Dynamic leadership needed in the digital economy

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She also says people often let opportunities pass by too quickly without considering the possibilities of success. “‘Should I go left or should I go right?’ We don’t give it its due assessment. That’s where I think having good people in your corner who know what you’re capable of is really helpful.”

Leadership and management researcher Professor Ian Williamson is another Congress guest examining the thinking, skills and techniques needed for today’s business environment.

He says while technology is often identified as a catalyst for change in the corporate world it is not the only reason Western businesses, especially those in accountancy and financial services industries, need to evolve quickly in the digital age.

“The financial sector is going through dramatic change,” the pro-vice-chancellor and dean of commerce at Victoria Business School in Wellington, New Zealand, says.

“That change is being driven in large part by technology, but it’s also being driven by different types of business models.”

Williamson says societies such as Australia, New Zealand, the US and Western Europe have become tied to intangible assets. “In today’s economy, physical or financial assets are often not an accurate representation of the value-creation potential of organisations.”

Modern leadership needs to be more dynamic, he says, and cannot be based on how efficiently or effectively an organisation follows an established business model. “It’s much more about creating an environment that supports creative and allows people to continually develop a variety of business models and supports people to experiment with a variety of activities,” he says.

“Leadership is at its highest importance during periods of major disruption, because leadership is about opportunity recognition and opportunity exploitation.”

He says companies in Indonesia, Vietnam and China tend to value planning differently to those in Western societies. “They put much less emphasis on strategic planning because these firms have grown up in dynamic environments.

“For them, leadership is much more about responsiveness than planning or execution. ‘How quickly can I stay abreast with what’s happening today?’ ‘How do I communicate it back to my organisation?’ ‘How do I create processes in my organisation that allow us to be nimble to respond to that?’ That is how they define effective leadership.”

Williamson believes we are seeing the development of leadership skills where executives are rewarded for establishing how work is done rather than how well people are told what to do.

“Innovation is the key driver for success in those types of disruptive environments,” he says. “That requires a very different type of leadership behaviour.

“At an accounting firm, if I want a higher level of revenue for consulting services and other value-add activities, as opposed to more traditional activities, my workforce needs to engage in risk-taking behaviours. Have I created an environment that supports this, that enables the organisation to do this effectively? Transformational leadership behaviours become much more pronounced and more effective in those environments.”

The World Congress of Accountants is coming to Sydney for the first time in almost 50 years. This once in a career opportunity, being held at the ICC from the 5-8th of November, brings together business and finance leaders. Our world leading program will bring together over 6,000 global delegates to share their insights to reimagine and reform the future direction of business. For more information and to buy tickets go to WCOA2018.sydney

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