Issues Facing Leadership in Modern Business by Suzie Lewis

The two biggest issues faced by organisations today are the changing business context and the changing people context.

The changing business context 

Data management will become one of the biggest challenges facing businesses. Industry 4.0, technology and data are pushing businesses to take a more ‘end to end’, systems- thinking approach, often spanning the various organisational silos to create value differently. The organisation will need to decide what data sets they are going to start collecting and build the appropriate data management platforms to support future requirements. The impacts of this need to be understood by all leaders from top to bottom, and they will also need to have an understanding of the data-driven ways of working. This means stepping out of their comfort zones and “walking the digital talk“.

Organisational governance and processes also need to be able to support and allow this platform ecosystem to function. Leaders need to be comfortable with their role in this landscape. An Agile organisation, similar to Design Thinking and other such methodologies, is essentially about mindset, leadership and culture. Additionally, leaders need to understand and practice both the psychology behind it and its application.

The emergence of Smart digital ecosystems will require a whole different leadership perspective on external partnerships and co-creation. It will bring with it significant technical, legal, business and cultural complexities that the leader needs to master moving forward.

The changing people context

The face of talent is changing, as are technology and the environment we work in. This calls for a very different type of leadership as we move more and more towards human/machine interaction.

For me, the biggest leadership challenge companies face today is the move from ego to eco…

The move from an individual bias to a more collective focus is shifting the boundaries of organisations, changing the way we work and requires different leadership skills. We are looking for more agile ways of working which in turn demand more empowerment, accountability and autonomy. Leaders need to change the paradigm of the older more traditional command and control management models, and be open to taking their people on a journey of growth to get to where the organisation needs to go. This starts with cultivating and driving a vision and purpose that motivates employees, using empathy to lead the organisation towards a more inclusive environment where potential is optimised. All leaders share the responsibility of influencing and inspiring each other and those around them to ‘create the experience’ that keeps people motivated and drives business performance in a changing environment.

Leaders need to be open to change and not shy away from feeling vulnerable. They should accept that they might not have all the answers, nor all the skills, but that they can work together with others to achieve the desired objectives. This is a big shift from the existing management models and associated leadership skills, and the shape of organisations will dramatically change as we move into a world of different employee expectations and success factors. Employees want more flexibility, have different motivational factors, different skills and put a larger focus on the purpose and work/life balance.


The article is exclusive to The Business Transformation Network.


Suzie Lewis is Founder and Managing Director of Transform for Value, and has extensive experience in driving international transformation projects, and in preparing business leaders and employees for change. Suzie is about connecting people, their potential, collective intelligence and equipping organisations to get the best out of individuals and teams. 

During 18 years working in the aeronautical industry, she has led both flagship projects and teams large and small in culture change, leadership, digital transformation, Agile, diversity and inclusion, talent management and recruitment.