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Leading in the connected era

Saul Berman (Vice President and Global Service Area Leader for Strategy and Transformation for IBM Global Business Services)
Peter Korsten (Vice President and Global Leader, Thought Leadership and Innovation for IBM Global Business Services )

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 14 January 2014




Leaders are recognizing that the current connected era is fundamentally changing how customers, employees and partners engage, according to an IBM survey of CEOs and senior public sector leaders from around the globe.


Between September 2011 and January 2012, IBM leaders met face to face with leaders worldwide to better understand their future plans and challenges in an increasingly connected economy. The CEOs surveyed lead organizations of different sizes in 64 countries and 18 industries The analysis also sought to understand differences between responses of CEOs in financially outperforming organizations and those in underperforming organizations.


Key survey findings include: CEOs are creating more open and collaborative cultures – encouraging employees to connect, learn from each other and thrive in a world of rapid change; the emphasis on openness and collaboration is even higher among outperforming organizations; to engage customers as individuals, CEOs are investing in customer insights more than any other functional area; and extensive partnering is providing the edge CEOs need to take on radical innovation.

Practical implications

Three suggested initiatives to promote superior performance are: embrace connectivity and openness; engage customers as individuals; and amplify innovation with partnerships.


Explains that to create greater value, CEOs must take advantage of newly enabled connections with and among employees, customers and partners. Shows that to lead in this unfamiliar territory amid constant change, CEOs will need to learn from their own networks. They will need to assemble those networks like portfolios – with generational, geographic, institutional diversity. Then, they will need to help their organizations do the same.



The authors would like to thank the CEOs around the world who generously shared their time, experience and insights with them. The authors would also like to acknowledge the many contributions of the IBM team that worked on this Global CEO Study: Leadership team. Grace Chopard, Steven Davidson, Wendy Feller, Ron Frank, Kazuaki Ikeda, Christine Kinser, Peter Kirby, Kristen Pederson, Roland Scheffler, Ian Watson, Katharyn White and Mike Wing.Project team. Anthony Marshall (Study Director), Angela Assis, Stephen Ballou, Linda Ban, Kristin Biron, Angie Casey, Rachna Handa, Ellen Johnson, Keith Landis, Eric Lesser, Kathleen Martin, Natsuko Miura, Gavin Roach, Christian Slike, Vincent Trujillo, Vanessa van de Vliet and Lisa Wearing. And the regional and industry coordinators and sponsors, as well as the hundreds of IBM leaders worldwide who conducted the face-to-face interviews with CEOs.


Berman, S. and Korsten, P. (2014), "Leading in the connected era", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 37-46.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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