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IBM CEO survey claims "creativity" is top leadership quality

By: Peter Field
13 July, 2011

Big Blue executive says Australia’s top bosses face new challenges in battle to stay ahead.

Australia’s top bosses face increasing pressures as they plan their business strategies for the next decade, according to Tom Sherlock, a Senior Management Consultant with IBM Global Business Services.

According to Sherlock, who was citing IBM’s 2010 Global CEO study 2010 based on 1541 CEO interviews around the world: "Creativity is the top leadership quality. And it’s desperately needed to break the status quo of contemporary industry, enterprise and revenue models".

Elsewhere the survey noted: "Getting close to customers is the single most important theme. 91 per cent of CEO’s in ANZ had this as their top priority, while obtaining people with the relevant skills was second most important at 84 per cent".

The survey also concluded that complexity of business and products was rapidly escalating, customer relationships need reinventing, and organisations must embody creative leadership and build operating dexterity.

"Top bosses here and across the world have to redefine business processes and models to gain a strategic advantage," Sherlock explained.

"But to get there we are collectively going to have to adopt practices to make this a ‘smarter planet’," he added, echoing his company’s latest marketing catch phrase.

Sherlock was representing his employer - the former technology hardware company that now makes nearly US$100 billion (A$92.8 billion) (including A$4.3 billion in Australia) from software and services – at a gathering of senior executives during the Western Sydney Manufacturing Leaders Forum, held at the Sydney Olympic Park in May.

Current models are "broken" says Sherlock. He highlighted the fact that 80 per cent of electricity generated here comes from carbon emitting coal-fired power stations - and that even then, 10 per cent of that power is wasted - as an example of an existing practice that can’t continue if Australia is to remain competitive.

Sherlock noted that IBM had already helped many Australian companies, such as budget airline Jetstar and Vegemite-maker Kraft, enhance their business models.

 In the latter’s case, claimed Sherlock, "Web 2.0" came to its rescue in the form of blogs, message boards and other social networks. Kraft used these media to ascertain what everybody was saying about the yeast extract spread.

"Kraft established that consumers were ‘passionate about Vegemite’ and the company changed its branding strategy accordingly," Sherlock said.

"The world will become smaller, flatter and smarter.

"We are moving to the age of a globally integrated and intelligent economy, society and planet."

The Western Sydney Manufacturing Leaders Forum is an event that supports National Manufacturing Week (NMW). NMW is an annual gathering and this year was held in Melbourne at the end of May. NMW is organised by Reed Exhibitions.

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