Insights & Ideas

Three leadership characteristics in a data-driven world

Over the course of the coming years and beyond, leadership and management requirements are going to be challenging. In many ways, they are likely to take on a different style and shape than what you are used to these days.

We have entered a new norm of unpredictability.  This is driven by both powerful macro and micro forces.  On the one hand, we have the rise of the super powers in the East and the huge emerging markets of the likes of India challenging the West.

Then, there is the current glut of technology which is causing significant impact  on business models and is disrupting established consumer and business markets.  All the while, we also have an aging population in the West; and in the neediest parts of the world, a scarcity of important resources such as drinkable water.   

This background of competing forces can make it difficult to determine the way forward for organizations. For the majority of us, the confidence and clarity we need to succeed is hidden in our business data, but you will need the right set of characteristics to make the most of this opportunity.

Here are three personal characteristics that will help you lead the way in a data-driven world:


  • Strategic:  During times of volatility, we can often lose sight of our goals and become preoccupied with just the short term.  The reason being is that there is so much to try and do in such a short time. And I see this getting only worse. Leaders are more than ever going to require a long-term strategic lens, thinking a few years ahead and plotting the course of their organization. They will have a clear and precise understanding of where they are able to win and where they can be successful. The majority of this understanding may well be hidden in your business data, but you must commit to drawing on that insight to support your strategy. Depending on the situation you are in, that may be quite different from where you at the moment.  So, dig deep into your business data so that you can start to balance and align more effectively your short-term and long-term strategy.  


  • Network: The aspiration you may have of being that singular dominant and leading personality who claims to know all and where things should go has become a dangerous inaccuracy. The world and our environment are moving so quickly that we are going to have to concurrently work with multiple leaders and experts both inside and outside our organizations as it isn’t feasible that one individual, no matter how talented, can digest and navigate through all the decision-making data we are going to be presented with. I advocate the idea of having and maintaining a network of leaders and experts who are capable of collectively exploiting  opportunities and avoiding threats.​

  • ​Character: Leaders of today and tomorrow must be resilient.  We are going to make mistakes and, because of the fast-paced environment we are in, they may be big and costly.  Consequently, we are going to have to be hardy with a sense of character to pick ourselves off the floor when hit and be more persistent than we ever thought – there is some truth in what Rocky once said, “But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!”  Along the way, there are also going to be moments of compromise as to how we wish to run the organization. At these times, the information, and the data you would like, may well be lacking and that is why I called this paragraph “character.” You will need to dig deep in both yourself and your network to succeed. 

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