April 24, 2024

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Global Business Leaders: Top 3 Challenges

3 min read

What keeps global business leaders up at night? What has them jumping out of bed in the morning?

As a leader, they say, if you have more than three things on your to-do list, then you’re not delegating well enough. OK then, I asked a sampling of leaders – with varying degrees of global oversight and a variety of functional responsibility – the following question: Of all the things you deal with, what three never leave your own personal to-do list? What responsibility won’t you delegate? And I decided, with no other rationale than the fact that it made sense, that in order for something to make the Top 3 list, it had to be on 75% of the respondents’ lists – kinda like getting inducted into the baseball hall of fame. If it’s good enough for Cooperstown, it’s good enough for me.

An interesting result emerged, with our respondents unaware of each other’s identities. (1) The Top 3 list was near unanimous, (2) A total of ten challenges were offered, and (3) With rare exception, the challenges presented combinations of technology and humanitarian elements.

The Top 3 Global Leadership Challenges

(Actually, 4 – A Tie For Third)

1. Accelerated technological transformation

It’s AI, of course, which has already proven it will be the largest single civilization changer ever. The challenge, though, will not be only the scope of change; it will also be the pace. Keeping up with it will make the difference between thriving and extinction. Will we be able to keep up? Plain and simple.

2. The contest for creative talent

Are you surprised by this one? I’m not. Creativity is the only sustainable asset that any individual, organization, or nation will ever again have. I made that proclamation 27 years ago, when assessing the talent pool at a corporate client. It launched my commitment to studying creativity and consulting to clients., and even spawned a graduate course at FDU: Creativity, Change, and the 21st Century Leader. Skills can be replaced; creativity cannot. New ideas can be replaced; the ability to generate them cannot. Expertise can be replaced; readiness cannot. Apparently, our respondents agree.

3. TIE: Global health crises

Events like the COVID-19 pandemic make it painfully clear how fast and hard a devastating virus can grip the earth – and the billions of the people on it. Leaders need to coordinate responses, allocate resources, and facilitate international collaboration not only to fight new diseases, but to predict and prevent new ones. Predict and prevent is the new challenge, but until we can do that, better combat is the call of the day.

3. TIE: Geopolitical conflicts, war, migration, and refugees:

In an intricately interconnected world, geopolitics, human persecution, and power struggles of all sorts threaten global stability and security, economies, and trade – right down to the most local of businesses. Leadership is challenged to foster diplomacy, dialogue, and cooperation to prevent conflicts and promote regional and international stability. Addressing issues such as terrorism and cyber warfare requires strong leadership and multilateral engagement.

Once past the top three – four, actually – six more challenges showed up on at least half the lists: cybersecurity and data privacy, ethics and governance, supply chain stability, workplace restructuring, an adequately trained workforce, and global economic uncertainty and financial stability,

More will be said about them all in upcoming posts.


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