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Cognizant and MIT Sloan Management Review Release ‘The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age: Reimagining What It Takes to Lead’

Cognizant, in conjunction with MIT Sloan Management Review, has released a new study on leadership in the digital age, “The New Leadership Playbook for the Digital Age: Reimagining What It Takes to Lead”. The study is based on a survey of 4,394 global executives from over 120 countries, 27 executive interviews, and focus group exchanges with next-gen global emerging leaders.

The New Leadership Playbook reveals that most executives around the world are out of touch with what it takes to lead effectively and for their businesses to stay competitive in the digital economy. Key findings in the research include:

  • Only 12% of respondents strongly agree their own business leaders have the right mindsets to lead them forward, and only 9% agree that their organization has the skills at the top to thrive in the digital economy.
  • Only 13% strongly agree their organizations are prepared to compete in increasingly digitally-driven markets and economies.
  • A large majority, 71%, of respondents believe that they are personally prepared to lead in the digital economy. The same group scores significantly lower when asked whether they possess specific digital skills, such as using data analytics to influence their decision-making (55%) or advocating for the use of machine learning technologies in their organizations’ operations (50%).
  • While 82% agree the new economy will need “digitally savvy” leaders, less than 10% strongly agree their organizations have the right leadership to thrive in the new digital economy.
  • Just 40% believe that their organizations are taking the necessary steps to build robust digital leader pipelines.

"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 coauthor 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 "Allowing unprepared senior executives with outdated skills and attitudes to stick around forces next-generation, high-potential leaders to move on to new pastures, which harms morale and ultimately shifts the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."

“Our experience suggests that the most advanced leadership teams are those committed to developing these 3Es in their organizations,” added Carol Cohen, report coauthor and senior vice president, global head of talent management and leadership at Cognizant. “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.”

Unveiled during the World Economic Forum, The New Leadership Playbook uncovers three categories of existing leadership behaviors, the four distinct mindsets that will help shape leadership in the digital economy and provides recommendations for a new leadership playbook. 

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