This column is part of Globe Careers’ Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab
I have leadership fatigue.
The conversation around leadership is overwhelming; there is a storm of expert views raining down on us on what it takes to be a great leader.
The ability to delegate, communicate, inspire confidence, innovate, plan, organize and control, accept responsibility for mistakes, build strong teams, set objectives and empower people to achieve them are among the ingredients cited as being critical to effective leadership.
Although these attributes are important, they merely describe what it takes to qualify to play the stand-out leadership game. They are more means-oriented rather than addressing the end goal that leaders must achieve if their organization is to successfully meet the challenges of today’s intensely competitive world.
Without the basics you can’t take your leadership game to another level, but with them you can’t be guaranteed success.
The competency that rarely gets airtime in leadership conversations today is strategic and deals with what it takes to build long term success.
It is the ability for leaders to build an organization that is relevant and unique.
A relevant organization provides what people care about, covet, and desire. It is focused on providing value and creating experiences rather than pushing products. Its raison d’être is to create magical moments for customers that will be remembered and talked about for a long time.
A unique organization is the only one that does what it does. Not “the best” or “#1” but the only.
There is a tendency today for businesses to all look the same. They copy best of breed, offer “me-too” services and rely on price to convey their value proposition.
They are not special in a way that resonates with people, and can’t answer the killer question “Why should I do business with you and not your competitors?” The result is that people have difficulty choosing a supplier from the herd.
A unique organization is able to cut through the marketplace chatter and provide unmatched value.
What leadership attribute is more important than the ability to create an organization that delights and dazzles people in a way that is unmatched by anyone else in the market?
Only leaders practise the “art of different.” They cast aside, (but honour) the past and seek a different strategy to ensure future success. They understand that doing more of what worked in the past and expecting more future success is a fatal mistake.
Only leaders don’t tinker with and make incremental changes to their current path. They look for breakthroughs to take their game to a completely new level.
Only leaders don’t copy. They seek to distance themselves from the field not change their position in it. They ask “How can we be different?” and build culture and values around it.
Only leaders regularly ask their customers: “Are we delivering what you care about?” and “Are we the only ones that do it?”
Let’s start talking about the strategic leadership competencies required to create remarkable, distinctive, one-of-a-kind organizations that will stand the test of time rather than the same-old concepts that perpetuate look-alike organizations.
Roy Osing (@RoyOsing) is a former executive vice-president of Telus with over 33 years of leadership experience. He is a blogger, educator, coach, adviser and the author of the book series Be Different or Be Dead.
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