Sometimes Leadership Means Shaking Things Up
As your company grows, it is up to you to provide the leadership, rationale, and impetus for growth and change. You have to help people get comfortable with the idea that changes will be required again and again to meet the requirements of ever-higher levels of growth. The process of growth and change will need to be repeated many times in order for the organization to continue to grow. If a company isn’t continually finding new and better ways to meet customer needs, reduce costs, and increase speed, it will soon be overrun by competitors who are doing those things. Savvy leaders are forward focused. They know that competitive advantage deteriorates over time unless it is continually cultivated.
Growth Demands Change
Achieving and sustaining momentum in a business are challenges that leaders face every day. These challenges involve many choices, and often these choices determine the very survival of a business. At one time or another, leaders will be confronted with the need to make fundamental changes to the strategy, organization, and operations of a business. Sometimes, these inflection points bring out the best in a leader – igniting new ways of thinking about the business, its purpose, and its potential. At these moments leaders are able to see what their organizations do and are capable of doing in a totally new light. At other times, facing drastic change can be painful, particularly when the very things that made the business successful have run their course. Many leaders struggle when coming to grips with where their businesses are and where they want them to be. It’s one of the most difficult challenges in business. Yet business growth is simply not possible without change. These changes can be wrenching, but they are absolutely necessary for long-term success.
One of the biggest contributing factors in the decline of a once successful business is its leadership. Markets change and the business itself changes. It’s the responsibility of the leadership of a business to adapt to those changes. Leaders who are not growing will not have the skills necessary to lead a growing business. It’s that simple. There are so many leaders that champion the need for innovation and change in their organizations. But many of these same leaders don’t apply this thinking to themselves. There are a lot of reasons for this. Arrogance, fear, ego, pride, or just not recognizing the need to change can cause significant blind spots. Being a leader is not an entitlement. Continued success is not guaranteed just because a leader reaches a certain level within an organization. Leaders who don’t value and practice continuous learning and improvement will become ineffective. Leaders coasting along may be able to maintain a business, for a while, but they will never take it to new levels of growth and success. Poor leadership is the most costly weakness a company can have.
Shake Things Up
Companies get stuck when they cling too tightly to the past, and protect what is familiar and comfortable. This mindset kills innovation and sabotages the change necessary to reach new frontiers. Your comfort zone is your dead zone. Smart leaders never rest on their laurels. They are continually finding new and better ways to meet the needs of the market. And they are continually strengthening and improving their organizations. Every business has a few sacred cows that need to be challenged. Look for signs your business model needs changing. Examine your top priorities and change them as necessary. Rethink how decisions are made and who is making them. Infuse entrepreneurial thinking where it’s currently lacking. Don’t let loyalty become a liability and replace people who aren’t growing with the company. Encourage and reward candor, dissent, and diversity of thought. And squash any signs of preserving the status quo. The best leaders are constantly challenging the present so they can find the right path to the future. Great leaders challenge themselves, and they urge others to challenge their thoughts, ideas, and assumptions. Being a good leader isn’t about being right, it’s about doing the right things. Shake things up. Are you shaking things up?