By Ella Koscik
To transform a business from merely successful to standout, a leader requires a 360-degree perspective. That entails looking beyond the office door, picking up cues from the economy, the market, the business community and the competitive landscape. It means asking the right questions and seeking answers from a variety of sources inside and outside the company. In my experience, achieving business success is based on balancing three critical elements: knowledge, intuition and execution.
Check all your sources
Nowadays, many business leaders equate knowledge with data and then find themselves inundated with information. Sometimes too many facts and findings can get in the way of making decisions. I read a post recently by ABC’s John Bromley, who said, “We are at the start of a universal movement to measure, validate and strategize everything.” I agree, but sometimes I question whether a growing reliance on data isn’t interfering with our ability to make simple decisions.
If you find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time reviewing reports, you may be missing the full picture. A leader needs to get out from behind a desk and roam the halls — in their own offices as well in customer offices. They need to talk to the people closest to the issue.
If you are contemplating an operational change or a new sales strategy, connect with the people in operations and sales. Find out what they are seeing, hearing and experiencing every day. In our business, that means talking to the people working “the desk,” filling jobs and talking to hiring managers and job candidates on a regular basis. I find their input invaluable to the strategic decision-making process. They serve as a touchstone for how decisions made in the boardroom may actually impact your ability to serve your customers and generate profitable revenue.
Look to industry peers and expert vendors with whom you work closely. I find them to be excellent sources about some of the external factors that impact our business and our industry. TechServe Alliance and CareerBuilder, for example, are great resources for an IT staffing company. Any area of your business where you feel you are missing elements of the big picture is a candidate for external expertise.
Don’t discount gut feeling
Beyond data and the input of subject matter experts, I am a big proponent of the value of intuition. When a decision is imminent, you need answers, and one of the most important questions is:
“How does it feel?” That’s right. You do a gut check. If you’ve been doing this long enough, you know the right answer. A lot of people need operational facts before they can understand why something needs to happen. The people who do the work every day don’t need the data points and the metrics. I’ve found that the best decisions come from a balance between facts and feelings.
Look to your team to ensure execution
Once a decision is made, look to the executive team to execute it. Their support and active leadership of any change is absolutely critical. Work with the team to identify how you will measure success and then hold people accountable. Actively manage the change with understanding, trust and communication to drive the company where it needs to go.
Remember what first made you successful
Bigger organizations tend to analyze things to death. Don’t ever let competitive advantage pass you by due to a need for a slew of data points to drive a decision. One of MDI’s biggest advantage points has always been that we are agile enough to make quick decisions. That’s the best route to business success.