…we’re going to jump to light speed!”

I still remember the audience’s reaction to this scene in the Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977. We had never seen anything like it on the big screen until then and, of course, now it seems almost archaic! Today’s 21st Century Business environment can feel very much like everything is moving at perpetual light speed. It is also this metaphor we use to highlight the first of five Keys to Success initially mentioned in last month’s newsletter (click here to read). The first Key to Success is Get Ready to Warp (another name for Light Speed). Simply stated, it is not the ability to adapt that matters as much as the speed at which the leader is able to adapt in order to stay relevant. Here are three things a 21st Century Leader can do to stay relevant:

  • How well do you know your industry? ~ While I was once asked if I had a crystal ball to see the future, no one has that ability. However, we do have the ability to understand our industry well enough to understand key trends and how those trends impact the leader’s current and future business. In the May-June 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review, Jason Trujillo, IBM’s Director of Leadership Development sums up this dynamic with one sentence. He states, “IBM’s cultural transformation is aligned with the reinvention of our business, with almost half our revenue coming from businesses we weren’t in six years ago.” Six years to a company as large as IBM is virtually light speed!
  • Excellence is not the same as perfect! ~ Contrary to what many believe based on their actions, a leader can lead with excellence without being perfect. Actually, the desire to be perfect or make perfect decisions will slow the process down, not speed it up. Making decisions with 85% of the necessary information puts the team well ahead of those leaders waiting to be perfect with 100% of the information. The truth is, by the time 100% of the information is collected for the decision, the original context has likely changed, but that is for another newsletter!
  • What are you willing to proactively change and how frequent are you willing to change? ~ Knowing it’s important to adapt is one thing, choosing action is another thing altogether. Leaders who adapt well know what needs to change and are not afraid to act on those needs with purpose. When I first announced to my teams we would change something every six months, you could physically see the resistance. After several cycles of six-month changes, the teams realized the value of the new pace and those that stayed willingly embraced it as the “new normal”!

It is not just the ability to adapt, it is the ability to adapt quickly and preferably ahead of industry trends. Waiting for the market to dictate how you run your business means your business will hover on average, missing the opportunity to be excellent!

What are you going to change next as a leader?

Lead Well!