The pandemic offered a valuable lesson, that no organisation can rest on their laurels and those who plan in anticipation of disruptions were better positioned to respond, recover and thrive.
According to a survey by Deloitte, 60% of global C-suite leaders believed there could be occasional or regular disruptions of this scale going forward.
But here lies a problem. Less than a third of leaders feel completely confident that their organisations could quickly adapt and respond to future threats.
Deloitte’s 2021 Resilience Report found that 66% of C-suite executives did not feel completely ready to lead and 70% who don’t have complete confidence in their organisations’ ability to pivot and adapt to disruptive events.
This is a huge concern even though the events of 2020 gave the leaders a confidence boost about their organisations and their own resilience.
“Sometimes leaders don’t know their capabilities until they are put to the test.
“Case in point, before 2020, only 24% of CXOs felt completely ready to lead through potential disruptions and only 21% felt completely confident their organisations could quickly adapt and pivot, if needed, ” the report said.CXO is a collective term for those in C-suite management such as chief executive officer, chief operating officer and chief financial officer, among others.
They ranked climate change as the top societal issue for business to tackle over the next decade (47%), followed by health care issues and disease prevention (42%) and gaps in education and training (39%).
Three quarters of them believed that the climate crisis is of similar or greater magnitude compared to the pandemic.
Deloitte Global chief executive officer Punit Renjen said businesses have always faced disruptions but the challenges of the past 12 months have been uniquely unrelenting.
“The confluence of a global health pandemic, social and political unrest and worsening climate events has presented organisations with tough choices, new ways of operating, and fundamental strategic shifts.
“As we look to recover and rebuild, the road ahead is likely to be even more unpredictable. Organisations that plan and invest in anticipation of future disruptions will be better positioned to thrive, ” he said in a statement.
Deloitte’s research also identified five attributes of resilient organisations that served as a strategic, operational, and cultural guidepost.
The firm said businesses that can bounce back from unexpected challenges were typically prepared, adaptable, collaborative and responsible.
“Resilient organisations did not necessarily predict the events of 2020, but they withstood the immense pressures by enabling and promoting nimble strategies, nurturing adaptive cultures, and implementing and effectively using advanced technologies.
“The survey suggests that organisations that deliberately build the following attributes into their operations and cultures are better positioned to overcome disruptions and help usher in a ‘better normal’, ” it said.
Leaders recognised the importance of having versatile employees, especially after a year like 2020 and almost 75% implemented actions to make their workforce more adaptable, such as by training or reskilling workers.
In the report, CXOs have also indicated the importance of collaboration within their organisations, noting that it sped decision-making, mitigated risk and led to more innovation.
They were also cognisant of the challenge of building trust with key stakeholders, yet many did not feel they had lived up to the task as more than a third of respondents were not confident their organisations had maintained trust between leaders and employees.
Deloitte’s report was based on a survey of 2,260 C-level executives and senior public sector leaders from 21 countries from organisations with annual revenues of at least US$500mil.