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Navigating Business Challenges: How Effective Leaders Approach and Overcome Obstacles
Effective leadership requires the ability to identify challenges and understand their natures. Leaders must adopt a long-term approach coupled with mature and sharp leadership competencies.
A strong inner core represents the foundation upon which leaders can build these outer core competencies. Leadership coaching can help leaders develop the right mindsets and make ethical decisions aligned with their personal and organizational values.
Leadership succession is one of the top challenges today’s leaders face. From the perspective of leadership coaching, it is painfully obvious that today’s leaders must focus on identifying high-potential employees and developing them into the leaders of tomorrow unless they want their organizations to derail due to lack of effective leadership in the future.
Today’s leaders are in the best position to address the issue of leadership succession and continued effective leadership.
Leadership succession is the key to effective leadership continuity.
How Successful Leaders Approach Challenges
Successful leaders recognize challenges like the succession issue. And they find ways to address them. They know that their power resides in how they respond to what they can’t control and how they relate to others.
Successful leaders are shining examples of leadership maturity. What do leadership coaching experts understand by “leadership maturity?”
Leadership maturity refers to a collection of desirable inner and outer-core leadership traits that allow leaders to make ethical decisions aligned with the values and goals of their organizations.
Leadership maturity is also a mindset that endows leaders with the right attitudes toward challenges. Unlike their immature peers, who see obstacles as opportunities to fail, leaders view obstacles as challenges and learning opportunities.
To the mature leadership mindset, obstacles are always stepping stones to success, one way or another. Mature leaders have strong convictions. They are diligent and persistent in achieving their objectives. They are optimistic and know how to handle uncertainty.
Understanding the Nature of Business Challenges
Today, business challenges are more numerous and daunting than ever. Businesses must always be at the forefront of technological change, if they want to survive and thrive. And change has never been as fast and overbearing as it is now. Harnessing technology will only be one of the major challenges business leaders face in the coming decade. Other factors that will put their mettle to the test are:
- Increasing globalization
- Increasing competition for limited resources
- Greater freedom of choice for potential clients
- Demographic shifts
- Digital innovation
Successful leaders recognize the nature of each of these challenges and more. Those who understand the nature of the change they face can anticipate trends, cultivate effective organizational cultures, work out tailored strategies, and allocate resources optimally. They can plan for long-term success.
Adopting a Long-term Perspective
Leadership coaching never fails to reiterate the significance of a meaningful vision and purpose statement for leaders and organizations. A purpose establishes a long-term objective, a direction, and a framework of values to observe on the way there.
Long-term vision provides direction and perspective.
Effective leadership values long-term vision and objectives, as they provide a point of reference amid the noise of current business challenges. To be successful and steer their organizations to long-term success, leaders must be willing to put their heads down and grind it out against critique and lack of understanding.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com and one of the highest-profile corporate leaders in the world, knows that people often misunderstand visionary leaders. To be successful as a leader, one must be prepared to go against prevailing ideas and the status quo.
Successes accumulate over time, and good leaders use them to build a reservoir of references they can use in the future as a source of inspiration.
Anne Mulcahy’s powerful sense of vision pulled Xerox back from the edge of bankruptcy. Her drive, passion, and unshakable optimism allowed her to empower others and achieve leadership deeds many had deemed impossible.
Embracing a Strong Inner Core
In my Wheel of Intelligent Leadership, I have placed leaders’ self-concept and elements of character at the center of the inner core. These are the sources of one’s values, beliefs, and references. The innermost core determines leaders’ thoughts, emotions, and behavioral tendencies.
Leadership coaching aims to drive clients inward toward their inner cores. Change in leadership behaviors can only last if its roots stem directly from the depths of one’s inner core. The change we effect on the inner core has direct positive effects on the leader’s outer core competencies.
Genuine leadership maturity must come from the inner core. It cannot possibly come from anywhere else. With the inner-core foundation missing, behavioral changes and outer-core leadership competency tweaks can only be superficial and temporary.
Leveraging Outer-core Leadership Competencies
The outer core is a reflection of the inner core. A strong inner core creates solid fundamentals for leaders’ outer-core competencies. From the perspective of the leadership coach, three factors determine how leaders leverage their outer-core competencies.
- The capability to lead defines what leaders can accomplish.
- Leadership commitment defines how motivated leaders are to lead to the best of their abilities.
- Connectedness determines the alignment leaders achieve between their values and character elements and the values and long-term goals of their organizations.
Leveraging the outer core requires vision, passion, and empowerment. Courage and conviction are two more indispensable ingredients of sustainable leadership success.
The Role of Courage and Conviction
Courage is an obvious yet often underrated component of leadership success. Leaders need courage to assume risks, maintain their pursuit of constructive change, deal with the consequences of their decisions, and make tough but ethical decisions.
Leaders also need the courage to face adversity and defy the odds or the lack of understanding of those surrounding them.
By displaying courage, leaders set a positive example for their employees, inspiring them and sowing the seeds of a constructive organizational culture.
Conviction lends leaders focus and poise.
Conviction allows leaders to develop a clear sense of purpose and define a comprehensive vision. Their unwavering belief in this vision inspires their employees to assume psychological ownership of the goals and values of the organization. Leaders who truly believe in what they want to accomplish have an outsized influence over their followers.
Lastly, conviction also lends leaders much-needed consistency. People appreciate consistency in their leaders as it makes them predictable and reliable. Leaders with strong convictions find it easy to keep their eyes on the prize. They disregard short-term distractions in favor of long-term goals while remaining consistent in their values, actions, and decisions.
Learning from Real-world Examples
Apple’s Steve Jobs represents the epitome of leadership success for many. Throughout his illustrious career, Jobs overcame many challenges, of which being pushed out of his company in the mid-1980s was perhaps the most significant. The organization struggled at the time, teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
Jobs returned to the helm of the ailing outfit in 1997. He brought a new vision and a renewed commitment to sustainable excellence. He helped the company launch groundbreaking and iconic products like the iPhone, iPad, iPod, and iMac.
His convictions and belief in excellence have survived him, revolutionizing entire industries.
In addition to conviction and courage, leaders need optimism and the ability to deal with ambiguity as well.
Nelson Mandela’s leadership is a shining example of optimism amid the direst circumstances, persistence, and focus.
The South African anti-apartheid revolutionary spent 27 years in prison due to his convictions and commitment to defeat the oppressive racial segregation system plaguing his country.
His uphill battle earned him triumph in 1994 when he became the first black President of South Africa.
Having out-willed and outlasted his oppressors, Mandela forgave them eventually, negotiating a peaceful transition to democracy with the political forces responsible for his imprisonment.
Leaders who successfully navigate business challenges are mature leaders who know how to handle successes and failures.
They have built strong inner cores that serve as solid foundations for their outer-core leadership competencies.
Effective leadership overcomes obstacles through focus, optimism, persistence, conviction, and courage. Leaders like Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs are shining examples of leadership resilience, vision, and success.