Editorial: Fast fix for the long term

Time is running out for New Zealand to jump on to the speeding train of management and leadership change that could help deliver us future of opportunity and prosperity.
Our companies are behind the eight-ball in adopting responsible governance measures considered standard in other developed economies. Reg Birchfield considers why New Zealand’s directors and chief executives are reluctant practitioners of responsible governance initiatives in his second article in the new series on the subject, which makes interesting reading on page 30. Our companies are “reactive rather than proactive” in this space.
Clayton Kimpton, chair of Kensington Swan, which backs the Responsible Governance award in the Deloitte/Management magazine Top 200 Awards, says it’s slow change process here. He has concerns that focus on post-GFC financial recovery will push corporate social responsibility initiatives off current board agendas. NZ Management’s responsible governance series will continue to spotlight the practices of New Zealand’s more progressive corporates in subsequent issues.
And our brightest young talent is still disappearing overseas at an alarming rate – migration fuelled by the perceived lack of opportunity at home. Birchfield, again, worries about “the loss of future management feedstock” in piece, on page 12, addressing the need for managers “to rebuild the economy, lead enterprise out of the economic and structural ruins and to re-shape organisations for the future”. But not only do we need to retain, and regain, the raw management potential to meet this challenge, that potential needs serious upskilling. The article refers to recent research showing the critical relationship between management capability and national productivity, and reports that New Zealand seriously needs to build its management skills and capabilities to compete globally.
A common theme linking current commentary from leading economic, financial and political pundits is the problem caused by ‘short-termist’ thinking and policy-making. What is needed is visionary leadership unencumbered by three-year political cycle and an apparent lack of accountability to our future generations. We could do worse than adopt Maoridom’s view of holding and managing assets in trust for their descendants. They don’t always get it right and are vulnerable to the same vices of greed and self-interest as are any individuals of any group, but at least they have stated commitment to the future wellbeing of their people, their land and their environment against which all proposals, policies and projects can be measured.

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