Writing in the Financial Times early on in the pandemic, the Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy wrote, “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”
Her words couldn’t have been more prescient. We were already in a VUCA world – if anything, it just got more VUCA. The World Economic Forum has since called it The Great Reset. The way we look at the world has changed forever.
The global business landscape has since been hit by materials shortage and supply chain disruption, particularly affecting the Building Materials industry. The cost of building materials needed by the construction industry is still set to rise, with the 12-month producer price index for steel mill products up 141.6%.
Despite such pressing challenges, industries can respond well to pandemic-affected demands, sending encouraging signals for a positive future. Research by Deloitte finds that the building industry landscape is rapidly evolving. Saint-Gobain, a leading multinational company, actually saw the best financial performance in its history in 2021, with the French group intending to further accelerate its strategic plan for 2022. In particular, Saint-Gobain was able to offset raw material and energy cost inflation over full-year 2021 given the sharp 8.7 percent acceleration in prices.
Maintaining growth amid supply and talent shortages
The COVID-19 pandemic even sparked rising demand across Electronics & Electrical, with consumer electronics particularly pushing growth during lockdowns. The market for smart home devices is expected to grow to $53 billion. EC Electronics says it is expected to experience growth between 2021 and 2022 as global economies enter a period of recovery. Deloitte states that renewable energy growth is poised to accelerate in 2022, “as concern for climate change and support for environmental, sustainability, and governance (ESG) considerations grow and demand for cleaner energy sources from most market segments (residential, commercial, and industrial consumers) accelerates.”
However, the old-fashioned problem of “talent shortages” remains a barrier to growth. Wind turbine service technician jobs for example are expected to grow 60.7% from 2019 to 2029, and solar photovoltaic installers by 50.5% (compared to 3.7% projected growth rate for all occupations).
Leaders need to constantly adapt
Leaders will need to respond with agility to these trends, and help workers settle and thrive in remote and new hybrid work patterns. Leaders also need to identify the opportunities ushered in by new, disruptive technologies in their sector.
A greater leadership focus on ESG is expected too, driven by market demand for environmentally friendly projects.
Leaders need to constantly change and adapt to these times. Researchers such as Kim and Mauborgne have been telling us for years that a significant shift needs to take place in how we develop leaders in a VUCA world. Now is the time to listen.
To learn how to achieve this step change in leadership in a VUCA world, download our latest report on Transformative leadership: How to lead in continuous disruption.