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Many leaders today find it challenging to cope with the increasing pace and unpredictability of change. For a large number of companies, the root cause of this change is disruption fueled by digitization of products, processes, and business models. This report seeks to explore the skills, competencies, and behaviors that leaders require to succeed in environments characterized by such disruption. The report – Redifininf Leadership for a Digital Age – is based on research conducted by the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, an IMD and Cisco Initiative (DBT Center) and HR Consultancy metaBeratung. The data come from two sources: a survey of 1,042 executives, and in-depth interviews with nineteen digital leaders, all conducted between October 2016 and January 2017.

The research found that leadership effectiveness in disruptive environments shared many of the same characteristics as leadership in more stable environments, with a few notable exceptions. The report will focus on these exceptions. They refer to executives who are successful in disruptive environments, particularly those that are characterized by digital disruption, as Agile Leaders.

They found that Agile Leaders, those leaders who rated highly on the competencies and behaviors mentioned on the right, tended to significantly out-perform other leaders on measures such as work engagement and leadership effectiveness. Four characteristics distinguish agile from non-agile leaders. Agile Leaders are:

1. Humble: They are able to accept feedback and acknowledge that others know more than they do.
2. Adaptable: They accept that change is constant and that changing their minds based on new
information is a strength rather than a weakness.
3. Visionary: They have a clear sense of long-term direction, even in the face of short-term
4. Engaged: They have a willingness to listen, interact, and communicate with internal and external stakeholders combined with a strong sense of interest and curiosity in emerging trends.

In addition, they found that Agile Leaders exhibited three key behaviors helping them to successfully
navigate disruptive environments. These three behaviors mirror the organizational agility capabilities described in the book, The Digital Vortex. They are:

1. Hyperawareness: They are constantly scanning internal and external environments for opportunities and threats.
2. Informed decision-making: They make use of data and information to make evidence-based
3. Fast execution: They are able to move quickly, often valuing speed over perfection.

Read the full report at:

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