The fast changing market with fluctuations in economy, uncertainty in many areas of business and maybe even instability in Political arena, gives raise to numerous challenges for the leaders today. It’s said that corporate leaders are facing some of the most challenging times now because of its unique exposure on the regulatory and reputational fronts. CEOs are required to manage a lot of it themselves and also hold on to their enabled leadership in all this uncertainty!
The PWC’s annual CEO survey 2014 gives us an idea of some major challenges to look out for: while global CEOs seem more concerned about increasing tax burden and skills availability, CEOs in India have to deal with additional issues related to infrastructure, protectionist economic policies and corruption at every level. Digging up more on the survey it is seen that the top three business-related concerns of Indian CEOs are: availability of skills (81%), inadequacy of basic infrastructure (75%) and increasing tax burden (75%).The top challenges related to economic and political environment include: protectionist tendencies of national governments (77%), bribery and corruption (74%) and exchange rate volatility (74%).
Another global survey (The Conference Board CEO Challenge 2013) identifies the top 5 CEO challenges as: human capital, operational excellence, innovation, customer relationships, political & economic risks.
According to CEOs themselves, their main challenges are (IBM CEO Survey): The collaboration, which is to sustain and improve competitiveness in a context of talent scarcity in a fast-changing world where adaptability will be the key. Next is the challenge of better understanding of customers which helps to serve them better and co-create value with them. Finally the challenges in bringing about Innovation, which is very essential as it enables to be successful.
Among the external factors that may impact their organizations in the next few years to come, CEOs rank technology first (71%), ahead from people and talents (69%). Socio-economic factors, environment, globalization lag behind.
Technology Challenges of today….
Today’s leaders also have to deal with many challenges on the technology front. Emerging new technologies like social media, mobility, big data etc. are making a huge impact on business. This not only requires CEOs to hone up their skills in these areas, but also demands a complete reorientation of the process of planning and decision-making.
Understanding the complete disruption that technology is causing across various dimensions of business and the demands for a greater immersion in the threats and opportunities that technology is presenting to their business models and leadership are very vital factors. Social media, big data, mobile device dominance and cloud are only part of the story.
What leaders can do?
Leaders are required to be agile and adaptable in their management approach and work around the challenges keeping in mind the long term business growth of their organizations. Most Indian CEOs are seen negotiating the challenges and creating value by focusing on the following three areas (PWC’s annual CEO Survey): Targeting specific pockets of business opportunities, concentrating on understanding customer needs & innovating around them and improving operational effectiveness smartly, cutting costs without cutting value.
The key to success in this era of permanent change are Customer Obsession and able leadership. No matter what their business agenda requires them to do, modern day CEOs have to constantly focus on combating the threats that are coming from all directions. Today’s highly competitive market environment requires business leaders to be extremely smart in their strategizing and planning, else they would find it tough to survive.
What is to be seen in the coming days among leaders is to act on creating a road map from just analyzing concerns to real action to combat all the emerging challenges!