Melbourne Business School News How the next decade will redefine business, according to senior leaders

How the next decade will redefine business, according to senior leaders

Report shows greater expectation on leaders to drive organisational purpose and hold positions on topical issues while managing dispersed teams.

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Melbourne Business School's new People Matters: Change Unleashed report reveals the top challenges that will transform organisations over the next decade and their ramifications for leaders, organisations, and workforce skills.

In five sessions over 12 months, 40 executives spoke with Melbourne Business School to spell out their thinking on why their organisations exist, how they operate and how they connect with people and the community. They also gave their perspective on the leadership skills they need to stay relevant over the next 10 years. 

People Matters: Change Unleashed

Senior executives on how the next decade will redefine business.

The author of the report, Melbourne Business School's Strategic Learning Advisor Alexandra Lazarus-Priestley, said: “The results show increasing pressure on private organisations to recognise the ‘next version of capitalism’ to address large, overarching societal and environmental issues. What role can organisations play in solving the world’s biggest challenges? How can we connect organisations to an individual's sense of purpose? What is acceptable behaviour for leaders now, and into the future? 

“The global response to COVID, and the acceleration of expectations and technological changes it caused, shows us that we can’t go back to business-as-usual without risking irrelevance. Broad and fundamental changes are taking place, and we need to develop new skills and capabilities, and efficient ways of acquiring them, quickly.”

Among those interviewed include managing directors and executives in strategy, innovation, people and culture and operations. Their responses, outlined in this report, focuses on four key areas of change.

Redefining systems

Value is moving from shareholder to stakeholder. Organisations are under pressure to take greater responsibility in community leadership and help navigate increasingly ambiguous ethical and moral ground. Participants also raised the increasing need for environmental and social sustainability to drive business strategy, employee and customer attraction and retention.

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Redefining leadership

There is greater focus on leaders as stewards of culture, sustainability and ethics, not just budget and revenue. Organisational leaders are increasingly required to question their operating model and ask themselves: What is the work we need to be doing? What should we do, and what model/structure will enable us to do it? What is the work of leadership? Pressure is increasing on leaders in the most senior roles to hold societal positions on significant topical issues, such as diversity, race, poverty and climate.

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Redefining work and operations

Power is shifting from organisations to individuals, who are increasingly seeking work that fits their values, lifestyle and workplace choices. In the new employer-employee contract, employee desires matter more than ever, and leaders need to listen. Going forward, a business that pursues a healthy bottom line will need to seek employee perspectives and develop tailored programs to create work environments that value people and promote trust.

Redefining learning

Purpose, process and "place" are becoming just as vital as content when considering learning. Considered investment in skills acquisition and job corridors will determine competitive advantage, starting with critical skills and building outwards. Leadership must clearly understand critical gaps in knowledge for their organisation and match career development with ways of working, in terms of flexibility and personalisation.

“The ask at all levels of the organisation is continuing to increase, and organisations need to support their leaders in understanding how to make decisions in uncertain and ambiguous situations, with seemingly impossible trade-offs,” said Lazarus-Priestley. “This requires holistic development, and amplification of what it means to be a leader in tomorrow’s world.”

People Matters: Change Unleashed

Senior executives on how the next decade will redefine business.

The People Matters: Change Unleashed study was conducted to help its clients and partners deal with increased community expectations, rapidly evolving business models, intensifying global tensions and rising concerns over social and environmental issues following the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Melbourne Business School partners with organisations across the Asia-Pacific region to create unique solutions to their specific challenges. You can learn more on the For Organisations page.