21st century challenges

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Following the release of the GDD financial report for the 2015 fiscal year, revenue volume fell by 7% overall. The company's viability is deteriorating, creating potential risks in the future. Furthermore, the corporate culture is not competitive in the different markets in which it works. It is important for the company to adapt its culture and follow one that is in line with current global trends. Though America's "company first" policy mitigates the potential loss, overall reform is needed. The challenges that twenty-first-century leaders face as a result of the transforming world economy include, among other things, sustainability and adaptability. Overcoming these challenges is the first stage of implementing change in the company that ensures growth in sales and the firm’s future survival.

The unification of forces is redesigning the worldwide economy: developing regions, for example, Africa, Brazil, China, and India, have overwhelmed economies in the West as the drivers of universal development. The pace of advancement is expanding exponentially. Innovations have made new enterprises, disturbed the old ones, and generated correspondence systems of baffling velocity. Moreover, global predicaments appear to erupt at a constant and ever-shorter time intervals (Drucker, 2012). Any of these developments would have significant ramifications for organizations and the individuals who lead them. Combined, these forces are making a new context for leadership.

The twenty-first-century leader faces a range of difficulties that impede the role of guiding an organization successfully. Due to the changes in the world economy, global powers have shifted thus affecting business. Globalization is one of the challenges that company leaders are facing. Globalization occurs when businesses develop influence internationally or rather start operating on an international scale. In this process, there is an international integration that results from the exchange of products, world views, ideas and cultural aspects. Development of telecommunication and transportation infrastructure has been the primary factors for the interdependence of cultural and economic activities, thus, globalization. Organizations have advanced to have an influence globally and to operate on an international scale. For this reason, enterprises have shifted their focus to emerging economies and striving to attain a significant market share in these regions (Drucker, 2012). The shift in focus is followed by complaints from the older clientele that tends to receive less efficient services and products. Global Delivery Direct Inc. has expanded its operations to Asia and plans to start operating in Africa. Though its clients in Europe are quite loyal, high competition in America has resulted in a loss in sales. Managing a multinational firm becomes a challenge to the organization’s leaders.

Globalization comes with a variety of difficulties. First, different regions have varying cultures. It is necessary for the firm’s culture to accommodate the differences so as to survive in these economies. Secondly, multinational companies have complex organization structure making control systems difficult to implement. Where top level management such as in GDD are stationed at the headquarters, it is hard to monitor and manage branches from a far distant. Thirdly, globalization introduces new types of risks. For instance, GDD operated in Europe initially before branching to America. Then it had to deal with foreign exchange risks in the two countries. However, this risk magnified when it moved to Asia and later to Africa. Additionally, each of these economies carries different market risks and it is the role of the management team to formulate strategies to mitigate these risks.

Technology development has increased innovation by creating new opportunities and upgrading old system. It has introduced a fast communication system and allowed new enterprises to emerge (Drucker, 2012). This has not only increased competition for the old enterprises, but it has also necessitated them to undergo change to survive and create a competitive edge. GDD is a company that was incorporated in 1968 to deliver mail and parcels within a short period. Being a twentieth-century-company, the new era has disrupted its policies and required it to implement strategies that accommodate innovation. The introduction of emails minimized its mail delivery services as many people shifted to the fast correspondence system. Additionally, competitors, especially in America have developed new strategies that aim to beat the twenty-four delivery time making the competition even stiffer. Innovation is a development that constantly keeps challenging leaders as they strive to ensure that employees consistently develop solutions to new problems and make upgrades to the old policies so as to retain customers and maintain the company’s competitive edge.

Following the universal trends of globalization and technology, adaptability is a new challenge that the twenty-first-century leader has to overcome to ensure the survival of the organization. Adaptability is all about the features of a process of a system that make it suitable for the achievement of a certain predetermined objective. In business, therefore, adaptability can be looked at from the perspective of swift changing of an enterprise’s operations to accommodate the dynamism of today’s world. Adaptability can thus be defined simply as the ability of the firm to change its structure and strategies to accommodate a new environment. It shows the capability of a corporation to learn from experiences and adjust accordingly to become a competitor. While globalization introduces new cultures and markets, technology advancements present changes in tastes and preferences and innovation. The two market forces affect the operation of an organization, and since they cannot be ignored without severe consequences, the company can only change to adapt to accommodate them. However, change is challenging, but the lack of change is fatal.

Adaptability not only involves dealing with external factors but also the internal environment. The twenty-first-century leader has to control the internal business environment. For instance, the available workforce constitutes liberal minded individuals who tend to defy authority. Today’s leaders should be capable of utilizing these open minds and consequently manage them to channel their knowledge and skill towards achieving the company’s objectives (Drucker, 2012). Apart from liberalization, leaders have to deal with employees with different culture backgrounds and utilize their uniqueness to ensure efficiency. The primary challenge arises from cultural and opinion differences. The twenty-first-century leader should adapt accordingly to resolve these variations without bias. GDD has always treated its employees as family thus upholding a clan-oriented company culture. However, its branch in America cannot operate efficiently with this culture since the business environment favors a business first approach. The company has had to adapt gradually to a collaborative culture that tends to accommodate these environment differences.

Another challenge that today’s leaders face is the management of knowledge. Knowledge management is the ability to manage and share knowledge and information within a firm. Today, businesses develop new products and strategies that are prone to imitation and loss of proprietary rights. Bribing and sale of company information have become social evils that impede the ability of corporations to maintain a competitive edge. This, therefore, necessitates knowledge management. Most big enterprises, not-for-profit organizations and public institutions have dedicated their resources to internal knowledge management efforts, usually as a part of the departments of human resource management, information technology or as one of their business strategies. People have established companies solely to provide advice to these enterprises in regards to knowledge management. Efforts of knowledge management mainly focus on goals of an organization such as competitive advantage, improved performance, sharing of learned lessons, innovative practices, continuous improvement, and integration. These organizational efforts usually overlap with organizational learning and are better distinguished from that by focusing greatly on knowledge management as a key asset and concentrating on encouraged knowledge share. Knowledge management is known as an enhancer of organizational learning.

Leaders have to design and implement a system that shares information with the appropriate personnel. Besides, they can manage information and control leakages thus retaining a competitive edge. GDD is a firm that is constantly developing its product to meet the ever-changing customer needs. Its management team has to ensure that new developments remain secret until the company launches them to the market. That way, the business can retain a competitive edge.

Sustainability is the ultimate challenge that every leader in an organization has to deal with. More so, in the twenty-first century, competition is aggressive, and enterprises are striving to maintain their market share as well as expand their operations and facilitate organizational growth. Fuelled by globalization and technology development, competition requires that leaders develop new strategies to overcome competition and sustain the enterprise (Drucker, 2012). Additionally, market trends such as changes in consumer tastes and preferences have dealt a blow to products that have been replaced by substitutes. It is business strengths such as dominant brand names, innovation and service efficiency that give a competitive edge. GDD is a multinational delivery company. It has sustained its operations in Europe since its clientele is loyal. Besides, DHL is a competitor in the region had a late entry in the market thus GDD still has a dominant brand name. However, in America, the company has many and vigorous competitors thus sustainability is crucial. In 2015, it had a decline in sales recording a significant proportion from America.

On the brighter side, solutions have been innovated to overcome these leadership challenges. However, some of these solutions are industry-based, thus, recommendations are made regarding the challenges faced by a company. The first challenge posed by globalization is differences in cultures. The leadership group in GDD can employ a diverse management system where each branch has a leadership team. Every branch, therefore, operates according to the region’s culture. However, this will complicate the organization’s structure and present rigidity to change. An alternative would be gathering a management team that represents the diversified culture. All cultural differences will be represented and a collaborative culture developed (Ireland & Hitt, 1999). Nonetheless, since the management team will be diverse, this will impede the decision-making process. The foreign exchange risks can be mitigated in the derivatives market.

Innovation is simply known as a new device, method or idea. One can also say that innovation is the effective use of processes, products, technologies or services to come up with better solutions, meet unattended needs or new requirements. In business, however, innovation is properly explained as creating significantly new value for the company and clients by altering one or more business system dimensions. Said differently, innovation is the adoption or creation of something first hand that brings value to the business. This comes in either the form of new services, products or ways of doing things, for instance, incorporated supply chain as solutions to marketing challenges.

Innovation is a challenge that cannot be eliminated otherwise the company will fail. However, GDD can conduct regular market research that can be used in developing its product. For instance, competitors are offering a similar twenty-four-hour service delivery. The firm should reduce this time frame to the minimum possible by ensuring operations efficiency. Delay time should be eliminated entirely. Additionally, the pricing system should be varied, and the enterprise should offer premium services. These changes will help the company to create a competitive edge.

Subsequently, GDD organizational culture needs to change to achieve adaptability to new market trends. However, the company feels the current nurturing and togetherness culture needs to be maintained. While this system can be sustained in Europe, America is a diversified nation whose economy grows steadily making the culture inapplicable to GDD branches in the country. The adhocracy-oriented culture, alternatively, works in dynamic regions thus nurturing innovation. Nonetheless in a market with constant competition, the corporation should adopt a market-oriented culture where people strive to achieve organizational goals. However, the most appropriate is a hierarchy culture where control is maintained, and the enterprise focuses on efficiency and doing the right thing (Ireland & Hitt, 1999). Since GDD is a multinational company, it should collaborate these cultures and develop one that utilizes all strengths and eliminates the weaknesses of each culture. The company can, therefore, adapt quickly to new market trends.

Knowledge management is not a challenge that GDD leaders face. However, sharing of information according to clearance and job level will manage information and reduce data leakages. Alternatively, GDD should employ aggressive marketing strategies, improve the efficiency of its operations and diversify its portfolio. By undertaking these activities, the company will retain sustainability. Additionally, since the market presents new opportunities such as the African market, GDD Company should strive to make an entry to these markets so as to control part of the market share. Also, this will increase its sales volume. Following the above recommendations, the leaders can retain the firm’s sustainability. The Management of the internal environment, as well as flexibility and adaptability to market trends, gives the company a competitive edge.

Due to the twenty-first-century leadership challenges, it is necessary for leaders to be change agents that guide their organization into the new business era. GDD executive directors are the change agents and will play a major role in implementing the above recommendations. Since resistance inhibits change, the executive directors should anticipate employee behavior and implement strategies that reduce resistance (Furnham, 2009). For instance, change in the organization’s culture will face resistance but incorporating employees in the change process will reduce it. Executive will have to guide and counsel the staff since change disrupts their comfort zones. They will have to advocate for these changes by explaining why they are necessary and the overall benefits to be derived. Additionally, the executive directors will be the mediators where differences arise and also ensure that the goals of change are attained. In general, they will perform all the roles of a change agent to implement the above recommendations.


Drucker, P. F. (2012). Management challenges for the 21st century. Routledge, London.

Furnham, A. (2010). Managers as change agents. Journal of Change Management, 3(1), 21-29.

Ireland, R. D., & Hitt, M. A. (1999). Achieving and maintaining strategic competitiveness in the 21st century: The role of strategic leadership. The Academy of Management Executive, 13(1), 43-57

December 28, 2022

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