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The top issues concerning business leaders

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read
The Top Issues Concerning Business Leaders

The modern workforce has a variety of challenges that can dampen spirits and efficiency. A recent study highlighted the most concerning for leaders right now.

The state economy is cited as the top issue right now for chief executives and board members across Australia and New Zealand. Considering just how unpredictable the economy has been, not to mention the rising cost of living, this isn’t too surprising.

As listed by Heidrick & Struggles, the top five concerns, as listed by ANZ leaders, were:

  1. Economic uncertainty and volatility (59 per cent)
  2. Cyber security risk (34 per cent)
  3. Workforce attraction and retention (31 per cent)
  4. Building and maintaining a healthy organisational culture (30 per cent)
  5. Shifts in market dynamics (28 per cent)

Coming in second was cyber security risks. Given the rapid advancement of technology, and the increasingly common threat of cyber attacks, leaders are understandably worried about the future of data protection.

When looking globally, the top five concerns for leaders were relatively similar. However, a noticeable change was the absence of these cyber security risks:

  1. Economic uncertainty and volatility (63 per cent)
  2. Geopolitical uncertainty and volatility (39 per cent)
  3. Workforce attraction and retention (33 per cent)
  4. Shifts in market dynamics (31 per cent)
  5. Building and maintaining a healthy organisational culture (27 per cent)

This may be due to the fact that Australia’s cyber security doesn’t fare too well globally. While this is slowly improving, we’re still behind the rest of the world, potentially creating issues for data protection across Aussie businesses.

“Given the speed of technological advancements combined with some very high-profile instances of cyber security breaches in ANZ in the last 12 months, it is no surprise that boards are prioritising cyber security as a significant concern or that ANZ has cyber security higher on its list of top concerns,” commented Graham Kittle, managing partner of Heidrick & Struggles Australia.

“Our findings indicate there’s still room to grow for organisations where cyber security is concerned. This could come in the form of bringing in new CISOs or upskilling existing talent to take on cyber security challenges in the coming year.”

In fact, half of ANZ board respondents noted cyber security as a “significant issue organisations will face in the coming year”. Interestingly, just 27 per cent of CEOs agree.

Confidence has taken a hit, too, with just 35 per cent of board members and 24 per cent of CEOs confident in their ability to manage cyber security issues.

In other areas, such as positivity in driving business outcomes, just 56 per cent of ANZ board members and 59 per cent of global board members are confident in their ability to deliver their organisation’s strategic plan. Meanwhile, 61 per cent of ANZ and 63 per cent of global leaders are confident that their company’s culture will support the delivery of their strategic plans for the coming year.

“The survey’s findings highlight the importance of adaptive leadership and strategic foresight in overcoming today’s challenges and seizing tomorrow’s opportunities. Organisations have the opportunity to better prepare for future economic disruptions by ensuring that a clear succession plan is put in place for key leadership team members to safeguard their business growth in the years to come,” explained Kittle.

“The report highlights that one in two ANZ CEOs and directors are confident in their organisations’ ability to not only manage leadership continuity but also to develop, attract and retain top talent in the coming year. Companies would do well to double down on these efforts as strong leadership teams alongside capable CEOs are crucial for a firm to navigate economic uncertainty and market volatility.”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.