Thu | Jan 21, 2021

Yaneek Page | A key lesson on business reset

Published:Sunday | November 22, 2020 | 8:16 AM

As we bring the curtains down on Global Entrepreneurship Week, GEW 2020, it is important to reflect on a lesson in enterprise, which many regard as the true opening act that will set the stage for success and endurance in business through unprecedented times.

It is a lesson that may help many of our entrepreneurs and small business owners ‘rise in resilience’, ‘capitalise on a changed world’, and ‘reset for growth’, which were among the central themes emerging throughout many of the almost 180 countries celebrating GEW in the midst of this current global pandemic. That lesson is the omnipotence of leadership to business outcomes, especially in a crisis.

In my years of working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, small, medium, and even large businesses locally, there appears to be a fundamental misunderstanding of what leadership is. Most seem to believe that leadership is mainly about job titles, power, authority, and the ability to exert influence over others.

In some organisations today, the way leaders show up, lead, and manage are the antitheses of effective leadership, especially when trying to survive and thrive in challenging times. I know many of you are getting ready to screen-shot or forward this article to your directors, managers, and supervisors, but before you do so, please reflect on your own leadership, no matter your position or title.

Evaluate, Reflect, Improve

The key point here is that we all must be willing to evaluate, reflect on, and improve our leadership skills, attitudes, and behaviours.

While some may see this as unwelcome critique of their leadership, I encourage readers to instead consider the possibility that this perspective may be a gift of an opportunity to improve in such a way as to transform themselves, their team, and the entire organisation at a time when it may be needed most.

You may be asking, if power and influence over others is the antithesis of good organisational leadership, then what exactly is it all about? Exceptional leadership will enable companies to pivot quickly and effectively to ensure agility, resilience, and continuity.

It sets the vision for and accomplishes the best strategic direction, talent optimisation, operational and workplace excellence, and digital transformation to exploit new opportunities and mitigate devastating risks. It demands timely, data-driven, principled, and pragmatic decision-making at all levels.

Exceptional leadership safeguards shareholder value, business and brand reputation, financial position, and critical assets, among others. Leadership is not simply a concept, a position, or even a person. It is a pervasive culture.

Therefore, everyone in the business should identify his or her own leadership capacity, style, strengths, and create a map of opportunities to further develop and enhance his or her leadership potential. Everyone should be versed in how to put their unique leadership talents into action that is aligned closely with the values and goals of the organisation.

In so doing, leadership begins to transcend power and influence over others. It is a point that is underscored in one of the most influential business books of our time, Jim Collins’ Good to Great. That literature was a culmination of almost half a decade of research by Collins and his time, which delved into the history of 28 businesses over a period of 30 years and offered vital and actionable insights to students and practitioners of business across the globe.

Among the phases to be mastered on the journey of going from ‘good to great’ is having disciplined people, disciplined thought, and disciplined action – all of which is underscored by disciplined leadership.

Having taken readers through a crash course in the study and importance of leadership for business development, success and continuity, the logical next step is how to achieve exceptional leadership.

There are several theories and models of leadership that development entrepreneurs and small businesses can explore, including the highly regarded Gallup strengths-based leadership approach. Boston Consulting Group McKinsey, Talent Map, Talent+, and Leadership Resources are other highly regarded providers of transformational leadership support.

Notwithstanding the expertise I just outlined, these are challenging times, and some companies and entrepreneurs may not be able to afford substantial investments in leadership development now, in which case, Tony Robbins’ DISC profile is one of the simplest and most cost-effective leadership evaluation profiles one can do.

Other cost-effective actions would include reading various leadership books and resources, completing online leadership development training, and then starting to implement actions to create a culture of exceptional leadership. Remember, the ultimate proof points for great leadership are performance, achievement, results, and outcomes.

One love!

- Yaneek Page is the programme lead for Market Entry USA, a certified trainer in entrepreneurship and creator and executive producer of The Innovators and Let’s Make Peace TV series.