Senior Leaders Forecast Change as the only Constant in 2023
The year 2022 has been turbulent. After finally emerging from a global pandemic, the market had initially expected to focus on recovery.
Yet instead we have had to deal with surging inflation, coupled with armed conflict in Europe, all whilst still dealing with systemic human capital issues, ranging from The Great Resignation to The Great Retrenchment. As 2030 approaches, the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal gets challenging to reach.
While we hope for a silver lining, the outlook for 2023 at present remains muted, with global growth predicted by the International Monetary Fund to drastically slow from 6.0% to 2.7%.
Closer to home, Singapore’s economy is expected to lag to a rate below trend with the Ministry of Trade and Industry predicting 2023’s GDP growth at 0.5-2.5%.
The collective concerns of senior corporate Leaders
Without a doubt, uncertainty looms on the horizon. Amongst all the crises and urgencies requiring attention, four areas take up the majority of time and attention of senior corporate leaders in the next 6 to 12 months. Here they are in no particular order.
Innovation and Technology
Society and Sustainability
Talent and Human Capital.
We further sought out senior leaders with a perspective of the respective domains to share what they viewed as pertinent from their vantage points
Innovation & Technology - Data with potential insights for strategic decision making
The domain of Innovation and Technology is often put to the test when new problems emerge more quickly than existing solutions can solve. The push to innovate then becomes greater, and for the best chance of success, data amassed and collected may hold latent potential in offering ideas, insights or a semblance of a potential answer.
“Organisations need to master data"
SENIOR PATNER, GLOBAL CO-LEAD NEXT
“Business leaders need to focus on building the capabilities to acquire, manage and use quality data to support the execution of its business strategy. The move from 3rd party to 1st party data means businesses need to build customer data platforms that can support the end-to-end customer journey. Also, businesses need to invest in building data literacy so both leaders and working teams can uplift their ability to use data to run the business.” she adds.
Society & Sustainability - short term pains, but long term gains
If sustainability is about meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future teams or generations to meet theirs, we as leaders will have to worry about both the short and long term. “What really determines whether a company survives is not inherently the measures that they adopt or policies they implement, says Manvinder Singh, Chief Investment Officer of Olam Financial Services.
"It’s all about having both short-and long-term vision, and a game plan for the big picture" MANVINDER SINGH CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, OLAM FINANCIAL SERVICES
"Rather than act reactively to every single bout of market volatility." he adds.
However, there will be outliers who believe and adopt the expedient approach of leadership under pressure, placing speed, efficiency and immediate gains as priority. Such leaders behave like management on contract, rather than owners of sustainable businesses with a perpetual future. This type of long-term leadership mindset requires worrying today while keeping our eyes on tomorrow concurrently.
"Despite a global wave of sustainability transitions, business leaders remain hesitant to make sustainability central to their company’s business strategy in the ill-advised belief that the costs outweigh the benefits." Says Patrick Tay, Assistant General-Secretary, National Trades Union Congress.
"Leaders must transition to a business model that creates value
for all stakeholders including workers, society, and the planet while remaining profitable." PATRICK TAY ASSISTANT GENERAL-SECRETARY, NTUC
"A strategy for “Just Transition” is hence pivotal to ensure that the sustainable economy of the future is fair and inclusive, to provide new and meaningful jobs, to safeguard workers’ livelihoods.” he adds.
Talent & Human Capital - Retaining the middle
As new expectations and habits are forming around the workforce, workday and workplace, the challenge and talent crunch is greatest not at the top nor bottom, but in the middle. People managers are burning out from the duality of having to manage both up and down.
“Revitalizing and equipping future leaders is one of the many pertinent challenges business leaders face and will continue to face.
SHUBHA SHRIDHARAN GROUP SVP HR - APAC, THE ADECCO GROUP
"Mid-level managers experience a unique pandemic-related stressor: they have to cascade strategies from senior leadership, meet key performance indicators, and keep their team engaged, all at the same time. To motivate and retain top talents, businesses must genuinely care. In this regard, HR and top leadership need to support people managers to be at their best for the success of the overall workforce, as they are the critical drivers of employee performance. People managers should be role models for the right behaviours and support their teams' holistic growth and well-being. Managers should continuously improve their skills to coach and care for their employees.”she adds.
Leadership - Cultivate both character and competency
Across all these factors, in good and more so in uncertain times, people turn to leadership. If a ship out at sea is close to being wrecked by stormy waters, it would be a shame and disgrace if its dynamic and very decorated captain chooses to abandon the remaining passengers and crew, sailing off on the last lifeboat, because it is character that can ultimately undermine even the best technical competencies, and leaders need to cultivate both.
"We need to ‘Think People, Think Future, Think Excellence" LIM SIONG GUAN
FOUNDING CHAIRMAN, HONOUR (SINGAPORE)
”People and Culture are what fundamentally make one company different from another. They are the ultimate formula for winning in life and business. Future is where we all will get to, but how well will we do it? Preparing for it is a responsibility unique to leaders, but too many neglect it.” he adds.
As captains of our respective organisations, we’re responsible for the future – of our organization, of the people we lead. If storms are on the horizon do we take a protectionist stance, safeguarding our best interests?
Or do we instead see an opportunity in collaborating with captains of other ships, to chart paths of least resistance towards safety, creating a pool of knowledge needed to navigate and withstand the stormy waters that lie ahead–going beyond the exchange of information and insights, to something deeper like the sharing of resources and possibly uncovering mutually beneficial relationships?
Perhaps then we can go beyond just surviving a crisis, and thrive in spite of it.