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What got us here

There are a finite set of strengths, skills, abilities–tricks, if you willthat we each use to succeed as leaders, when we really need to succeed. When pressed, it is easy to say to ourselves: “This is what I have always used to succeed in this situation, and I plan to keep riding that little pony till the end of the race.” I believe that as a society, we had largely adopted this manner of thinking until current economic conditions made the race too difficult for us to win just by riding our favorite little ponies to the end… We have to re-evaluate the strengths of what got us here and decide what we need to change to get us to where we need to be tomorrow.

One way to think about it

When considering what we need to do as business leaders to get us where we need to be tomorrow, sometimes it helps to incorporate what we know from other areas, such as basic physics:

  1. An object (i.e., organization) that is at rest (i.e., not changing) will stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it.
  2. An object that is in motion will not change its velocity, or direction, unless external forces act upon it with greater force than the resistance provided by the motion of the first object.

bear on bikeWhy our efforts often seem unproductive

This image helps us focus on the bigger picture–how others may see us as leaders. External forces are always acting on a business, typically pushing back, which means that our business is never at rest—it is always sliding back unless as leaders we apply great enough positive forces to at least compensate for the market forces (e.g., competition, environment) acting against us.

The amount of positive force required will be greater than what we have ever previously, or currently applied, or all we will accomplish is constant velocity (i.e., status quo for the business revenues); in fact, given increasing market pressures, our efforts as leaders must increase proportionately to: a) negative market forces, and, b) scarcity of resources, just to maintain the status quo for our business.

How we get to where we want to be

To actually change the trajectory for business revenues in a positive curvilinear direction in the face of increasing market pressures requires: a) much greater effort by leaders than that ever previously, or currently applied–just to initiate a change from the current trajectory, and, b) increasingly higher efforts over time to continue to change the trajectory in a progressively more positive direction into the future—to achieve sustained growth.

Which means that not only will “Whatever got us here will not get us to where we need to be tomorrow” apply to our current efforts as leaders, but furthermore, what needs to be done to cause and support positive business change into the future will require increasingly more leaders behaving in ways that result in ever increasing positive change.

As a leaders, have we identified and developed the resources we need to support positive business change?

Are we using the resources we have at hand to move us into a new level of leadership, or are we just riding the same ponies in new races?

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About the author

Dr. Scott Davies is the CEO of PointLeader, Inc. and Chief Scientist for Native Am. Mgnt. Consulting. Scott's professional career has focused on psychometrics, workforce metrics systems and predictive modeling in a variety of roles and situations. Scott earned his Ph.D. in I/O psychology from The Ohio State University and has served as a talent management systems architect, implementor, and researcher, often within the realm of cross-cultural competency-based systems. The design of his PointLeader tools focuses on useability, integration, and alignment to effectively fit people to jobs where they will perform well and be satisfied, receive actionable performance feedback to direct and motivate their efforts, and to develop their potentials to realize optimal career paths and the highest business results.