While leaders are often looking for that next new thing to be more competitive, there is an incredible amount of value that can occur if leaders would take the time to consider some strategic shifts. Maybe you don’t need a new wheel. Maybe you can just shift the one you’ve got.
A leader can start by looking at three kinds of shifts: WHO shifts, WHAT shifts and HOW shifts.
WHO shifts. Leaders can shift the WHO, or how they define themselves and their organization. For example, some oil companies are starting to define themselves as manufacturers versus extractors. This is an enormous shift in WHO. Imagine all the changes in thinking, behaviors, and priorities that would occur after that redefinition. Certainly less “drill baby, drill” and a lot more “innovate and optimize.” Leaders can also shift their own WHO. Many leaders I have seen have been much more effective when they redefine themselves as an “assertive collaborator” in place of old roles like the “answer man/woman.” Ask: What is the most effective way to describe myself and my organization?
WHAT shifts. Leaders can shift a WHAT, or the attention they give to some things over other things. In discussions with one CEO, he had the revelation that if the organization were to be successful in just one key (eminently achievable) project, the profits would exceed the profits from all other current activities. Where would you shift your attention if you were him? Shifting WHATs requires a high level of discipline from leaders. The squeaky wheel will often hog the attention, but leaders need to focus where the growth is, not just where the noise is. Ask: What is truly the most important thing to be focused on right now?
HOW shifts. Leaders can shift a HOW, or the way in which things get done. Is your organization known for taking a “my way or the highway” approach? You can shift that. Are decisions made in a top down approach? You can shift that. Do people join your organization to find that they are largely on their own in a sink or swim scenario? You can shift that too. The way things are done are not fixed and leaders can exercise their discretion on these easily. Ask: What key approaches deserve a re-think?
Think about where you are with the important things you would be excited to achieve. What kinds of shifts could you make to remove roadblocks and exploit opportunity? Is the shift a who, what or how? When leaders make bold, effective shifts, they may be pleased to see that not only are they going in a better direction, but are also achieving the results they want faster. Don’t hesitate and don’t stay stuck in the past.