One of the prime requirements of leadership is the ability to manage change as it is taking place. Managing change requires an alertness to and awareness of the total business environment: what business imperatives direct and affect the current action, what is the competition doing, what new products on the market demand attention, and what as yet undeveloped products and services are likely to have an impact.
Today’s business leaders must realize that that the strategies that once helped them achieve their present successes now can impede future growth. Although the quality of products and services remains the chief determiner of the performance of a business, the ability to harness change and use it to the company’s advantage will test the company’s leadership as nothing else. The executive team that can “read” external factors such as economic trends and consumer’s needs will sharpen their company’s competitive edge.
Strategies may be successful now and may remain successful—if nothing changes in the industry or in the marketplace, but the chances of such stasis are nil. Hamel and
Prahalad in their book Competing for the Future note that it takes innovative leaders to imagine the future and to create long-term strategies to take advantage of it.
When an auto maker wants to test the stability of one of its cars, it does so at 70 m.p.h. on a slick mountain road, not while the car is sitting stationary on the showroom floor. Many business leaders, however, confuse stability with stasis. A stable company has an excellent suspension system and good shock absorbers to cushion against the speed bumps and potholes of doing business on a day-to-day basis.
Corporate leaders, executives, managers, and supervisors all need to be aware of change on many fronts and how to manage it effectively for their company’s benefit. It is a never-ending quest that provides plenty of on-the-job-training for the executive officer and the leadership team, no matter how many years of collective experience they bring to the company. As every disclosure statement seeks to make painfully obvious about a portfolio’s performance, “past success is no guarantee of future trends”.
Franklin Cooper © 2020