How to ensure your leaders are primed for the era of disruption

As organisations continuously transform, they need to ensure that their people strategies of today are developing the leaders of tomorrow.
By: | February 14, 2019


As digital disruption continues to transform the workplace, organisations need to ensure that their people strategies of today are able to effectively develop the leaders of tomorrow.

That’s not just about training. It is about long-term planning and pipeline management so that new, capable leaders are ready and in place just as they are required.

Here are a few points to keep in mind when devising a HR strategy that future-proofs your organisation.


Take care of your middle management

Leaders need the support of HR to ensure they are equipped for whatever is ahead – especially middle management.

After all,they are they first and main ‘entry point’ for new talent to experience the company; and the biggest leverage for ensuring the organisation moves into the future together.

If middle managers are educated on the company’s vision – and their own roles in this ever-changing climate – they will be empowered to cascade that enthusiasm and understanding down to their own teams.


Look out for and nurture learning agility

It is important to prioritise learning agility and adaptability in the next generation of leaders – namely, how fast and quickly can they learn.

It’s difficult to predict what’s going to happen in the next two years, much less four or five, beyond a few broad strokes such as “automation and artificial intelligence will continue to gain momentum”.

With this background of uncertainty, high-potential talent need to be able to learn and adapt to changes, starting today.

If you can help them now to build their resilience, and ability to handle stress and the fast pace of disruption, they’ll be equipped to take on whatever challenges are thrown at them in the future.

Conversely, failing to do so would run the risk of the organisation losing its’ competitive edge, or becoming a casualty of disruption, says Thomas Holenia is President of Henkel Singapore.


Provide a supportive environment for experimentation

Nurturing an innovative mind-set is crucial for business survival in the age of disruption.

As Peter Van Deursen, CEO of Cargill Asia-Pacific says, “The pace of change is faster than ever it has been before. We have to keep thinking, how can we disrupt ourselves? If I’m running a successful business today, what can I do to disrupt that? How can I position myself to be able to adapt?”

This means encouraging potential leaders to try new projects and approaches without worrying too much about whether they work out or not.

It means that failures should not be penalised – they should be discussed, and shared with the wider organisation.

Success stories should of course be celebrated, but in the longer-term, it will be more rewarding to recognise and encourage the right behaviours – such as curiosity and self-reflection.


Own your talent 

High-potential talent cannot be left to grow by themselves – a global study last year found that a “do it yourself” mentality towards mentorship is doomed to fail.

Nor can their development be left to just their line managers. After all, if the person is a high-potential, they’ll probably outgrow their manager.

Development of an organisation’s future leaders needs to involve senior management.

The regional or global talent and leadership team need to own such talent; to take an active role in helping them get to where the organisation needs them to be.

The first-ever HR Festival Asia, brought to you by the combined experience of HR Technology Conference & Exposition (US) and HR Summit (Asia), is your one-stop resource to prepare for Industry 4.0.

The event’s dedicated CxO Symposium, specially curated for senior senior business and management professionals, will delve into topics such as design thinking, virtual organisations, neuro-agility, and other cutting-edge trends that can help C-suite professionals strengthen their organisation’s capabilities from the top. 

For more information, visit