Seven business leaders, from the technology to the entertainment industry and with over 125 years of experience between them, share their insights on what has changed within their industries throughout their careers and how they envisage the future.
In today’s day and age, even the most traditional industries are constantly changing and evolving. This creates a challenge for business leaders who must strive to adapt in order to succeed in the future.
The global pandemic has forced business leaders to adapt at a rate of knots and delve into the unknown. Whole industries have faced dramatic changes in a short span of time. Aldo, a Canadian-owned shoe and accessory retailer, closed approximately 40% of its stores and boosted its e-commerce platform with online sales 77% higher than in 2019. The extent of these changes means that entire business models have had to be rethought and readapted to fit into this “Covid World”.
Navigating through changes in business requires a certain outlook so that the evolution of industries is beneficial and not a hindrance.
Through the discussions with these business leaders, five key elements of the future of business leadership were made apparent:
- Inclusivity & Empowerment
- Autocratic to Democratic Leadership
- Technological Advancements Define the Future
- Adaptability & Agility
- A Greener & Brighter Future for Business
In today’s business climate, having these key characteristics allows leaders to navigate their way through industry changes.
Inclusivity and Empowerment
Business leaders should aim to set an example for others in their industry by highlighting and promoting inclusivity and empowerment.
A strong leader can use their position to instigate changes throughout their business and industry. This, in turn, brings about more social inclusion and therefore leads to a feeling of empowerment in the workplace.
Jackie Iverson, the founder of Sen-Jam Pharmaceutical, embodies this idea. She sees that “state-of-the-art healthcare can be democratized and made accessible to all people around the globe.” The current pandemic has made the need for inclusivity in the pharmaceutical industry even more apparent.
As the Covid-19 vaccine rolled out, the world watched to see where and when they were received. The Covax facility has rolled out over 2 billion vaccines to lower and middle-income countries. This is an example of the impact the pharmaceutical industry can have on global situations and how an industry can adapt to current global situations to have a lasting and positive impact.
The pharmaceutical industry is a billion-dollar industry with an immense amount of influence. This means they have the opportunity to have a profound impact. Leaders must use their positions of influence to encourage continuous developments in inclusivity and empowerment in their industries, especially the pharmaceuticals industry.
“People of all shapes and colors are needed at the table, and Broadway is striving to actively make that happen”, shares Sue Gilad, a Tony Award-winning Broadway theatre producer. Displaying diversity and inclusivity in an industry as public as entertainment has the ability to empower many. It stretches beyond those working within the industry as it has a profound effect on the audiences too.
Autocratic to Democratic Leadership
The need for leaders to be people-oriented and have strong communication skills comes as no surprise.
There used to be a tendency of leaders being autocratic, with them making all the decisions and calling all the shots. More recently, however, this is not the case. Today’s business leaders communicate and listen to the ideas of employees from all areas of the business, from interns to managers. Research by Forbes shows that, out of 14,033 people surveyed, 39% said that an autocratic leader is not what they look for in a leader. Employees want to have a say in what happens in the business.
“There has been a shift in the way people communicate with and within a business” Rita Lysenko, founder of Time Management, noted. Gone are the days of merely waiting to be told what to do by one autocratic leader.
Ensuring that you are a people-oriented leader paves the way for innovation and expansion within the business. Furthermore, getting to know and understand your employees means you can create a more efficient and effective workspace.
“There has been a shift in the way people communicate with and within a business”Rita Lysenko, Founder of Time Management
Rachel Troublaiewitch, CEO of Gateway Private Markets, wishes to see the cultivation of “mentorship programs and the further development of supportive ecosystems in the market for female leadership holistically”. The incorporation of mentorship programs creates a business ecosystem that puts your employees first.
There has been a rise in formal and informal mentorship within businesses. 70% of Fortune 500 businesses having a mentorship program of some form. The creation of an environment in which leaders can nurture employees will encourage the personal growth of your employees. This in turn brings about growth in the business.
Technological Advancements Define the Future
Continuous advancements, most obviously in technology, mean that, in order to remain competitive and relevant, leaders must be versatile and susceptible to changes.
“We understand that in this ever-changing world we have to follow the evolution of the industry,” shares Fabia Silva, CEO of Dronak, who envisages a world in which everything can be digitized.
“I truly believe that digitization is crucial and that it will facilitate people’s lives and help build a more just, diverse, inclusive, and sustainable society”. Having worked in the tech industry for over 10 years, Fabia has already seen many changes within the industry. She embraces the positive impact they will have on her business and society as a whole.
Disruptive change is constantly happening in the business world and it is up to leaders to “disrupt before they are disrupted”. Staying ahead of the curve gives businesses competitive advantages and, in order to be successful, a leader must lead in this way.
“We understand that in this ever-changing world we have to follow the evolution of the industry”Fabia Silva, CEO of Dronak
“The advancements in technology have made the life of business leaders more accessible.” acknowledges Rachel Troublaiewitch. The introduction of digital platforms, such as Zoom, into the everyday lives of a business person, has meant that she can now be both a business leader and a mother. She has worked in the finance industry for over 15 years and embraces technology in business. It makes life easier for everyone and allows for more freedom and flexibility in where you are able to work.
The pandemic has forced digitization to happen at a rapid rate. Businesses have been forced to get used to workforces working remotely. The most obvious skill needed to overcome this is adaptability.
Between 2018 and 2020, Zoom’s revenue grew from $121.5 million to a staggering $622.7 million. The global lockdown meant that digital alternatives took off in a way that was unseen in the pre-Covid world.
Agility and Adaptability
All industries, not just tech, must be increasingly versatile and have the ability to adapt to the changes within industries. During her ~20 years of experience in the molding industry, Estela Sanchez, General Director of Dicomol, has seen a drastic change in the lifetime value of products. She said that in the past, consumers used to buy products expecting to keep them for years, or even throughout their entire lives but now their lifetime value is only around “3 years.” Consumer habits have changed drastically over the past twenty years. Leaders must stay aware of these changing habits and adapt their businesses accordingly.
A versatile leader can open up an industry to new people who, in turn, bring with them original ideas and an opportunity to develop and grow.
A Greener and Brighter Future for Business
Business leaders should no longer be solely results-driven but rather strive to have a longer-term impact and to ultimately leave a lasting legacy. It is now important to assess the impact that your business can have on society as a whole, looking beyond just profits.
The likes of the social and environmental impact of business should be at the forefront of the minds of business leaders. There has been a distinct rise in green businesses. Employees are drawn to work for businesses that incorporate a green business strategy that aligns with their personal ethos.
Estela Sanchez believes that businesses need to align with a sustainable ethos across the globe. She says that little can be achieved if “when crossing the border we see that these requirements are the opposite.” In order for the environment to truly benefit from green businesses, there needs to be a cohesive shift to sustainable businesses.
Linda Van Goor, Owner of Regulatory Communication and with over 20 years of experience in the banking sector, believes that regulatory incentives should be put in place to encourage finance decisions to include longer-term impact, not just short-term gain. Leaving a legacy is an aspirational and ambitious goal for any business leader but the overall outcome can have positive and lasting effects on society.
In an ever-changing world, the key to success is to identify shifts within your industry, and beyond, before they have the opportunity to have an adverse effect. These seven business leaders have set out what visions they have for the future of business and how they can be accommodated.