Tuesday, 23 June 2015

All that glitters...

It comes as no surprise when I state that we are in a long term period of low growth.  Since the economic collapse in 2008, companies around the world have had to deal with an entirely different paradigm, something that is often referred to as the 'new normal'.  Whereas companies would routinely expect double digit growth, many are now content with maintaining their status while providing stable and secure employment opportunities for their valued staff members.

This is not to suggest that there have not been those who have grown and prospered despite the turmoil of the day.  Clearly many have, as the digital age brings us many new options.  But for those who have been in business for more than the past 5-7 years in 'traditional' bricks and mortar enterprises, growth and profitability have certainly been a challenge.  In most instances the pie has not grown even in inflationary terms.  The pressure is on all leaders in these companies to find the engine for sustainability.  And here is the real issue...what is gold and what is simply glitter?

As the leader you have no greater responsibility than to ensure the long term viability of the company.  That may seem to most to be self evident.  But in the rush to improve short term earnings or growth, it is disconcerting to know how many fail this test. They have been unable to distinguish  the gold from the glitter.  In their rush to find the new 'thing' they fail to exercise due diligence and in so doing they put the whole enterprise at risk.

If sustainability is an issue, first look internally.  Have you optimized your processes?  Have you addressed productivity issues?  Are your cost centres well controlled?  Can you improve margins without impacting sales?  More often than not, you will be able to find aspects of your current operations that do not meet 'best in class' standards.  Fixing that which is fixable will generate more profits and ultimately deliver better results for your clients.  Begin your search for growth at home before looking for afield.  The best leaders have learned that all that glitters is not gold.

(I will be off for the summer and returning in September with more 'bon mots' on Inspirational Leadership.  Enjoy your holidays!)