As the world’s economies continue to evolve in these uncertain times, stellar leadership is pivotal — now more than ever — to navigate the calamitous waters of change.
This raises the question of the role of business schools and business associations in nurturing the next generation of leaders.
The curriculum in business schools is primarily structured to develop the capabilities of leaders who will, one day, contribute to society. But there have been rising expectations on the kind of leaders that these schools promise to groom, and enable them to step up to the challenges ahead.
One thing is for sure: it is no longer a matter of acquiring a body of knowledge and attaining a qualification.
Leaders of tomorrow are expected to be so much more, in terms of the level of agility, decision-making prowess and potential for empathy.
It is an endeavour that requires familiarity with the nuances present in a fast-changing economy.
Being well prepared
In an effort to help students maximise their potential and fulfil their aspirations to be future leaders, Rutgers Business School Asia Pacific (RBSAP) is sponsoring the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham SG) Next Generation of Business Leadership programme.
This programme combines conversational opportunities with senior executives from top multinational companies, seminars targeting key areas for successful career development and networking sessions with other professionals to help sharpen the participants’ business views and expand their professional networks.
“To think critically, especially through foresight and scenario planning, helps participants go beyond their business environment and analyse the impacts of the various drivers of change in a global context,” says Ms Ann Yom Steel, executive director of AmCham SG.
Emerging technologies have the potential to disrupt the status quo and it is important for future leaders to be well prepared for them. These will continue to become the norm and leaders who fail to embrace them will invariably lose the digital race.
“As technology continues to shape different sectors, economists are pointing towards an increasing divide between those who have the skills for the new digital economy, and those who do not,” says Mr Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at ANZ.
A research by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that 50 per cent of current work activities are technically automatable by adapting currently demonstrated technologies.
In light of this matter, business leaders need to be able to innovate and effectively take the lead in a digital economy—a skill that requires a delicate balance of technical capabilities and soft skills.
Seize the day
Leaders of tomorrow need to recognise opportunities behind challenges, and harness them to their advantage swiftly.
“Leaders need to understand how it will disrupt their businesses, and have the ability to empower their organisation to leverage these technologies,” says RBSAP alumnus Mr Reuben Ong, a business unit manager at Takeda Pharmaceuticals Asia Pacific.
Mr Ong highlights that key qualities such as the ability to think positively and envision long-term strategies is crucial in strong leaders.
He adds that not only should leaders be malleable, they should also possess the humility to recognise that there is potential where others fail to see, and have the propensity to develop others.
“Tomorrow’s leaders need to communicate openly with their team, so as to empower them. They need to create a connection between the team and the organisation to push them to strive for more,” he says.
Becoming a leader is not an abstract matter. Perhaps the only way to do it is through experiential learning, and continuous reflection on those experiences to distil lessons that may, in turn, shape the way leaders navigate their way into the unknown.