26 Jul 2011
ICPAS-SMU Study Shows Singapore Business Leaders Remain Governance-focused Even In Times Of Uncertainty
- However, more can be done to increase organisations’ state of readiness in uncertainty management, particularly with 2012 perceived to be more “choppy”.
Singapore companies possess strong corporate adaptability, and value open communications with stakeholders in times of uncertainties. This was revealed in a pulse check with Singapore businesses leaders on corporate readiness, key challenges and strategies in managing uncertainties.
The exploratory study was co-conducted by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Singapore (ICPAS), the national accountancy body, and the Singapore Management University (SMU)’s Centre for Corporate and Investor Responsibility of the Sim Kee Boon Institute for Financial Economics and the School of Accountancy Research.
Pivotal in times of uncertainty, the study revealed a healthy attitude towards information sharing. Communication channels continue to be open and business leaders remain governance-focused, as they actively engage the board of directors, shareholders and external auditors. However, less emphasis was placed on communicating with non-management staff. This is an area that business leaders ought to re-think, as engaging non-management staff is likely to galvanise support and impact the effectiveness of uncertainty management.
The study noted that in the face of uncertainties, Singapore business leaders remain resilient and opt for adaptation as the key management strategy, leading their organization in a process of constant learning and fine-tuning, through the practical option of trial and error.
Setting rigorous standards for themselves and their organisations, most business leaders strongly perceived a gap in the current state of readiness of their organisation in uncertainty management, and their desired state of readiness. They acknowledged that more can be done to increase the state of readiness while balancing resources constraints. This is especially critical as most expect 2012 to be relatively more uncertain and challenging, as compared to this year.
Business leaders perceived external sources to have greater impact on their businesses compared to internal sources. Economic conditions, competitors and customers are the top cited dimensions, as these revenue-centric hot buttons have direct impact on the company’s performance and growth. Internally, human resource is cited as the key challenge and source of threat to the achievement of corporate objectives.
Business leaders ranked high level cognitive skills of being visionary, proactive, decisive and innovative as the top traits of “uncertainty-ready CEOs”. They further ranked soft skills such as listening skills and ability to coach or mentor staff as desired complimentary traits. This observation reflects the mix of qualities required for business leaders and CEOs to effectively execution strategies and transforms vision and ideas into outcomes.
Commenting on the findings, lead researcher SMU Associate Professor (Practice) Foo See Liang said: “While human longevity is increasing, corporate longevity has not improved or has decreased in some instances. Corporate infantile mortality in fact is extremely high, especially in the early years. We have also found that effective uncertainty management is essential for corporate sustainability. Uncertainty management is more than putting in place a proper structure, systems, processes and people. It is about inculcating a sound mindset of stewardship.”
ICPAS President Dr Ernest Kan said: “The vagaries of the global economy require us to rethink our ways of managing business. Indeed, strong leadership, robust uncertainty management, and a focus on long-term sustainable growth, are key to a business’ continued prosperity. Throughout the years, accounting research has significant impact on the accounting practice. In order to shape the accounting profession of the future and influence the business landscape, we must understand the concerns of businesses, which will provide the insights required to explore practical solutions to tackle them.”
The ICPAS-SMU Business Leaders Study: Leading Through Uncertainty, was an exploratory study involving 30 participants and in-depth interviews with four CEOs who have over 30 years of experience each in companies with turnovers ranging from S$50 million to several billion dollars.
Presentation slides of key findings from the study can be downloaded from ICPAS Research microsite, from 29 July 2011 onwards.
Share this Page