Why developing leaders for the digital age is mission-critical for future organisational success.

Korn Ferry research indicates that leaders across Asia Pacific are not yet digital-ready and risk derailing digital sustainability initiatives by perpetuating legacy ways of working. We also hear from many leaders who understand the need for change, but are struggling to balance performance expectations today, while innovating for the future.

The fact is, according to Korn Ferry’s digital sustainability research, failure to act now risks the future success of the business and has real and quantifiable bottom-line impact.

The research also pinpoints people as the lynchpin of digital sustainability. The role of leaders in activating people to support change can’t be underestimated. But first, leaders must personally transform in order to inspire and engage their people and create a more open, agile and networked culture to power performance.

Why it matters

Transformational leaders are critical in ensuring that organisations leverage new technology by driving business impact in 4 key ways:

  1. Changing current business models
  2. Impacting products and services
  3. Creating new customer experiences
  4. Identifying new ways of working

What do great digital leaders look like?

Great digital leaders are flexible and inclusive, responding seamlessly to the push-and-pull priorities of the digital environment.

Drawing on the Korn Ferry Four Dimensions of Leadership and the Korn Ferry Assessment of Leadership Potential, we identified the traits, competencies and drivers that are crucial to developing great digital leadership.


Together, these characteristics describe a leader who is people-centric, not tech-centric. They’re humble leaders who are innately comfortable in dealing with risk in unstructured and ambiguous environments. Combined with strong situational and emotional awareness, these qualities allow them to step back and empower their people to test ideas; to succeed or fail and change direction as the conditions require. Critically, they create a supportive and focused environment for their people through engaging and inspiring them in a strong future vision and keeping a continued eye on driving for results.

How do your leaders compare?

Discover how your country’s leaders rated in Korn Ferry’s Digital Sustainability Index (DSI) – against both the world’s most sought digital leaders and their counterparts in Asia Pacific.

Download individual country analysis from local experts:



Three ways to kickstart the shift to a digital mindset

  1. Know what you need versus what you have: Understand the capability your organisation needs to drive your success in a digital world and be forensic in understanding how well you have the capability you need to achieve it.  Understand the organisational enablers and inhibitors affecting their contribution.
  1. Build the leadership to drive your strategy: Be clear about who are the core leaders to run your business versus those who can digitally transform your business. Align and build leadership capability so that they can work in a more highly networked and agile way.  Give transformational leaders the platform to impact change, innovate products and services, drive customer experience and implement new ways of working.
  1. Create and align symbols of change: Create a clear culture that brings technological change into the domain of business.  Value the core while creating an all encompassing transformational culture that drives fail-fast innovation and collaboration with internal and external networks.  Build a results oriented culture that is grounded in both agility and discipline and focus.


Organisations need to move beyond seeing “strategy” and “results” in a binary way. Businesses need leaders who can look at business through multiple business lenses and build open and networked teams who can innovate and adapt to drive business outcomes.
- Anita Wingrove, Senior Client Partner, Korn Ferry

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