Survey insights: The top 5 leadership challenges from Vistage members

Survey insights: The top 5 leadership challenges from Vistage members

Lee Bradshaw | 2018-03-21 09:10:23

Vistage leadership challenges

Business leadership has never been a walk in the park, but in 2018 it is perhaps more challenging than ever. Business leaders are expected to set culture, attract and nurture talent, be salespeople, marketers, finance-minded, epitomise the brand and somehow achieve a personal balance between work and life.

Our quarterly member surveys give us a unique and insightful snapshot of life for today’s business leader, giving us quantitative and qualitative data around the challenges and opportunities, the highs and lows, the pros and cons of heading up an SME in the current climate. 

So what are the main leadership challenges according to our members, and how can you tackle them?

1. Setting the culture

Your concerns:

“How do I accelerate a learning and change culture?”

“How do we make sure our vision and values are aligned?”

“Organisational culture and values”

Setting the right culture goes hand in hand with values, mission, employee satisfaction, talent retention and, ultimately, business success, so it’s no surprise to see it as one of the biggest concerns for business leaders today. Culture is something you can’t buy, an intangible that takes work and input from everyone within the business. It is, however, something that has to be driven from the top down.

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2. Innovation

Your concerns:

“Are we being innovative and challenging ourselves enough?”

“We have an 181-year-old site, how do we make sure innovation is part of the business?”

One of those fat words that means different things to different people, innovation, nonetheless, is integral to a business’ growth. As one member questioned: “Are we being innovative and challenging ourselves enough?” With new technology like AI, AR, VR, machine learning and the like making headlines, it’s little wonder the challenge of staying ahead is so crucial for our members, but innovation isn’t simply about technology. It’s about product development, processes and management structure.

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3. Hiring the right people

Your concerns:

“How do we engage with employees to improve performance?”

“How to attract the Millennials to the business?”

“Recruitment strategy and its direction”

Talent management was the subject of our first executive summit at the beginning of December 2017, and still a massive challenge for our members and business leaders in general. Finding those people that are going to move your business on to the next level is easier said than done, but for a business to grow, it’s a must.

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4. Strategic planning

Your concerns:

“Which areas should we focus on for growth?”

“How will I ensure I deliver the strategic plan?”

Strategic planning reared its head numerous times in our survey, and in different guises: ‘What is the direction of the business?’; ‘How much time should we invest in new strategic ventures?’; ‘What is our longer-term plan?’ Leading a business isn’t about making sure things are working now, it’s about making sure it’s working five, 10, 20 years from now.

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5. Exit planning

Your concerns:

“Succession planning”

“How do I develop an exit plan and strategy?”

When you set up a business, not much is predictable. But one thing is inevitable; eventually, you will leave. Whether you sell the business, pass it on, or simply stop, one day you won’t be part of the business. Many of you are acutely aware of the need to plan for your exit.

Further reading:

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Of course, this list is not exhaustive. Feedback from our members was wide-ranging, niche by industry and touched on many more issues than we can possibly cover here. But, as a business leader, the message is that you’re not alone. The challenges are vast, and that’s why Vistage exists, to connect people with the same issues and worries, driving them to become a better leader, both in and out of work.

You can download the full member report and confidence index here. And for more information on what Vistage can do for you, check out our Why Vistage page.

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