This is an excerpt of "Technologies on the C-Suite Horizon," from AESC's report Leading Transformation: Shaping the C-Suite for Business. In the excerpt, AESC member executive recruiters share what they think makes an innovative business leader in today's Business 4.0 world.


Innovators Are Courageous

“With relentless curiosity in benchmarking what they do and thinking the unthinkable is what innovative leaders do,” commented a consultant with clients in the industrial sector. “This is an exciting time. I see it as a privilege to be living in this era rather than any other because what we’ve seen in the past will be nothing compared to what we will see in the future,” shared a consultant specializing in the technology sector. “The way I and many of my clients see it is that the Business 4.0 transformation we are witnessing is not about artificial intelligence taking over, but much more about an augmentation of human intelligence. There are two very opposing viewpoints at either end of the spectrum. On one end is fear. On the other end it is embracing the new and opening doors to resolve enormous human challenges, like the future of farming or curing cancer.”

Innovators Are Emotionally Intelligent

“The Middle East is a melting pot, so many different types of people with different backgrounds and different cultures managing people from all over the world,” shared a consultant headquartered in the region. “It requires a leader to be flexible in the way they do things. People talk about culture fit, but I think it’s more about how adaptable someone is. They have to be much more emotionally intelligent.”

Emotional intelligence is critical for fostering cultures of creativity. One consultant serving clients in the technology sector, commented “It’s important leaders recognize different types of creative thinkers on their teams. One is a theoretical thinker. This individual will experiment by working on different types of problems. The other is an empirical thinker. So, someone who keeps working on the same idea over a longer period of time so they can approach it from different angles of the developmental process. Recognizing that there are different types of creativity is important.” leadership innovation

Innovators Are Motivational and Inspirational

“Leaders of innovative businesses must inspire and nurture creativity in their teams. They must motivate their teams to go beyond their limits,” commented one consultant specializing in the industrial sector. “Also, be a leader who can demonstrate presence and commitment. Share a sense of purpose which enables creativity among teams. Be inclusive. Inclusion inspires critical thinking.”

“Creativity starts with the leader,” shared a consultant serving the nonprofit sector. “It’s one thing to nurture and inspire, it’s another thing to model it. I’ve seen many leaders speak to the importance of creativity and innovation, and yet they do things in a very sort of conservative, managerial manner. That doesn’t achieve the goal of creativity and innovation. Creativity and innovation require a leader who embodies and personifies creativity. If that person is not creative, there’s a good chance that the team is going to be less creative than it can or should be. There also has to be an openness to diversity of opinion.”

Innovators Are Adaptable

“Organizations that want to innovate in their industries focus more time on a candidate’s cultural adaptability to a particular region,” stated a consultant in the Middle East. “The ability to effect change comes up in every search that we work on and its often why C-level executives fail in their roles. In the US, UK or Australia a candidate may be the best CEO in their ecosystem but place them in the Middle East and they fail because they can’t adapt to new ways of doing things. They flounder because they are not able to manage relationships in the same way. That person has to be adaptable in their working style, in the way that they deal with stakeholders, in the way they lead.”

Innovators Are Perceptive and Visionary

“What I see is the US is moving very fast in terms of technology,” shared a consultant specializing in consumer goods. “Digital technology has been central for companies headquartered there already for years—the hubs of Silicon Valley, Boston, New York. Also in some markets in Europe—Germany, Spain maybe the UK. Also Israel. Here in Brazil, there is a lot of influence from the US, so businesses are intensely trying to understand what is happening in the US so we can better understand what is the future here in Brazil. While we are not driving this immediate digital transformation, we also don’t want to be left out of the transformation. We currently don’t have a culture of digital transformation like in the US, but businesses are really trying to establish that vision here and embed this in the culture of Brazilian companies.”

“The C-Suite will become in the future leaders of both human beings and machines,” commented a consultant based in the UK. “So, they need to develop new skills now and a new vision of what a leader does effectively. The skills they’ll need to drive human beings and machines to success will be dramatically different. There will be an interdependence between humans and machines, and as a result, there will be even more focus on critical thinking capabilities because a lot of functions and responsibilities at the moment are going to be automated tomorrow. Some jobs will disappear, but new ones will emerge. A recent study identified that the majority of those who are right now children will perform jobs as adults that don’t yet exist. It’s important to start understanding now how to collaborate more across cultures, across borders, and, ensure that the machines allow us to free up more time to think critically and more openly, to innovate.”

To the full article, which includes an assessment of the technologies that will most impact each industry, visit the BlueSteps member-only Executive Search Insights page and download your copy of Issue Thirteen of AESC's Executive Talent Magazine . Not a Member? Become One Today.


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