With the Rio Olympic Games 2016 now over and the Rio Para Olympics 2016 about to begin, – being so fit and able to deal with such strong competitors leaves me in awe. Whilst I leave my exercise block sitting under the couch, and shake hands with my competitors, watching such talent has got me thinking about businesses seeking to compete in today’s economic Olympic events.
All team and individual athletes are fit, focused, have trained for years, have the best nutritional status & health and have performed under a specialist coach in order to achieve their current position in their sport. Their beep scores are exceptional. All they needed was the Games and their race to determine their final world ranking.
So what is this beep score – and why is it relevant? A beep score for sportsmen and women accurately measures a person’s cardiovascular fitness level. It is the result of a multi-stage fitness test initially created in 1982 by Luc Léger, University of Montreal. It is now deemed to be an important indicator of Fitness.
What is an accurate measure of business fitness?
Do you know that Australia has just celebrated 25 YEARS of consistent and consecutive economic growth? In spite of what the current government has been telling us for the past 24 months and in spite of low levels of confidence held by business owners. This is indeed a significant economic beep score – no other nation has achieved this level of performance.
What does this say about our business beep scores?
Business success requires a healthy balance between: being robust and able to withstand strong and surprising forces; as well as being fit and able to take up advantages apparent in the market. Corporate agility is a key performance metric in today’s markets. Business owners and leaders need to be able to develop their businesses so it remains consistently ahead of its competitors.
Only The Strong, The Fit And The Focused Succeed.
Competitive advantage comes from those attributes which enable a business to lead, or better still, set the agenda for its competitors. These attributes may include the product or service offered; operational efficiency, brand position and quality standards.
It is not enough to win though, nor is it sufficient to ensure all competitors are unable to catch up. With the right resources, all of these business elements can be copied and therefore used to reduce the gap between you and your competitors. Chinese businesses do this all the time. the result – your Competitive Advantage beep score reduced to zero!
We have to do something more to keep our business beep score high.
What Is Needed To Increase Competitive Fitness and Create a Strong Competitive Advantage?
Dr. Vinod R. Singhal, from Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, shows clearly when business leaders focus on the hard parts of their business – making them strong; and on the agile parts of their business – making them fit, they have more than 30% chance of getting ahead and then staying ahead of their competitors. They are able to increase the value of their business by at least 44%.
Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, illustrates businesses that have focused their leadership attention on creating a sustainable advantage over their competitors are those which succeed well and in the long run.
Building and Sustaining Competitive Fitness.
Teams of leaders who work together, focus together and always encourage their people to think and perform differently are the leaders who will grow their business’ advantage.
But let’s start with the leaders themselves. Leadership in business today has changed significantly since the GFC, only because the economic landscape on which business functions is so flexible, largely unpredictable and consistently being pushed by forces that are often outside our control.
This means that leaders themselves need to be flexible, but disciplined; focused, but open to new thoughts; performance focused AND people aware. Targets and KPIs provide a framework but they can also be the very factors that limit performance and constrain competitive advantage.
Leadership style should be highly attuned to the needs of the people AND the realities they face. This level of emotional and leadership maturity cannot be left to chance or even to the training room for development and support. It is too important for the long term success of the business.
Leaders of small and medium sized businesses have an even greater incentive to develop their leadership ability across the whole business. Dr Singhal shows over a 25 year period, small and medium businesses are more vulnerable to competitive threats than larger organisations; a situation which is often maintained by their limited leadership maturity.
Leader teams, in particular those senior people who are responsible for setting and leading the strategic direction of the business and therefore its success into the future, usually lead through their functional specialty and interest. Too many marketing directors and managers see the business through marketer’s eyes, whilst finance officers see the same business through finance perspectives. These differences are important for success – but they also contain the seeds which contribute to business failure.
Objectively measuring and then discussing the range of perceptions as well as the depth of these differences between members of a leader team is the single biggest value add a business owner can give to his business.
It will uncover differences in viewpoints that if used well, will strengthen the business core and increase its flexibility to change in the face of adversity and opportunity. It will also uncover those differences in perception which creates conflict, wastes resources and/or money, and reduces profitability.
In today’s trading environment, adding value in this way is a sure way to increase a businesses’ beep score.
A no brain-er really. How is your beep score? When did you last measure it?
Enabling Leaders to Deliver Change during Uncertain Times.
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- Barbara Craven is Change Psychologist, Coach and Facilitator. She is founder of Change Insights, a boutique change consultancy that provides toolkits and processes to enable business to successfully change.
She is also co-founder of Business Breakthrough Coaching, a business coaching consultancy.
She has helped hundreds of Australians successfully adapt to change.