6 Leadership Failures That Put Your Company at Competitive Risk

Author

Glenn Llopis, Contributor

March 24, 2015

Companies lose momentum when they fail to see the opportunities that their competitors are consistently seizing.   This happens when a company’s senior leadership refuses to change with a rapidly evolving marketplace and the consumers who want brands to evolve with them. Companies fail to grow and compete when their senior leadership gets lazy and they lack the required skills and competencies to stay in lock step with the market, let alone stay ahead of it and define the trends themselves.   At the very least, they must start paying more attention to their employees and the consumers who are telling them it’s time to do things differently.

Successful companies are led by market-driven leaders that are constantly in search of ways to define new workplace cultures and anticipate new product and marketing strategies to stimulate employee and consumer engagement.   These are the companies that are five steps ahead of the market and that set the tone for the industry they lead. On the other hand, companies that fail to grow and compete are led by operations-driven leaders that rarely change and believe that they are not vulnerable to new marketplace conditions. They lack the vision to see beyond the obvious and easily grow complacent.

Is yours the type of company whose focus is on the here and now or is it on the short and long-term future?   Do leaders and employees spend too much time mimicking what your competitors are doing, or are they driving the requirements to create and sustain competitive advantage?

In today’s rapid-paced, globally competitive marketplace, your company’s leadership must adopt a new mindset and accept the fact that without strategy, change is merely substitution – not evolution.

As you evaluate your senior leadership team, be on the lookout for the following six signs – that if not addressed proactively and strategically – will put your company in a position of competitive disadvantage, thus disrupting its ability to grow and compete.

1.  The Glass Is Always Half Empty

Be concerned if your senior leadership team is slow or not receptive enough to new ways of doing things.   You might be winning now, but the marketplace can catch you by surprise at any time and you will begin to lose momentum quickly when it does.   Competitors are always ready to beat you at your own game if you don’t stay on your toes.

The fiercely competitive landscape requires constant forward thinking and the adoption of a survival mentality. Create a sense of urgency – not out of fear – but as a means to stretch the organization’s thinking. Always seeing the glass as half full will stimulate an environment of competition.

When I walk into a leader’s office, the first thing I do is glance at their desk and book shelves to determine their state of mind. What are they reading and who is influencing their thinking? My goal is to identify their mindset, how they manage their time and what steps they are taking to identify the next big opportunity.

2.  Without Preparation, Often Blindsided

Your senior leadership team should be optimistic about the company’s future and prepare itself to avoid being blindsided. When leaders are not receptive to change, and reflect negativity in their tone, body language and attitude, it’s a crisis waiting to happen.

Senior leadership must embrace the mentality of change agent, constantly anticipating the unexpected with a healthy dose of skepticism.   Every leader must be a change agent or soon they will face extinction – blindsided without preparation to competitive strategies and the evolution of the marketplace.

For example, are your leaders prepared for the cultural demographic shift? Hispanics, Asians and African Americans will represent $4.2 trillion in purchasing power in the United States by 2019. In just four short years, they will represent nearly 27% of the U.S. total, according to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia.

Unfortunately, the majority of organizations are not anticipating and preparing themselves for this cultural shift in their business models – and what it means to their talent pipeline and the positioning of their brands. This puts their organizations, their brands and their retention of top talent at risk as the demographics of the marketplace change and they lack the preparation to change with it.

3.  Not Courageous Enough With Their Thinking

Today’s unpredictable market demands courageous thinking from its leaders. If your senior leadership team is not passionate enough to explore endless possibilities for your company, then its ability to grow and compete is limited.

Senior leadership must have the belief in its people and clients to become potent pioneers in the organization and trailblazers in the industry they serve.   It’s their responsibility to build high performance teams and push the boundaries to see and seize opportunities previously unseen in the marketplace to elevate consumer trust and loyalty.

As Steve Jobs said, “You have to have a lot of passion for what you are doing because it is so hard. If you don’t, any rational person would give up.”   In other words, if your leadership doesn’t give it everything they’ve got, your company’s value proposition will quickly become irrelevant.

4.  Don’t Invest in Relationships and Resources

Having access to and investing in the right resources and relationships are critical factors to grow and compete. Beyond your employees and clients, how you engage with your external partners/strategic alliances is of utmost importance.   This requires senior leadership to embrace an entrepreneurial attitude where they are in constant search of making things better. Their strategic focus must be on building momentum – well before the marketplace takes it out from under them.

If your senior leadership team is not investing in relationships and resources to strengthen the company’s foundation – in order to further fuel growth – it will be difficult to sustain competitive advantage.   Don’t ever assume that your company is investing in the right resources and relationships.   You will know that they are when the effects of this strategic priority is felt across all departments and levels within an organization. You will witness an abundance of new resources and relationships brought about by all levels of leadership.   If they are not, you will witness this too (perhaps you already are).

5.  Selfish, Siloed and Hidden Agendas

To grow and compete, your senior leadership must promote a spirit of trust and transparency where communication is strong, consistent and boundary less.   When leadership is selfish and territorial, silos form between departments/functional areas, making it difficult to build organizational effectiveness and a high performance workplace.   When this happens, the organization becomes infused with hidden agendas, instead of a company based on a foundation of trust where everyone has each other’s backs.

21st century leadership is about advancing yourself by serving others.   If your senior leadership team is making it difficult for you to have a voice that is heard and valued, take this assessment and evaluate the readiness of your company to grow and compete (if your overall score is below 50, or below 8 in any of the categories, you’ve got some work ahead of you).

6.  Unhealthy Culture

Success comes most to those who are surrounded by people who want their success to continue. If your senior leadership team cares more about recognition than being respected, your corporate culture will head down an unstable path.   Collaboration, reciprocity and teamwork are the keys to a healthy workplace culture and set the tone for growth and the ability to compete.

Today’s market not only requires teamwork, but more so it demands ecosystems created to help transform organizations, change the status quo and lead new paradigms. Leading the development of organizational ecosystems requires a deep understanding of what each team brings to the table – the value they can contribute, their willingness to learn, the desire to reach a higher level of performance through the sharing of best practices, etc. – all for the betterment of a healthier whole.

Though they may experience some constructive disruption along the way, with proper strategic focus, teams that are stitched together into an ecosystem in the right combinations will be geared for success and the most effective change management results.

If you feel like your company is no longer growing and starting to lose competitive ground, it’s time to take a serious look at your leadership and the culture they are promoting. Do they consistently miss the mark with their inability to see beyond the obvious? Or are they forward thinkers who can anticipate the unexpected and are not afraid of change because they are potent pioneers? If they also value relationships, share their good fortune with others, and lead to leave a legacy through the promise of their brand, they will be supporting a culture that attracts and advances top talent, and enables their organization to grow and compete for years to come.

Follow me @GlennLlopis

This article was written by Glenn Llopis from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.


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