The days of sustaining the status quo are gone. You are either continuously changing to engage and excite your marketplace, or you are responding to impending disruption from someone who was innovating while you slept.
True leaders are never found cowering in the corner when presented with this challenge. They distinguish themselves by their ability to engage others to deliver results today while inspiring hope and excitement for the future. It can be a difficult balance. The following three strategies can help.
1.Don’t confuse perception with reality. Floyd Bostwick Odium was a struggling attorney in Salt Lake City during the early 1920’s. By 1933, he was one of the ten wealthiest men in the United States. Along the way, he leveraged a $39,600 investment with a friend and their wives into a multi-million dollar investment company.
While others believed that the stock market would continue to rise, Odium believed that the boom would not continue. He sold one-half of his stake in his company plus nine million dollars in new securities in the summer of 1929 – mere months before the stock market collapse that signaled the start of the Great Depression
Odium didn’t confuse the prevailing perception that the stock market would continue to expand with reality. He knew that the difference between crisis and opportunity often depends on the leader’s perspective and commitment to accomplish what others are unwilling to even contemplate.
Armed with fourteen million dollars in cash and short-term notes, Floyd again challenged perception and purchased companies at depression-era prices.
The lesson for today: Don’t assume that your perception is reality. The world will look one way if you see your situation as secure. It will appear completely different if you assume that the opportunity for disruption is just around the corner. Question your assumptions and seek the truth about every decision.
2. Focus on the main things. Target Fixation is a phenomenon often associated with fighter pilots, motorcycle riders, and race car drivers. It is equally evident in individuals and organizations.
Target fixation can prevent us from seeing danger or attract us to impending doom. World War II fighter pilots spoke of becoming so totally focused on a target that they forgot to pull up to safety after a bombing or strafing run. Likewise, studies have shown that motorcycle riders will focus so intensely on the object they want to avoid that they steer themselves into a collision.
The lesson for today: There is no single “main thing” in today’s environment. Fixating on delivering results today will leave you vulnerable for the future. Innovation without the ability to execute is equally unsustainable. Doing either of those without earning the trust and commitment of your team dooms you to long-term failure. Likewise, employee satisfaction without results is a party not a business. There are multiple main things. You can’t afford to fixate on any one of them for too long.
3. Be bold. The Italian philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli said, “Make no small plans for they have no power to stir the soul.”
What vision would Floyd Bostwick Odium set for his business today? My guess is that it would be bold. It would – like John F. Kennedy’s 1961 vision to send a man to the moon and return him safely in the next ten years – be something that captures the imagination.
The lesson for today: The legendary leaders of the future are being born from the crucible of today’s reality. They will not be found hiding. They will embrace the opportunity to lead in a world of uncertainty.
Randy Pennington is an award-winning author, speaker, and leading authority on helping organizations achieve positive results in a world of accelerating change. To bring Randy to your organization or event, visit www.penningtongroup.com , email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 972.980.9857.