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Leading and Managing @100mph

We are competing in a world to solve not just today's problems but also tomorrows, and they are coming at us at increasing speeds.

From my point of view, I believe that those I work for and with, will win through their deep-rooted resolve to own and define their futures. Here is a look at some of the characteristics they have and what I think are necessary to master.

Firstly, one of the most important disciplines is “discipline” itself. Whether it be the process of execution, nurturing talent, team building, committing to client face time to more personal metters such as health, reading and learning, they are all disciplinarians. As we look at our organizations, teams and services every element must be interconnected, aligned and completely supportive of one another. This level of focus and collaborative work is vital. Traditionally, we view our business systems in regimented linear processes and the client is nowhere to be seen. This creates strong material gaps between key players who are instrumental in driving innovation and value to the customer. Over the last few years I have adopted a more circular view with the client in the middle. This centering of the client closes these gaps whilst at the same time turning the entire organization/or team into one that is customer centric. It is more decentralized and considerably simpler. This circular formation enables capabilities to be shared across a far broader stakeholder group and a knowledge/innovation exchange to emerge.

The more touch points your organization/team can create and maintain,

the greater your relationship and chances of delivering a sustainable value proposition well into the future. However, it is firmly the leaders job to achieve this and their/our aim must be to shape the company/team for the future whilst generating higher levels of service, satisfaction and profitability. When we talk about leadership today I believe it no longer means “broad” or “broader” (you should look at the incredible transformation of GE under Immelt) it means making your portfolio narrower and deeper. Leaders need to be focused on nesting initiatives within one another, showing how each one fits with the rest and robustly staying away from the old and efficiently removing those activities that don’t fit.

One more thing, half measures are lethal. Everyone around you will whiff the lack of commitment if you aren’t all in. You will face strong resistance, even from your closest colleagues and that is why you need to get yourself into a place where you are deeply convinced on your direction. When you begin to make changes, you need to be prepared to go all the way. If large investments are involved and you are putting money at risk you had better not be a wuss. It is not an experiment.

However, before this can be done the leader needs to re-wire and to do this I would strongly recommend reading “Digital to the Core”. This is an insight into why this is so important, and whether we like it or not, we now rely on being digital to the core to make our numbers and survive.

I have written this before but resilience is going to be an essential character trait. You have a plan until you meet the enemy. Don’t try and predict events, its simply too difficult. Develop a framework and build a team that can tolerate sustainable change – that’s how you will win. Remember creating value in business is a long process and if it turns out to be easy my bet is it will not be sustainable. It requires, grit, risk, time and resilience.

I recall reading in an investment bank once “We don’t learn from talking, we learn from listening”. Winners are curious. They absorb information and important trends and developments all the time. To master and remaster we will all need to devote our time to listening and learning and be open to reality and be prepared to pivot whilst constantly going forward.

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