Monday, July 5, 2021

Senior Leadership as Specialized Generalist

Senior business leaders are specialized generalists who should keep learning and building their unique leadership portfolio to guide their organization and people forward confidently.

Change is the new normal with increasing speed, and businesses need to develop organic agility and structural flexibility to adapt to the business dynamic accordingly. An enterprise today is never going to be architected and designed like the mechanical system. You have to look at the problem domain holistically and design an ecological organization and proactively plan the total enterprise ecosystem to either make a profit for shareholders or generate prosperity for constituencies. 

Business executives have to convey their vision with clarity about internal and external environments and the dynamics that affect them, provide comprehensive business guidance and input, communicate frequently, and work collaboratively to tailor business needs and deliver value with continuum.

Assess the maturity of overall business:
Companies crossing the industrial boundaries are at different stages of organizational maturity. As a senior leader, defining your true purpose is a helpful instrument to guide yourself, your team, your business, your relations along the other dimensions. Assessing your current state of business agility and maturity is a necessary step in developing core business competencies and improving effectiveness of strategy management. It is a matter of figuring out "where are you now," and "where do you want to be" by navigating the full set of “Ws: Why, What, How, Who, When and Where, etc.” The strategic organizational goal must comport a vision for a high level of business maturity which is the state of fluency, quality, balance, ripeness, and resilience. The question is how an organization looks at the business maturity which will give real-time or near real-time view to business performance; as well as how an organization explores their untapped potential and keeps building a differentiated set of capabilities for business growth. The digital organization can reach the stage of ripeness when it acts as an organic system that continues evolving and adapting, with the right appetite to tolerate risks and having the differential competency to accelerate performance.

As part of the strategy development effort, top business leaders need to know their company inside-out, discover the “innate strength” of their business, provide invaluable feedback, do enterprise capability mapping, understand relationship/dependency between different capabilities, and make an objective assessment of their business capability maturity. At the stage of strategy implementation, the challenge for organizations across the vertical sector is to manage its portfolio of relevant cross-border strategic synergies and organizational interdependence. Adaptive digital management disciplines with smart business processes should actually be born out of a strategy, when applied strategically saves much cost, allowing you to become more competitive to achieve business goals. Make hierarchical systems adaptive so that they can respond to the challenges of a hyper-complex, interconnected, and interdependent world promptly and make the leap of digital maturity.
Clarify immediate, mid-term and long-term priorities of organization:
The higher the strategy is, the more roadblocks are on the way to achieve it. Organizations have limited resources and limited talent pools, without proper prioritization, companies would get inundated with exponential information and aimless “busyness,” without reaching their destiny. Therefore, it’s critical for senior business leaders to clarify long-term business priorities and short-term concerns, identify and clear obstacles, structures, and systems, which may impede the vision or stifle changes. The right length of strategy is long enough to plan a company's future with confidence and short enough to sense the urgency to execute it. With appropriate prioritization, business management can craft strategic planning of the potential portfolio, pondering "what if" situations showing potential scale of business benefit to be driven from the portfolio based on different mixes of programs and projects to achieve setting goals with timely deliveries.

However, in many organizations, once the strategic plan has been developed, it often remains in isolation from critical business processes and direct linkages are not made to important operating plans, budgets, talent decisions, metrics, etc. Unless there is a direct linkage, resources will be misapplied, priorities will become confused, and people get lost in their daily work, becoming disengaged. Business management from top-down has to know how to leverage and prioritize, consider varying business-relevant factors, break down strategic goals into manageable and measurable chunks, track and celebrate early wins for building credibility. But senior leaders should always keep the big picture in mind, spend significant time on dynamic planning, culture development, and performance monitoring to achieve long term business perspectives.

Look at CxO in general - ways of communication, collaboration among key leaders and decision-making approach in the organization: Leadership is about vision and change; it’s about creating a powerful future that is compelling in the present, that utilizes the best talents, capabilities, and resources of their people and organization to produce meaningful and valuable results. There is a symbiotic relationship between various teams across organizations which leads to realization of higher goals. C-level roles are supposed to be the guiding force in the enterprise, envisioning and leading it towards its future. As a team, they should keep open communication, enforce cross-functional collaboration, harness decision coherence at the different levels of the company, provide feedback to each other and down to the hierarchy about “why” we do certain things, and facilitate continuous dialogues about what’re the better ways to do them.

In the age of digital with “VUCA” characteristics, being a leader takes one to have a desire to do better than others in certain domains, leaders can foresee the trends or capture the insight others can not. C-level leaders need to be fluent in multidimensional thinking and must participate in creating and shaping a company's vision and strategy, and the business model for an organization is what drives the focus for each of these C-level positions. Collectively, the "Team Leadership" at the top level is able to set the vision with clarity, streamline their decision-making processes with transparency, figure out effective ways to ensure that varying stakeholders are engaged and perform their appropriate roles; make timely adjustments in approach easier to execute, and manage both opportunities and risks accordingly.

Senior business leaders are specialized generalists who should keep learning and building their unique leadership portfolio to guide their organization and people forward confidently; nurture fertile ground for developing dynamic and recombinant digital capabilities cross-industrial ecosystems; provoke thoughts and actions to unify the varying perspectives of stakeholders, build allies towards the purpose of the entire organization, and achieve the desired results effortlessly.


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