There are the obvious factors that are driving your business to change, such as the challenged economic environment, decreasing customer budgets, aggressive competitive behavior and pricing, as well as increasing labor costs, etc. I am sure you think about these factors daily and are proactively adjusting and responding to them.
However, I want to focus your attention on some less obvious factors that will also need to be considered as you revise and adapt your business strategies to address these challenges.
1. Changing Organizational Paradigm
The days of the traditional hierarchical organizational structure are almost over. Successful companies are becoming flatter, less structured and are empowering people from the ground level up. Self-managed teams are alive and well and taking accountability and performance to a new level. Do you still require all your staff to come in to the office every day? Do the majority of them still report directly to you? Do you still make the majority of the decisions and drive them down to your subordinates? If the answer to these questions are YES, then your ego, or bad habits, will be getting in the way of increased productivity and growth.
With buyer behavior, technology, competitive tactics and the business climate changing at light speed around us, it is almost impossible for business leaders to stay current across all of these pillars AND have all the answer. Look at restructuring your organization to be more fluid, dynamic and responsive. Your team likely has as many good ideas, if not more, than you do.
Think global, not local. At risk of over-stating the obvious, the Internet, video conferencing and other emerging collaboration technologies have made the world a much smaller place. Explore outsourcing aspects of your business outside of North America or expand your customer base beyond your current borders. For example, you could hire an executive assistant in India to perform research, organize your activities and manage much of your administrative work. What expertise does your organization have that has value outside of your state or country?
An emerging generation of new employees wants to work with/for organizations that are socially responsible, and are increasingly making it an important part of their employment selection criteria. Does your company support charities? Do you provide team members with one or more days off work per year to volunteer in their community? Do you allow working single parents or mothers to job share? Do you allow employees to work from home one day per week to reduce your company’s carbon footprint? Have you considered repaving your parking lot with grass? Today’s leaders benefit from behaving more socially responsible.
4. Women in Leadership
How many women do you have on your board of directors/advisors? How many women are on your leadership team? If the answer is less than 20% you may be missing out on opportunity. Women are still largely under-represented at senior levels within many organizations, yet they often offer a more holistic, balanced, and creative perspective. Ensuring that your organization offers equal opportunities and compensation parity will attract a balanced workforce.
5. Changing Employee Constitution
Diversity is more than a cliché or buzz word, it is a reality in today’s job market and refers to far more than ethnic background. Age, diversity, gender diversity, socio-economic diversity, values diversity and personality diversity and contribute to a vibrant and creative workforce. At the same time it has become increasing difficult to be effective as a leader in organizations that have such incredible diversity. Leading with a single style or approach is simply too narrow a perspective to engage and coach a diverse workforce.
Adapting your leadership style to the unique needs and dynamics of wildly diverse team will require stretching out of your current comfortable style (which has served you well for years). It’s time for YOU to change. An employee’s loyalty demands more than fair compensation and a friendly workplace.
It is time to change or be changed.