- June 4, 2021
- Posted by: Aman Kidwai
- Category: Featured
- Alix Partners asked 3,100 executives about their concerns for the future.
- The survey found that the pandemic changed the priorities of most companies.
- Leaders are concerned about their ability to weather challenges caused by market disruption.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The pandemic has dominated everyday life for well over a year, but recent data found that the business world is starting to move forward.
The pandemic required a set of emergency responses that forever changed the way business is done. Today, executives are more focused on how they’ll navigate a rapidly changing economic environment, per a recent survey of 3,100 executives across nine countries and eight industries from corporate consultancy Alix Partners.
“Things are moving quickly and executives have to pick their lanes, place their bets in terms of their future strategies, and run with it,” said Simon Freakley, Alix Partners’ CEO. “It’s very demanding for leaders today.”
Alix Partners’ findings outline the biggest leadership concerns and how different industries are being affected by disruptive changes.
“I spent so much of my early life looking at and studying economic cycles,” Freakley said. “Now, I’ve found that’s absolutely secondary, that the cycles of disruption are more regular and more profound than economic cycles.”
These six charts from Alix Partners’ report highlight the changes corporate leaders are facing today and how they are altering their operations.
Regulation, consumer demographics, and shifting geopolitical power are also more disruptive than COVID-19, the Alix Partners survey found.
“I think the accelerator on disruption, caused by connectivity and technology, means that absolutely every business leader, irrespective of market or geography, has to understand what this means for their business; what it means for new competitors; what it means to staying relevant; what it means for remaining competitive,” Freakley said.
The top strategies that business leaders are using to overcome disruption are investing in new technology and entering or exiting a new market
Freakley shared his theory that about 95% of a company’s strategy is the same as other competitors in the industry. That remaining 5% is where companies try to find a competitive advantage, he said. This part of the strategy is driven by a company’s ability to be agile.
Alix Partners gave each industry a “Disruption Index” score
The score is a measure of the magnitude and significance of disruption in an industry. Leaders in industries that are greater than the global average for disruption should be ready for significant rapid changes in the way business is conducted.
“Depending on which sector you’re in, to some extent which geography you’re in, some of the disruptions can manifest themselves in different ways, or the disruptions are pretty similar,” Freakley said.
COVID-19 has made remote work and employee health and safety more important to business leaders
The pandemic also permanently altered strategies for marketing, communications, and investment, among other things.
“I think it’s just as important, honestly, for leaders to have the right mindset, as it is to have the right skill set,” Freakley said.
C-suite leaders are not fully confident in their company’s ability to withstand disruption
Most leaders are not confident in their ability to withstand disruption in their industry, Alix Partners found.
“A lot of the training that leaders have had, that have got them to their roles, isn’t necessarily relevant anymore,” Freakley said. “It is utterly critical that everybody in a leadership position understands what the disruptions caused by technology and connectivity mean for them. Once you fall behind, then that becomes a point at which you can never catch up.”
Leaders should also focus on frequent and authentic communication, Freakley said, insisting that CEOs should “be their own communications director” because it’s the best way to connect on issues and affirm organizational priorities.
Leaders are worried they don’t have the right talent to help them overcome new challenges
“I think what they worry most about is that they don’t have the talent in their own organizations to meet some of the new challenges that come on the back of the disruption,” Freakley said.
He cautioned that organizations not willing to provide workers flexibility are going to have trouble with recruiting and retention.
In addition to flexibility, workers are more than ever looking to their employers and company leadership to understand the full social impact of their organization’s work.
“Employees are looking at their leaders and saying, ‘Well, what do we stand for?’ ‘Who are we?’ and ‘If we’re not willing to take a stand on these really important, essential civil liberties and rights, then is this an organization I want to be part of?'”