- The interest rates in North America
- Economic growth in Europe or Japan
- The price of oil.
- The Chinese economy
- Vladimir Putin
However, if you are amongst the mere mortal leaders, carry on.
There is a wonderful expression that sounds best when spoken in French.
- You must establish and maintain an 'emotional' connection with each of your clients. This does not mean hugs and kisses all around. Rather, your customers must feel valued. And they must continue to believe that the product or service that you offer truly represents great value. At the end of the day, people vote with their wallets but price is seldom the determining factor. In fact, most of us willingly pay more every day simply because the person / company delivering that which we seek has treated us in a manner which has made us feel as though our purchase mattered to them...we felt valued. We made a personal decision based upon any number of tangible and intangible factors. But in the end, we exchanged that which was in our wallet for that which we desired. We made an emotional, albeit practical, choice. As the leader, you must diligently identify and sustain that emotional connection. Those who do so most often are also the ones who will be successful.
- You must execute your plan better and better each year. The recommendation that you must '...say what you do; then do what you say...' has the unspoken assumption that you have identified your 'what' properly. The implementation of your plan is obviously closely related to the first point above. But to assume that others are not working to establish the same kinds of connections is clearly naïve and potentially fatal. As the leader, there is never a time in which you can relax or coast on your past successes. Some small measure of self satisfaction is fine, especially when you are acknowledging your team members' efforts. However, you have a DUTY of care to keep the team focused, alert, and engaged. This is a daily responsibility; a contract that is renewed every time you report to work.
Leadership matters, regardless of the size of your company or your specific role within that environment. During these times of such economic, political, and social uncertainty, it is best to hold fast to the principles that consistently deliver success. Focus on that which you can influence (I hesitate to say control), and leave the macro issues to those who think that they know what to do.
Take a snapshot of things as they are today and then revisit that image a few times during the year to ensure that you continue to progress towards your goal. This should be much more than a simple financial analysis. Make it a holistic picture that incorporates as many elements as you can. Financial results are only a consequence of effectively responding to the intangible factors of leadership.
If any of this seems to be a mystery, seek assistance now, not mid-year or later. Believe me, it will not cure itself.