What should leaders be worrying about over the next three years? President Trump, Brexit and the possibility of a global recession immediately come to mind. According to the 2018 Corporate Learning Pulse report by Financial Times | IE Business School Corporate Learning Alliance, however, leaders should be turning their minds to these three topics:
Cyber security and big data
Cybersecurity and the use of big data were highlighted as a major priority area by the study, which gathers the views of more than 1,000 C-Suite executives, human resources leaders and learning and development professionals working across multiple business sectors in 13 countries.
This focus has much to do with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation in the European Union, which has highlighted the responsibility that companies have for making safe and ethical use of data.
Although senior professionals see cybersecurity as the central priority for 2018, looking further ahead, survey respondents believed that using big data in smart and unique ways would become more important to organizations’ commercial well-being and success in future.
Today’s organizations must adapt to a fast-paced business environment and rapid technological change. So it is not surprising that the survey revealed that organizational change is a top priority for senior professionals over the next few years. What’s more, more than a fifth of those questioned said that organizational change would be a challenge in the coming three years.
Overall, the survey responses revealed that organizations are considering what changes they need to make internally in order to navigate external sea changes so that they can compete and thrive in the face of new business realities. Moreover, the survey suggested that senior professionals recognize the important role that their people play in setting them on the path to growth and future success. They understand that, to succeed, there is a need to attract, retain and shape qualified talent into the leaders of tomorrow.
Adapting to uncertain external environments
Senior professionals say they are unclear about what various geopolitical issues, attitudes and decisions will mean for their businesses. Interestingly, this view was not confined to businesses in Europe that are worried about the future direction of the European Union, as well as the ramifications of the Trump political era.
In fact, executives all around the world are concerned about the heightened level of policy uncertainty that exists today – particularly with regard to trade, financial market disruptions, tighter global financing conditions and other risks, along with increasing protectionist tendencies and slower potential growth.
Learn your way to success
The results of the survey also suggested that rather than seeking to invest in skills development for its own sake, organizations now want to prepare their leaders to meet the specific challenges facing modern business. Gustaf Nordbäck, CEO of FT | IE Corporate Learning Alliance, believes this development is a reaction by senior executives to today’s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world.
“Those who’re leading change in this VUCA world – and influencing others to achieve this change effectively – need to embrace a mindset of continuous learning and must constantly develop and improve their leadership skills,” he says. “This is the key to organizational success today.”