Cognizant, MIT SMR Study Sees Disconnect Between Leadership, Digital Era (MESA)

Cognizant, working with the “MIT Sloan Management Review,” has published a new study based on a survey of nearly 4,400 executives worldwide, and the results are disconcerting: most executives are simply out of touch with what it takes to lead effectively, in order for their businesses to stay competitive in today’s digital economy.

The survey — “The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age: Reimagining What It Takes to Lead” — found that only 12% of executives strongly agreed that their own business leaders have the right mindsets to lead them, and only 9% agreed that their organization has the skills at the top to thrive in today’s digital economy.

A mere 13% strongly agreed that their organizations are prepared to compete in digitally-driven markets and economies, despite 71%, of respondents saying they believe they are personally prepared to lead in the digital economy. That with only 55% saying they possess data analytics skills to influence their decision-making, and only 50% saying they advocate for the use of machine learning technologies in their operations.

More than 80% agreed that the new economy requires digitally savvy leaders, yet less than 10% strongly agreed that their organizations have the right leadership to do thrive. Only 40% said their organizations are taking the right steps to build digital leadership.

The study was based on a survey of 4,394 executives from more than 120 countries.

“A generation of leaders in large companies are out of sync, out of tune, and out of touch with their workforces, markets, and competitive landscapes. What got them to their current exalted status won’t be effective much longer — unless they take swift action,” said Benjamin Pring, report co-author and director of the Center for the Future of Work for Cognizant. “Allowing unprepared senior executives with outdated skills and attitudes to stick around forces next-generation, high-potential leaders to move on to new pastures, which harms morale and ultimately shifts the organization further away from where market demand is heading.”

Carol Cohen, report co-author and SVP of global head of talent management and leadership at Cognizant, added: “Our experience suggests that the most advanced leadership teams are those committed to developing these 3Es in their organizations. A key to success is artfully introducing new leadership approaches that particularly appeal to a new generation of employees while at the same time honoring the time-tested behaviors and attributes that inspire trust, build a sense of community, and motivate employees to improve performance.”