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Leadership at the peak

George W Nyabadza

Strategic repositioning I HAVE over the past two years challenged you to explore the direction of your life through a somewhat difficult process of personal reflection by asking questions s

uch as: What are you good at? I mean what sets you apart from others?


On an individual basis, what key competencies have you developed that give you the edge over other leaders in your area of speciality or as a general manager?

If we were to do a head count of the top 10 specialists in your field, would your name be there? What if we did it on a regional, continental or international basis, would you still be in the top 10?

If you are honest with yourself you know where you stand, and if you are not there, at least locally, then my dear leader you have better get cracking on personal development because the name of the game is “marketing of knowledge skills”.

As globalisation and the pressing dynamics of open markets pound at the fragile walls of protectionism you have at best three to five years to develop personal competencies and capabilities that will enable you to play the game in an open market. If you fail to do this I can predict that in the next three to five years you will become redundant unless your employer or your business is prepared to accept mediocrity.

How about at a corporate level, what unique competencies have you built within your business? What really sets you apart from the competition? Whether you are selling a niche product or a commodity you still ought to have some unique competencies or a distinct superior value proposition that you are offering to the marketplace; that unique bundle of services that no matter who enters the fray, or what level of imitation they bring to the market they will never be able to quite get it right.

One of your strategic leadership roles should involve the continual quest for perfecting and refining this differentiation. Doing this effectively enables you to re-position you and your organisation in the context in which you operate.

I am continually fascinated by the level and depth of untapped potential that exists within people. Just a slight improvement in performance would yield a multiplied effect on the bottom line. Not only would your shareholder returns skyrocket but you will have that much more free cash to adequately reward your staff. It’s not only the harsh economic conditions that are the key determinants of business failures; the leader’s inability to unleash human potential is another major contributing factor to diminishing returns?

What are you doing about tapping into this unlimited storehouse of knowledge and wisdom? Do you fully appreciate the opportunity that exists to develop your strategic repositioning profile around your people? The tapping into the human potential of the organisation provides the leader with a unique opportunity to be able to shift the corporate mindset as and when required.

The organisation, just as an individual, has a given mindset, which is, if you like, a consolidation of its strong held beliefs, values, and corporate identity.

The role of the strategic leader is to shape and reshape this mindset by continually re-defining the beliefs, values and identity. This re-definition of the substance of the identity is not an exercise done in isolation or annually at the strategic retreat but is a dynamic process that is activated by changes within the operating context.

The strategic leader should be reviewing the corporate mindset to align to the environment. I always argue that an effective corporate leader is one who is effective on a personal basis. Leadership starts at home. A good place to begin the process of self-leadership is to unlock one’s own potential and to a large extent this is done by exploring the operational mindset and repositioning it to be effective in a given environment.

If one is able to mentally reposition themselves as well as tactically differentiate themselves from others, doing so corporately, whilst a lot more complex, is not impossible.

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