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Leadership Requires Continuous Reinvention of Yourself and Your Company

Walden C.Rhines
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Walden C.Rhines
Leadership means being the best at what you do, but it’s much more than that. In my view, leadership involves looking ahead at an inevitably changing business landscape, assessing what will be required to enable your company to continue as a leader in that changed environment, and then making the hard decisions to get you to that stage. It is a tougher task than continuing to be the best at what you do. It is also a riskier task, because it entails reinventing yourself and the company, moving beyond what you do supremely well and taking on new challenges that are not your core competency.

Those new challenges, which demand the development of new core competencies, may involve dealing with new technologies, new marketing or distribution models, new cultures. Moving in this direction can feel like going against all collective wisdom. You can end up with everyone (shareholders, advisors, sometimes even directors and employees) recommending that you and the company should continue doing what you already do well. Sometimes you give yourself the same advice.

This isn’t surprising. After all, executives have become successful managers and leaders because they have developed certain skills. They are understandably comfortable with success achieved, and would prefer to continue doing what they already do well. The same applies to every employee in the company.

Inspiring the company to go in a new direction is much more difficult than inspiring everyone to do better what they already do.

But reinvention is essential if you want to survive, not to mention continue as a leader, beyond today and even tomorrow. The more successful you are in one generation, the less likely you will be a leader in the next one, because the bigger the danger that you will keep doing what has already worked brilliantly for you. This is the ‘Innovator’s Dilemma’, articulated eloquently by Harvard professor Clayton Christiansen. On the other hand, if the company succeeds in reinventing itself, the rewards are enormous.

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Reader's comments(1)
1:I work inside organizations as a Reinvention/change agent. I can\'t agree with you more. The companies that remain in the \"status quo\" ... keep on doing what they\'ve always done, fall behind and then look back wondering what happened. Being creative and rich and coloring outside the lines keeps a company on the leading edge. Managers must be willing to think different and in a more expansive way. Good job
Posted by: Ann Fry - 03rd Dec 2010
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