Southeast Asian Companies Urged to Develop Leaders at all Levels

Companies around the world, including those in Southeast Asia, face an urgent need to develop leaders at all levels—from bringing younger leaders online faster to developing leaders globally to keeping senior leaders relevant and engaged longer, according to a Deloitte Consulting study.

Leadership remains the No. 1 talent issue facing organizations globally and in the Southeast Asia region, with 74 percent and 76 percent of global and Southeast Asia respondents respectively acknowledging that it is of top importance in their organizations.

Less than half (38 percent) or the respondents in Southeast Asia feel that they are high in readiness in terms of the Leadership roles within their organizations.

This means that there is a 38 percent gap between importance and readiness, almost similar to the global gap of 34 percent.

“21st-century leadership is different,” says Nicky Wakefield, Southeast Asia Human Capital Leader at Deloitte Consulting.

Wakefield notes that companies face new leadership challenges, including developing millennials and multiple generations of leaders, meeting the demand for leaders with global fluency and flexibility, and building the ability to innovate and inspire others to perform.

Additional challenges include acquiring new levels of understanding of rapidly changing technologies and new disciplines and fields.

In addition, reskilling of the HR function stands out in Southeast Asia as almost equally important as Leadership, coming in at 75 percent. This is compared to 67 percent of global respondents.

According to the report, even though HR reskilling has been recognised as a high priority, only about one-third (30 percent) of Southeast Asia respondents feel that their HR function is ready to meet the challenges of today’s business environment.

This means that there is a 45 percent gap between importance and readiness, almost double the gap of global respondents (23 percent).

“This is reflective of the changing expectations that businesses have of their HR functions,” says Wakefield. Wakefield adds that HR teams need to move away from their historical role of being mainly operational.

"Today’s business environment requires HR strategies and operations to keep pace and align with business imperatives, and today’s HR professionals should understand new practices, technologies, workforce changes along with the differences in culture, language and regulations in order to add value,” says Wakefield.

Another top concern among organizations in Southeast Asia is in the area of building workforce capability. Seventy-four percent of Southeast Asia respondents identified it as a challenge over the next 12 to 18 months, making it the top human capital challenge for the region.

Workforce capability is the number three challenge globally at 57 percent.

“Industries in the region are undergoing rapid technological, demographic and regulatory changes, and organizations now have to change their game from one of simply finding and building skills to one of deep specialization,” says Wakefield.

Wakefield adds that today’s HR professionals need to rethink their techniques for managing talent and ensure the current and future capability needs are aligned with the strategic objectives of their organization.

"Talent Management should be looked at in unique and innovative ways so that the employment brand is kept relevant, valued and authentic, with the ability to grow with the organization as it continues to transform itself to remain competitive in the region.”

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