An overwhelming number of senior executives (86 percent) say that being nimble and anticipatory, along with being innovative and possessing strong character, are the most important qualities for leaders in 2025, according to MWW Group’s sustainable leadership survey. More common leadership qualities such as being a consensus builder, convener and great salesmanship, fell to the wayside with only 14 percent of respondents agreeing that these are the most important qualities.
When asked about the biggest game changers in leadership today, executives surveyed indicated that the speed of information, and its requirement for timely, transparent information were the greatest drivers of change, cited by about one-third of respondents. The need for speed outranked commonly cited topics impacting leadership including the lack of trust, the economy, globalization and managing talent across multiple generations in the workforce.
Moreover, executives surveyed felt that in today’s business environment, visionary leaders (56 percent) are needed more than decisive and action-oriented leaders (44 percent). And despite the plethora of leadership books, courses and tutorials, respondents felt overwhelmingly (68 percent) that great leaders are born to be leaders and find opportunities to lead, rather than being taught to lead.
“Based on our survey results, gone are the days where people are seeking a leader who simply embodies great salesmanship and builds consensus among its followers,” says Michael Kempner, president and CEO of MWW Group. “In today’s global world, and due to the perfect storm of economic crisis, unprecedented competition and limited access to capital that we’ve all experienced in recent years, people are longing for leaders who can anticipate, rather than react, and use that ability to provide true vision for their Companies. Leaders don’t just need to make us feel good, they need to help us be good.
“Today, leadership is not about position or authority. In fact, leadership today has been democratized, meaning that the power is now with the people who follow. This requires a paradigm shift in how we communicate with our stakeholders and most importantly, it means leaders who are looking to win the war for talent, market share and global competitiveness, are forced to become better communicators with greater transparency and one-to-one dialogue.”
Additional findings from MWW Group’s sustainable leadership survey:
- 28 percent of executives say leadership has been democratized. A mere 5 percent of respondents place the power of leadership within the position, automatically conferred upon assuming a role
- 26 percent said the economy has created a daily “fight for survival” that impedes the ability to plan and invest for the future
- Interestingly, only 17 percent declared globalization and increased competition as game-changing for today’s leaders