Leadership Challenges for Today’s Market

Just as supply chains are challenged like never before, so, too, are business leaders. Like supply chains, business leaders must adapt, and execute quickly and responsively. 

Today’s market requires agile, swift, and resilient businesses and supply chains. Likewise, leaders like yourself must also be agile, swift, and resilient. Your business depends on it. 

Compared to pre-pandemic times, the new market conditions are hyper-competitive, risky, and unforgiving.

To succeed, business leaders must not only rise to the challenge but must also adapt to new circumstances instantly. Navigating, mitigating, or avoiding risks is a full-time job. Disruptive events demand real time responses that only leaders can bring to bear. 

New leadership for new challenges means you must prepare for inevitable risks. You must be ready to pivot as necessary to avoid or mitigate issues in real time.

Survival is at the root of today’s constantly changing market dynamics. 

Through understanding what makes markets more competitive and preparing for those changes. It means adopting a proactive response rather than a 

Preparing your business in an environment of constant change can lead to a host of beneficial capabilities. Your business can become customer-centric, proactive, and dynamic. 

That transformation can make your business more competitive and more profitable, without worrying about the myriad challenges facing you.

To understand today’s leadership principles, we need to know what’s different from pre-pandemic times. With that in mind, we’ll jump into ten issues that have changed the dynamics and value of leadership.

What’s different? Nine Issues Defining the New Normal

#1) Innovation and Responsive Supply Chains. The first item that’s different is the critical need for responsiveness. As you already know, consumers expect and demand their products and services now. Instant gratification has become a reality.

But, command and control, hierarchical organizations can’t match the pace of change. They are not flexible enough to execute changes in real time. And they cannot meet customers’ increasing demands. By nature, hierarchical organizations are rigid and unresponsive.

The challenge to today’s leaders is to reorganize in a way that promotes flexibility. Three ways you can introduce flexibility include:

  • Flatten your organizational structure
  • Empowered tiger teams to work outside of typical organizational boundaries
  • Foster collaborative communications – internally and externally

#2) Acceleration and Adoption of Technology. The pandemic made this a linchpin of future businesses and their supply chains. Technology as a tool supports the building of responsive businesses. Technology is also responsive to the rate of change in today’s market. 

From blockchain to robotics to AI, supply chains are adapting these technologies to survive. Technology helps in maintain continuity of operations, reducing risk while maximizing potential benefits for you and your customers. 

The leader’s challenge is to identify which technology to focus on. There are a myriad of technologies in various stages of maturity. How technology benefits competitiveness and your customer should guide your decision on how to leverage technology’s benefits.

#3) Innovation. Old ways of doing business are just that. They are simply not competitive in the new market environment. Modernizing your business processes with innovation to increase agility and resilience.

eCommerce, in particular, is a perfect example. In implementing eCommerce, consumers created a new distribution channel—Direct-to-Consumer (DTC). That has and will continue to have implications for the execution of logistics.

Businesses now have virtual warehouses and mobile warehouses. They also operate with greater transparency, giving consumers end-to-end visibility of their orders. These new capabilities are new and still evolving.

The challenge to leadership is to embrace an innovative mindset. That means you must think of innovation as a core capability. As a leader, you should not manage innovation as a one-off project. Rather, integrate your innovation projects into your daily operations.

Integrating innovation can make a difference in transforming and transitioning your business.

#4) New Ways of Work. The workplace represents one of the most visible changes thanks to the pandemic. Made possible by technology, some workers telecommuted under flex work plans/schedules. The pandemic changed all that.

Now we have remote work, hybrid work, and onsite work at the office. The latter has lost popularity, especially with younger workers. With the pandemic over, employers are recalling their employees to the office. But employees are resisting more than some leaders expected.

Now, businesses are finding themselves in a hybrid work situation. Workers would work a percentage of their work week on-site and the rest off-site. The data isn’t entirely there to support this arrangement in terms of productivity. But limited data exist, showing working remotely results in higher productivity.

As the new way of work takes hold, it will challenge leaders accustomed to employees working on site. Managing by distance is something leaders will have to grow into and accommodate. It has implications for productivity, promotion, hiring, and accountability.

#5 Relationships vs. Profits. Working off-site seems to be inconsistent with the rise of relationships. But the value of relationships has increased, and, according to some surveys, now surpasses profits as a priority.

That change reflects a change in how leaders view businesses and supply chains. Before the pandemic, the attention to quarterly financial reporting reinforced short-term views. But given the problems exposed by the pandemic, long-term thinking arose to deal with long-time structural issues.

Had some of those issues been resolved prior to the pandemic, they would not have been so severe. So, relationships have emerged to solve those problems. 

To solve issues like capacity availability and intermodal operations, you must view logistics and supply chain management holistically. 

If you want to make progress, you must focus on integration and synchronization. You cannot accomplish seamless operations without an end-to-end view of your entire operations. That includes a view from your suppliers’ suppliers to your customer. 

Relationships can make or break a supply chain link. Therefore, leaders must develop, nurture and sustain relationships with all their stakeholders. 

#6) Labor shortages. This seems to be an ongoing issue shaping the New Normal. This is a sticky issue and a variety of reasons attempt to explain why labor is now in short supply.

One reason mentioned is the generous government unemployment benefits. That’s tapered somewhat, but it still seems to act as a disincentive for the unemployed to seek work. 

Another reason is that potential workers are resorting to self-employment as budding entrepreneurs. That’s clear in the number of YouTubers earning a living from posting videos on just about anything.

Finally, some potential workers moved in with their parents and aren’t ready to go back to work. Many potential workers also are upgrading their education and skills. They are going back to school or earning specialty certifications.

Against this backdrop, leaders also must compete for workers in a reduced population. Competition for a scarce supply of workers presents another obstacle leaders must overcome. 

#7) Training/Upskilling/Re-skilling. With the rise of technology, businesses must employ more highly skilled workers. Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, driving the need for a more technical workforce. That’s why, in part, many technically oriented jobs remain unfilled. 

The skills gap has many consequences for business leaders. According to a survey by Wiley Education Services, the skills gap is impacting companies with lower productivity, increased performance issues, loss of profits, and declining competitiveness.

This will remain a problem for the near future as the need for STEM college graduates falls short of the supply. Aggravating this is that the pool of workers is smaller than before the pandemic.

At the same time, you must do more to train, upskill, and reskill their workforce. As technology becomes a greater part of every business and supply chain, businesses must develop sustainable hiring and training practices to close the skills gap.

As a business leader, you must understand that as the nature of work has changed, so has talent management. Thus, you should look for innovative ways to ensure you have programs in place that help to close the skills gap.  

#8) Company culture. Organizational culture is more important than ever. So, as a business leader, you must know why that is true. Then, you can focus on improving your company culture. 

The editorial team at Indeed published an article citing eight reasons culture is critical. Here’s the list:

  1. Increased employee engagement
  2. Decreased turnover that comes from a powerful brand and workplace culture
  3. Strong brand identity attracts desirable/highly qualified employees
  4. Elevated productivity 
  5. Developing advocate employees
  6. Promotion of top performers
  7. Effective onboarding ensures a smooth transition by communicating core values
  8. Conducive team environment that empowers teams with clear, consistent guidance 

These eight reasons touch on some items this post already listed. Meanwhile, it features some things this post did not address, such as branding, promotion of top performers, and a healthy team environment.

#9) Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG). ESG is a growing trend worldwide. Businesses should work to transition to sound environmental business practices. We see that with the net-zero carbon initiative, many companies tout.

Next, social includes human rights, diversity, community investment, and data privacy. These have become important with the advancement of technology and workplace democratization. These principles address a company’s ethics and trustworthiness.

Finally, governance includes transparency, fair pay, shareholder rights, and corporate board diversity. These establish the character of a company that also promotes ethics. 

The ESG movement is gaining ground in a positive way. It is affecting growth and profits through better relationships and transparency.  

At American Global Logistics, we drive growth through leadership. We do that through listening, collaboration, talent management, and matching our culture to the evolving workforce. 

We lead by example in setting high standards aimed at achieving our clients’ goals. We also 

empower our workforce to act independently, promoting efficiency and innovation.

Finally, our leadership makes you, the customer, number one in everything we do. 

These leadership principles have served our clients and us well. If you want to leverage the power of leadership in transitioning to the New Normal, contact us today.