It’s no surprise that some of the greatest companies on Earth have had their success through great leadership and pioneering. From Apple to Ford, key people have played the role of innovator and saw opportunity in the gaps between what is and what could be. In a world that prizes management skills, it’s easy to overlook a series of traits that set aside the best from the good. It’s leadership ability that helps a company to reinvent, reinvigorate, and revamp in ways that just aren’t possible by optimizing the same old same old.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a mantra that many managers live by. As a result, the companies they inhabit usually die a slow and painful death. Companies that rely on the status quo follow a very similar pattern. Notice the S curve diagram. It can represent the prosperity of company over time, where the peak of the curve is the point where sales are high and competition is weak. Think Microsoft Windows 95. I’m sure the managers at the time did a wonderful job at cutting production costs, marketing and sales. Yet, from that peak, it was difficult to see the incoming threats of other technology companies. The wants and needs of the consumers were rapidly evolving and companies had to adapt and provide value. Changing the way business is done has a lot less to do with managing, and a whole lot to do with leading.
Leaders can inspire. They get upper management involved and clear the path for the team to follow. With great leaders, these changes aren’t just magic tricks. They systematically uproot the old ways of doing things and instill a new culture. The entire process is built on the strategy laid down, with the resources provided, organized processes and tools, proper learning and motivation, the right people in place, and the culture. A great leader can cultivate a team around him or her who is reliable and knows how to manage all of the moving pieces. By having a solid, yet flexible plan from the get-go, a leader can reach for goals that would otherwise be impossible.