Accenture has collaborated with the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders and Global Shapers Community to discover a leadership values system that is driving innovation and trust.

It is called the Five Elements Model of Responsible Leadership.

In addition to traditional focus groups and questionnaires, the research project looked at text transcripts from CEOs from the last two, three and five years, to discover and classify the values that CEOs found important.

But it was the online research that highlighted a startling generational difference when it came to the Leadership Element Intellect and Insight.

This is the question Accenture Research asked an online sample of 352 people.

“Overall, thinking as an advisor to the individual tasked with making (an important responsible leadership) decision, which one of the following leadership attributes is most critical to the approach you would take?”

Younger respondents within Generation Z, born between 1995 and 2001 (and who were around 20-25 years old when they were asked the question), called on a broad range of qualities. For them, the element of Stakeholder Inclusion was much more prominent than for those within Generation Y, who were 25-40 years old at the time they were asked the question.

Two fifths of this older Generation were guided by Intellect and Insight. But this was important for only a third of Generation Z, the youngest generation of adults surveyed.

This chart shows the average split of leadership attributes respondents felt were most critical when making decisions as responsible leaders. Notice how Generations Y and Z value two of the elements differently from each other — Intellect and Insight, and Stakeholder Inclusion.

Differences such as these call for multi-generational leadership teams and other ways for organisations to take account of the viewpoints of people of all age groups.

The Intellect & Insight element of Responsible Leadership is about finding ever-improving paths to success. Included in this element are continuous learning and data-driven decision-making, as well as critical thinking used to challenge orthodox ideas.

All this seems common-sense. And indeed, intellect and insight are part of the DNA of any leader. But how many leaders embrace continuous learning and knowledge exchange for their workers, but neglect it for themselves and their leadership teams?

For an instructive example, we can turn to Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft. Every year, he spends one week in a cabin, where he reads books and technical papers, takes in new information, writes, and reflects about the world at large and the role he can play in improving it.

We have one of his Think Weeks to thank for the Internet Explorer launch in 1995. And now, for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, he does much the same, reading everything from academic research to books on topics relevant to the foundation’s global efforts. That is the heart of the Insight and Intellect leadership element: to take time to do this, and to mandate all leadership teams to do the same.

This concludes my series on Responsible Leadership. Please read my prior blogs in this series, where I cover the different elements in more depth. The full report on the five elements is fascinating and synthesises insights with illustrative case studies. You can read it here: Seeking New Leadership: Responsible leadership for and sustainable and equitable world.

I am always open to chat to you about how Accenture uses this and other research to share insights with our customers. And I read all the mail I receive. Feel free to reach out to me here.