“The ship of certainty has long since sailed – now is the time for leaders to get on with business…”
Chair of the Institute of Directors (IoD), Professor Susan Deacon MIoD, this morning urged business leaders to step up to the plate during the greatest upheaval and uncertainty of recent times, and steer their companies and organisations through the unfolding climate of political and constitutional change.
Delivering the opening address to the largest IoD Scotland annual conference in more than 10 years, Deacon said: “In such changing and unpredictable circumstances, it can be hard to make sense of the world around us. But it is precisely at times like these that it is important for leaders to step up to the plate. Volatility and ambiguity also creates opportunity. Vacuums in decision making and direction are spaces waiting to be filled.
“This is a time when leaders should feel a renewed sense of empowerment and responsibility. Now, more than ever, business leaders, entrepreneurs and others who lead organisations and who shape thinking and practice in our Boardrooms and workplaces need to be creative, confident and effective to continue to deliver jobs, services and products.
“In the months and years ahead, Scotland and the UK will need to steer a course through the uncharted terrain of a Brexit process and all the turbulence and uncertainty that goes with it. Questions abound about our future trade arrangements, the movement of people and the wider economic, social and cultural implications of a possible future outside the European Union as well as the future relationship of these islands with Europe and the rest of the world. So too will there continue to be debate about Scotland’s association with the rest of the UK and the possibility of a second independence referendum.
“And of course all of those challenges sit within a wider global context of a world which is as fast moving and interconnected as ever it has been. Rapid technological change, environmental threats, the fluctuations of global markets, conflicts, migration and even the outcome of the impending US Presidential election will all affect how we live, work and do business in the years ahead.
“Strong leadership is all about embracing uncertainty and navigating a course through difficult territory. Creativity, adaptability and innovation are key. Decision making and driving change does not begin and end with politicians and Government – this is the time for Scotland’s leadership community to shape the future.”
The conference was attended by more than 150 Scottish business and organisational leaders, who heard from a range of speakers around a ‘Business of Leadership’ theme. They included Dr Lesley Crane, knowledge, innovation and technology specialist; Peter Schwartz, senior vice president of strategic planning for Salesforce; Bob Keiller, former CEO of Wood Group, and new chairman of Scottish Enterprise; and Josh Littlejohn, founder of Social Bite.