Leadership Challenges in the New Millennium
Businesses today have undergone a sea transformation in their ways of functioning. It has become increasingly intricate and tricky encompassing a plethora of complex business issues in its fold, thus paving the way for new leadership challenges. These complex business issues manifest themselves in old and new, small and large business. These complications are driven by ambiguity and fast-track changes. Nonetheless, sustainability of business in this dynamic business environment seeks for exceptional leadership skills to manage the challenges ahead and transform them into a win-win situation.
The first and the foremost challenge that organizations face today is that of attracting and retaining the right talent. Finding the right fit for the organization is testing and correspondingly challenging is the aspect of knowledge retention. Employees and employers have high expectations from each other which has made the process of recruitment and retention a grueling task. For instance, a survey conducted by CISCO on young professionals and fresh college graduates revealed that salary came only second to having access to social networking sites at work place while accepting a job offer. Sujai Haleja, VP and General Manger, wireless networking unit Cisco states “The findings in the Cisco Connected World Technology Report provide real –life insight into how information is accessed by college students and young IT professionals and how business communications are changing as a result. In addition to the impact on business communications, the study provides proof that new generation of employees and their technology demands will influence job decisions, hiring and a new age of work life balance. How businesses address these demands will inevitably affect their competitive advantage and HR success. It’s not just a technology trend anymore- it’s a business trend. (Source http:// newsroom.cisco.com/press-release-content)
The scenario is even tough for startup companies where new entrepreneurs face a grim situation when it comes to hiring. This is so because the expertise needed to lead a startup is remarkably different from that of established organizations. The hiring strategy focuses on employing proficient personnel with complementary skills and those who will stick to the organization for long. First time entrepreneurs run the risk of recruiting people who have the precise skills but lack commitment and concrete values. They normally hire people who look at startups as a stopover option in their career. The consequences of such hiring can prove disastrous in the long run as startups cannot invest on high recruitment cost. Moreover, the challenge lies in chalking out a pertinent human resource plan, so that the adequate resources with the right skill mix are harnessed. Close on the heels is, attrition management, which has become a daunting task mostly for mid to senior management levels. The attrition rates are alarming in case of the IT industry where job hopping is common. Leaders need to effectively retain the knowledgeable and competent work force since they are the ones who are the essence of core competency and productivity for the company. Thus, leaders have a perplexing task to retain the talented workforce in wake of employee poaching activities and also the social media which is used by employees and employers for recruitment purposes.
With the hiring strategy in place the onus now lies in suitably managing the newly acquired work force, so that they share identical vision and mission as that of the organization. This challenge of creating a cohesive approach to achieve organizational goals is an arduous task. Leaders need to efficaciously weave this sentiment within the talent pool through effective communication so that it becomes rousing enough for the workforce to have the same vision of the organization they belong to.
The third challenge lies in managing work force diversity. Nowadays, majority of the work is done in teams and therefore effective team management is quintessential for an organization to succeed. Also, efficacious team management calls for managing the cultural diversity in the team, varied age groups and performance in the team. The challenge lies in consolidating all this diversity into one unified element. Leaders need to gauge the individual expertise of the team members and coordinate with them so that they contribute willingly towards the organizations requirements.
The fourth challenge lies in providing substantial employee engagement. Leaders should make certain that employees are befittingly engaged within the organization so that a sentiment of camaraderie and esprit de corps prevails. More so leaders should strike a balance in maintaining professional and personal relationships with employees so as to foster the spirit of passion for work and sense of belongingness for the organization.
The fifth challenge lies in creating and leading an empowered workforce. Creating an empowered workforce requires that employees become a significant part of decision making and problem solving process in the organization. This would not only enthuse the workers but also prove to be a productive approach to enhance work efficiency. Leaders need to be aware of the fact that they would fail if they can’t empower the workforce. However, leading an empowered group necessitates leaders to go beyond the tried and tested leadership styles. Empowerment too brings its own sets of demands. For instance, empowering a workforce means that employees should be bestowed with liberty and independence at work, but when things go awry, leaders are expected to own responsibility for the overall state of affairs. On a similar pattern, employee involvement and team spirit are in vogue, but the pressure is on the leaders to give individual recognition for the work done. Again, the irony lies that employees need to be given decent chances for growth, meet new challenges and carve a niche for themselves, but leaders should coach and mentor them so that their potential can be maximized.
The sixth challenge lies in change management. Change is an inevitable and is unrelenting. Organizations can’t do away with it. Changing and acclimatizing to the dynamic business environment helps in organizational sustainability and maintain the competitive edge. Leading change is a skill which demands leaders to take intrepid steps to anchor the changes in the corporate culture. This can be done by being open and honest in approach, getting the feedback for the initiatives taken and by remaining committed to usher in the change. This methodology builds an environment of trust and sureness within the workforce and thus facilitates the change process, thereby empowering the organization to remain in sync with the times.
Finally, the toughest challenge lies with managing the public image of the company. Business today demand that companies focus their attention not only to their own enterprise but also the overall business environment. A leader needs to associate with and promote a web of business connections with other organizations and people. This practice would aid in superior understanding of the current trends in business, competitive forces, and global market concerns which are quintessential for the superior performance, growth, sustainability and profitability of the organization. Thus, in this pulsating and capricious environment, the necessity for effective leadership has never been greater. Moreover, the need is for leaders who can walk the talk and convert words to actions.