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Debunking the Superman Myth

Human Capital Trends 2013

Many companies have spent decades trying to identify and clone the mythical “perfect leader.” But it turns out there is no such thing. Businesses today face a virtually unprecedented variety of challenges, from harvesting profits in mature economies with flat or declining growth, to establishing toeholds in emerging countries, to creating the next wave of disruptive innovation, to working through the complexity of changing regulations – and everything in between. Each of these unique challenges requires a unique kind of leader. One size does not fit all.

What’s driving this trend?

  • Jagged markets. It wasn’t long ago that mature markets were the ones that really mattered. And while those key markets might have been on different continents and separated by thousands of miles, from a business perspective they were more alike than different. Not anymore. Today, companies should find ways to operate successfully in markets that are worlds apart in every way – socially, technologically, and economically. This requires a new type of leadership.
  • Perpetual uncertainty. Companies used to operate in a relatively stable and predictable business environment where the future looked a lot like the past. But in an increasingly complex and fast-paced business world, businesses know that the future is unknown – and unknowable – and design their leadership strategies accordingly.
  • Instant obsolescence. Today, disruptive innovation is the rule, not the exception. Virtually any company could be weeks or months away from facing potential breakthroughs and new competition that could make its entire business obsolete. Leadership styles that worked well in the past simply aren’t good enough to cope with this dynamic environment.

Read more about this trend.

Meet our people

Bill Pelster, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Geoffrey Helt, Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP


As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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