Guest Contribution by Dr. Jane Goldner
In 2002, a colleague, Chris Gilliam, and I wrote a white paper about what big and small companies can learn from each other. During the research phase, we surfaced the book, Rethinking the Future by Rowan Gibson, published in 1998. Gibson predicted that there would be a world where:
• Competition will be fierce and markets will be merciless
• Small companies will outsmart giant corporations on a global scale
• Customers will have infinite access to products, services & information.
In our white paper, based on research and interviews of C-Suite and senior-level leaders, we made the following recommendations for business success in the world that Gibson predicted and has become reality. They are still good advice for leaders today.
1. CEOs must have a purpose/mission and a vision for her company; why does it exist and where is it going? Along with values, these two “must-haves” are the Core that provides unity across silos that gets everyone focused on corporate goals. Here is why you need a well-defined company Core:
• It’s the foundation for all your decision-making, your true north against which everything is assessed.
• It provides a clear, common focus and direction for everyone in your company as long as it is clearly communicated.
2. The CEO needs to know her own strengths and weaknesses in order to surround herself with people on the leadership team who bring different competencies to the table. Too often, leaders hire in their own image which magnifies both the hiring leader’s strengths as well as the weaknesses, which leads to less effective decisions. Different is good to avoid group think by getting varying points of view. Considering the talent pool today and wanting to win the talent war, you will need to hire with diversity in mind.
As you hire leaders, they should have the competencies that are dictated by the company Core. What skills, abilities, and characteristics does a leader need to work the mission, help the company move toward its vision, and act on the values?
3. Together, the leadership team must create a strategic framework, a plan for the future that provides a ‘picture frame’ for others in the company who can paint the picture of how the company will get there. The picture frame provides the limiting outer edges but also the freedom and creativity in the inner space for employees to do their best work. The Strategic Framework should be developed as a reflection of the company Core and remain a fluid document that is reviewed on an ongoing basis. What strategies, goals and actions do you need to take so that you are working the mission, moving toward the vision and acting on the values? It ought to be cascaded throughout the company so that:
• Everyone knows how they contribute and
• Can ask and answer the strategic thinking question: “How is what I am doing in my job today going to affect the company tomorrow?”
4. Based on the plan, core competencies need to be defined. What skills and abilities does the company need to get it successfully into the future? Global Leadership, cross-culture appreciation, technology savvy, and the ability to share or step-up to leadership are but a few examples. Gary Hamel, the most influential business consultant according to the Wall Street Journal & Fortune, said that
• In the future, “…every employee will have a Leadership score.”
• “…your company will be challenged to change in a way for which there is no precedent.”
In this fast-paced, lean organization environment, everyone needs to be a leader, even if it is a leader in their own job.
Keep reading »