Five attributes of transformation leaders

1 minute read

Innovation and growth consultancy Innosight produces The Transformation 10: the 10 global companies that have achieved the highest impact business transformations over the past 10 years. Its research finds that top transformational leaders have five attributes in common


1. Transformational CEOs tend to be 'insider outsiders'

The Transformation 10 list is topped by companies headed by visionary founders with no prior experience in their industries. The others tended to rise to the position after running an internal new growth venture that inspired a proactive plan for change.

Separate journey

2. Transformation involves two separate journeys

Leaders often look at change as one monolithic event, under which the old company eventually begins a new company. Instead, they should seek to reposition their core business to thrive in a disrupted market, while also launching a new growth venture.

Engaged employees

3. You cannot execute transformation without highly engaged employees

Organisations must find a way to bring the correct set of values to life. Whatever the strategic transformation plan may be, organisations won’t be able to carry it out without building a culture based around a higher purpose.


4. Transformation can only take root if you are constantly telling the story of your future

Leaders must be tireless about communicating the vision they see for the organisation. Tell different aspects of the same transformation narrative to different stakeholders, from the leadership team to customers to investors.

warning sign

5. Develop a road map before disruption takes hold.

Many of the most famously disrupted companies ran into their deepest troubles a decade or more after some of the first warning signs appeared. Transformation leaders spot fault lines that help shape proactive plans for moving ahead.


Innosight created a methodology to measure strategic change and identify public companies that are successfully doing it. We screened companies in the S&P 500 and Global 500 across three key categories:

New growth: How successful has the company been at creating new products, services, new markets, and new business models?

Repositioning the core: How effectively has the company adapted its traditional core to changes or disruptions in its markets, giving its legacy business new life?

Financials: Has the company posted strong financial and stock market performance, or has it turned around its business from losses or slow growth to get back on track?

The initial phase of research identified 57 companies making substantial progress towards transformation. The second phase narrowed the list to 18 finalists and the final 10 was selected by a panel of business experts including former P&G CEO AG Lafley and Innosight’s co-founder, Professor Clay Christensen.





Innosight managing partner Scott D Anthony has just published Dual Transformation: How to Reposition Today's Business While Creating the Future
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