Preparing Leaders for Tomorrow’s Businesses

Tracey Keys

Tracey Keys is the director of Strategy Dynamics Global SA, a Switzerland-based consultancy. She is the co-author, with Thomas Malnight, of The Global Trends Fieldbook, from which this article is adapted, (www.GlobalTrends.com) and of Ready: The 3Rs of Preparing Your Organization for the Future, with co-authors Thomas Malnight and Kees van der Graaf (www.3RsReady.com).

Thomas Malnight

Thomas Malnight is professor of strategy and general management at IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland.

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The world is changing so fundamentally that business leaders who act as if the old rules still apply will find themselves and their organisations side lined or overtaken completely. However, say Thomas Malnight and Tracey Keys, those who adapt to this new world will be well placed to make the most of the opportunities it will offer.

In our interviews with 156 CEOs and other senior executives from around the world for our book Ready: The 3Rs of Preparing Your Organization for the Future. (with co-author Kees van der Graaf) we identified two distinct types of leaders.

The first group is made up of people who are holding on to the past. They often lead firms that are caught in a short-term trap; that is, they focus on delivering immediate results at the expense of long-term planning.

The second group consists of people who are investing in preparing for the future by working to understand how the world is changing, what it means for their organisation and what they need to do about it. They also recognise that making the fundamental changes to their business models that this requires will take time, and thus cannot be delayed.

This article highlights some of the changes reshaping the world and the five challenges facing leaders as a result. It also explores what these changes mean for business schools as they prepare the next generation of leaders.

Five areas of critical change

Leaders can only prepare their organisations for the future if they can take an informed view of what it will look like. Our research highlights five areas in which major changes are occurring.

CRITICAL CHANGE 1: Competition

Competition is no longer limited to firms that look, act and think alike. Emerging competitors are players with fundamentally different business models, value propositions and mindsets.

Competition is just as likely to come from outside your industry as within it; banks are now facing pressure from telecommunications companies offering mobile banking, for example.

CRITICAL CHANGE 2: Growth

The battle for future growth is not just between companies but also between growth markets and economic systems. This fight will be centred in the BRICS and other high-growth markets where bottom of the pyramid models often prevail. The mindset here is centred around exploiting high growth.

For the full article, you can view the PDF or listen to the podcast.

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