You can’t lead without having an engaged audience or followers. And how do you get an engaged audience?
Whilst a lot has been written and even more spoken about leadership, we still have an issue of fair to poor leadership in many organizations.
Is this scenario because of we can’t develop leadership skills or we simply don’t believe leadership can’t be taught or, as adults we just can’t unlearn in order to re-learn new skills?
In today’s business climate, being sustainable i.e. having an ethically viable and profitable brand over long-term, should be one of the three key business priorities. The other two priorities stem from sustainability and are organisational sustainability and financial sustainability.
To deliver on making the business sustainable, strong and dynamic leadership is critical. Critical in order to have a brand that is respected and is engaged with its stakeholders.
In the journey of making a brand sustainable (and it’s not a program/project that will bear fruit in a year, mind you!) organisational leadership is critical and key to success.
Leadership, that has the emotional & intellectual maturity to, engage the organisation’s rank and file on a one to one in order to have a motivated group of followers who understand their role and appreciate the challenge is must- have. Well, that’s easier said than done!
To engage and endear themselves, leaders have to approach the staff at various levels using various methods. And leaders have to remind themselves that the ‘status and power they have and use to drive business socially’ is for the external world.
Not for staff.
Leaders need to have the ability to compartmentalize their behaviour between how they represent the brand externally and internally.
Without an engaged rank and file behind the leader, delivering the image projected externally becomes fraught with danger.
Thus, endangering the brand’s sustainability.
And without the brand being sustainable, the organisation’s sustainability and its financial sustainability simply fades out of the long-term picture.
- Top 10 Leadership Qualities According to IBM (themarlincompany.com)
The words Sustainable and Sustainability are used interchangeably depending on context and mean a variety of things. Here’s a list of some views (taken from the Sustainable Store) on what Sustainability can encompass:
- Sustainability means renewing resources at a rate equal to or greater than the rate at which they are consumed.
- Sustainability means living within the resources of the planet without damaging the environment now or in the future.
- Sustainability means creating an economic system that provides for quality of life while renewing the environment and its resources.
- A sustainable community is one that resembles a living system where all of the resources (human, natural and economic) are renewed and in balance for perpetuity.
- Sustainability is creating a world where everyone can have fulfilling lives and enjoy a rich level of well-being within the limits of what nature can provide.
- Sustainability means taking the long-term view of how our actions effect future generations and making sure we don’t deplete resources or cause pollution at rates faster than the earth is able to renew them.
- Some of the many uses of the word sustainable include: Sustainable Business / Sustainable Development / Sustainable Agriculture / Sustainable Living / Sustainable Community.
As you can see there are many areas that are attached with the term ‘sustainability’. For businesses these have a direct correlation to their daily activities, and in the long term, to their survival. However, not enough time and focus, is given to this extremely critical issue.
Majority of businesses approach the issue of sustainability piece-meal. Depending on the nature of the business there are CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilities) or as EEP (Employee Engagement Program) programs introduced. Each with its independent goals to achieve. They, often, do not have clear and measurable targets and, most importantly are not derived out of the business strategy.
How can businesses make themselves sustainable?
There are three cornerstones in developing sustainability in business:
- Brand Sustainability: This is the starting point in developing a sustainable business. Once the business strategy i.e. the short and long term goals have been identified the delivery of that is led through the brand. In terms of business planning this is the section is where the brand’s footprint and impact, across its audience, is planned for. This is the stage where product development, marketing and communication strategy would be defined.
- Organisational Sustainability: This is the section where organisational resources will need to be evaluated for delivery of the business strategy i.e. manpower competency & skills sets, identification of required training, evaluation of current processes and systems and planning of scaling up as maybe required.
- Financial Sustainability: Finally, when brand and organisational sustainability plans are in place, the costs of the same would translate into budgets. This is where the core team of CMO, CFO & Business Development Head have to work very closely to ensure correct translation of specific costs as investments in order to have a healthy bottom-line and to earmark the quarterly earnings for the business.
These three cornerstones, if developed properly i.e. with adequate time and granularity, will encompass specific sustainability issues of natural and human resources and community benefit and development and lay out initiatives (a la CSR or EEP programs) that have a clear line-of-sight with the business strategy.
The benefits of undertaking such sustainable business planning are quite a few. Here’s the top three that would be of help:
- Each initiative is directly correlated to a particular stakeholder group and would map out measurable achievements with a timeline. This provides a clear road-map for boards’ to see progress of the business.
- Specific initiatives can be identified which impact the business’s eco-system i.e. all stakeholders and the specific markets, and these can then be turned into CSR or EEP’s.
- Prioritising fund allocation for the specific initiatives becomes more scientific as it would be based on the need, impact and return from that initiative.
In summing up, a sustainable business is not just to do with contributing to reducing carbon emissions and saving natural resources (these should be part of the business process) but its more to do with development of the entire eco-system with which the business interacts on a daily basis. Planning and ensuring specific initiatives that benefit the eco-system will lead to greater engagement which would translate to continuous growth.
- Sustainability for Modern Business Practices – A Business Sustainability Keynote by Tamara Giltsoff (TrendHunter.com) (trendhunter.com)
Reading this post brought home the point of how important it is to identify and have the right team to support vision and mission for an organisation.I’m sharing this as the 5 key team member profiles clearly show how a business leader can achieve planned success if these 5 team players are on board and pull in the same direction.
Article courtesy: Forbes.com from Alan Hall
You know your customers. You have a killer product to sell. The business plan is set, strategy thoughtfully documented and funds are in place. You’re ready to go to market or even poised for explosive growth. But, are you surrounded by the best possible teammates to make the dream a reality?
Carry on reading here–> Five Critical Team Members For Business Sucess
Dec 31, 2012 has rolled around amidst all the cacophony that global crisis of all sorts created. Time continues its relentless march without missing a beat and we celebrate yet another New Year’s Eve tonight.
End of the year is always a period of introspection and resolutions. And I’d like to give my thanks to my readers for their support, comments, tips and their shares of the posts here. Many thanks. It’s heartening to know that you like the content that’s made available.
This end of the year post focusses on a snapshot of key learnings that has been shared over the year, on strategic business management, on leadership and, most importantly, on the importance of strategy that has continuity and community at its core.
Here’s a quick list of 4 key learnings each:
Strategic Business Management
- Manage your business division, unit or organisation as if its your own.
- Bring into your day-to-day management the ability to trust your team and to provide them clarity when required.
- Ensure clarity in all the business that you undertake– clarity in communication; clarity in the roles of the team members; clarity in the direction the business is to be taken.
- Communicate– Listen well and not just hear. Sometimes we miss critical communications due to noise created by simply keeping up with the ‘to-do’ list!
- Lead by example and not through position power.
- Be empathetic of your core team– understand their pressure points in order to assist them. Surround your weak areas with skills that others in your team provide.
- Use the Pause, effectively– Stop, now and then and check! Check how team mates are doing; Check for feedback on your leadership; Check for perception vs reality.
- Be grounded– Make time and roll up your sleeves and work at ground zero now and then to have a feel for what your team does in order to make you (their leader) look good.
Strategic Continuity & Community
- Involve yourself in developing the long-term strategy fully i.e. work the details. This way, the team,the organisation & you will have the entire strategy imbedded in your minds! This aids in the long-run, specially when key team members would have to be on ground for delivery, by ensuring your Ateam is on the same page and same line.
- Encourage community or the businesses eco-system to participate in the organisation’s strategic journey. Thereby you would ensure participation as well as consumption.
- Whilst developing strategic alternatives, never throw away the PlanB. Keep contingency planning a priority and remember Murphy’s law!
- In entering new markets, ensure strong relationships with key community circles, are present in order to create the positive perception that your organisation would need.
Signing off for this year, here’s wishing all my readers a very Happy New Year and may success & health be with you all through 2013.
I was going through some of my 2012 reading articles that I had liked and kept. One, in particular, stood out.
The headline says it all. Quite a provoking question!
Do we strive to be good at what we do at work, or is it all about having a skill that can be employed for any cause? And, therefore, we keep the ‘doing good‘ i.e. taking up a cause etc for the after work hours?
Well here’s the article from Fast Company. Have a read and I’d be delighted to hear your views on this, in here: