Are Business Leaders ready for the 2020’s?

6 January 2020

What does the new decade have in store for you and your business? The 2010s were a period of political and economic upheaval. Business has been troubled by unforeseen geopolitical, social and trade developments, and unsettled by rapid technological change. Will the 2020s bring more of the same? Or are boom times on the way?

As a new decade dawns, we sought out insight into how business leaders see the future through HLB’s Inaugural Survey of Business Leaders.

We’ve asked 368 business leaders in five continents about their concerns and their priorities for the coming 12 months. What issues will define the coming year? What new business opportunities excite them? And what will their priorities be in 2020?

Their answers are illuminating, and surprising.

Business thrives on certainty, and given the upheavals of recent years, it’s no surprise that leaders are looking ahead to the new decade with trepidation – at least, when it comes to the economy.

However, when it comes to discussing prospects for their own firms, business leaders are remarkably upbeat. While only 16% of leaders feel that global economic growth rates are likely to increase in 2020, 87% have confidence (58% somewhat confident, 29% very confident) in their ability to grow their businesses in the next 12 months.

Are business leaders right to be so blasé?

Leaders acknowledge that businesses will have to adopt more flexible models if they are to succeed in the 2020s. There’s a consensus among business leaders that companies will have to change - and change radically – if they are to keep pace with technological progress.


Despite this, our survey reveals that business leaders are in no rush to update existing operational models. In fact, when asked their priority for the year ahead, more leaders choose ‘operational effectiveness’ than any other option.

Changes to business models will be driven primarily by advances in technology. Though business leaders recognise the revolutionary implications of new technology, ‘digital capabilities’ ranks only third - behind ‘innovation’ and ‘operational effectiveness’ – in leaders’ priorities. Given the extraordinary potential of these technologies, should business leaders be doing more to ensure they are not caught out? And why the lack of urgency?

Do business leaders underestimate the extent to which their own firms will have to change in order to keep pace?

To get the full picture, join HLB for the global launch of its inaugural survey of business leaders, The Execution Challenge for the Next Decade on 16 January 2020.


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