17th century philosopher Rene Descartes said – ‘I think therefore I am’. With all due respect to him, I am inclined to revise this for the 21st century as – ‘I initiate therefore I am’.
For me the world is truly binary, people who take initiatives and people who don’t and that pretty much decides who survives the marathon and who doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t want to discount the value of thought because the very act of doing has its roots in a thought. However, in the modern world, taking the initiative to execute matters much more than just penning a thought on – is what needs to be done.
Before we delve deeper, let’s be clear on the definition of initiative. If you look on the net, you will find many interpretations, but for this write-up, I define initiative as not accepting status-quo and exploring ways to make things better. People who take an initiative are always working for the betterment of their own self, their family, their organization and the society at large. People who don’t are on the receiving end and perpetually complaining about the state of affairs.
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A lot has been written about core competency in innumerable management books. But what does it really mean? Its only when companies understand the real meaning of core competency in today’s context, can they truly work on building a ‘differentiator’ that gives them an edge over others in the market.
A dynamic concept
The notion of core competency has evolved with changing times and market dynamics will continue to do so. For instance, in the times of Sony Walkman, the term ‘core competency’ was associated with deep technical innovation, and at other times,with just the sheer size of assets and deep pockets of a company, since they were crucial in the formation of a large conglomerate.
So what can be the core competency of an organization in today’s digital economy, where it only takes a handful of smart guys with minimal funds to bring the next disruptive innovation and consumers adopt it in millions, thanks to the internet?
Can it be the capability of your R&D labs and patents you own? Yes, in some sectors like pharma, patents go a long way in demonstrating a company’s prowess, but not in the industry a general. They can be used to protect the product and manage market leadership only until the next innovation comes around. At the same time, it is not the patent that can be your core competence, as customers buy products, NOT patents.
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A lot has been written in the industry about leadership traits and whether it maps to good management skills or not.
In my perspective, leadership and good management are two different skills and an organisation needs both of them. Also, it is very rare to find both the characteristics in the same person and it is imperative for CEO’s to realise this.
The quintessential trait of a leader is to ‘make sense of it all’ in this highly unstructured and dynamic world. Leaders get a good handle on what is happening, and how it will/may transition the industry (or society at large) in the next couple of years.
Leaders don’t believe in status quo and know that change is the only constant in life. What sets them apart is the courage and self-confidence with which they embrace change. While most of us prefer to sit on the fence and see changes happen and try our best to protect our turf from them, leaders actually make changes happen and drive them in the direction they believe is best for organisation (or mankind at large).
So what does it take to drive change or to shape the future of an industry? It starts from having a vision. A vision of where do you want to be in next few years, as an individual, organization, society or mankind itself. While each of us has plans for our future, our vision rarely goes beyond the immediate self and family. A leader’s vision typically starts from the other end, i.e. industry or society in general. A leader wants to see the desired change at a much larger level and his only goal is to make that change happen.
Continue reading “Guest Article – Do good leaders make good managers?”