There’s no room for error in today’s global economy. It does not allow for mediocrity; the rules and players have changed; and ordinary simply won’t work anymore. If companies don’t have the best products and services and the top people delivering them, their competition will—and they will do it all over the world—as we experience shifts in economic powers and changes in business paradigms.
Only those leaders who abandon conventional mindsets, challenge their own assumptions, and kill their sacred cows can hope to respond favorably to the volatile global financial systems that continue to morph just as we start to understand them. These successful leaders will need to learn to live in harmony with complexity, speed, instability, and ambiguity. In short, they will need to create exceptional organizations.
Organizations will increasingly depend on cutting-edge solutions to never-before-seen problems and clever ideas for those recurring headaches that have always plagued them. Research indicates that traditionally a handful of star performers have created the vast majority of valuable ideas for their organizations. These top thinkers and performers will define the talent leaders will need moving forward.
These stars don’t shine independently, however. They are not free agents; rather, these highly talented, extraordinary thinkers need the structure of an organization and effective leadership to do their best work. But traditional leadership strategies won’t work.
Leaders who aspire to brilliant leadership must set the right tone, make effective decisions, and establish credibility—all daunting tasks. Yet few resources exist to help them. They frequently flounder in their attempts to create a competitive strategy, work with the board, and keep talent in their doors, all the while endeavoring to navigate the unfamiliar and turbulent waters of leading those who can help the organization create a competitive advantage.
Both new and seasoned leaders need revolutionary ideas for the never-before-seen economic challenges we face. As companies expand and grow, the skills that led to a leader’s success often won’t sustain further development in a more complex, high-stakes environment—especially ones that now require exceptional performance. These leaders need more. They need a roadmap to success.
In my work with hundreds of executives, especially CEOs and executive teams, I have observed the critical elements of exceptional performance—for the organization, from star performers, and from extraordinary leaders. Avoiding the pitfalls is a start, identifying a clear path for organizational success the next step. The two work in tandem, one the voice; the other the echo.
Leaders who choose to lead a team of top performers need to understand that these clever—often brilliant—individuals offer more, so they expect more in return. They hold high standards for themselves, so it makes sense that they will hold their places of employment to equally high standards. They want to work with other exceptional players in a culture that fosters their growth, formulates a clear strategy for their success, and then creates the day-to-day processes that allow them to achieve their personal goals and realize their need for accomplishment. In short, they want strong leaders who lead exceptional organizations—agile yet stable organizations that hold on to their core values while responding adeptly to the temporary nature of the global economy that leaves no room for error.