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Do You Belong to Most Ambitious Generation of Leaders Yet?
Leaders have been sharing their perspectives on the present market uncertainty and their expectations for the future. The result is a surprising insight into the requirements of balancing today's performance with tomorrow's transformation.
Here are the highlights, encompassing 371 transformation initiatives, 129 project consolidations and 50 productivity drives.
This insight emerged from strategic conversations with business leaders on the requirements of delivering today's performance & tomorrow's transformation. It is part of our most exciting research yet:
Picturing Leadership in 2024
A clear picture is emerging of leadership in 2024. It has 3 parts:
- Massive Ambition re Strategy
- Juggling multiple priorities
- Niggling Doubts re Execution
It is a fascinating mix. Let's explore each part in turn.
Here's how one leader profiled their organization in terms of the Top 3 opportunities and challenges (shown above).
This leader's perspective was broadly similar to your peers, perhaps slightly less concerned about multiple projects & priorities (i.e. juggling) or execution/making it happen (i.e. niggling doubt).
There is massive ambition. Despite market uncertainty, leaders report that all the following indicators are up:
That is three pieces of good news: Growth outlook is up. Leaders report a high level of readiness for change and transformation. There is evidence of a new, some would even say more enlightened, engagement with risk.
Not only are they focused on driving performance, but they are also pushing ahead on transformation. All this leads to the conclusion that this may well be the most ambitious generation of leaders yet!
In ambitious organizations, it is inevitable that there would be more priorities, projects and initiatives than available resources. But, the result of combining the need for performance with the drive for transformation, is for most leaders (83%) too many projects and initiatives competing for scarce time, attention and resources.
Much of our research has focused on how leaders are balancing today’s performance with tomorrow’s transformation. What we discovered is that it is less about balancing and more about juggling. Specifically, juggling multiple projects, priorities and initiatives (as well as their day-to-day work). This juggling is an essential skill required from today's busy leaders.
When the need for performance meets the drive for transformation, leaders find themselves juggling lots of priorities and initiatives. It isn’t easy, with more time being tied up in internal meetings, processes, etc.
That is the second part of our picture of leadership in 2023. It is also a very real constraint – with 83% saying that there are already too many priorities,
projects and initiatives competing for scarce time, attention and resources.
Indeed, the average leader is involved in 7 transformation initiatives. The danger is that in juggling so much, something will fall, or perhaps the overworked leader will fall over!
Our data highlights the cost of so much juggling. When leaders are continually busy, three areas suffer:
- Managing stakeholders
- Developing their teams
- Investing in themselves
Given levels of busyness and pressure on resources, many leaders have niggling doubts regarding the ability to ‘make it all happen'. This is reflected in the data for overall effectiveness at 67%, and the effectiveness of internal collaboration at just 65%. This for many leaders is the reality of working within large organizations, where committees, bureaucracy and managing internal stakeholders takes up so much time.
Leaders are wondering if so many priorities, projects and initiatives in an environment that is operating at 67%? They are also wondering what might be possible if levels of internal efficiency were at 75% or 85%.
Traditionally, removing or silencing doubt was considered essential to delivering on ambitious strategies. However, we now know that doubt plays a key role in ensuring success. It keeps leaders and their organizations grounded in terms of the challenges of execution and the realities of making things happen.
Interestingly, our data suggests that this unlikely ‘ambition-doubt combo‘ is critical to success.
4 Questions Leaders are Asking
It is no wonder that leaders are searching for answers to questions such as:
- How to maintain focus & alignment as business needs & priorities change?
- How to prioritize & sequence the most important projects & initiatives?
- How to leverage synergies & efficiencies across the strategic portfolio?
- How to empower leaders to optimize ways of working and get more stuff done? Especially more strategic and value creating work.
More About the Research
There is, of course, a lot more detail in our research. Combining qualitative big data with up to 53 hours of one-to-one strategic conversations with business leaders, the research encapsulates the experience of leaders with over:
- 50 productivity drives
- 371 transformation initiatives
- The consolidation of 129 projects.
Moreover, the research is ongoing.
Our research team would like to say a special thank you to all the leaders who participated and made this research possible.
If you are curious or concerned about balancing performance with transformation or delivering on your ambitious plans, get in touch with us today.
SOLUTIONS & SERVICES: Here are some of the ways that our research & insights are put to work by our clients: