6 Key Personality Traits for Disruptive Innovation Leaders

October 5, 2023 – Digital transformation is no longer the sole domain of IT developers and coders. The evolution towards digital solutions is beginning to encompass all industries. Companies that hop on this train early can expect to see themselves pull ahead in terms of operational efficiency.

However, embracing digital transformation comes with several challenges, including significant changes in mentality, says a report by digital-focused executive search firm Hightech Partners (HTP). “A key to navigating these challenges is having a leader at the helm that understands disruptive transformation,” said the report.

Companies often rely on “strategic consultants” to bring about such digital transformations. It’s a dependency that entrepreneur Peter Hinssen has called “unbelievable.” Hightech Partners says that C-level leaders hire these consultants for two reasons:

  • The CEO already has a vision for the company but needs the endorsement of external, credible consultants to blame if things go awry.
  • The board is out of ideas and doesn’t know how to jumpstart transformation. Now, they expect someone else to do it for them.

“In today’s business environment, it’s likely that neither of these reasons will bring about the desired outcome,” said Hightech Partners. “What’s more, if either of the above are a company’s reason to hiring external consultants, I’d be a very unhappy shareholder (and probably want the CEO or board fired). Leaders that understand the company, its culture, and its vision are the best suited to guide it through the digital transformation process.”

But what qualities are essential for digital transformation?

A Leapfrogging Mindset. “Disruptive innovators require a mindset focused on leapfrogging – creating or doing something radically new or different that produces a significant leap forward,” said Hightech Partners. “Disruptive leaders ensure that everything they do adds value to the market.”

Boundary Pushing. For companies, it is important that leaders understand how to continually push the limits of their teams, organizations, and partners. Some believe that disruptive leaders should also push boundaries. “Leaders who travel a lot, surrounding themselves with diverse people and entrepreneurs, are able to continually expand their mindset and creative problem solving abilities,” said the report.

Adaptive Planning. Disruptive leaders manage incredible levels of uncertainty. “Adaptive planning is an approach where actions lead to results and leaders take the opportunity to reflect on and learn from these actions and results,” said Hightech Partners. “Then, they can modify their assumptions and approaches accordingly.”

Break the rules & write new ones. The word “normal” doesn’t exist in a disruptive leader’s vocabulary, says the report. “Once something has become normal, it’s probably obsolete,” said Hightech Partners. “The market is constantly changing and a disruptive leader is always aiming to be at its forefront. Sometimes that means breaking the rules; indeed, disruptive leaders nurture a healthy skepticism of best practices.”

Open-minded. Leaders should be open to exploring new opportunities, technologies, tools, and markets to evaluate where they have the greatest opportunity to succeed.

Decisive. “Even if some decisions involve ‘gut feels,’ disruptive leaders need to tell their teams precisely what they want, when, and why,” said Hightech Partners. “Then, they have to help them make it happen.”

Related: The Skills That Help CEOs Make the Right Choices

The reality is that people with this type of mindset, approach and attitude are rare. It can also be challenging for them to find a place that enables them to perform their best. “Whether you search for such a candidate on your own or in conjunction with an executive search firm, keeping these six qualities in mind will help you find a leader that can take on the nuanced, every-changing world of digital transformation,” said the report

Hightech Partners said that it is important not to rely on a lucky shot and try to leverage traditional “old boys networks.”

5 Communication Skills Found in Top Leaders
Smart recruiters don’t expect candidates for leadership roles to have it all. But those leaders must have a preponderance of it all and they must be able to lead it all. Any gaps or blind spots that he/she/they have must be ably or mightily filled by one of their current or prospective direct reports to mitigate and minimize organizational risk. A new report from BroadView Talent Partners, however, says there is one corollary to this rule: A CEO absolutely must have superior communication and influencing capabilities.

“Only a thorough process will ensure success,” said the report. “Second, do not hastily cast aside candidates on the basis of a CV or LinkedIn profile: A hidden gem is out there and is up to you to discover him or her, which is, by the way, the fun part.”

Digital Transformation Experts

Hightech Partners specializes in digital transformation. The firm leverages forward-looking methods such as big data analysis and artificial intelligence into the executive search process to help companies embrace new ways of working. HTP has offices in Brussels and Geneva, Switzerland with local partners across the major regions of Europe. The firm also founded ITP Worldwide, an alliance of specialized search and consulting firms in the technology industry in the U.S. and Asia.

Related: Essential Leadership Skills For A “Work Anywhere Anytime” World  

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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