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The vision thing: are Australia’s leaders up to the challenge?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 - 16:12

By Sam Bell, AIM’s General Manager of Policy and Advocacy

We all get caught up in the highs and lows of day-to-day management, but articulating a vision and strategy for the future is a fundamental trait all leaders require. Twenty years ago the Karpin Report shone a light on the broader management and leadership challenges facing Australia. Many of those challenges still ring true today. When Malcolm Turnbull became prime minister he declared that rather than Australia ‘future-proofing’ itself, it should embrace the future with greater enterprise, innovation, agility and creativity.

To fulfil this bold vision, Turnbull needs an Australia with managers and leaders ready and willing to take up the challenge. At all stages and at all ages, people look for leaders to give them belief, inspiration and guidance.

AIM stands ready to meet this need, helping to develop leaders who embrace the future, and are ready to turn new ideas into reality. AIM’s policy and advocacy unit will be at the forefront of researching and championing leadership and management during 2016 and beyond. AIM will strongly advocate for sound leadership practice and offer continual leadership development for its Members.

Malcolm Turnbull declared that businesses must stop “futureproofing” and instead embrace the future. Doing that means developing leaders who are ready to take up the challenge.

The latest findings from AIM’s Management Capability Index are a worthy starting point to the discussion. The index provides business leaders with the opportunity to assess their management capability across a range of areas to gauge their performance against similar organisations.

While many businesses are effective in governance and financial management, the index shows business capability has continued to slip overall. The latest findings reveal another decline in the headline performance rating, with businesses operating at only 67.7 per cent of what they could be achieving, compared to 69 per cent last year.

A lack of vision has been identified as a key problem. While senior leaders believe there is a clear and inspiring vision within their business, middle managers often find it difficult to identify. This indicates a failure to communicate a vision that resonates across different generations of managers and, more concerning, the absence of a clear business vision that filters down to staff.

Clearly there is an urgent need for increased investment to build management and leadership capabilities, most acutely at the middle manager level. A commitment by leaders to raise management capabilities, supported by appropriate strategic initiatives, will help deliver the productivity lift our organisations, and the nation, dearly requires.

Leadership development comes in many forms. AIM’s new Member value proposition brings together thought leadership, effective management tools, and a variety of services to help produce better managers, better leaders, for a better society.

This article orginally appeared in Leadership Matters, AIM's bimonthly magazine exclusively for AIM Members. To find out how you can be a part of Australia's peak body for managers and leaders, please click here.