Our uncertain economic and legislative climate calls for bosses who will charge unafraid into the fray – individuals ThoughtWorks dubbed courageous executives in its latest report. While exploring how bosses in the US, UK, India and Australia were driving digital transformation, the company came across an intriguing discovery. Certain leaders were batting away the competition through experimentation and embracing failure as key to success. These so-called courageous executives are on the rise, and a hallmark characteristic seems to be taking risks. Some 87 per cent of respondents claimed it was a necessary endeavour in order to achieve business goals, with 62 per cent saying it set their company apart from others. Just as important was the need to keep pace with the industry. “Imagine when Amazon, Facebook, or a startup completely disrupts your market and all of a sudden your customers expect you to behave differently,” explained Rebecca Parsons, CTO of ThoughtWorks. “If this hasn’t already happened to your business, it will.” As was suggested, experimentation was part and parcel of their business strategy, with many claiming it boosted their knowledge. ThoughtWorks said: “Failing fast through experimentation is synonymous with quick learning.” Failing only motivated 54 per cent to succeed, while 25 per cent sought detailed knowledge of why they failed and how they could overcome it. Some 71 per cent of courageous executives maintained their passion and unquenchable curiosity set them apart from their C-Suite peers, as was the ability to see the bigger picture. ThoughtWorks, however, defined their leadership style as believing innovation could come from anyone, that they weren’t afraid to reach out for when need be and proactively created change. Most of all, however, these traits were all enabled by the company keeping up with technology and driving digital change. In fact, 65 per cent deemed digital adaption as their top priority. “People who really embrace technology tend to ask a lot of questions,” Célia Pronto, chief digital officer of Casual Dining Group, noted. “They know it’s okay not to know. Courageous executives are humble; they understand that they don’t have all the answers and seek help – either though a strategic consultancy or hiring the right people.”
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