5 challenges impacting business leaders today

Dona Amelia, Co-Founder and Managing Director of EGN Malaysia.

A comprehensive leadership survey conducted by the Executives’ Global Network has identified five key challenges that leaders and organisations are facing today.

  • AI
  • Sustainability
  • Remote/hybrid working
  • Attracting and retaining employees
  • Improving leadership

“We undertook this global survey because we know the importance of understanding the challenges of business leaders from various industries such as manufacturing, healthcare and technology, who are part of EGN’s extensive network. This enables the group to identify the support needed to assist the members,” said Dona Amelia, Co-Founder and Managing Director of EGN Malaysia.

The survey was deployed to EGN’s extensive global network of approximately 16,000 members, where responses were received from more than 3,300 EGN participants, across 14 countries in October 2023. This comprehensive study, featured 23 questions, including five background inquiries, specifically focused on strategic priorities and uncovered five critical challenges shaping the contemporary business landscape.

EGN is part of Vistage, the world’s largest and most trusted CEO coaching and peer advisory organization.

What to do with AI?

Businesses are keen to embrace the transformative impact of AI but concerns remain over whether it can be carefully implemented.

This survey shows that the majority of respondents or 72% believe in the positive impact of AI on the organisation’s ability to be successful, while 22% indicated neutral response followed by 6% who cited negative impact.

However, the survey also showed that 53% of businesses have not implemented any guidelines or policies on the use of AI tools while 24% said it’s in the process.

Only 23% said their businesses have implemented guidelines and policies on the use of AI tools. In terms of AI’s role, top benefits include improving data analytics and forecasting, automating repetitive tasks and increasing personal productivity.

What is the priority for sustainability?

Business leaders grapple with the challenge of striking a delicate balance between considerations for people, profits, and the planet.

On a personal front, more business leaders choose to prioritise people or social responsibility over profit in 2023 compared to 2022.

However, from the business leaders’ organisational perspective, they placed more importance on profit or financial stability with 61% compared to 20% for people.

Planet or environmental sustainability remains the lowest pick with 19% in terms of importance from the organizational perspective in 2023 compared to 24% in the previous year.

Work remotely or at the office?

The majority or 34% of respondents say they only spend one-day per week working remotely while 22% said zero. Despite more indicating their return to office now, only 6% felt that the company has not achieved the right balance between individual priorities, work assignments and organisation cultures.

How do businesses attract and retain people?

The majority of business leaders believe they should provide more development opportunities to help attract and retain talent. More than 50% also believe in offering competitive compensation and benefits.

How to become a better leader?

In the next two to five years, business leaders believe they need to focus on developing trust and transparency (59%) in order to become a more effective leader followed by long-term planning and vision (55%) and being someone who can drive change (53%).

EGN Malaysia survey – Stronger together

Meanwhile, a survey among business leaders in Malaysia indicate that 50% of respondents identify political turmoil and economic uncertainty as their foremost concerns.

This is in line with findings from the latest Global Risks Report 2024 by the World Economic Forum in which misinformation, interstate armed conflict, inflation and economic downturn are in the top 10 list of risks that are likely to have severe impacts on the world over the next two years.

Dona believes in the role of peer-network groups to help support business leaders navigate these challenges.

“We go beyond mere numerical expansion, concentrating on the positive effects we provide to our members. This is particularly essential in the face of geopolitical challenges and economic uncertainties directly impacting businesses,” she says.

The survey among Malaysian EGN leaders reveal the importance of relying on peer-based networks to learn from the experiences and perspectives of other business leaders with 86% of the participants emphasising on the value of these discussions.

“When we first entered the Malaysian market in September 2022, our goal was evident: to assist leaders in improving together. This has been our consistent guiding principle since 1992, aimed at enabling leaders to receive the support required to create an impact, provide distinctive value, and enhance their organizations’ success,” says Dona.

To assist members in navigating emerging trends and challenges, EGN Malaysia currently provides six in-person peer group meetings, 12 in-person cross-functional events, 24 virtual cross-functional meetings, and four networking events each year.

Peer groups are assembled by the network’s experienced networking consultants to ensure they match members’ levels and professional disciplines.

EGN Malaysia’s success in creating a robust peer-based network, as revealed by the survey, underscores its commitment to empowering leaders and fostering collaborative solutions in the face of evolving business landscapes.

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