What is the biggest challenge facing business leaders?

Written by
Changeboard Team

14 Apr 2016

14 Apr 2016 • by Changeboard Team

For many years, the Conference Board has surveyed prominent business leaders across the globe to identify their most critical challenge. Their most recent answer might surprise you:

“Getting the most out of human capital.” 

What does getting the most out of human capital? Don’t they mean financial capital? Why is human capital a top-of-mind issue?

Because, as the Conference Board analysts say: “In this economy, the critical difference will be made if you can get people engaged and productive, getting them to bring everything they have to the table. It’s the only way to compete and win.”

Leaders across Asia, Europe, and the Americas agree that this is their top priority now. The ultimate competitive advantage belongs to organisations that can get the best contribution possible from the best people they can find.


The clear conclusion: Business leaders have failed to motivate and inspire more than seven out of ten of their workers. Not surprising, as shown by the findings of Stanford University’s survey on Global CEO performance, which stated: “Engaging people is the top weakness of CEOs.” 

Of course, it’s not just the CEO’s problem: Leaders at all levels – especially new leaders – struggle with getting people engaged.

Leaders know this, and it troubles them. That’s why so many of them say that the job to be done now is to capture the hearts and minds of their people, to engage their passions and stimulate great contributions from them.

It’s their biggest job, but they don’t know how to do it. It’s their greatest challenge, but also their greatest weakness.

Of course, some people have figured it out. Wildly successful companies like Tesco in Britain and Costco in the USA show how a highly engaged workforce can help an organisation grow up to the sky—with legendarily loyal people and explosive profits. But how do they do it?

What questions should you be asking?

As a business leader, you should be thinking about the following:

  • What is the impact on your business if employees are disloyal, disengaged, and disillusioned? 
  • What will be the future if the employee engagement trend line keeps dropping? 
  • What if 70% of the employees were highly engaged instead of disengaged? 
  • What would highly engaged workers do differently? 
  • How do you get people to engage?