15 May 2017
A recent paper, published by the Harvard Business Review, provides valuable insight into the characteristics of transformational leaders – defined as CEOs who have led the most successful strategic repositioning of their companies, creating new offerings and business models targeted at emerging growth markets.
According to the authors, transformational CEOs share five common characteristics and strategies:
The tend to be ‘Insider-Outsiders’
Interestingly, the companies who had most successfully transformed their business were headed by ‘visionary founders’ with no prior experience in the industry. Having an outsider’s perspective, with no predetermined way of doing things, turned out to be a major asset.
Most other transformational CEOs were what the report called ‘insider-outsiders’. In other words, they did have substantial ‘insider’ experience with an average 14 years of tenure. This, however, was combined with an ‘outsider’ perspective having worked in an emerging non-core growth business within the organisation.
After becoming CEO, this ‘insider-outsider’ perspective helped them explore new paths to growth without being constrained by yesterday’s success formula. Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO, is quoted as an example having successfully built the company’s cloud computing business prior to becoming CEO.