Leadership Pipeline Continues to Concern Asian Businesses, Says Study

Organisations need to pursue and balance both strategic and tactical talent objectives according to a research report released by Deloitte Consulting and the Human Capital Leadership Institute (HCLI).


The report titled "Fuelling the Asian Growth Engine – Talent Challenges, Strategies and Trends", provides insights to Asia-based organisations with a view to understanding their business priorities and the people strategies deployed to support these priorities.


The research was conducted with senior business leaders and human resource professionals of 212 local organisations and foreign multinationals across 12 industries in seven Asian countries.


Despite the cultural or economic diversity of Asian countries, organisations in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam agree that "driving business growth" (90%), "dealing with increased competition" (85%), "achieving better operational efficiency" (78%) and "managing cost pressures" (77%) are the top business challenges in Asia.


Human capital issues are widely recognised as being critical to business sustainability, competitiveness and success. These concerns firmly feature at the top of most CEOs' agendas.


This is especially evident in Asia, a region characterised by business opportunities in developing markets, where the pace of transformation is faster, and business and talent pressures more intense," stresses Mario Ferraro, Regional Human Capital Consulting Leader for Deloitte Southeast Asia.


Findings from the study reveal that the talent landscape across Asia is categorised by an overall scarcity of talent as reported by 71% of survey respondents. This talent shortage leads to intensified competition for the same resources, which in turn results in wage inflation and challenges in attracting and retaining the right employees.


Furthermore, there is a dearth of leadership competencies in organisations across Asia and only about half of surveyed respondents (51%) feel that their leaders have adequate leadership competencies, highlighting a greater cause for concern.


Similar concerns are echoed by the business community in Singapore where 85% reported challenges on account of poor leadership pipeline due to insufficient availability and shortage of quality leaders.



Respondents in Singapore rated the top three most challenging business priorities as "dealing with cost pressures" (88%), "driving business growth" (84%) and "dealing with increased competition" (80%). Rising costs and competitive pressures have also exacerbated challenges on the talent management front as well.


In the face of these challenges, "it is reassuring to note that organisations in Singapore are currently focused on both immediate and short-term priorities, as well as more future oriented people management priorities," said Ferraro.


The landscape in Asia has its challenges – increased competition, costs and operational inefficiencies among them. To fuel their Asian growth engine, organisations need to find ways to manage urgent talent retention issues as well as more strategic talent management priorities such as ensuring a sufficient pipeline of talent and leaders for the future.


Rather than make trade-offs, the key to success is to develop an integrated "talent ecosystem", using internal and external talent management infrastructure to successfully achieve both tactical and strategic objectives.


The report notes that it is important for each organisation to ponder carefully on which practices would work best for them and to prioritise solutions based on the organisation's specific needs, capabilities and capacity.