Ineffective leadership is currently perceived as the biggest people risk facing organizations, closely followed by poor decision-making, according to a Mercer and Marsh survey of more than 1,000 risk and HR professionals across the United States.

The study revealed several concerns from risk and HR managers and underscored the impact of inadequate leadership.

Cybersecurity and artificial intelligence (AI) also emerged as notable risks, with nearly half (43%) of respondents concerned about the increased risk of cyberattacks due to a lack of cybersecurity awareness among employees.

Meanwhile, 34% are worried about employees’ over-reliance on AI-generated content.

Nicole Carignan, vice president of strategic cyber AI at Darktrace, said all organizations must establish executive leadership for AI governance, whether they are adopting use of AI internally or externally.

“These leaders will be responsible for implementing principles, standards and responsibilities around generative AI,” she said.

Similarly, they will be responsible for establishing a culture of AI responsibility throughout an organization by setting a standard of prioritizing ethics, data privacy and security. Despite these challenges, the vast majority (97%) of risk and HR managers reported that their organizations are actively collaborating to mitigate various people risks.

The survey indicated organizations with high levels of collaboration are overwhelmingly managing these risks more effectively.

According to the findings, 34% of employers worry about significant dependencies on key personnel and inadequate succession planning, while only 30% believe they have an effective workforce strategy for acquiring, growing and deploying talent based on skills.

More than a third (35%) of respondents said they are concerned that ineffective leadership could lead to negative organizational culture, strained team dynamics and mistrust.

Vara Kumar co-founder and head of R&D at Whatfix, recommended IT leaders initiate a comprehensive skills gap analysis to assess and optimize organizational models in alignment with evolving skill sets and shifting business requirements.

“This entails evaluating the current workforce’s skill sets, identifying emerging technologies, and aligning training and development initiatives with evolving business needs,” he said.

He added collaborating with HR and maintaining open communication with employees are crucial components in optimizing organizational models.

Additionally, leveraging digital transformation tools like a digital adoption platform (DAP) can enhance this process, offering streamlined real-time training, improved user proficiency, overall increased efficiency impacting business outcomes like revenue win rate, cost reduction, risk compliance, and more.

Lux Narayan, CEO and co-founder of StreamAlive, noted IT leaders are often working with teams that are hybrid or remote–programmers, analysts, interface designers, database administrators, tester and others.

“Not only are these team members isolated from each other, they are often isolated from other areas of the organization and teams,” he said.

He recommended IT leaders embrace management practices that enable ample one on one opportunities, as well as team building and times to stay connected and engaged – both about work and non-work things.

“They should also work as an internal leader to ensure their teams are connected and included in larger team meetings, as often IT is only involved when something is needed externally from management, marketing or other departments,” Narayan added.

Rajan Sethuraman, CEO of LatentView Analytics said he agreed IT leadership can play a significant role in improving team dynamics across the entire organization.

“Because IT is the backbone of any modern organization and powers all areas of the business from finance to HR to marketing or sales via software and infrastructure, IT leaders have a connected view and can understand where and when and how leadership may be falling short outside of IT,” he said. “In this way, IT acts as a hub for all other areas of the organization.”

He added that for things like mergers and acquisitions, there is a lot of risk associated with fuzzy areas of the business before, during and after the transition. This includes both from a people perspective and an IT, data and systems integration perspective.

“IT can play a role in bringing teams together as systems are integrated across existing and new teams, and team members where leadership gaps may exist during the adjustment time post-acquisition,” Sethuraman said.