Untapping the Next Generation of Leaders in Asia

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By Richard Goddard – Managing Partner, Singapore –

Asia continues to represent critical growth opportunities for both established and emerging technology firms. From major corporates to newly emerged, high growth players there continues to be high demand for talent as technological innovation opens up new markets and new geographies and companies continue to set up business lines in the region.

Tech is Expanding
Technological innovation is pervasive and this has stimulated tremendous growth opportunities. Historically tied more closely to western corporates or western funded ventures expanding in the region, there are now increasing numbers of “domestic” corporates and ventures building up their domestic presence before transforming and stepping up as emerging global brands. The net result is a wealth of opportunity for executive leadership who now have many more opportunities/directions to build their careers and personal wealth.

Incorporating Meritocracy to Grow Leadership
The demand for leadership talent in Asia outstrips the supply and this can be seen across every established economy as well as, more acutely, in emerging markets. Often organisations in Asia focus too much on the immediate short-term revenue and the external business results, neglecting the need to be encouraging and developing their next generation of leaders. Leadership tends to be more autocratic and often negates the opportunity for high potentials to be recognised and cultivated through to increasing leadership opportunities. Meritocracy, while on the rise, still remains far too often an empty boast as “old school” leaders flex their autocratic muscles believing that this is the best means of delivering strong leadership. It is often how they have been developed with longevity superseding meritocracy. There is room for both and the skill is in how to blend this to create the perfect combination. While strong leadership is required there is also the need to be creating environments from which the brightest potentials can grow through embracing managed risk and learning from both success and failure. Denying them this right of opportunity often leads to quelling the potential and motivation of talented resources, and losing them to established competition or the increasing rise in entrepreneurial ventures.

A New Generation of Executives
Against this backdrop of growth in Asia we are increasingly asked to find this new generation of leaders by organisations that recognise the need to transform the way they do business, both internally and externally, and to build for the future. These searches are energizing and rewarding, connecting with a bright, savvy and ambitious generation of emerging leaders. The energy and enthusiasm is infectious and blended with the right background and development produces a powerful cocktail from which to impact change and success. While corporate HQs drive such progressive change, sometimes the regional or country leadership in Asia are less equipped to embrace such change with the net result that both internal and external high potentials buy into the vision but fail to drive the opportunity home due to disconnected local leadership.

Our advice is to recognise and harness high potentials; assign them to capable mentors; stretch them with increasing responsibilities and help them develop through.

These will be your next generation of leaders, providing fresh thinking, new perspectives, energy and drive….driving new growth opportunities externally. Cultivate from within, drive transformation from within and drive growth externally but ensure that your regional and country leadership are fully aligned, equipped and motivated to welcome in and enthuse this next generation of leaders.