The future challenges faced by today’s managers
An interview with Antonio Ragusa
With the advent of the global era, managers are today faced with new challenges and with an unprecedented degree of complexity, which is also a by-product of the delicate global economic situation. Today more than ever, managers are required to be trained, skilled, creative and sensitive.
We asked some questions on this topic to the Founding President and Director of the Rome Business School, Professor Antonio Ragusa.
The managers of today are facing a changing world and an unstable economy. What do you think are the key factors that a manager needs to understand in order to overcome the challenges of the future?
First, it is important to understand and manage the overall perspective of a business not only in terms of challenges, but also of opportunities. Even a small company, maybe a niche one, can now potentially reach out to the whole world thanks to the web and the increasingly efficient transport systems. However, it must equip itself culturally, open its mind and its eyes, and look at the whole world as a potential marketplace.
Further, multicultural interactions must be accepted and understood, not rejected (a short-sighted and outdated position). From this perspective, workforce cultural diversity is an asset which, if properly exploited, can be a source of competitive advantage.
Moreover, the scarcity of some resources and the environmental challenges, to which customers are becoming increasingly sensitive, are two further factors that managers cannot overlook in the setting up and management of businesses.
Web 2.0 has in part “transformed” marketing and corporate communications. Are there skills, however, that good managers should possess regardless of any changes in the discipline?
Sure. The ability to identify customer needs and develop products and services that are able to satisfy them was a priority yesterday and still is today. That is the true cornerstone of any successful business.
An excellent relational marketing strategy is also needed to achieve good results and retain customers: individual transactions, in themselves, are worth little if lasting and satisfying relationships are not established with customers.
Equally important is the proper management of internal resources; that is, being capable, first and foremost, to select capable staff members and, having recruited them, to fully motivate and involve them.
Finally, managers must be able to master the basic economic-financial instruments to properly handle their business’s economic perspectives. I refer, for example, to the basics related to the income statement, cash flow, and calculation of the break-even point.
What skills do managers need to possess today to ensure the success of the companies they lead?
I would say that managers—and indeed anyone—must above all understand the importance of constantly honing their technical skills and behavioural capabilities: from teamwork to communication, from negotiating skills to decisional ones.
Managers who know how to coordinate the work of their employees to get the best from each of them, thus providing customers with high quality products/services in line with market trends, are managers who are destined to make their organisations’ fortunes.