The time of the all-knowing leader is gone. Certainty is ephemeral and elusive. Companies no longer have the luxury of assuming they can survive glitches in the market with a few last-minute tweaks; markets are now too changeable from too many angles for that to be a sustainable approach.
That change comes from so many different directions that companies and leaders can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed or blindsided. Laws, regulations, compliance requirements, customer preferences, technologies, competitors, shifting demographics, and shifts in lifestyles are only some of the forces at work. When magnified by the many other countries, businesses, and customers entering the global marketplace, the challenge is truly immense. Time moves on and markets evolve. Success will follow for only those organizations that have a mindset and approach that anticipates change and have systems in place that can deal with them quickly and efficiently.
There are, however, some exceptions–companies that have stayed the course and thrived through the years. The insights from these firms suggest several actions that are needed to fortify your business. In other words, they highlight how to position your company for distinctive, long-running, profitable progress.
In summary, it’s a matter of 6Rs that, when used together, help businesses achieve their objective of sustained, gainful growth. Following is a summary of these key elements, all of which are explained in detail in my new book, “Brands & Rousers: The Holistic System to Foster High-Performing Businesses, Brands and Careers,” due out next month. The 6Rs provide the foundation for developing high-performing businesses, brands, and careers.
1. Focusing On The Reason
Everyone, at every level of the business, needs to understand the company’s vision, values, and mission. Taken together with other related issues, such as its culture–the way things are done–and strategy, these form the firm’s reason. If people explicitly understand these issues, then they are much more likely to be pulling together consistently, and in the right direction.
2. Maximizing Revenues
Every major business is a significant, long-term investment. Shaping and managing it requires the right strategy and structure. Keeping it fresh and vital requires a mix of entrepreneurial and innovative input. And all elements, including the tactics employed, must support the organization’s mission, underlying values, and, of course, growth.
Resources are also vitally important because these are needed to generate a return. That return can take various forms. In can be tangible or intangible, financial or nonfinancial. Each offers the promise of the same fundamental attribute: value. This can take the form of the ka-ching of a cash register, or it may be qualitative and socially oriented in character. The point is that value creation is central to an organization’s growth and sustainability.
3. Rousing People
The next building block of corporate success is the ability to set the wheels of a business in motion so that it generates the necessary revenue and value. After all, strategy, structure, operations, what an organization stands for, and how it wants to be perceived both inside its walls and outside must resonate with its stakeholders. This happens by actively engaging and rousing people, and the path is from the top down. Martha Maznevski, professor of organizational behavior at IMD business school, highlights this point: “The leader’s role is to create direction and meaning and to encourage autonomy. This requires clarity, curiosity, and courage.”
A responsible leader serves as the champion of an organization. He or she articulates the right messages, support the right postures, and provide the funding for the organization to achieve its goals. This advocate provides an understanding of mission and brand and, most of all, ignites and excites stakeholders. This person sets the tone and guides activities, and is the force to be known here as the Rouser.
4. Building Reputation
Rolf Classon, former CEO of Bayer HealthCare, likes to talk about how to manage change in today’s dynamic environment. He focuses his remarks on the major trends taking place worldwide. He closely follows that with comments on how the firm’s partners and its teams can address these developments. In linking the two, he provides the context and content for another critical ingredient in the R growth mix: reputation. Why do we use a preferred supplier? Because it knows our industry and our issues. It continuously brings us ideas and perspectives that our organization would not come up with on our own. It delivers–and overdelivers–excellence in service. It helps us and adds to our success. At my company, you often need five signatures just to buy a chair. Thanks to my partner’s brand, I don’t have to explain to my people why they should use it. It has earned our trust with its reputation.
5. Building Relationships
What drives transactions in the B2B and B2C sectors? The “B” used to give the impression that exchanges in the marketplace come about through brick and mortar, e- commerce, or some other inanimate object. That would be a mistake. It is people who generate receipts and ensure value creation. The best people build relationships, engage clients, share with them, take an interest in them, and show it. When you know your clients and they know you and the good work you and your teams do, the result is a much greater willingness to stay loyal, buy more, and improve your business. Our organization relies on people: the people who work here, and those who receive our services.
6. Ensuring Resilience
As stated previously, the capacity of an organization to respond quickly and effectively to opportunities, threats, and changes is vital–now, more than ever. This capacity or skill is the last of the 6Rs: resilience. Organizations need to know how to handle both disaster and triumph.
In fact, these 6Rs–Reason, Revenues, Rousers, Relationships, Reputation, and Resilience–provide the foundation for developing high-performing businesses, brands, and careers. Subsequent chapters present research-based evidence, experience, and examples to show why this works and how it can work for you and your business. The book also highlights several firms that have weathered the storms of business, as well as those that have just managed to survive, and others that have faded into business history. The point is simple: An illustrious history may be an asset, but it is absolutely no guarantee of future success. What is increasingly significant, however, is the ability to think holistically and act personally.