Investors in India say Current Corporate Leadership is ‘Unfit’ for Future, a Major Korn Ferry Study Finds


Mumbai, March 13, 2019 – According to an extensive Korn Ferry (NYSE: KFY) global study – which captures the sentiment of nearly 800 investors and includes a detailed analysis of more than 150,000 leaders, corporate leadership is ill-prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

As part of Korn Ferry’s comprehensive Self-Disruptive Leader* study, 795 investors were queried in a global survey. The result: globally, two thirds (67 percent) say that today’s private-sector leadership is “unfit” for the future. In India, more than two thirds (72 percent) of investors say that today’s private-sector leadership is “unfit” for the future. This is concerning, given the importance of corporate leadership to investors: In India, 80 percent insist the CEO is critically important when deciding in which companies to invest, and 92 percent cite an exceptional CEO as critical to an organization’s success in disruptive times.

Globally, 67% (India 72%) of investors believe the current leadership stock is not fit for the future.


Australia Brazil China France Germany Hong Kong India Indonesia Japan Malaysia Mexico Poland Saudi Arabia Singapore South Africa The Netherlands UK USA
64% 72% 82% 64% 48% 54% 72% 60% 80% 77% 71% 66% 68% 51% 77% 58% 72% 70%


Rajiv Krishnan, Managing Director – Advisory, Korn Ferry India said, “Companies have a crucial role to play in cultivating the leaders of the future. To close the leadership gap, businesses urgently need to revolutionize how they identify future executives who have what it takes—and accelerate their growth, as well as build a culture that empowers talent at all levels to challenge and innovate.”

As part of the global Self-Disruptive Leader study (and further validating investor sentiment), Korn Ferry delved into 150,000 leadership profiles worldwide. The results were even more staggering: the analysis revealed that, on average, only 15 percent of executives across the globe (17 percent in India) have what it takes be truly great leaders in the rapidly-changing business world.

Investors in India say Current Corporate Leadership is ‘Unfit’ for Future, a Major Korn Ferry Study Finds

Rajiv Krishnan added, “Self-Disruptive Leaders who can continually adapt to keep pace with the market are the key to success in today’s disruptive environment, but not all business leaders are ready for the challenge. The qualities Self-Disruptive Leaders possess drive a business’ ability to connect resources and people to build an innovation ecosystem. Without them, organizations will struggle to adapt, collaborate and excel in disruptive times.”

Proportion of Self-Disruptive Leaders by market


Market % of Self-Disruptive leaders
Hong Kong 17%
Poland 17%
Singapore 17%
India 17%
Germany 16%
Japan 16%
Netherlands 16%
US 15%
UK 15%
Australia 15%
Mexico 14%
France 14%
Saudi Arabia 14%
Indonesia 14%
China 13%
Brazil 13%
South Africa 13%
Malaysia 12%


The data show that majority of leaders can’t make decisions and take smart actions quickly enough, motivate people effectively, or build trust—all of which is needed to ensure their organization’s survival into the future.

According to The Self-Disruptive Leader study, a new model of future-ready leadership is required. Building on existing concepts of agile, digital and inclusive leadership, Self-Disruptive Leaders also possess a strong portfolio of future-oriented skills: the ADAPT dimensions* – which encompass the ability to anticipatedriveacceleratepartner and trust.

“For the last hundred years, leaders have been taught that control, consistency, and closure are the principles of business leadership. But dramatic changes to the global business environment mean that this is no longer sufficient—trust, purpose and energizing others are now central,” says Dennis Baltzley, Korn Ferry’s global solution leader for leadership development and co-author of the new report, The Self-Disruptive Leader.

The study argues that today’s disruptive forces in technology, globalization, demographics and consumer behavior are exposing the limitations of legacy leadership worldwide.

How the markets compare in APAC:

  • India, Hong Kong and Singapore have the highest proportion of Self-Disruptive Leaders. They lead the way both at a regional and global level, with 17 percent of their business leaders future-ready and equipped with the ADAPT skills needed to succeed in disruptive times.
  • Investors in APAC are almost unanimously aware of the urgency of the situation: a crushing majority of investors in China (96 percent), Indonesia (91 percent), Singapore (91 percent) and India (90 percent) believe organizations are confronted by disruptive challenges.
  • Investors in APAC are anxious about the lack of future-ready leaders in their markets.
  • The need for disruption is aggravated by a fast-changing competitive landscape, but investors in APAC are divided when it comes to admitting how this is affecting forecasting abilities. Investors in Japan (76 percent) and Australia (70 percent) say they find it particularly hard to forecast threats when competition can come from anywhere. While just over half of investors in Hong Kong (51 percent), China and India (54 percent) say so.
  • Investors across APAC recognize that the need for transformation will only increase the demand for effective leadership in the very near future. Investors in Malaysia are the most adamant: 77 percent say the need for transformation is going to make leadership more important to company performance within the next three years, with investors in Australia a close second (76 percent). Yet the region also hosts the most sceptical markets of the study: investors in India and Indonesia are the least likely to recognize that the need for transformation will increase the importance of leadership, with just over half (54 percent) saying it will be the case.