“Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.”-Jim Collins
Successful companies have the capability and the will to stay nimble in the face of changing market conditions while remaining true to their core values and aspirations.
In his extensive research, Jim Collins, author of ‘Good To Great' and the recent best seller ‘Great By Choice', asserts that successful leaders understand the need to balance flexibility with clarity of direction and then deliver results through rigourous performance management. The word ‘rigourous' calls for a consistent level of discipline and objective confronting of what Collins refers to as ‘the brutal facts'.
Spring Coaching, a Dubai based management and leadership coaching company has had the opportunity to support the Gulf hub of a multi-national chemical & oil company on their continued journey to ‘greatness' over the last 3 years. Spring has seen the business successfully deliver on a rapid and significant expansion plan in an increasingly competitive market. The organisation has been recognized for its success - winning a prestigious regional business award twice in the last few years.
So what created their success? There have been significant opportunities for growth in the region but the company's success has been uninterrupted even during the economic crisis, and despite both a dramatic increase in competition and major challenges in labour supply.
As strategic coaches for both the senior team and next level managers during this period, Spring Coaching has observed the following key factors that contributed to their success:
Responding to the need to get back to basics when developing strategy starting with the organisation's core Purpose (and Unique Selling Point). Jim Collins emphasizes the power of “understanding of what you are passionate about and what you can be the best at”. From a systemic perspective, Spring Coaching helped the team to identify and articulate a core purpose statement from which meaningful strategy was created.
Involving the wider management team in the visioning process and the development of the strategic plan. So often, leaders define the organizational vision with a select gathering of seniors. This has two potential pitfalls; firstly, those at the top of the organization rarely have the complete picture. Leaders fail to access the essential knowledge of those on or connected to the front line. The second challenge is that it is far harder to engage the wider team in a vision that seems remote. The question becomes how to cascade the Vision to the front line and achieve full commitment and buy-in? Our client worked to create contrast to the existing story through an inspiring consultation and communication process – and ultimately helped address the main question on peoples minds when change is created - “what does it mean for me?”.
Follow through on the ground - A well-articulated and communicated vision and strategy is key but successful delivery requires integrated and robust performance management culture and process designed to ensure the ‘right people are on the bus'. Their client worked to achieve management buy-in and capability to embed a learning culture supported by a solid performance management process. The emphasis moved from command and control to development and empowerment.
Leaders with the motivation, competence and emotional intelligence to navigate a course through uncertainty and chaos. Jim Collins describes these leaders as those who are paradoxically ‘able to embrace continuous uncertainty that they cannot control while, on the other hand, rejecting the idea that forces outside their control or chance events will determine their results; they accept full responsibility for their own fate'. The senior team created a set of leadership behaviours that were aligned with company values but also distinctive, focusing on their unique team mix and context. They held themselves accountable to behave in accordance with these and ‘walked their talk' in the eyes of the wider team.
In Spring's many years of experience working with leadership teams, they firmly believe that sustainable success ultimately depends on leadership. They see true leadership as an artful dance of inspired creativity blended with skill, self-discipline and a sense of being ‘in service' of a cause that is beyond and bigger than oneself.
It sometimes seems hard to find these qualities in leaders today, or they may be hidden as leaders struggle to meet the key measure of success in corporate world: short-term growth aimed at satisfying shareholder demands. Our client was fortunate to have the backing of their European head office…..
However, what they have seen over the last few years, is a yearning for change - a deep inner-knowing amongst emotionally intelligent leaders that there is a better, more sustainable way to lead business and a desire to lead change that will create true ‘greatness' rather than temporary upswings in performance.
Ref: Jim Collins: Article ‘Great By Choice'