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Challenges for leadership in the 21st century

Introduction

The corporate world of today is marked by a rapid transition, making leadership more dynamic. Company administrators are also required to develop approaches to overcome ever-changing business problems. This allows leaders of the 21st century to be armed with appropriate management skills and capacities such as versatility, adaptability, openness, among other characteristics of successful leaders (Fortuna & Workman). Global Distribution Direct Company (GDD) as a delivery firm must also face market challenges. Responding to these challenges will turn them into strategic advantages. Competitive advantage refers to a situation that leverages a firm to edge over other commercial institutions in terms of performance. It is what makes a firm better than other organizations. According to Michael Porter (1985), there are two ways to achieve competitive advantage for a firm: cost advantage and differentiation advantage. Cost advantage takes place when a product or service is sold by a firm at a lesser price compared to other firms despite the price being the same. Differentiation advantage comes in when a firm overcomes its competitors in providing higher quality goods and services. However, these problems come from the company's goals, visions and missions. (Global Delivery Direct, 2016). Some of the 21st century leadership challenges facing GDD are discussed under the following topics.

Adaptability. An ability to embrace changes or getting used to a situation or environment can be termed as adaptability. The economy is never static but dynamic in nature, and the future is always full of uncertainties. In fact, the only certain thing about the future is uncertainty. This circumstance calls for leaders to be flexible in order to avoid being caught in the unseen problems. In GDD's scenario, the company is in the process of introducing a new organizational culture and structure. This means that they will have to move from the existing family-like culture to a hybrid of family and collaborative culture. (Global Delivery Direct, 2016). This is a challenge as it may be rejected by the employees or may even fail to be comprehended fully by the company and its staff. Organizational culture may take time to be completely implemented in any organizational set-up. There may also be a challenge in the hierarchy of command if the existing organizational structure is tampered with. The leaders will, therefore, have to notify the staff of the changes made to avert confusion within the company and ease communication.

In recommendation, it would be advisable for GDD leaders to begin implementing the new organizational changes as early as possible. Being an early embracer of change may lead to an invention or discovery of an important system or process that can make the procedure of change itself easier. Adaptability will make GDD tolerant of alteration, almost to the level of enjoying it, hence being a competitive advantage (Harvard Business Review, 2011). It would also be important that the leaders of GDD be open minded and train their employees to be the same to aid in the facilitation of change, because as H.G. Wells stated: "you either adapt or succumb."

Sustainability. While in pursuit of ecological balance maintenance, firms are after preventing depletion of natural resources. The main aim of sustainability is to provide a healthy environment free from pollution of any sort. It has been a hard task to completely prevent pollution even though measures are in place for control. GDD is currently emphasizing on green ‘friendly' delivery and a sustainable market niche (Global Delivery Direct, 2016). This will emerge as a competitive advantage since every customer likes being in a healthy environment. The challenge, however, is how to achieve the green environment considering the type of machines used.

In recommendation, it would be advisable for GDD to decentralize its operations as much as possible. They may be forced to open more branches to get closer to their customers so as to reduce the amount of carbon (IV) oxide (CO2) they emit while delivering parcels to their customers. Another way to achieve sustainability is using electric vehicles and trains for delivery.

Innovation. The process of actualizing an idea or an invention of a tangible product or a practical service is what is referred to as innovation. Innovation enhances efficiency and convenience in almost all areas of life. Firms must often be updated technologically so as to encourage modernization. GDD has its innovation goals focused on achieving customers' needs. Well served consumers are always a blessing to a company. If the clients' needs are fully achieved and delivery made efficiently, it will be a great benefit to the company. The challenge will be however which services to provide or add to satisfy the customers as per their intention.

The recommendation would be that GDD should apply non-human delivery methods. This is one the major cost-effective innovations available in this sector of delivery. Devices such as drones may be put into such use, especially where less bulky goods are involved over short distances. This will help in cutting delivery costs while improving efficiency.  Another recommendation is introducing more accurate tracking devices. Carrying appliances enable customers to move packages being still on transit to them. The use of GPS can be a good idea as it helps in locating packages. Customers can also be updated with the accurate location when such devices are used.

Knowledge management. Knowledge management majorly revolves around transferring the relevant information or knowledge to the intended recipient. According to Frosta (2017), knowledge management uses the management of a firm's knowledge assets systematically so as to achieve the firm's strategic needs and create value. It aids in the understanding of where the knowledge exists, what should be known by the organization, how to create knowledge and make it available to the right people. Knowledge in GDD will mostly be transferred from the company to the customers expected to receive it. This will oblige the firm to protect the information and only give it to the intended consumers so as to avoid theft and losses through confusion. Updating customers on time is also an important aspect for reception preparation.

Recommendation to improve knowledge management would be tracking knowledge usage and saving used data for future operations. This will help in reducing theft and misappropriation of knowledge and information. Saving used information will also help to solve disputes and complaints which may arise in some period of time. Another way is employing a trusted knowledge management methodology. This will help reduce faults and blunders which may arise as a result of faulty servers. Hacking should also be decreased through this method.

Globalization. The incorporation and interdependence of local and foreign markets can be termed as globalization. Given process involves a continuous interaction of people, companies, and governments aided by information technology (Globalization101, 2016). Globalization has a number of advantages which put a firm a step ahead of those which are not globalized. The company will be able to reach a vast market since its operations will proceed in more than one country. This action will automatically boost the firm's profits. There is also an advantage of the low financial risk of economic collapse in a specific area of functionality because of diversified investments and operations in different countries. Other firms operating in one area may find themselves enslaved to the upcoming economic conditions in that area, be it boom, recess, or collapse. They also can be ousted out of business in case of a strong competitor emergence in the market. However, there is always a risk of loss of control. It is often easier to manage and control centralized operations than decentralized ones. 21st-century leaders face the challenge of managing globalized operations. According to Global Delivery Direct, Inc. Company Profile (2016), GDD is considering taking their operation to Africa and developing a connection between Europe and North America. This will eventually cut cost previously spent on delivering packages right from their headquarters in London, England to Africa. The connection between North America and Europe will also induce safety and convenience in packages delivery. The challenge is the management of the branches opened in different locations.

The recommendation would be that for easier management, GDD should consider franchising, mergers, and acquisitions in their intended areas of expansion such as Africa. This can be done by owning or combining operations with the already existing firms offering the same services. This will make the establishment of GDD's operations much easier and faster. Another recommendation is that GDD's management must do thorough research in the areas they intend to expand their operations in. They will have to learn the customs and the way of life of their target consumers. The investigation will improve the relationship between the business and the customers.

It would be necessary for the management to address the challenge on adaptability because of the never unsettling economic condition. As quoted by H.G. Wells, the business that fails to adapt to the ever-changing environmental and economic conditions will definitely perish. The question is how will the adaptability be achieved? As much as change is inevitable, the alterations made to encounter the problems caused by changes must not be abrupt, but rather gradual. The management must, however, be the first embracer of the change being introduced to encourage the remaining staff to adapt to the same. The management will also be forced to train one’s personnel to be open-minded, making employees ever ready to accept changes easily. Through these steps, adaptability will never be a problem but a competitive advantage.

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References

Fortuna, S., & Workman, J. Responding to 21st-century challenges requires 21st-century leadership. Retrieved from http://fbe.unimelb.edu.au/exchange/edition1/21st-century-leadership

Global Delivery Direct, Inc. Company Profile 2016. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/businessatgdd

Porter, Michael E. (1985). Competitive advantage, Creating and sustaining superior performance. N.p.

Adaptability: The New Competitive Advantage. Harvard Business Review, 2011.

Frost, A. (2017). Knowledge Management Tools 2012. Retrieved from http://www.knowledge-management-tools.net/

What is Globalization? Globalization101. (2016). The Levin Institute. Retrieved from http://www.globalization101.org/what-is-globalization/

Research Paper:

Number of pages

3

Urgency

14 days

Academic level

College 1st year

Subject area

Business

Style

APA

Number of sources

6

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