 87% noted that strong interpersonal traits are a key differentiator when identifying a truly exceptional leader.
But few organisations – only two in 10 of those questioned – are doing a good job of identifying leadership prospects early; nearly a third also report their organisations struggle to attract and hire the best talent from outside.
The need for a different type of leader
The financial crises have collapsed trust in business leaders, which has created demand for fresh thinking about developing top talent. As a leader, the key to earning trust is by winning their hearts and minds of your employees, which requires a different type of leadership.
We believe this reflects a bigger process of transition in leadership – the old command-style is losing legitimacy in today’s social, digital world.
In the digital world, business models are transforming into flatter, more open and accountable structures. Who you are, in the sense of personal character traits and motivation, is more important than ever. Are you authentic? Do you walk the walk? People are more likely to follow you if you do.
Do you have what it takes to be a successful leader?
Egon Zehnder has a new approach to evaluating leadership potential based on personality traits in key areas. Our experience shows that specific personal characteristics give the strongest indicator of leadership success. We looked at curiosity, insight, engagement and determination; all provide valuable insight into a person’s capability as a leader.
Our ‘Potential’ model develops a common language for the board to discuss, compare and make informed decisions about people when appointing new leaders. The model helps weigh the pros and cons of choosing one senior candidate over another.
For HR, ‘Potential’ broadens the candidate pool for more senior roles by considering candidates from less relevant roles or backgrounds. It demonstrates how someone might have great aptitude for a particular role despite not having done the job before. For candidates, ‘Potential’ really isn’t about a particular job – it’s a set of traits, with curiosity at its core.