So what defines global companies and leadership in the 21st century? Our poll of internal communications (IC) experts on both sides of the globe set out to explore just that. Our findings show that many organisations still have work to do if they want to stay ahead of the curve, achieve organisational success and be relevant to tomorrow’s talent.
Most Important Leadership Quality
We asked IC officers what they see as the single most important leadership quality by 2020. On a global level, almost 2/3 (61%) of communications experts agree that Employee Engagement is the most important leadership attribute. Much lower on the list are Customer Satisfaction (17%) and Talent Retention (15%). Emphasis on profitability is perceived as the least important leadership quality, indicating that on both sides of the globe – UK and Australia – the 20th-century focus on Profit as a top-priority is being challenged by a 21st-century value driven model: success is no longer equated with profit alone. Our poll result demonstrates that people embrace a wider definition of value, where engagement is a top-priority goal. The 4P (People, Planet, Purpose and then Profit) approach to doing business is already seen as essential for successful 21st-century leadership by top-level communicators.
Employee Engagement and Loyalty
Tapping into the value universe of our communications specialists, we asked them if they would recommend their organisation to a friend. Once again, results show that business performance is not only about numbers, but also about empowering employees to nurture their loyalty. Globally, over half (58%) say ‘yes, I share my company’s values and ethos’. The vote of confidence is less enthusiastic among more than a quarter of respondents, with (28%) saying they would recommend their organisation but believe other companies are performing much better. The remaining 14% tell us, no, they would not recommend the company they work for. In the UK, communications specialists are somewhat more positive about their organisation’s values and ethos, however, looking at the whole picture, it is evident that almost half of all organisations are either not performing as well as they should or are doing so badly they don’t even win a vote of confidence from their own communications team. Betterness starts with integrity and a truly 21st-century leader walks the talk, living and breathing the brand’s values and ethos in order to inspire internal and external stakeholders.
Most Influential Business Drivers
In a quest to define tomorrow’s global sustainable business model, we asked what will be the most influential business drivers by 2020. Globally, well over two thirds of respondents agree that there will be core drivers other than profit. There is a strong unity of opinion, with over half (51%) saying that Innovation and Meaningful Experiences will be the primary business indicator of success. In the UK, Sustainability and Transparency are named as most influential business drivers by over a quarter (27%) of respondents, compared to 15% in Australia. Despite these variances, our poll clearly shows that a majority (70%) of communications specialists do not see Profit as the primary business driver by 2020. While at a global level Profit is cited by 30%, looking behind the two datasets we discover that the proportion of Australia’s IC officers convinced that capital will still come first is somewhat higher than in the UK (33% and 27% respectively). It is fairly significant that Sustainability and Transparency are more integrated values in the UK’s business mindset than in Australia. However, the writing is on the wall: there is a paradigm shift happening, with profit no longer seen as a goal in itself but, rather, the balanced outcome of ‘good’ business practice.
The rise of a new generation migrating and travelling for work, cultural discovery and new opportunities is today’s reality. These Global Citizens represent interconnectedness at all levels and look for lifestyle choices that offer flexibility, lifelong learning and personal fulfilment. It’s an upcoming challenge for all organisations seeking to recruit and retain top-level staff, so we asked our IC specialists if their organisation is prepared for these Global Citizens and has a talent strategy in place. While the global picture tells us that almost half of organisations have no strategy in the pipeline, UK data indicates a better level of preparedness, with 71% of communications specialists saying their organisation is either actively implementing a 2020 talent programme or has a strategy in place. However, only 45% of Australia’s respondents say their company is prepared or has a strategy. On a global level, it seems many companies are still not aware of what these changes to the workforce will mean, let alone how to attract and retain Global Citizens.
2020 Happiness Index
Our final poll question considered whether ‘Happinomics’ – which looks beyond prosperity to the other factors that create a happy and a balanced culture – is an idea that has yet found a place within corporate strategy. As this is still a nascent area of debate among governments, economists and thinkers, it is encouraging to see that globally more than half (63%) of our top-level communications specialists believe a Happiness Index either may or definitely will be adopted by their organisation by 2020. There is a clear convergence of opinion on both sides of the globe – suggesting that the concept of ‘Happinomics’ is gaining in influence, even if practical implementation remains a key challenge for business organisations in the 21st century. This positive response shows that, more than ever, businesses are open to ‘other perspectives’ of evaluating success, which in this case will mean more balanced alternatives to the narrow and wholly profit-focused business model.
Key Take Aways
* 61% say Employee Engagement is the most important leadership skill
* 41% wouldn’t recommend their organisation or think others do better
* 70% say profit won’t be the primary business driver by 2020
* 47% say their company does not have a global talent strategy
* 63% say a ‘Happiness Index’ may or will be adopted by 2020
Survey Scale and Scope
280 top-level IC Officers (SMT and Board). Communications specialists were polled at conferences in the UK and Australia.
Kjaer Global Polls and Surveys
Assisting in weaving storytelling and future scenarios, Kjaer Global polls and surveys look beyond numbers to consider the emotional and value driven landscape, providing inspirational information that dig deeper into the preferences and lifestyle choices of organisations and people.
Anne Lise is a futurist and keynote speaker working across the world