Recently, we have been seeing a trend in many corporations. Or, maybe it’s always existed and we’re just more intune with it now versus when we was younger.
The trend is this – Entire organizations from senior leaders all the way down to support staff don’t/aren’t willing to see and accept the changing landscape of their product or services and then march like lemmings over a cliff to obsolescence.
Whether it’s life sciences, technology, or any other field, the shift in a market can be dramatic and swift. One day you have a monopoly or a few competitors and are printing money… Your sales are all inbound and your salespeople are taking orders without having to worry about prospecting or upselling.
Everyone is happy – The management team members are patting themselves on the back about what great leadership they have provided to have such a thriving business, the sales team is making quota and going on lavish president club trips, and the operations people are receiving their bonuses.
The next day… The phone stops ringing. What happened? This is where the Santa Claus theory comes in… These things DON’T just come out of the blue. For a business that’s been around for multiple years, assuming there are no major shifts planned in the business like the launch of a new product or establishing a new territory, most pipelines are pretty much baked 6 to 9 months into the future. Simple year over year calculations, quarter over quarter expected growth based on current trends, and pipeline close rate based on the stage, you generally can predict where your business is going.
The actual problem is very simple. The hogs at the trough (the executive teams) don’t care about the employees or shareholders. They hide behind charts, graphs and internal PowerPoints with the hope that something is going to change.
And why should they care? They make millions of dollars whether they succeed or fail. Look at brands like JC Penney’s, Sears, and now GE. (GE loses billions in market cap and Jeff Immelt walks away with 400 million????)
That being said, a new breed of leaders are emerging such as Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, and Hubert Joly, CEO of Best Buy. Both brought these iconic brands back from the dead, despite going head to head against the some toughest competitors in modern history. (i.e. Apple and Amazon).
Why are they succeeding while others have, or are, failing miserably? Outside of being brilliant strategists, they have one thing in common. They seem to actually care about their employees and that can make all of the difference in the world.
Coined “servant leadership”, servant leadership turns the power pyramid upside down; instead of the people working to serve the leader, the leader exists to serve the people. When leaders shift their mindset and serve first, they unlock purpose and ingenuity in those around them, resulting in higher performance and engaged, fulfilled employees.
Let’s hope these type of leaders continue to emerge and thrive.
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