As technology advances, are senior leaders pressing the accelerator or the brakes?

30 Jun 2022

As technology advances, are senior leaders pressing the accelerator or the brakes?

Our 2022 Leadership Confidence Index shed light on a changed attitude to technology at senior level, but not all the news was good.

Two years after our first survey of leadership confidence, we went back to run another one. In between, the leaders we spoke to had faced the disruption of a global pandemic.

So, we were obviously interested in what effect that disruption had on the priorities of those who led businesses. What would this mean for the future? How much confidence did executives have in senior leaders to tackle that future and its inevitable disruption?

One important finding related to technology and that’s what we explore in this insight. (You can read the full report by downloading it now.) 

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Leadership Confidence Index 2022

A global survey of confidence in senior leaders in facing disruption.

Acceleration of technology

One clear result of the pandemic was the accelerated role and importance of technology. It was clearly the route that businesses took in order to continue to operate in a world where working at a distance from others become normal.

As our survey reveals, this has led to a clear mindset change in relation to technology as working from home during lockdowns forced people at every level to learn new ways of working that were reliant on technology.

Employees and leaders embraced agility with changing work environments, reacting more efficiently and effectively for business continuity, no matter what the disruption.

The result is that businesses now have a stronger focus on innovation and productivity through new technology.

“We advanced our technology platform by five years in just three months. We had no choice, and we could not have done this without a crisis”.

There is clear desire to be ‘future-ready’, as it were.

But becoming future-ready empowered by technology is dependent, as in most strategic areas, on the ability of senior leadership teams to make the right decisions.

And here the results of our Leadership Confidence Index are very revealing, and the news for the future is not entirely positive.

In fact, there is a clear gap between what is needed and where most of the most senior leadership teams stand now.

"Amazingly, only 1 out of 4 respondents (26%) has a hjgh level of confidence that their senior leaders such as CEOs can make the right decisions on technology. So it remains a priority task to identify this and upskill the Top Leadership Team!", says Markus Trost, Partner at Odgers Berndtson Germany. 

Certainly, there are some complex and difficult decisions to be made. And there is definitely a desire to invest. Whilst new project spending dipped in 2020, it has rebounded to a place where Forrester sees a clear demonstration that tech executives are eager to seize the technology moment coming out of the pandemic.

Competing choices

As Forrester uncovered in a separate Priorities Survey this year, leaders are already having a difficult time sorting out their priorities amongst competing choices.

When asked, respondents said that a wide array of priorities all come in as high or critical priorities for between 57% and 69% of respondents.

The priorities that leaders are wrestling with range from focused technology improvements like security and resilience – clearly driven by pandemic lessons learned. But they extend into innovative priorities designed to improve the customer experience and properly align IT to business outcomes.

So, we are left with a mixed picture. "Yes, there is a new confidence that technology matters more than ever. But if that is to translate into spend on new projects and new technologies, executives’ weakening confidence in technology leadership will have to be overcome", states Angela Böhm, Principal at Odgers Berndtson Germany.

Leadership is yet again key

The choices facing leaders on future technologies and how they build organizations that harness its power are clearly important, but at the same time complex and demanding with so much at stake.

Finding leaders who can lead successfully can separate success from failure.

Our LeaderFit profile model can help provide just such a picture of those who might have the potential to succeed in a technologically-accelerated world. By using a unique leadership assessment methodology that combines personality data, behavioural patterns and leadership experts’ judgement, we can paint a picture of individual performance in targeted senior roles.

We have experience of assessing and developing leaders across publicly-traded companies, privately funded companies, and government/not-for-profit organizations.

To discuss our 2022 Leadership Confidence Index and how the issues it raises might affect your talent and leadership planning, or for advice on your own career trajectory, please get in touch.