A New Angle Re: Game-Changing Leadership


Thanks for reading! Earlier on my blog I mentioned how disruptive strategies have major implications for companies if they don’t react in a timely manner.

Larger organizations, or market leaders, have so much vested in their current methods, processes and systems that making new moves, or even entertaining innovation, is deemed as too risky. Culture, compensation and core competencies are entrenched and even if the disruption is obvious there will be natural resistance to change. An organization that operates this way has decided to favour self-preservation but it rarely offers the protection they were hoping for; it usually signals the beginning of downward trend.

Today’s leader must be externally sensitive to forces that could disrupt while simultaneously fostering a culture that can respond and be energized to adapt if needed.

The average tenure of today’s CEO is roughly 4 years. As a result they’re usually not willing to sacrifice short-term gains that appease shareholders over longer term positioning strategies that could be risky. This is why disruption is usually a young man’s game as they have little to lose but a lot to gain. Malcolm Gladwell, in his new book David and Goliath, says the same thing is true of the underdog as they have “nothing to lose and because of that, they are in a position or have the freedom to thumb his nose at the rules set by others.”

So what do you do? Here are five things to consider when it comes to creating a disruptive strategy for your organization:

  1. Leadership Humility. Jeff Clark, president of Kitchen Partners in Edmonton, says one of their core values is that “There is always a better way. Always.” This value is an attitude of humility. You are not as good as you think you are and leaders who embrace that are faster, and more nimble, in how they can provide a course correction or lead the charge on a new initiative.
  2. Customer Intimacy. You can’t take for granted that you know what your buyers truly value. You may have identified their needs and wants in the past but they’ve changed, have you? Consumers don’t care about you, they care about the benefits to themselves. Surveys, consumer research, and staying in touch with their needs is paramount.
  3. Price Reduction. Marketing strategies are most commonly based on two things, differentiation in the market and charging a premium price for added-value. These strategies typically reflect an attempt to avoid commoditizing your category; however, the cold, hard fact is that most disruptions are price based. An industry or market shake-up usually occurs because someone can match or add more value at a lower price.
  4. Devil’s Advocate. Encourage your team to come up with ideas that would make your current product or service obsolete? Or concoct a fake company that would do what you do better and cheaper. At our last Relevention offsite I kicked things off with this exercise and it opened everyone to new ideas and structures we probably wouldn’t have considered before. Have the courage to challenge the status quo when it’s appropriate.
  5. Technology. Advances in manufacturing, communication, logistics and just about every facet of business is effected by technological change. A leader needs to be in the know, going to trade shows, reading magazines, and being around industry movers and shakers and younger employees is a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s new and emerging. Knowing where to look is one thing, knowing ‘who’ to be around is where the magic happens.

So… what’s the disruption that you’re going to use? Or… what disruption is likely to take you out? Let me know on Facebook or Twitter – I’d love to hear from you.