Finding and grooming leaders is one of the most daunting challenges facing Indonesia today. The country is on the move but there is a distinct lack of qualified leaders, both in the private sector as well as in the public sector.


GlobeAsia teamed up with CCL to identify where the holes are and the qualities future leaders will need.

Leading in Indonesia is a challenge.

CCL and GlobeAsia surveyed senior industry leaders in Indonesia and asked them to reflect on the challenges that organizations and business leaders face and how best to address these challenges.

Indonesia is on the rise and must invest in people to achieve sustainable growth. Two recent studies shed more light on the need to develop a skilled workforce.

The Unleashing Indonesia report identified that currently the country has 55 million skilled workers and by 2030 will need over 110 million skilled workers. The Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2014 ranks Indonesia at 86 out of 93 countries in the effectiveness of talent policies and practices.

What needs to change?

While these studies generally analyse skilled talent more broadly, there is a need to identify and develop skilled leaders for the future.

Leaders who are able to make wise decisions while navigating the challenges of the regional and global environment are needed now. Leaders are important but building leadership capability is critical for the future of Indonesia.

The Challenge of Change

The challenge of managing, mobilizing, understanding and leading change was identified as the top challenge. Leaders in Indonesia have to invest a lot of their time, to address the consequences of change, overcome resistance to change, and deal with employees’ reaction to change.

Second to guiding change was the challenge of Developing Managerial Effectiveness. In the light of the rapid pace of changes, leaders found themselves having to develop relevant skills such as time management, prioritization, strategic thinking, decision-making, and getting up to speed with the job on hand.

The third challenge lies in inspiring others. Not only do leaders have to develop their skills, they also need to challenge and motivate others to ensure they are satisfied with their jobs and motivate their workforce to work smarter. These leaders also need to understand how to understand a multi-generational talent pool.

Rising to the Challenge

How early should leadership education start? Addressing the challenges that Indonesian leaders face today is possible through early and broad-based leadership development. In addition to a better educational system, the respondents to our survey resoundingly favoured leadership development and talent management as key actions to address these challenges.

Ninety-three percent (93%) felt that leadership development should begin by the age of 21, with over a third (36%) favouring leadership development for youth of ages 11-17 years. Close to two thirds (64%) felt that leadership development should be offered to all young people, especially individual contributors (56%) and not restricted to only those in leadership positions.

Question 1: At what level do you think leadership development should begin?

Question 1 Table

Question 2: To whom should leadership development be offered?

Question 2 Table

Question 3: At what age do you think leadership development should begin?

Question 3 Table

The resounding agreement that leadership development is a vehicle to address Indonesia’s leadership challenges, raises the question “What should leadership development initiatives develop?”

To answer this, we asked our respondents to select from a list of 24 competencies, the top 3 leadership qualities that they:

  • would like to see in present-day business leaders
  • desired in business leaders 10 years ago and
  • desired for business leaders 10 years into the future

The table below shows the 5 competencies most often chosen by these respondents:

Table 1

Among the top five skills, being a strategic thinker, being a visionary, and being values-driven are skills that are fundamental to the success of Indonesian leaders – past, present, and future.

Technical mastery, which was once viewed as key to success is not seen as important today or in the future. In its place, entrepreneurial skills and creativity are key to success today and into the future. Also reflective of the three challenges that were discussed earlier, adaptability to changes taking place in Indonesia and globally, and empowering others to do well in their jobs is seen as key to future success.

Hold the Mind-set; Hone the Skill-set

The next generation of Indonesian leaders, it appears, seem to possess the necessary mind-set to become skilled to address their leadership challenges. Quizzed on what they found most encouraging about the next generation of leaders, our respondents saw them as open-minded, creative, collaborative, and as learners. While the mind-set appears to be in place, there may not be enough leaders with the skill set to move to the next level of success.

Danger! Respondents expressed concern that the present-day leaders needed to look beyond self-enrichment and develop empathy to talent and focus more time on developing those around them. While being fast learners, the leaders need to also develop a sense of patience, and allow for learning from reflecting on experiences. At times they need to slow down to go fast.

Leaders need to develop a sense of persistence and resilience to rebound from mistakes and failure. There is optimism and hope coupled with concern for the future leaders in Indonesia.

Indonesia will continue to rise if it makes significant and sustained investment in its people and develops leaders early and often.

This article first appeared in the Indonesian GlobeAsia magazine, March 2015


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