31 January 2024

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Key Leadership Trends Shaping 2024 that Every CXO Must Embrace

In the dynamic corporate realm, top leaders are expected to embody a bold vision, adaptability, prioritization skills, and strategic acumen. What elevates the truly inspirational ones?

The corporate landscape has undergone seismic shifts, enhanced by the unprecedented embrace of technology during the lockdown. Yet, paradoxically, there's a resurgence in the yearning for face-to-face interactions. Balancing humane priorities like work-life balance has collided with the harsh trend of mass retrenchment. In this dynamic scenario, the corporate world can feel like a ship adrift without a compass, navigating uncharted waters where the only constant is change.

Leadership stands out as the compass in this tumultuous sea of corporate transformation. In an insightful study, consultancy firm McKinsey, recognizing the need for strategic guidance, charts a course with five indispensable shifts:

Focus: Shift from mere profit to profound impact.

Presence: Transcend meeting expectations to embodying wholeness.

Organization: Move from commanding structures to fostering collaboration.

Execution: Evolve from rigid control to adaptive evolution in getting work done.

Value Creation: Transform from a competitive mindset to embracing co-creation.

In this era of constant change, these shifts redefine leadership, guiding organizations toward a horizon where purpose, authenticity, collaboration, adaptability, and shared value creation steer the course.
Leadership's profound impact on organizational success is underscored by compelling findings from diverse HR research studies:

  • An overwhelming 88% of organizations recognize that leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping business results.
  • In tandem, 63% of organizations prioritize leadership development as a crucial component of their talent strategy.
  • Organizations boasting strong leadership and fostering positive corporate cultures exhibit a remarkable 20% outperformance compared to their competitors.
  • A striking 83% of employees believe that leadership characterized by a strong sense of purpose and values positively influences their work experience.
  • Companies with diverse leadership teams enjoy a noteworthy 35% higher likelihood of outperforming industry peers.
  • A substantial 73% of CEOs prioritize innovation.
  • Alarmingly, 60% of employees have parted ways with a job due to their relationship with their direct supervisor.

These findings collectively underscore the integral role of leadership in shaping organizational dynamics, influencing employee satisfaction, and ultimately driving business success.

So how do leaders go about it on a day-to-day basis?

Transformation and purposeful digital adaptation seem to be the two pivotal points for most global businesses to continue, thrive and expand as we step into 2024. In a world where all are racing to fit with global business dynamics, everyone has witnessed struggles and changes both in how leadership should be poised and overall work culture be viewed , managing a balance between past learning and a new yet uncertain future.

Technology driving trend

India , the new hub for growth and innovation is poised attractively for investors with supportive government policies like Startup India Seed Fund Scheme and increased funding from venture capitalists that encourage startups .Innovation, connectivity and sustainability as well as remote work culture and contract employment look as the five defining forces in 2024 driving business across healthcare, manufacturing, travel and tourism, security and surveillance, construction and infrastructure.

As technology is steering the business landscape at an alarming fast pace, leadership in present times is all about being dynamic with a bold vision and purpose driven outlook. It should be forward moving with quickly adaptive mindsets, ability for quick and strategic decisions with humane touch. It is also about keeping the team spirit high and bringing in continuous learning and innovative solutions amidst unchartered cyber security issues. Leaders are excited and feeling the pressure to keep figures, customers and work force equilibrium.

The vital points leaders have to be keyed in are many and varied across sectors. We now read two industry heads who lend their insights for a successful 2024.

1. Changing economic landscape and burgeoning demand

India’s economy has been at the forefront of change, overshadowing peers and expected to grow at 6.2%. The future belongs to those that understand and adapt according to end user demand and technology thrust.

Chirag Agrawal, Co-Founder and COO Travclan, travel and tourism sees and identifies that rising per capita income have lead to spending on discretionary items , foremost being travel. Companies need to be well placed to leverage with technology and teams and systems need to be in place to scale and cater to this explosive demand.

2. Continuation of Capital infrastructure spending

According to Dinabandhu Patra, Technical Head, Real Estate Asset Management Technical Head, Real Estate Asset Management, Indiabulls Group; infrastructure and finance capital infrastructure spending has increased with greater focus on National highway networks, National railways networks and marine infrastructure. These have positioned the economy well with clear multiplier effects on the rest of the economy. However urban transportation plays a secondary focus. The future calls for a thrust in financing structures via suitable mechanisms of cesses, long term overseas debt etc which would point to the positive trend.

3. Eye on emerging trends

Agrawal sees initiatives like “I Do” and “Meet in India” propelling weddings and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) business to India and states like Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh giving a boost to domestic and regional tourism. For outbound tourism the tourism boards and government associations are increasing time and energy to drive traffic from India which is a step forward.

Patra feels that in urban transportation, the amount invested in new roads and bridges (having a better payback because of user charge possibility via tolls) have overshadowed the investment in metro/light urban transport and dedicated bus routes infrastructure. The pilot projects and the roll outs are having a huge time gap, eg: monorail and metro routes in Mumbai.

Much needs to be done for pedestrians. As estimates record more than 80% of all urban trips being pedestrian, yet the attention needed and capital deployed for creating pedestrian, bike, shaded spaces, open spaces safety from vehicular traffic is very low which needs to be improved.

4. Dynamic and purposeful digital adaptation

Patra sees both technology and digitization playing a stellar role in logistics optimization and upgrades in roads and marine sector. There has been an exponential increase in the outputs of cold chains, reduction in goods transportation time and turnaround times in ports. This should continue.
According to Agrawal many innovations in the travel supply chain have grown. Companies are putting across interesting solutions that aid in itinerary planning, booking, and internal process management. TravelClan is promoting new destinations like Oman, Saudi Arabia, Western Australia, etc apart from popular ones. However, a fine balance is important. It is critical that you don’t force fit or overdo technology.

5. Increased awareness of changing pattern in customer behavior

With growing comfort with technology customers are far more aware than before observes Agrawal. With economic prosperity, income for discretionary spend is increasing faster than ever. “We have a big customer base (bigger than population of many countries) that have not traveled for leisure till now, but are now looking for options. Being aware is step one to solve any problem. I believe basis your business, you should see how to leverage these trends”, he adds.

6. Skills for excellence in workforce

As employer at TravClan, Agrawal gives its top performers fast and aggressive appraisals and ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). Both of them align patient people with company goals and help the company see healthy retention. Hard work and patience are two important qualities that help to achieve success in the long run.

7. Sustainability measures and approaches in infrastructure

The emerging trends in sustainability are to create lifecycle costing and accurate payback periods taking into account the monetary savings, environmental sustainability and energy mix. Biofuels, Electric, and CNG penetration in the energy mix of transportation are a very positive trend, according to Patra.

8. Handling existing challenges

Indian infrastructure and building construction sector lags behind in substantial adoption of best practices and focus on process optimization, as well as last mile innovation. So, the quality of the organizations would have an order of value increase in quality of outcome while saving in time and cost feels Patra.

9. Expansion, collaborations and partnerships

Agrawal emphasizes on picking up new travel products like destinations, hotels, sightseeing, and delivering it to the travel agent community so that using technology; they can provide superior experiences to their travelers. Work is on to actively involve with major tourism boards globally like Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Western Australia, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Hong Kong, etc. Plans include partnerships with global hotel brands, local hotel chains & independent properties around the world and also with attractions like At the Top, Dubai Parks & Resorts, Yas Island, Sentosa, etc.

10. Working on your human force- the leadership mantra for success in 2024

Working on people is the most important KRA according to Agrawal. There is a need to ensure that colleagues are learning and growing at a fast pace and are motivated. Leaders should work on themselves and learn from colleagues to keep pace with the changing environment.
For Patra leadership is largely all about and around people. Building well trained management teams and constant investment in training and adoption of technology, while inspiring the teams with clarity of goals and strategies are the key aspects of leadership. The outcome of a successful leader should reflect in inspiring, retraining, and mentoring the people across the entire organization.

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