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leadership lab

This column is part of Globe Careers' new Leadership Lab series, where executives and leadership experts share their views and advice about the leadership and management issues of today. There will be a new column every weekday. Find all Leadership Lab stories at

As I worked with different organizations in 2013 I asked their top management what were the big challenges they were facing, and uneasily shlepping into 2014. I found that no matter the industry, most of the people I spoke with had the same five concerns:

  • a shrinking globe with nowhere to hide;
  • competing with dwindling margins;
  • growing customer demands and purchase options;
  • increased electronic gadget distraction;
  • intensified difficulty engaging their workforce.

They also felt these marketplace changes were permanent. The "old" was gone – long gone. They had to adapt, alter, transform themselves to be in sync with the 2014 marketplace.

What to do?

While certainly not a comprehensive list, here are five ideas to consider and hopefully institute to make your business life in 2014 healthy, fulfilling and accomplished.

1. Get in the "new" game. Passionately.

First recognize that it's not the same game you played in the past. That game has changed. Master the new game. Before you can play to win, learn the new rules. Get the right equipment. Find out what it takes to make the best plays. Assist your people to learn the rules, use the equipment and make the plays. Play as a team. Scrimmage, huddle, review, improve.

2. Know your business' purpose.

Keep in mind that your "old" function has disappeared. Ask yourself: Why do you exist as a marketer? What's your purpose on the field right now? What's the value of your position to your customers? What extra, unique, needed value can you provide them today? Determine how you are going to discover your purpose and how you are going to adjust and modify it as the playing field continues to evolve.

3. Focus. Don't get distracted.

Stay in the present. (The past has already happened and the future is not yet here.) Practice specific strategies to make the most of every moment – but at the same time remain flexible, willing to make changes if needed. Use your sharp concentration to play faster, with more agility. Today you need both speed and accuracy – remaining focused in the here and now gives you those abilities.

4. Simplify.

From start to finish. Simplify your business process. Find ways to make it easier for your customers to do business with you. Make it effortless for your people to do their job. Make it trouble-free for your associates, suppliers, affiliates, contacts to do business with you.

Simplify your communications – from face-to-face to e-mails to meetings. Simplify your business plan, the execution of your plan. It'll make you a formidable competitor.

5. Execute. Execute. Execute.

I can't stress it enough. Nothing happens until you do it. Execution is the engine. It's the bond between strategy and results. It's the action on the playing field. It's the forward movement in the organization. I've always believed that strategy gets you into the game, but today execution is the game.

Finally, be a leader. This is the perfect year to push yourself and those around you to great new heights. Be a leader of your leaders. Be innovative. Make it your game. Play like you've never played before.

Sam Geist (@samgeist) is a professional speaker, author and facilitator who specializes in strategy, marketing and leadership. His e-mail is: and his website is