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The radical new mindset of transformational leaders

Kenny MacIver — February 2018

Business leaders need the courage to dramatically expand their horizons if they are to realize the opportunities of digital transformation, says Scott Anthony of Innosight.

Leaders who are looking to get ready for the kind of transformation that will enable their organizations to deflect disruptive threats and seize disruptive opportunities need to find a way to get out of their comfort zones. They need to go and spend time with kids and hackers, college students and start-ups, go to different industries and geographies so they can free themselves from some of the constraints that in many cases they place on themselves.

In other words, one of your big challenges as a leader is having the courage to go against the grain — and that is a critical characteristic if you’re going to drive business transformation.

In many ways you’re going to have to do things that are going to open you up to ridicule, but as a leader you have to fundamentally believe that this is the right thing to do.

You need conviction to develop characteristics that might not be natural for you. And that is a really tough challenge.
Inspirational engagement Look at some of the leaders who have done this well. Marc Benioff, CEO of, has very intentionally built a diverse network. He has a reverse mentor — Drew Houston from Dropbox. Benioff describes how Houston keeps him connected because Houston grew up using technologies that he had never dreamed of. Benioff also has an inverse mentor: from band The Black Eyed Peas who’s got a completely different background to Benioff’s.  

Now for many CEOs making those calls would just be uncomfortable if weird. But that kind of thinking is what’s required to lead in this era. You’ve got to be willing to push boundaries, go to the edges and, indeed, put yourself out there and open yourself up for criticism — or else you’re just going to be building a bigger cliff to fall off.


• Portrait photography: Scott Woodward

First published
February 2018
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About: Scott Anthony
An acclaimed author on business innovation, disruption and transformation, Scott Anthony is managing partner at Innosight, the consulting firm cofounded by legendary business thinker Clayton Christensen. He advises on strategy at the highest levels of business, with a particular focus on Asia-Pacific companies. Following the publication of his co-authored book ‘Dual Transformation’ in 2017, Anthony was presented with the Fujitsu-sponsored Thinkers 50 Innovation Award.
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