Bankwest Future of Business: 2017 Leadership Report

28 August 2017

Report findings

The Bankwest Future of Business: 2017 Leadership Report offers practical tips to business leaders to build business resilience and improve their effectiveness as a leader at a time of economic uncertainty. It also explores the different pathways to leadership and ways in which business leaders are approaching the emerging ‘gig economy’.

Bankwest Future of Business: Leadership

Video Transcript (PDF)

Leadership means different things to different people, but for Australian businesses, it most commonly means ‘providing a great customer experience’ (56.8%), ‘having a vision and sharing it’ (55.2%), and ‘motivating employees to work towards a common goal’ (53.1%).

Leadership has never been more important for Australian businesses at a time when the large majority (79.2%) are finding the current economic environment challenging.

Business leaders are using a variety of tactics to build resilience within their businesses, the most common being:

  • Targeting new types of customers (38.5%)
  • Upskilling staff (38.5%), and
  • Refining business processes (36.2%).

They are also seeking to improve their effectiveness as a leader by:

  • Communicating with employees openly and regularly
  • Seeking and acknowledging feedback from all stakeholders
  • Demonstrating a strong work ethic to lead by example.

Pathways to leadership

While university education is the traditional route to leadership, pathways to leadership are becoming increasingly diverse and non-traditional.

Business leaders are looking outside of universities for fresh perspectives, recognising that common benefits of hiring staff who are not tertiary educated include ‘can-do attitude’ (54.1%), ‘fresh perspective’ and ‘outside the box thinking’ (both 47.1%).

While one in four (27.1%) leaders believe the best route to entrepreneurship is university education, leaders most commonly believe that the best route to entrepreneurship is life experience (i.e. no formal or informal education) (44.6%). Close to half (46.6%) do not view degree qualifications as important when hiring staff.

The ‘gig economy’

Business leaders are also increasingly taking advantage of the flexibility and cost savings offered by the emerging ‘gig economy’, which is seeing a shift from 9-to-5 work days to a series of different ‘gigs’ for various employers.

The majority (55.3%) of Australian businesses are employing contractors, freelancers or casuals. However, they are taking proactive steps to manage the potential downsides of the gig economy, such as:

  • Thoroughly vetting all candidates
  • Developing clear work contracts
  • Managing worker performance closely.

We hope you find the Bankwest Business Leadership Report useful in identifying the leadership strategies that will shape the future competitive landscape of Australian business.

About the report

Report details

  • This report has been prepared by CoreData on behalf of Bankwest
  • The research was conducted in June and July 2017 via an online quantitative survey of approximately 60 questions, developed and hosted by CoreData
  • The sample is comprised of 1,000 respondents, including those in C-suite and senior management positions within small and medium sized businesses.

Targeted businesses

The targeted businesses met the following criteria:

  • Annual turnover of up to $250 million
  • From the following industries - Accommodation and food services, Administrative and support services, Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting, Arts and recreation services, Construction, Education and training, Electricity, gas and water supply, Finance and insurance, Health care and social assistance, Information media and telecommunications, Manufacturing, Mining, Professional, scientific and technical services, Public administration and safety, Rental, hiring and real estate services, Retail trade, Transport and storage, Wholesale trade.

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Things you should know

The information contained in this report is of a general nature and is not intended to be nor should it be considered as professional advice. You should not act on the basis of anything contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice. To the extent permitted by law, Bankwest, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL/Australian credit licence 234945, its related bodies corporate, employees and contractors accepts no liability or responsibility to any persons for any loss which may be incurred or suffered as a result of acting on or refraining from acting as a result of anything contained in this report.