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Study: Redefining leadership for a digital age

The survey was conducted by IMD Business School and metaBeratung

What skills, competencies and behaviors should leaders in disruptive environments demonstrate in order to be more successful?

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In the study "Redefining leadership for a digital age", metaBeratung and the Global Center for Digital Business Transformation, an initiative of the IMD Business School and Cisco, looked at this question more closely.

In December 2016 and January 2017, 1042 managers (C level, company management and young executives) in Europe, America and Asia were asked about the topics of "Leadership" and "Digital transformation" in general questionnaires and structured interviews. The main industrial sectors were the manufacturing industry, consultancy and finance.

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What does "agile leadership" mean?

Which competencies, personality, and behaviors does an agile leader need?

The study identified four competencies and three important behaviors that so-called "agile leaders" need to have, if they are to stand out in times of digital and technological disruption. An agile leader should be

  • humble with regard to their knowledge: Agile leaders accept feedback and acknowedge that others know more than they do.
  • adaptable: They accept that change is constant and that changing one's mind based on new information is a strength rather than a weakness.
  • visionary: Agile leaders have a clear sense of long-term direction, even in the face of short-term uncertainty.
  • engaged: They are willing to listen, interact, and communicate with internal and external stakeholders. They are always interested and curious.

In addition, we found that agile leaders exhibited three key behaviors helping them to sucessfully navigate disruptive environments.

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



Agile leaders out-perform other leaders

The survey was jointly conducted be metaBeratung and IMD Business School

Our study showed that agile leaders who demonstrate these competencies and behaviors clearly out-perform other leaders on measures such as work engagement and leadership effectiveness.

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Test your potential: Are you an agile leader?

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Order the Agile Leader Report here and test your potential for Leadership 4.0.

Interview with Dr. Rainer M. Neubauer


metaBeratung GmbH
Nicole Neubauer
Phone: +49 211 4155 959-36
E-Mail: nicole.neubauer(at)