Industry TrendsLeadershipFinancial ServicesBoard and CEO AdvisoryAssessment and BenchmarkingExecutive Search
Article Icon Report
+ 6 authors
3月 19, 2021
7 read
Industry TrendsLeadershipFinancial ServicesBoard and CEO AdvisoryAssessment and BenchmarkingExecutive Search
Effective leaders in the banking industries share common a set of common competencies that leverage the best of inclusion and innovation.



This paper is the first of a four-part series that explores the growing importance of innovation leadership and inclusive leadership in banking. It is based on a study of over six thousand senior executives carried out over the past four years, and provides new perspectives on these indicators of forward-thinking leadership.

Part 1. Key findings
Part 2. Changing how to analyze and develop talent
Part 3. A new lens for identifying talent
Part 4. Mobility and cross-fertilization

Dataset composition
Total: 6,111 executives
Gender: 4,417 male and 1,496 female executives
Leaders: 626 CEOs, 1,744 CxOs
Regions: 2,526 EMEA, 2,437 Americas, 940 Asia Pacific
Sector: 1,386 Financial Services, including 689 Banking

Disruption is accelerating

A new generation of banking leaders are being defined by their ability to respond quickly to multiple forces that are disrupting traditional leadership agendas:

Addressing these themes in banking

We are being asked to find banking leaders who can cope with these demands, who can manage a complex global business in a sustainable manner, stay ahead of the curve and innovate, and remain inclusive, capitalizing on diversity of thoughts and opinions.

Through studies of best-in-class innovation leaders and inclusive leaders, our organizational psychologists mapped the competencies demonstrated by top performing leaders who are successfully adapting to these evolving demands.

Benchmarking these across our large executive assessment dataset has given us valuable insights into how firms can improve internal development programs, out-of-industry hiring and internal talent-spotting to build future-proofed executive pipelines.

A powerful competency combination

Our research showed that innovation leadership is closely correlated with inclusive leadership. In particular, there are common competencies across both that relate to driving sustainable organizational change.

85% of effective innovation leaders also demonstrate heightened inclusive leadership competencies 
Inclusive Leadership Common CompetenciesInnovation Leadership

Highly conscientious

Value social interaction


Environmentally sensitive

Strong empathy

Positive thinkers

Inquisitive nature

Empowering others

Energetic & competitive

Willing to take risks


Highly experimental

Value leadership roles

Challenge established procedures

Prefer flexibility & autonomy

Delivering improved performance

Market studies highlight the impact that innovation and inclusion have on company performance

Highly inclusive firms see a 30% improvement in innovation and idea generation

Gender diverse firms are 25% more likely to have above-average profitabilityEthnically diverse firms are 36% more likely to have above-average profitabilityInnovative firms see 560 basis points higher shareholder returns

This is an opportunity for competitive advantage

The industry benchmark below highlights how, compared to companies in other sectors, many banks are lagging in their ability to lead innovation at an organizational level and build inclusive working environments.

For those banks that can instill effective leadership across these two factors, there is an opportunity for them to gain a significant competitive advantage over their peers given the relative immaturity of the broader sector.


Demand for these competencies is increasing

The intense demand for senior executives with innovation and inclusive leadership competencies has driven average executive scores across these two metrics significantly higher over the past four years.

For many organizations these skills and behaviors are no longer seen as peripheral, they are now core to what is considered a modern, forward-thinking leader.


Banking has seen an even faster increase in demand for these competencies, albeit from a lower base.

To catch up with higher performing sectors, the questions banks need to answer include:

  • What are the systemic hurdles to developing a more innovative and inclusive talent pipeline?
  • What are the implications of these hurdles for the organization?
  • What are the solutions that banking leadership can put in place to overcome them?
  • What are the inherent strengths within banks that can help to accelerate these efforts?

Breaking the cycle

Banking’s low scores here pose a challenge: How do you develop your talent in a low inclusion and low innovation environment?

By not indexing on the competencies that underpin these two factors, you risk continuously stripping your talent pipeline of people with a desire to take risks or who are willing to innovate and break silos.

This increases the likelihood that subsequent generations will continue to make the same mistakes as their predecessors.

Given the impact of disruptive forces on the industry, including lower barriers to entry, this represents a material threat to banks and financial institutions. They will struggle to evolve and stay relevant in an increasingly competitive landscape, and bold decisions are needed to break this vicious cycle.


Three recommended solutions

In the next three papers in this series, we will explore three sets of solutions:

  1. Changing how to analyze and develop talent
    By exploring the underlying competencies and behaviors impacting these results, as well as those from other industries, how can you best adapt your approach to developing your senior executives?
  2. A new lens for identifying talent
    How can we be more creative in uncovering the individuals and teams within the organization that may be a stronger potential source of innovative and inclusive leadership?
  3. Mobility and cross-fertilization
    Given that other industries can be a fertile source of innovation and inclusive leadership talent, how can banking effectively absorb these leaders without transplant rejection?

Appendix: Methodology

Changing how we measure potential

The methodology was developed by our in-house psychologists in partnership with Hogan Assessments. It is based on studies of “best-in-class” senior leaders, mapped to a 95 percent confidence interval, and synthetically validated against a dataset of 5.5 million executives.

Innovation LeadershipInclusive Leadership
  • Innovative
  • Disruptive
  • Bold in leadership
  • Socially adept
  • Determined


  • Identifying motivations, privilege & acumen
  • Reading situations/challenges
  • Reflecting with empathy
  • Holding self accountable


  • Leveraging differences to win
  • Fostering open dialogue
  • Developing with feedback
  • Holding others accountable

These are derived from weighted aggregates of twenty eight psychometrics, normalized against our global senior executive assessment dataset:

  • Adjustment
  • Aesthetics
  • Affiliation
  • Altruistic
  • Ambition
  • Bold
  • Commerce
  • Compliance
  • Diligent
  • Dutiful
  • Excitable
  • Grounded
  • Hedonism
  • Inquisitive
  • Interpersonal Sensitivity
  • Learning Approach
  • Leisurely
  • Power
  • Prudence
  • Recognition
  • Reserved
  • Restrained
  • Risk-tolerant
  • Science
  • Security
  • Skeptical
  • Sociability


Please feel free to contact us to discuss any of these topics further

Mary Caroline Tillman
Financial Services
E: marycaroline.tillman@russellreynolds.com
T: +1 212 351 2085
New York

Chris Davis
FinTech & Innovation
E: chris.davis@russellreynolds.com
T: +1 212 351 2590
New York

Tina Shah-Paikeday
Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
E: tina.shah@russellreynolds.com
T: +1 415 352 3362
San Francisco

David Lange
Leadership & Succession
E: david.lange@russellreynolds.com
T: +1 212 351 2284
New York

Bennett Hanig
Leadership & Succession
E: bennett.hanig@russellreynolds.com
T: +1 212 351 2089
New York

Pam Attinger
FinTech & Innovation
E: pam.attinger@russellreynolds.com
T: +1 415 352 3321
San Francisco

Mark Temple
Financial Services Knowledge
E: mark.temple@russellreynolds.com
T: +44 20 7198 1811

James Diggines
Financial Services
E: james.diggines@russellreynolds.com
T: +65 6496 0606

Claire-Louise McSherry
Global Technology & Operations for Financial Services
E: claire-louise.mcsherry@russellreynolds.com
T: +44 20 7343 3663

Sean Dineen
Leadership & Succession
E: sean.dineen@russellreynolds.com
T: +1 617 722 6253

Jane Bird
Financial Services
E: jane.bird@russellreynolds.com
T: +44 20 7198 1807

Robert Voth
Financial Services
E: robert.voth@russellreynolds.com
T: +1 312 993 0748

Sophie Saeed
Financial Services
E: sophie.saeed@russellreynolds.com
T: +44 20 7198 1863


Leadership/#Disrupted study