The Disruptive Leadership Report

The new playbook for leaders of the 4th industrial revolution

What is The Disruptive Leadership Report?

Why do some companies thrive while others collapse in the face of disruptive change? 

To find the answers, over the past 6 months we’ve captured the views of 160 leaders across the globe, interviewing senior leaders from companies like Google, Netflix, Shell, DHL and Microsoft along with scrappy startups like Graphcore and We combined our findings with insights from our work with 1000s of leaders – the result is the Disruptive Leadership report. 

Businesses that participated:

Report Findings

Size doesn’t matter, leadership does! The research shows that companies big and small, across industries, are experiencing high levels of disruption and that leadership is the difference between failure and success. However only 19% of respondents said their leaders had the capabilities needed to navigate disruptive change (in disrupted orgs). 

What do leaders of the 4th industrial revolution look like?  


“There is an opportunity now to change. Through the darkness there is light.”

John McCusker – VP Talent, Bacardi

“If businesses don’t look outside, they can’t see the shift.”

Professor Antonio Davila – IESE Seat Chair of Innovation

“Are they willing to be vulnerable? No, not at all. Never.  They are scared of making mistakes. When crisis happens, they protect themselves. And they go into their silos. They blame others.” 

Jeff Turner – Former Director of International L&D, Facebook

“There are 50 experiments going on…they’re spending between 10,000 pounds and 10 million with very little rhyme or reason for their budget. It’s a bit like playing a fruit machine in a pub, you know it’s not a rational decision, but it’s fine. Something good might happen, people are watching, it’s kind of exciting.” 

Stephen Rapoport – Entrepreneur, Innovation Consultant

“It is difficult to get execs to react when they are still hitting the numbers.”

Joost Korver – Former CEO & Global Innovation Director, SHV

“Leaders often lack grit; the drive to persevere because they believe in something.”

Deb Pellen – Global Innovation Director, Bacardi

“It starts with everyone. Anyone can start innovation. Ideas come from across the organisation not from senior leadership. We facilitate their ideas.”

Gwen Burbidge – Chief People Officer, Wetransfer

“What is the future of leadership might be the wrong question, what I think we will see is self-organising, non-hierarchical, bottom up, democratised, more conscious model of leadership.”

Gib Bullock – Former Executive Director, Accenture

“With a clear view of the future and ability to measure impact, the org is aligned and able to make effective trading decisions.”

Kerris Bright – Chief Customer Officer, BBC

“Do the right thing, regardless of how painful [it is] sends a powerful message.”

Jose Fernando Nava – CEO, DHL

4 Shifts & 20 Rules

Across businesses we saw two types of response among leaders.  The Disrupted, who are ‘fighting the wrong fight with one arm tied behind their back’, and The Disruptors, who are ‘driven by purpose, unleashing human potential to create a new future’

The report explores 4 shifts and 20 new playbook rules needed to be a leader in the 4th industrial revolution. 

Find out what it takes to be a Disruptor.  

Shift One

The Disrupted

Not Seeing The Problem

The Disruptors

Open, Humble, Hungry to Learn


Shift Two

The Disrupted

No North

The Disruptors



Shift Three

The Disrupted

Not Safe to

The Disruptors



Shift Four

The Disrupted


The Disruptors



For a detailed analysis on each of the four shifts and twenty rules, you can download The Disruptive Leadership Report below. 

Research Team

Ian Forshew

Founding Partner

18-years experience as and entrepreneur, business operator and as founder CEO / COO / board member. Interim C-level and Growth Advisor roles for VC funded businesses. Founded and successfully exited two companies.

Odharnait Ansbro

Senior L&D Partner

9+ years experience working with NGOs, corporations and governments to design, develop and deliver learning solutions in leadership development. 3+ years at Google, 4 years consulting with MIT, USAID, the Lebanese Ministry of Education, UNICEF, several digital media start up.


Steering Panel

Andy Bird

Leadership & Team Performance Coach

Senior Strategic Marketing roles at Unilever, followed by co-founding Brand Learning (now Accenture)

Stephan Thoma

Former Global L&D Director

Ex Google Global L&D Director in the period that Google scaled from circa 5k to 45k people, and now advisory support to 30+ businesses ranging from startups & scale-ups to major global complex matrixed organisations.

Joost Korver

Corporate Innovation Leader

Corporate Entrepreneur with 20 years of international experience in senior leadership roles in the energy sector

About T-minus

We specialise in leadership in the context of disruption, high growth and innovation. In the past few years, we have worked with leaders from some of the most innovative companies in the world, alongside the large multinational players they disrupt.



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