Leaders are faced with the on-going dilemma of maintaining long-term and sustainable profitability, whilst having to meet the short-term gains demanded by investors. Here are a few insights into how you can lead more effectively in these challenging times.
Andrew’s Top 8 Insights
- Change your mindset – instead of looking at the issue of how do you maintain long-term profitability or deliver short-term gains look at changing your mindset by changing one word. Change “or” to “and”. So, it becomes, how do you maintain long-term profitability and deliver short-term gains? Asking “and” instead of “or” opens up your thinking, the possibilities and creativity in identifying potential solutions.
- Learn continuously in your work – you cannot know everything you need to know to perform and achieve the results on a sustainable basis. With an accelerating rate of change the currency of what you do know has a shorter ‘shelf-life’ and is increasingly likely to become out-of-date and/or obsolete. So be open to learning from everyone and anyone, from outside your industry, wherever you might find that which can assist you. Make this part of how you work, focusing on those things which are important and relevant whilst keeping a watching brief on other things.
- Adopt an ‘investment approach’ – look at what you want to achieve in the long-run and use this to guide what you need to do in the short-run. You need to have clear fundamental principles to guide you and your people in how to do this, without proscribing what they need to do in doing so.
- Look for simplicity – this is not to say you want to make things simplistic, rather you want to understand the essence of what you have to deal with. Once you understand this then adopt and adapt what you need to do to be effective.
- Be innovative – it is a case of what got you here won’t get you there. In innovating you need to achieve three thing:
- firstly, create an environment where people are encouraged to and supported in initiating new things and ideas;
- secondly, act on these things and ideas and invest in them appropriately to implement and commercialize them successfully; and
- thirdly, bring people along on this journey – both internally and externally (including customers, suppliers and other stakeholders) – to make it a success.
- Create a strong leadership culture – leadership is a choice, not a position, and occurs at all levels in the business. You want all leaders to be able to articulate and demonstrate what is expected in terms of business thinking and thought, how to drive results and outcomes, caring for people and holding them accountable, and the key leadership behaviours expected and required.
- Be comfortable with ambiguity – the world is not black and white, but rather consists of many shades of grey. As leaders we need to be able to accommodate this, and in doing so be flexible in the decisions and judgements we make, and to do so especially when we lack all the information we would like to have.
- Focus business discussions on key areas – there is the risk with so many things affecting us and the business that we will get distracted from the business itself. So bring back your discussions back to what matters:
- Improving business capability
- Activities that build and maintain competitive advantage
- Things that are being done to improve business productivity
- How you are mitigating current and future risk
- How you are supporting earnings / funding and how it is tracking to industry standards, and
- Proposed investments that support business sustainability.
The power of these insights is multiplied when you share them with your team and reports. Use these eight points as a discussion tool to share perspectives, insights and experiences in creating a commonly shared, understood and articulated approach.. Take the ideas and guidelines generated and cascade them throughout the organization. This helps to align and communicate expectations across the organization. This will help you, and them, to succeed in challenging times.
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