Guest post by Luis Gallardo, Author of Brands & Rousers: The Holistic System to foster High-Performing Businesses, Brands & Careers.
Certainty is a thing of the past. Companies no longer have the luxury of assuming they can survive glitches in the market with a few last-minute tweaks: markets are too changeable from too many angles for that to be a sustainable approach. It is not enough to simply develop an ad hoc, last minute response as changes occur; strong companies have a mindset and approach that anticipates change and have systems in place that can deal with any changes quickly and efficiently.
Change comes from so many different directions that companies and leaders can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed or blindsided. Every day, we are facing a multitude of changes that affect every aspect of running a business. Laws, regulations, compliance requirements, customer preferences, technologies, competitors, changing demographics and shifts in lifestyles are only some of the forces at work. All of these present an immense challenge for any business. Time moves on and markets evolve. Success will only follow for those organizations that respond effectively and swiftly to the only constant left in business: change.
While dealing with uncertainty is hardly a new concept for businesses, it is the sheer scale of change that we now have to deal with that presents such immense challenges and that leaves the unprepared company vulnerable and such easy prey to their more-battle-ready competitors. But we need to be wary of falling into the trap of thinking that the need to cope with such drastic changes is only a temporary requirement. We need to better prepare for the likelihood of change, control our response and get better at anticipating and shaping events. Instead of assuming that there will be a resumption of business-as-usual and that ‘things’ will settle down soon, we now need to view change and the ability to adapt as an essential business skill.
Leaders need to ask themselves: what are we doing to ensure the long-term success of the company?
Your new CEO mandate
Think holistically and act personally, making the following elements indispensable in your business strategy:
Focusing on the Reason
Everyone, at every level of the business, needs to understand the company’s vision, values and mission. Taken together with other related issues such as its culture – the way things are done – and strategy, these form the firm’s reason. If people explicitly understand these issues then they are much more likely to pull together consistently, and in the right direction.
Every major business is a significant, long-term investment. Shaping and managing it requires the right strategy and the right structure. Keeping it fresh and vital requires a mix of entrepreneurial and innovative input. And all elements, including the tactics employed, must support the organization’s mission, underlying values, and, of course, its growth.
Resources are also vitally important because these are needed to generate a return. That return can take various forms. It can be tangible or intangible, financial or non-financial. Each offers the promise of the same fundamental attribute: value. The point is that value creation is central to an organization’s growth and sustainability.
The next building block of corporate success is the ability to set the wheels of a business in motion so that it generates the necessary revenue and value. This happens by actively engaging and rousing people, and the path is from the top down. Martha Maznevski, Professor of Organizational Behavior at IMD business school highlights this point: “The leader’s role is to create direction and meaning and to encourage autonomy. This requires clarity, curiosity and courage.”
A responsible leader serves as the champion of an organization, articulating the right messages, supporting the right postures and providing the funding for the organization to achieve its goals. This advocate provides an understanding of mission and brand and, most of all, ignites and excites stakeholders. This person sets the tone and guides activities, and is the force to be known here as the Rouser.
Rolf Classon, former CEO of Bayer HealthCare, likes to talk about how to manage change in today’s dynamic environment. He focuses his remarks on the major trends taking place worldwide. He closely follows that with comments on how the firm’s partners and their teams can address these developments. In linking the two, he provides the context and content for another critical ingredient in the R growth mix: reputation.
Why do we use a preferred supplier? Because they know our industry and our issues. They continuously bring us ideas and perspectives that our organization would not come up with on our own. They deliver – and over-deliver – excellence in service. They help us and add to our success. Thanks to their brand, we don’t have to explain why we should use them. They have earned our trust with their reputation.
What drives transactions in the B2B and B2C sectors? The ‘B’ letters used may give the impression that exchanges in the marketplace come about through brick and mortar, e- commerce, or some other inanimate object. That would be a mistake. People generate receipts and ensure value creation. The best people build relationships, engage clients, share with them, take an interest in them and show it. When you know your clients and they know you and the good work you and your teams do, the result is a much greater willingness to stay loyal, buy more and improve your business. Our organization relies on people: the people who work here and those who receive our services.
The capacity of an organization to respond quickly and effectively to opportunities, threats and changes is vital – now, more than ever. This capacity or skill is the last of the 6 Rs: resilience. Organizations need to know how to handle both disaster and triumph.
In fact, these 6 Rs, Reason, Revenues, Rousers, Relationships, Reputation and Resilience, provide the foundation for developing high-performing businesses, brands and careers. An illustrious history may be an asset, but it is absolutely no guarantee of future success. What is increasingly significant, however, is the ability to think holistically and act personally.
For more on the upcoming book Brands & Rousers: The Holistic System to foster High-Performing Businesses, Brands & Careers, visit www.brandsrousers.com and connect with Luis Gallardo on twitter @lgallardo.
Luis Gallardo is a global brand and marketing leader and expert in the areas of strategic brand management, brand engagement, brand expression, marketing, communications, business development, and reputation management. Former managing director of global brand & marketing at Deloitte, Luis provided leadership to Deloitte's member firm network of more than three thousand marketing and communications professionals.
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