Five Dimensions of High Performing Leaders

Almost 700 people attended our webinar, The Self-Disruptive Leader, to learn about a new model of future-ready leadership. Here we share key take-aways from the event and the link to the recording and report.

Leadership is in a constant state of flux; historically, business leaders may have looked up to Henry Ford or J.P. Morgan for their ingenuity and understanding of the business climate. But today, the leaders we look up to are more collaborative, and more willing to take risks for big rewards. Leaders like Jeff Bezos and Sheryl Sandberg are leading through inspiration, collaboration and drive.

To help understand the skills that leaders will need in the future, we undertook research with more than 150,000 leaders around the world to highlight key traits that we can link to success in disruptive environments. In gathering the data, our researchers at the Korn Ferry institute also spoke to 800 business investors about what they value in modern leaders and found that most investors believe current leadership styles urgently need to change.

The market is telling us a new model of future-ready leadership is required for companies to thrive and our research has addressed that - we built a new model of leadership, identifying five dimensions that high-performing, Self-Disruptive Leaders, all possess. This model builds on existing concepts of agile, digital, and inclusive leadership, and is framed around the ADAPT dimensions:

  • Anticipate is the ability to work in a changing environment and expect where challenges will arise
  • Drive highlights leaders who can maintain energy in the workplace, and push others to be better
  • Accelerate is the need for agility and the ability to iterate on processes and improve ways of working
  • Partner pinpoints how leaders can work with others to pool resources or knowledge while improving processes
  • Trust is the ability to secure investment in an idea and build relationships that benefit the company

Each leader will be stronger in one area or another, but the research showed that leaders who score highly in all dimensions are the highest performers. These leaders appeared in the 88th percentile on performance in the analysis of our global leadership assessment data.

Self-Disruptive Leaders are the early adopters of a new way of working that is more focused on collaboration, innovation and agility than the previous stock of leaders. We’ve uncovered on average 15 per cent of Asia Pacific leaders currently fit our model of Self-Disruptive Leaders.

The challenge is that this highlights the 85 per cent of leaders who don’t possess the ADAPT characteristics, and still operate in the older ways of working.


Where will new leaders come from?

Self-Disruptive Leaders are the team members willing to take calculated risks and challenge the status quo. They don’t always follow the rules - they are ‘natural’ self-disruptors that may be considered rebels by their own leaders, because they won’t accept conventional wisdom and constantly agitate for change and progression.

The place to start looking for them is within organizations. These leaders are the ones you may have ignored in the past because they didn’t fit a traditional leadership model. They may not yet have had the chance to show their full potential. However, if you look for talent in a different way and highlight people who are willing to take risks and experiment with new ways of working, then you can identify and develop future leaders who possess ADAPT qualities that need developing.

The role of HR

There are several things that companies can do to prepare the way for Self-Disruptive Leaders and Human Resource teams can play a pioneering role in this. HR needs to drive the culture change required to create an environment where Self-Disruptive Leaders thrive.

HR is a culture carrier and can help define the company culture with the decisions they make around how teams are put together, performance reviews ratings and processes, and promotion policies. All these things can set the tone and help create a culture that empowers individuals and allow them to self-disrupt.

To become true business partners, HR leaders must develop a very important trait, the ability to Anticipate. They need to look outside their own industries and identify new ways to bring innovation into their business. For example, one of our clients in the financial services industry no longer call themselves a financial organization – they now call themselves a technology company. Change is happening everywhere; HR needs to see the changes coming and create an environment to develop their leaders to respond to constant disruption.

Another key element is for HR to be agile. They have to help companies Accelerate their identification, recruitment, retention, development, and promotion of leaders with self-disruptive potential at all levels of the business.

A new mindset is required

Traditional ways of developing leaders have reached a saturation point. Leaders are no longer able to succeed by developing new capabilities, new competencies, new skills. The old leadership paradigm of control, consistency and closure is outdated. To help leaders continue to grow and meet the expectations of businesses and investors, the ADAPT framework focuses less on skill-based development and more on trait development.

Trait-based development requires leaders to change their mindsets. This is achieved by using very different methods from traditional, skills-based development. Such methods call for leaders to ‘rethink’ their beliefs and assumptions on topics they know.

Experiential learning is key in helping leaders reframe their mindsets. By providing a diverse range of experiences that test some of the assumptions and beliefs you can foster the traits in the ADAPT framework and help your leaders grow.

The Self-Disruptive Leader presents a dramatic shift in the state of leadership in the Asia Pacific region, but with it comes an opportunity for companies to ADAPT to a new model, one that will equip leaders to drive their business to success in ever disruptive environments.